ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Paul Cooksey
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:28 pm

I feel I should say something, since my initial inquiry generated a few pages of discussion.

The minutes do support Mike's position that the Board's "direction of travel" was approved. I agree Council could ask them to change it in April, but they would be unreasonable in expecting alternatives to be presented.

I am unhappy that Council did not ask Directors to share their policies and planned expenditure before electing them. I hoped three year Directorships would encourage policy discussion, but apparently not.

I hope the governance committee are able to suggest meaningful voting reform, democracy being the least bad form of government, and currently not very evident.

benedgell
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by benedgell » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:06 pm

Apologies for the long delay in getting this out. I was asked to act as proxy for Rob Thompson (One of the Bronze Members' Reps.) at the AGM. As such I'm attaching here my report from the meeting. If there are any errors in the report let me know and I'll amend it.

ECF AGM 2016.

The ECF AGM took place in Birmingham on Sat. Oct 15th. Apologies for the delay in sending out this report. I’ve had to take on a bit more work this season with a couple of extra voluntary roles (I’m a glutton for punishment!) which has meant this report has had to take a back seat to other work for the past month (and more now!).

I’m afraid I must start on a sad note. Shortly after the AGM it was discovered that John Philpott had sadly passed away. Others have, or will, write far more eloquently about John then I could manage, but suffice to say the amount of time and effort he dedicated to working to help improve English chess was immeasurable, and he was also a thoroughly decent and nice person. He will be sadly missed.

I counted roughly 50 people attending the meeting.

From matters arising:

• Progress is slow but ongoing on the proposed National Chess Centre. There is a presentation planned by Amanda Ross at the Kensington Olympia Hotel on Dec. 12th, which will hopefully provide some positive news about the project.

• There was a lot of criticism of the ECF Yearbook, and the CEO apologised for this. I don’t have a copy of the Yearbook, and if anyone does please do let me know what was wrong with this year’s version.

• From the Publicity Manager: there have been 4 ‘Chessmaster at the local’ events, and at least 1 more to come. This is where the ECF promotes chess amongst people who might not ordinarily play chess, or who may be lapsed chess players, by staging chess events in pubs featuring prominent chess players. The planned short film about chess that the PM was working on isn’t quite ready yet. It was hoped to be ready for the AGM, but it’s slightly behind target and should be ready shortly. The PM is also working on display items (literature and posters) for the ECF, and is hopeful of having a stand at the London Chess Classic in December to help promote the ECF. Certainly seems like he’s been busy in the role!

• The sponsor for the national teams at the Olympiad was Jupiter Asset Managerment. Apparently they were very pleased with the team’s performances and the coverage they received. The international team also received help from an extra trainer for this event. I’m not sure whether the name was intended to be announced openly or not, so I’ll leave a bit of mystery and just say he is a prominent GM. After all that the international team expenditure came in under budget, which enabled the International Director to focus some of his funds elsewhere.

After this a number of items passed through fairly swiftly. It might be that I’ve missed some things here, but I haven’t made any notes for comments from the Board’s Report, the Chairman of the Governance Committee’s Report, and the Chairman of the Finance Committee’s reports. They were all approved with none against.

2 items of note that both passed smoothly, were the amendment to increase the number of directors from 10- 12 ( Allowing for a Non- Exec Chairman and Director of Women’s Chess on the board ), and enabling the FIDE Delegate to be removed from office or suspended by notice in writing signed by each other director.

Moving on to the elections, there was only one contested election, the Non- Exec. Director’s vacancy, and so most of these passed relatively smoothly.

I’ll put some notes about each specific Director below, but first the following were all re- elected, with all in favour.

President: Dominic Lawson.
Chief Exec.: Mike Truran
Non- Exec. Chairman: Julian Clissold
Director of Finance: David Eustace
Director of Home Chess: Alex Holowczak
Director of Junior Chess and Education: Traci Whitfield
International Director: Malcolm Pein
Director of Membership: David Thomas
Director of Women’s Chess: Sarah Longson
Chairman of Council: Mike Gunn
FIDE Delegate: Malcolm Pein.
All members of the Standing Committees (the Chairman and members of the Finance Committees, the Chairman and members of the Governance Committee).
The auditor.

