Director of Women's Chess

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:14 pm

There is a couple of points re this Director of Womens Chess matter, and Casual Chess, I think it is very commendable that Amanda Ross runs Casual Chess (local chess needs people running clubs up and country with a focus on Widening Participation), however, there are a couple of points I noted in Finance Council, which were not addressed.

1) The membership demographics of Casual Chess quoted at Finance Council were breakdowns of the members of the Casual Chess Facebook Group, which contains many interested persons, many of whom are not members.

2) Casual Chess claimed 5,000 visits per year; this was actually Facebook 'visits', so they were rather unusual statistics to be using.

3) Point 1 and 2, naturally lead me to query whether Casual Chess has taught 500 women in their Beginners/Improvers course in a year. I was given no clear answer at the time. My only point was that having run the largest University Chess Society in the country, we would be happy to get 500 individuals on the equivalent course that we run, let alone 500 women.

4) The ECF has appointed a man in the role of Director for Womens Chess. This may seem unconventional, however I have both heard and now read media reports that one of his tasks is to actively look for a more ideal successor, this may be a matter of holding the position in an interim capacity. I would like to encourage us to be scientific about the situation, i.e. judge the actions of the new Director (instead of their background) over the coming months, and then assess the outcomes.

Edit: Also, the Casual Chess proposal for £6,000 contained no details of where it would be spent on. See https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-cont ... -Chess.pdf.
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benedgell
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by benedgell » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:02 am

I don't think the journalist who wrote The Telegraph article addressed any points that might've proved contrary to the views of the person he interviewed.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:24 am

I briefly discussed this with my predecessor as Barnstaple chairman at tonight's meeting of the club. The conclusion we came to was that whatever the merits of the candidates, the decision was not one that looked good.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger Lancaster » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:06 am

I'm completely in favour of involving more women in chess but one difficulty is that the tactic here being employed, invoking a PR campaign using the 'minority' card to extract money without business plan or similar documentary back-up, is one which could be copied - and, if successful, likely will - by any other minority group. The unfavourable publicity is regrettable but will blow over. That doesn't alter the fact that the ECF needs to address the question of women in chess but a panic reaction to this publicity is not the way.

[I should perhaps clarify that women, who outnumber men in the wider population, are a 'minority' among chessplayers only.]

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JustinHorton
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:06 am
The unfavourable publicity is regrettable but will blow over.
Probably, but it would be better if it did not.
Roger Lancaster wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:06 am
I'm completely in favour of involving more women in chess
Everybody is, Roger, everybody is. This whole thread is full of guys saying the same.

The trouble is that it's also full of the same guys being unable to see what on earth women could have to complain about here while being very able to see that the complaining and the publicity is very unfair.

And just as the Director business doesn't look good - and really, this shouldn't be a hard thing to see - the discussion on this thread doesn't look gorgeous either.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Michael Farthing » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:31 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am
and just as the Director business doesn't look good - and really, this shouldn't be a hard thing to see - the discussion on this thread doesn't look gorgeous either.
Yeah - that's the problem with discussions: some people think the wrong things.
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Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:40 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am
This whole thread is full of guys saying the same.
Let's hope we don't descend into a rerun of a particularly memorable Yes Minister moment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhZRDoGZg00..
JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am
the discussion on this thread doesn't look gorgeous either.
I think the fact that the wide consensus recognises that it is not a good look for chess, suggest a number of underlining issues. Theoretically, one would expect women chess players to have on average more experienced with women's chess than men. Essentially, the ECF is saying that when this vacancy was opened there was no experienced female candidate for this role; unless the identities of candidates are known, all anyone is doing on this forum was making educated guesses.

However, assuming the ECF is indeed correct, it suggests serious issues and shortcomings in the way we are developing enough women chess players experienced in the world of ECF chess. If this is the case, and the other candidates were not suitable, then having an unsuitable candidate would just be hiding the cracks.

