ECF Vacancies

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:06 am

Nigel_Davies wrote: With such separation still 'pending', and possibly unlikely to happen, I'm afraid you're going to be stuck with professional input.
Nigel,

We have met on a few occasions and I have always enjoyed talking with you and valued the encounters, but in this thread you do seem to be using quite provocative language.

Firstly, a professional body will only come about if professionals organise it for themselves: you are in a position to do that and could begin by sending out Emails to potential participants. The BCF came about by the amaterurish activities of clueless amateurs: how much more effective would be the professional activities of competent professionals? It will not happen if you do not try to achieve it.

Secondly, while most, if not all, on this thread have welcomed the idea of a professional body, I feel you have subtlely upped its status from a body representing professionals to a 'wing' of the ECF or a 'separation of the amateur and professional game'. That is certainly not going to happen. The number of professionals is a very small part of the chess playing community and at most the professional body would simply be a member of the ECF amongst other members. Of course, the professional body might choose to remain outside the ECF and could even seek to become the body recognised by FIDE - but that will not happen either. Even in the international arena the number of participating English players contains far far more 'amateurs' than 'professionals'.

The real problem, the elephant in the thread that I previously referred to, is that there is simply only a very small market for professionals to engage in and it is a market that cannot support many individuals. There are areas where expansion is possible: the simultaneous display (which you already exploit - in the healthy sense of the word) is an area that I think could well expand. The book (and associated media) market I suspect is already fairly full. Coaching is a fairly limited area unlikely to provide full-time employment. Your principle interest seems to be to enable an income for professional players, however. That depends at root on having a spectator base, which might provide direct entrance fees; attract media coverage and attract sponsorship. While some relatively small sponsorships like the Tradewise deal are clearly obtainable, we are being unrealistic if we think that substantial sponsorship can be achieved without the spectator base - and that is not there. It would require a vastly greater playing population and such a population must be achieved first unless by some second outlandish coincidence we were to receive the bonanza of an international conflict of a talented and flamboyant player. Even then, the change would be no more than a temporary glitch unless the base is worked at.

At heart the problem is not the 'amateurish' endeavours of the ECF that is the problem: it is the uncomfortable fact that creating a professional game is an unachievable aim without a much bigger body of amateur players - far more, for example, than a game like snooker that is accessible as a spectator sport to non-participants.

I would be far happier to be paying more for the enhancement of junior chess - though for all juniors and not just the high-flyers. That is also where I would seek to use what sponsorship money can be obtained. I suspect it might also be easier to get for this purpose: for people of my age, for instance, the Sunday Times association with chess (through its schools competition) probably stands out far more prominently than other initiatives.

[Edit: I've got my threads a bit confused here: For clarity, some of my comments refer to a discussion elsewhere in the forum]

Mike Truran
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:09 am

(as I explained to Phil Ehr when he offered me Mike Truran's job at Finance, that's not me it needs an accountant)
If I may offer a slight correction - Phil's conversation with you was, I believe, more in the way of an exploratory chat about the possibility of your joining the Finance Committee. I wouldn't want the impression to be given that Phil was trying to replace me as Finance Committee chairman.

Mick Norris
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:44 am

Well a mobile phone in Sainsbury's carpark isn't the ideal way of finding out what Phil was saying, but I'll take your word for it
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Nigel_Davies
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Nigel_Davies » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:45 am

Richard Bates wrote:
Well you stated that membership "should increase". On the flip side increasing the pool of ungraded players devalues the product for graded players. You may well find then that organisers begin to insist on membership as a condition of entry. So your "voluntary" scheme becomes de facto compulsory by the back door.
There are other ways it could be done, for example by giving everyone a grade but selling 'membership' as access to the database and other information such as the tournament calendar etc. Obviously this is a very different model to the one that's currently being used but I do think a shift to facilitating chess rather than charging for it would be a step in the right direction.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:52 am

Regarding Michael Farthing's post; there is a small distinction between professional players and titled players. Very few of the latter actually play the game professionally although Nigel Davies is right to suggest that more would do so if there was more money available. Not all would choose to do so. However titled players are set apart by the fact that they have had to study the game and learn the discipline of performing at such a high level; it is right that they should have a body to represent their interests.