For the Non- Exec Directors, the result was as follows:

John Foley: 31 votes
Peter Hornsby: 55 votes
Stephen Woodhouse: 193 votes
Julie Denning: 240 votes

And so Stephen and Julie were elected/ re- elected.

For my part my votes were split as follows: all in favour of Julie, Devon and their respective congresses and leagues in favour of John Foley, all other votes in favour of Stephen Woodhouse.

The first candidate to speak was Julie Denning. I’m afraid I haven’t got any notes on what she said, but I think the fact the ECF has continued to make positive strides over the past year is a pretty decent endorsement of the work she has done in the role.

The next candidate to speak was John Foley. He started by openly arguing with the CEO about several issues. I’ll spare you the details, but for me it completely overshadowed why he wanted the role, and what he intended to do in the role, and was all the more surprising given there were concerns about whether he could work with the board after previous issues (one council member openly asked whether he could work with the Home Chess Director).

The next candidate was Peter Hornsby. Peter is a student currently studying for a Masters in Business Management at Durham University, and also the lead organiser in 2020 Chess

http://2020chess.com/index.html

Peter spoke very eloquently about how he wished to encourage university students and other young adults who may have drifted out of chess back in to playing. I have to say the points he was making resonated with me, and I hope the ECF can find a way to make good use of his skills and enthusiasm in this area, but ultimately I wasn’t convinced he was the right candidate for the Non- Exec. role.

From the Finance Director election:

The Finance Director confirmed that the Chess Trust charity has been set up and has received one donation so far, with one to come. I believe these donations receive gift aid, but I’m not 100% certain of my notes on this. There has been no discussion so far about moving any activities into the Chess Trust. If there are any tax advantages to be found they will be worked on as they come. The FD also hopes that when a bookkeeping firm comes in he will be able to ensure information is more readily available.

From the Home Chess election:

There are no plans to change qualifying for the British Championship for this year, but it will be reviewed for future years. The length of the British has been shortened this year, down to 9 days, and personally I felt even at its previous length there were probably too many qualifying places we could offer in the south west. Obviously the counter- argument is that the ECF needs the entry fees from a decent number of qualifiers in order to pay the various expenses, and it’ll be interesting to see how the ECF balances the 2 in future years.

There was a suggestion from a council member that the Home Chess Director gets rid of the National Club Cup. The Home Chess Director said he was going to review the event, and was unlikely to retain the Open section going forward. There are also no plans to make the event a qualifier for the European Club Cup.

There are no plans to explore major changes in the county competition. Apparently there are a lot of differing opinions amongst the various counties, and unless a consensus is reached on any potential changes things will remain as they are.

From the Director of Junior Chess and Education:

The DoJCE has spent a lot of time working on safeguarding.

The Academy is nearing the end of the first year for the International programme, and work has begun on the Elite programme. They hope to confirm numbers in October. English chess looks to have a new IM, Alan Merry, confirmed in Nov., and I believe as I type this Brandon Clarke looks to have taken his rating over 2300, and thus qualified for the FM title.

The DoJCE has also spent a lot of time focussing on secondary school children, and also encouraging children who might not necessarily have the ability to reach the very top in the future to enjoy the game.

From the International Chess Director:

It may be a long time before we produce new players of the ability to play in our full international teams.

There was some discussion about the planned rise in expenditure on International Chess (I’ll come back to this later).

For future events the IC Director is planning more training and focus on preparation ahead of the event for the women’s team, in order to improve on their result from the Olympiad. (As much as the Open team had a fantastic Olympiad, it should also be noted that the women’s team had a disappointing result, and hopefully will do better in future events).

There was some discussion about whether there should be an extra ECF officer who can help focus on international amateur participants. (I believe there may be a prominent international amateur event either coming up, or just past, that hasn’t really received much mention or support from the ECF. I could be remembering that wrongly, though.)

There was some discussion about the Women’s World Championship, which has received quite a lot of media attention over the controversial decision to hold the event in Iran in a future year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-37560768

does a decent job of explaining the controversy.