Alternatively, there is a large number of women chess players, who simply were not made aware of the vacancy. I personally know female arbiters, Society presidents, and organisers in Leagues (some who hold doctorates), with the appropriate chess experience/drive.

To address the issue head on, I think workload is an issue; as an outside observer, the Directorate for Womens' Chess does not appear to have the same support structures, in that the Director for Home Chess has 8 Officers reporting to him, the Membership Director appears to have 4 officer/administrators reporting to him, etc, whereas, the impression I get from the ECF website is that the Women's Chess Director do not have the same level of support. https://www.englishchess.org.uk/about/ecf-officials/
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JustinHorton
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:46 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:40 am
one would expect women chess players to have on average more experienced with women's chess than men. Essentially, the ECF is saying that when this vacancy was opened there was no experienced female candidate for this role; unless the identities of candidates are known, all anyone is doing on this forum was making educated guesses.
I might delete "educated" from that. Other than that, I mostly agree with your post, except perhaps...
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:40 am
I think the fact that the wide consensus recognises that it is not a good look for chess
...I'm not at all sure about this "wide consensus". I think there's been an absolute parade of commentors on here who have thought it sufficient to point out that it's not absolutely necessary to have a woman in the role of Director of Women's Chess. As if this had never occurred to anybody, least of all any women players. The notions that nevertheless it's far from desirable, and that women (and not just women) may not find that explanation sufficient, are (it seems to me) trailing a long way behind.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:50 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:40 am
the impression I get from the ECF website is that the Women's Chess Director do not have the same support structures.
It's only a director level post for political reasons. When the previous holder stood down, the initial plan was to drop it back to a "manager" post reporting to the Home Director. Whilst the British Championship is a major event and grading keeps a team busy, in terms of practical events, what does the Women's Director have to organise that needs a large team to do it? There's just the English Championship as it stands at the moment, which is a very small weekend Swiss.

It's a worldwide problem, not just for England. Women don't play chess in the same numbers that men do. You can speculate as to why.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Michael Farthing » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:05 am

I hadn't considered that there was any current activity that a Director of Women's Chess would be responsible for. Surely the purpose of this role is to bring imaginative thinking for new initiatives and give support where such initiatives are already happening or are being planned by others? There is absolutely no point in clouding that purpose by handing across an administration of an existing congress already being ably handled. Of course, a director of women's chess might have comments to make on improvements that can be considered to that congress but in a well-functioning board that might still be best achieved by conversation.

The disadvantage of a board post is that the incumbent is expected to attend board meetings (and Council) taking up 12 days a year before anything has been done. This may well be one reason why Sarah stepped down. OTOH outside the Board it is much harder for an incumbent to pull together the necessary support and cooperation of others that is essential for such a difficult pioneering role and there is a danger that isolation would lead to an absence of activity.
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Chris Rice
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Chris Rice » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:17 am

Well I guess job number 1 for any Director of Women's chess would be to listen to women chess players and try to do your best for them. So it was interesting on FB this morning to see some interesting things Jovanka had to say and what Chris Fegan replied:

"Women in chess: what Is the way forward? Air out all the crap that women have to go through. Or should we keep stuff private - in the hope that our struggles will make it easier for the younger girls..
I don’t particularly like Option A and it’s not my style. However, its becoming increasingly common to hear of female chess players having to devote a lot of energy fighting for the most basic of things. Its so frustrating and shocking.
I personally would love it if chess federations could give their female players some basic guarantees. There will be always be a national womens team at olympiads/European team which will NOT be sacrificed at the expense of the open team. (I want to stress that this is not the case for England but it was in 2013). If the federation does secure sponsorship it should be used for both male and female national teams not just for one.
A guarantee that positive discrimination (in terms of tournaments, prizes, media coverage etc) will happen until female participation is at an acceptable rate.
Any elite training scheme for juniors must include girls - I would like to see the number at 40%.
Finally, please don’t direct any jealous snarky comments about positive discrimination/ women’s chess to female players. If you do need to say anything vile, feel free to rant away... but to an automated telephone hotline"

To which Chris F replied: "All the things that Jovi has described are in my "inbox"".