Nigel Davies argument is that such a body could run events and seek sponsorship without having to `interface` (his word) with amateur chess. This in turn would free the amateur body (ie the ECF) up to focus on other priorities like investing in junior chess and modernising league/ congress chess. There would need to be a good working relationship between the two but another advantage would be that if one body gets something wrong the fallout doesn't take everything else crashing with it.

Where Nigel Davies and myself have disagreed (and where I've found his comments provocative) is the accusation that the federation is dominated by amateurs. To an extent he has a point but I can only think of three titled players (Lawrence Cooper, Malcolm Pein, Nigel Short) who have sought and held elected positions within the ECF. I think most of us would welcome more imput from titled players; particularly those with professional backgrounds. However I also think amateurs with the right skills do have a lot to contribute in the right role; for example a mediocre club player with experience of running their own company could organise a top level event, negotiating funding from local companies.
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Nigel_Davies
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Nigel_Davies » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:53 am

Michael Farthing wrote:
Nigel,

We have met on a few occasions and I have always enjoyed talking with you and valued the encounters, but in this thread you do seem to be using quite provocative language.

Firstly, a professional body will only come about if professionals organise it for themselves: you are in a position to do that and could begin by sending out Emails to potential participants. The BCF came about by the amaterurish activities of clueless amateurs: how much more effective would be the professional activities of competent professionals? It will not happen if you do not try to achieve it.

Secondly, while most, if not all, on this thread have welcomed the idea of a professional body, I feel you have subtlely upped its status from a body representing professionals to a 'wing' of the ECF or a 'separation of the amateur and professional game'. That is certainly not going to happen. The number of professionals is a very small part of the chess playing community and at most the professional body would simply be a member of the ECF amongst other members. Of course, the professional body might choose to remain outside the ECF and could even seek to become the body recognised by FIDE - but that will not happen either. Even in the international arena the number of participating English players contains far far more 'amateurs' than 'professionals'.

The real problem, the elephant in the thread that I previously referred to, is that there is simply only a very small market for professionals to engage in and it is a market that cannot support many individuals. There are areas where expansion is possible: the simultaneous display (which you already exploit - in the healthy sense of the word) is an area that I think could well expand. The book (and associated media) market I suspect is already fairly full. Coaching is a fairly limited area unlikely to provide full-time employment. Your principle interest seems to be to enable an income for professional players, however. That depends at root on having a spectator base, which might provide direct entrance fees; attract media coverage and attract sponsorship. While some relatively small sponsorships like the Tradewise deal are clearly obtainable, we are being unrealistic if we think that substantial sponsorship can be achieved without the spectator base - and that is not there. It would require a vastly greater playing population and such a population must be achieved first unless by some second outlandish coincidence we were to receive the bonanza of an international conflict of a talented and flamboyant player. Even then, the change would be no more than a temporary glitch unless the base is worked at.

At heart the problem is not the 'amateurish' endeavours of the ECF that is the problem: it is the uncomfortable fact that creating a professional game is an unachievable aim without a much bigger body of amateur players - far more, for example, than a game like snooker that is accessible as a spectator sport to non-participants.

I would be far happier to be paying more for the enhancement of junior chess - though for all juniors and not just the high-flyers. That is also where I would seek to use what sponsorship money can be obtained. I suspect it might also be easier to get for this purpose: for people of my age, for instance, the Sunday Times association with chess (through its schools competition) probably stands out far more prominently than other initiatives.

[Edit: I've got my threads a bit confused here: For clarity, some of my comments refer to a discussion elsewhere in the forum]
Michael, my main interest is just to resolve a very large conflict of interests, that's all. Amateur chess has certain requirements whilst international players and professionals have very different requirements. Both should be market driven.

At the moment we have a situation in which funding is taken from amateurs in terms of membership fees and then largely redirected. This isn't fair on amateurs. It's also not fair to have international and professional chess matters largely handled by amateurs. So different and discrete branches seems like the most logical way to proceed.
Last edited by Nigel_Davies on Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:09 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote: I do think a shift to facilitating chess rather than charging for it would be a step in the right direction.
The ECF gave that up years ago. The only real reason people buy memberships is that they wouldn't be allowed to play chess if they didn't. Game Fee is a form of temporary membership and retains its title because of a constitutional carve up to enable the ECF to introduce universal membership on only a 50% approval vote. It's now a surcharge of £7 for the wrong type of ECF member or non-member to enter a Congress. That's a concession because otherwise the ECF would want around £ 20 or £ 30 which doubles the entry fee.