The International Chess Director felt that the event was utterly devalued by the lack of participation by Hou Yifan, who is far and away the strongest female player at present. He was strongly against someone having to dress a certain way in order to participate, but didn’t take a lead role in speaking out against it as there are no English players qualified to play.

The remaining elections passed without much comment.

The new Director of Women’s Chess wasn’t able to attend the meeting, which was little bit of a shame as it would have been interesting to hear her talk about her plans in the role, but she had attended a board meeting to speak about it, and the board fully endorsed her.

The Chairman of Council spoke briefly about why he felt he was qualified for the role.

The FIDE Delegate explained how he divided his time between his role as International Chess Director and FIDE Delegate when at major team events. (Basically he checks in with the coaches/ players in the morning, and then goes to attend meetings and leaves them all to their work).

I believe all of the suggested awards were approved, but I missed the voting for it. On a side note, I’ve been contacted by someone looking for a volunteer from the south- west to join the awards committee, meeting up once a year to decide who to nominate for player, club of the year etc. If anyone is interested, do get in contact and I’ll forward your details.

The next item was the strategy statement. I’ve started to lose count at how many meetings this item has popped up on now. It seems to bounce back and forth between the board working on it between meetings, and council being unhappy with it, suggesting improvements etc at the meeting. This meeting was no different, and as much as the board might finally have hoped to have a strategy statement ready and done, it was a case of de ja vu. Various niggling points were raised (one council member was unhappy that in his opinion women and juniors received undue attention at the expense of male members, another was very enthusiastic that the ECF should focus more on communication with direct members, and proposed a minor change to the wording to that end. There were other points raised as well, but none of special importance.

It ended with a motion suggesting the board look at it again and present a new version at the Finance Council meeting. I think I was the only council member who joined the board in voting against the motion, and the motion carried. For what its worth I tended to agree with the CEO, who was disappointed that this document had been online, and comments welcomed ahead of the meeting, only to find none forthcoming until the meeting itself. So I’ll be reporting on this item again from the next meeting.

The next item was intended to be discussing and approving the ECF’s finance plans, but following a suggestion from a member of council, and subsequent approval from the majority of council, item 14 regarding county chess got pushed up the agenda ahead of it.

Before the meeting, if a Union (WECU for us) nominates counties to play in the various competitions at national stage and then finds after the regional competition it is unable to provide teams for all of the nominations it announced earlier in the year, it is fined £100 by the ECF. The SCCU brought forward a motion to the meeting seeking to reduce that fine to £25.

The Home Chess Director proposed an amendment waving the fine altogether on the condition that the draw for the National Stages is done in March, which is later then at present. The last Saturday in April is the latest counties can organise their match without defaulting, so it would leave 3- 4 weeks to stage the match.

The SCCU representatives weren’t particularly happy with the short time it would leave them to organise matches, but the rest of council (including myself) voted in favour, so the amendment passed, and the draw for the national stage of the county competition will now be announced in March.

We then went back to item 13, the ECF’s financial plans. A brief summary to begin with: the ECF is proposing to spend more money. This involves taking some money from various legacies, the reserves etc in order to finance more ambitious plans. This will include more expenditure in junior chess, international chess, the British Chess Championships, publicity, and admin. The ECF is looking to introduce small increases in membership fees (+£1 for Bronze, +£2 for Silver, +£3 for Gold most likely) in future years. The intention is that the membership fees will only be used to fund the ECF’s core activities, although, in future years some money will be used for international chess.

For anyone wanting to look at the plans in detail, this is the spreadsheet the ECF have divulged which shows the planned incomes/ expenditures:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... -plan.xlsx

A few notes from this item:

• The ECF has been unsuccessful finding a volunteer to take on the bookkeeping work that the Company Secretary previously provided, and is now looking for a professional to take it on (some time prior to the tragic news with respect of the Company Secretary he had announced his intention to retire from voluntary work with the ECF). The Finance Director said he would prefer a firm to take on the work rather then an individual, and the expected cost would be £10k. There may also be an additional expenditure in trying to find someone to take on some of the other work the Company Secretary previously provided. John Philpott really did do a huge, huge amount of voluntary work for the ECF.