Despite the optics, having met Chris F a number of times over the past 12 months or so working with CSC, I've found him to be a thoroughly decent guy who I have no doubt will try and follow through on whatever he says he will so I wish him all the best but suspect its going to be a bumpy ride for him.

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:30 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:46 am
I might delete "educated" from that. Other than that, I mostly agree with your post, except perhaps...
I appreciate the good chuckle, however, I'm optimistic that most people (here) do want to see more people (men and women, in general) playing
JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:46 am
...I'm not at all sure about this "wide consensus". I think there's been an absolute parade of commentors on here who have thought it sufficient to point out that it's not absolutely necessary to have a woman in the role of Director of Women's Chess.
To be fair, technically I am not arguing that the Director needs to be a woman; merely the fact that it is not, is an indicator that there are serious issues with developing experienced women chess players. (Alternatively, it was bad advertised, and/or the Directorate does not have enough support staff)
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:50 am
It's only a director level post for political reasons. When the previous holder stood down, the initial plan was to drop it back to a "manager" post reporting to the Home Director. Whilst the British Championship is a major event and grading keeps a team busy, in terms of practical events, what does the Women's Director have to organise that needs a large team to do it? There's just the English Championship as it stands at the moment, which is a very small weekend Swiss.

It's a worldwide problem, not just for England. Women don't play chess in the same numbers that men do. You can speculate as to why.
I don't wish to jump into a debate about what exacting you mean by 'political reasons'. Every directorate in the ECF is political, if we actually look at it carefully.

I am glad you said the latter; there is a disparity and if we want both men and women to play, we do need to speculate why and address any of the issues head on. This is fundamentally why there is a need for the role, and hopefully there to chair a group on boosting participation. For example, in the CDCL, some expressed the feeling there we need to do more for widening participation, and we acted by setting up a group for widening participation to address some of the short/long term issues. Surely, the best way to address increasing the number of women playing chess is to have a Women's Chess Director with that brief, do you propose an alternative way to speculate and deal with the underlining causes?
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:14 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:30 am
Every directorate in the ECF is political, if we actually look at it carefully.
If you write down a list of what a national chess federation of England has to do, there are some very obvious roles which are matched with Director level responsibilities. In England there's a problem with the number of people playing chess, so is concentrating on a subset of that issue, namely the number of women relevant?

It doesn't help that the issue is taken up by those who would tell you what to think and shout down those who would propose "incorrect" hypotheses.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:26 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:14 am
It doesn't help that the issue is taken up by those who would tell you what to think and shout down those who would propose "incorrect" hypotheses.
Like I said, Rog, too many men on this thread playing martyr.
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NickFaulks
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:32 am

Jovanka wrote:Air out all the crap that women have to go through.
Let's do that. I for one would genuinely like to know what this crap is.
However, its becoming increasingly common to hear of female chess players having to devote a lot of energy fighting for the most basic of things. Its so frustrating and shocking.
Again...
If the federation does secure sponsorship it should be used for both male and female national teams not just for one.
Doesn't the sponsor get a say?
A guarantee that positive discrimination (in terms of tournaments, prizes, media coverage etc) will happen until female participation is at an acceptable rate.
Re tournaments and prizes, I thought that happened now. What more is needed? How is the ECF expected to guarantee media coverage?

The problem we face now is that the English Women's team is not merely weaker than the Open team ( obviously ), but they are also not as good as other Women's team. Let's hope that can be fixed, but until some visible progress is made it will be difficult to get the media excited. That should not stop the ECF from pushing out upbeat press releases.
Finally, please don’t direct any jealous snarky comments about positive discrimination/ women’s chess to female players. If you do need to say anything vile, feel free to rant away... but to an automated telephone hotline
Will my comments above be considered vile? I'm asking because I don't know.

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