Calendars are a form of advertising of events. You might charge an event for inclusion, charging people to view the advert doesn't have much going for it.

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Nigel_Davies » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:29 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Nigel_Davies wrote: I do think a shift to facilitating chess rather than charging for it would be a step in the right direction.
The ECF gave that up years ago. The only real reason people buy memberships is that they wouldn't be allowed to play chess if they didn't. Game Fee is a form of temporary membership and retains its title because of a constitutional carve up to enable the ECF to introduce universal membership on only a 50% approval vote. It's now a surcharge of £7 for the wrong type of ECF member or non-member to enter a Congress. That's a concession because otherwise the ECF would want around £ 20 or £ 30 which doubles the entry fee.

Calendars are a form of advertising of events. You might charge an event for inclusion, charging people to view the advert doesn't have much going for it.
The model I had in mind was different - a low cost federation amateur branch designed not to get in the way with fees. No offices, no funding of anything else.

The international/professional branch meanwhile would need sponsorship to run events but could have its own team and one suitable for achieving this.

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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:41 pm

Nigel_Davies wrote: The international/professional branch meanwhile would need sponsorship to run events but could have its own team and one suitable for achieving this.
Thirty years ago, it might have been plausible, with sponsorship and Government support covering the British Championships and the international teams as well as supporting major tournaments such as Hastings and Lloyds Bank. Had such a separation taken place, the professional branch would long since have run out of money, probably before 1993.

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Nigel_Davies » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:56 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Thirty years ago, it might have been plausible, with sponsorship and Government support covering the British Championships and the international teams as well as supporting major tournaments such as Hastings and Lloyds Bank. Had such a separation taken place, the professional branch would long since have run out of money, probably before 1993.
I think everything depends on who you have to present to government and/or sponsors and whether you have a federation that's a war zone. The evidence suggests that the ECF in its current form struggles to attract finance but on the other hand you have the London Chess Classic springing up.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:06 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:To an extent he has a point but I can only think of three titled players (Lawrence Cooper, Malcolm Pein, Nigel Short) who have sought and held elected positions within the ECF.
You can also add me, Peter Sowray, Stewart Reuben and Peter Wilson to that list.

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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:18 pm

I think one of the mistakes everybody made was that in the early nineties an inflationary bubble burst and nobody reacted to it. However that is in the past. I take Nigel's point about a war zone but can he say with confidence that professionals would work together any better? At least one legendary spat springs to mind.

If separation did occur I can foresee two structural problems.

GMs and IMs would be able to play in properly organised closed tournaments. However there would be less opportunity for FMs who would have to earn their bread and butter in weekend congresses. Separation might encourage people to organise stars barred tournaments (which I am opposed to I hasten to add) and tell FMs that if they want opportunities to play they should take it up with the professional body.

Secondly, even if professional chess was removed from the equation, amateur chess would continue to cover so many bases. You have players like Roger who are not far below FM level, congress rabbits like me, the 9 & 10 year olds at my local junior club, clubs based in WMCs, elderly people keeping their minds active in church halls and I could go on. Some of these islands of players don't need to talk with each other, others do and thus the game needs a strong amateur body to manage the infrastructure which is best funded by some sort of subscription.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:18 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:To an extent he has a point but I can only think of three titled players (Lawrence Cooper, Malcolm Pein, Nigel Short) who have sought and held elected positions within the ECF.
You can also add me, Peter Sowray, Stewart Reuben and Peter Wilson to that list.
My apologies Jack, I knew there would be somebody I overlooked.
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:20 pm

Is Nigel Short really the only GM to have ever sought and held a position at the ECF? What about the BCF? What about those who have sought to be elected and failed?

(Inter alia, does a complete list of BCF/ECF Presidents exist anywhere?)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Vacancies

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:40 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: (Inter alia, does a complete list of BCF/ECF Presidents exist anywhere?)
BCF and ECF yearbooks.

You can add CM David Anderton to the list of titled players holding office, although he was both President and International Director back in the BCF days which may have been before Stewart Reuben persuaded FIDE to create the CM title.

Matthew Turner was BCF Director of Coaching according to the 2004 Yearbook. Prior to the formation of ECF and the associated downgrading of directors, many directors were just appointed, rather than elected.

Back in time there was a GM who was Publicity Director for the BCF. Wasn't he a newspaper columnist as well?

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