• The ECF is looking to maintain reserves at £100k, with the planned extra expenditure coming from sponsorship, donations, and money from the various trust funds the ECF/ BCF has.

• There was quite a bit of discussion about the ECF using some membership fees in future years to fund expanded plans for International Chess. A couple of representatives felt that their members were strongly not in favour of this, and would prefer International expenditure reduced or more contingent on sponsorship income, whilst the International Director felt that it was largely a choice between the ECF standing still, or pushing forward with ambition.

• The ECF plans to move approximately 50% of the PIF to the new Chess Trust charity (this works out at about £160k), with the rest being used to fund the ECF’s plans greater expenditure. The Chess Trust can also support the British Championships, except any professional players (it’s a bit of a blurry line what the Chess Trust can and can’t support, in line with the charity rules and regulations).

There were then a number of votes:

Supporting the planned increase in membership fees: 32 in favour, 6 against.
Supporting the funding request from PIF: 36 in favour, 1 against.
Supporting the funding request from the John Robinson Youth Trust: 27 in favour, 7 against.
One representative strongly felt that John Robinson would not have been in favour of the proposed funding request from the Youth Trust, which undoubtedly convinced a few more people to vote against this one.
Supporting the transfer from PIF to Chess Trust: 37 in favour, 0 against.

I abstained from voting on these ones. I hadn’t received any opinions about how people felt on this, and wasn’t sure how organisations would have wished me to vote.

And with that the meeting closed. Thanks in part to re- arranging the order of things so that the BCF meeting came after the ECF one rather than in the middle, and partly because there was only a couple of contested elections, the meeting finished well within the scheduled time. I’m afraid I disappeared for a well-earned drink rather than hang around for the BCF meeting, so I’m not able to offer a report on that, but usually not a great deal of significance happens in that one.

There are reports on the AGM by the SCCU Delegate here:

http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/bcf.htm

and the ECF’s official minutes here:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... 016-v6.pdf

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:47 pm

benedgell wrote: • There was a lot of criticism of the ECF Yearbook, and the CEO apologised for this. I don’t have a copy of the Yearbook, and if anyone does please do let me know what was wrong with this year’s version.
I don't think the issue was with the content, rather the absence of it. The production of the most recent Yearbook was to a much later schedule than normal.

Mick Norris
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:00 pm

Ben

As always, thanks for your excellent report, and indeed for the effort you put into attending, plus pre and post meeting consultation; I suspect if all Council delegates were like you, we wouldn't need to reform Council

Agree with what you say about Peter Hornsby; it would be good to hear that the ECF was engaging his services in a suitable way
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Carl Hibbard » Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:04 pm

Thanks Ben.
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:32 pm

benedgell (ECF AGM) wrote:
• The ECF is looking to maintain reserves at £100k, with the planned extra expenditure coming from sponsorship, donations, and money from the various trust funds the ECF/ BCF has.

• There was quite a bit of discussion about the ECF using some membership fees in future years to fund expanded plans for International Chess.
There is a degree of contradiction in these two objectives, as raised by some of the others who have written reports or commented on the meeting.

The conflict is likely to feature at the next Finance meeting. Whilst paying extra isn't necessarily going to be opposed by the most active players, demands by the ECF for extortionate fees for playing a single game of chess in its graded monopoly are not going to be popular.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:45 pm

I have formally submitted a request for an amendment to the draft minutes as follows:
I am formally requesting changes to the minutes relating to Item 13 on the original Agenda document, but taken out of order and numbered in the minutes at 14. The agenda item read as follows:

Council is invited to consider the five year plan, and provide guidance to the Board in respect of the proposals that it should bring to future
Finance Council meetings in respect of:
(a) increases in membership fees;
(b) funding of the ECF from reserves in the Permanent Invested Fund and John Robinson Youth Chess Trust; and
(c) transfers from the Permanent Invested Fund to The Chess Trust


Votes were taken on each of (a) to (c) above without change of any wording.

The draft minutes of this read as follows:

14.2 (a) Approval of the proposed Membership fees - approved 32 for, 6 against
14.2 (b) (i) Approval of the funding of the ECF from the Reserves in the Permanent Invested Fund - approved 32 for, 2 against
14.2 (b)(ii) Approval of the funding of the ECF from the Reserves of the John Robinson Youth Chess Trust - approved 27 for, 7 against
14.2 (c) Approval of the transfers from the Permanent Invested Fund (50% of the Fund) to The Chess Trust - approved 37 for, none against.

These minutes give a wrong impression of the actual motion passed in that they imply the proposals in the 5 year plan have been approved by Council for implementation (which it may not do as it may not bind its successors, particularly the Finance meeting whose responsibility this is). What was passed was a motion providing guidance to the Board on the proposals it might bring forward at a later date. The wording of the minute should be changed to make this clear.

It should also be made clear that the voting figures were hand count figures and not a card vote.

John Reyes
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by John Reyes » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:00 pm

When is the April Meeting?
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

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Michael Farthing
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Michael Farthing » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:02 pm

I only a few days ago asked the ECF office about this as I wanted to plan my congress itineray. I was told informally that 22 April was the likely date. As I am sure forumites will realise, finding a free, reasonably priced and reasonable quality venue that must by necessity be available on a Saturday and by constitutional requirement be in Birmingham in April does provide the ECF office with fairly limited options

Michael Flatt
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Michael Flatt » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:35 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:I only a few days ago asked the ECF office about this as I wanted to plan my congress itineray. I was told informally that 22 April was the likely date.
Unfortunately, that coincides with the Preliminary round of the ECF County Championships.
County Championship Rules wrote:The draw will be made by a Committee consisting of the Controller, the Director of Home Chess and the Chief Arbiter, and shall be published not later than 1st April.
...
D3.1. Matches shall be played on, or by mutual agreement before, or on the Sunday immediately following, the dates here listed:

Preliminary Round – Fourth Saturday in April

Mike Gunn
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Mike Gunn » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:53 am

My understanding is that is April 22nd. Normally it would have been April 15th but that is Easter. There was discussion of all the other Saturdays in April and they all ended up being rejected because of conflicts with other events/ commitments and I understood we had arrived at the 22nd being the least worse option. Of course the dates of Council meetings are determined by Council and the fact that this wasn't done in October is probably connected with John's unfortunate demise.

Mick Norris
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:16 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
Michael Farthing wrote:I only a few days ago asked the ECF office about this as I wanted to plan my congress itineray. I was told informally that 22 April was the likely date.
Unfortunately, that coincides with the Preliminary round of the ECF County Championships.
County Championship Rules wrote:The draw will be made by a Committee consisting of the Controller, the Director of Home Chess and the Chief Arbiter, and shall be published not later than 1st April.
...
D3.1. Matches shall be played on, or by mutual agreement before, or on the Sunday immediately following, the dates here listed:

Preliminary Round – Fourth Saturday in April
There were only 3 matches in the Prelims last season, and only 2 of these took place on the 23 April (U120 and Minor Counties), with the U160 taking place on 30 April
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Michael Flatt
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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Michael Flatt » Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:00 pm

Mick Norris wrote: There were only 3 matches in the Prelims last season, and only 2 of these took place on the 23 April (U120 and Minor Counties), with the U160 taking place on 30 April
I don't disagree with Council Chairman, Mike Gunn, that the 22nd is the most favoured date for the Finance Meeting, but it would help to have some certainty so that those wishing to play in an ECF organised event might appoint proxies should they be unable to attend the Council meeting.

The actual teams playing in the preliminary rounds of the County Championship will not be known until the 1st April. The schedule is quite tight and the nominations for the SCCU may not be fully known by the specified date of 24th March since the new rules (and dates) were not known until after the SCCU fixtures had been agreed.

The date of Easter (being the previous weekend) also limits the possibility of rescheduling the Preliminary round should teams wish for any reason not to play on the 22nd.

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Re: ECF October 2016 – Minutes of AGM

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:31 pm

Yes that weekend has Junior 4NCL plus Great Yarmouth congress, and that day has the EPSCA U9 final plus the Golders Green rapidplay

As you say, time is limited by Easter the previous weekend and by main 4NCL the following weekend

It would be useful if the ECF could put the date of their meeting on their calendar as soon as possible
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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