Casual Chess cafe

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Andrew Zigmond
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Casual Chess cafe

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:57 pm

Interestingly nobody seems to have commented on the most interesting proposal on the Finance Council agenda, namely the request from the Casual Chess cafe, London for a donation of £6,000.

They have produced a lengthy document for Council and their website is easily found via google. By way of a summary they are a London based organisation run by female players looking to increase diversity in chess although anybody appears to be welcome. My automatic reaction is along the lines of `as much power to their elbow as possible` although I did think the swipe at the ECF for removing the Director of Women's Chess role was slightly unfair.

I have long been an advocate for increasing participation in chess outside of the normal demographic and have argued on here for any surplus ECF funds to be invested this way, particularly money that might otherwise be lost in corporation tax. So if the ECF has £6,000 to spare I would have no objection.

And yet ... Casual Chess appears to be a London initiative with no ambition to move farther afield, so we would ultimately be talking £6,000 to London for London. I'm sure there are chess initiatives elsewhere in the country that could put some donated money for the ECF to good use. So a vote in favour of the Casual Chess request would set a precedent.

I'm a little bit reluctant to add this last paragraph as it may count against Casual Chess at the meeting. If a similar proposal was put forward to benefit an initiative in (plucking the most random example I can think of) Wigan, would the request be viewed and treated the same way?
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:31 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:57 pm
I'm a little bit reluctant to add this last paragraph as it may count against Casual Chess at the meeting. If a similar proposal was put forward to benefit an initiative in (plucking the most random example I can think of) Wigan, would the request be viewed and treated the same way?
Without wishing to comment on the merits of the proposal as a whole, if money were available for development purposes, then it would make sense for it to be in a large centre of population. London is the largest centre of population. You chose Wigan, but if you were to have chosen a large metro area in the vicinity of Wigan (e.g. Manchester or Liverpool), then I'd like to think it would be.

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Chris Goodall » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:10 pm

So make a deal that they can have £6,000 if they teach us how to start something exactly like it in Manchester in September.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:07 pm

With Wigan I was trying to give the most random example I could think of. My point is that if a group of chess enthusiasts in Wigan (or Runcorn, Colchester, Telford or any other name I pull out of the hat) wanted to try something a bit different to generate interest in chess would they be able to obtain money from the ECF? I doubt that they'd need anything like as much as £6,000 but initiatives in the major cities would probably need a similar sum. And are Council the body that should have the final say?
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:57 am

Having reread the proposal I've noticed that Casual Chess are asking for an annual grant of £6,000, as opposed to a one off payment as I assumed. If other initiatives up and down the country can receive similar support (obviously pro rata to the scale of their activities) then I am 100% for it. If it is just a case of money for London to benefit London only I am 100% opposed.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:11 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:07 pm
And are Council the body that should have the final say?
It isn't government funding that they are requesting, it's 60p a year from the 10,000 people who finance the ECF. So who else should make that decision, rather than those supposedly representing them? It sets a poor precedent though, the national chess body has always been in the business of collecting money from local chess organisations, not handing it out.

Is the ECF able to stipulate that all members of Casual Chess become ECF members? If not, why not?

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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Chris Goodall » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:43 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:57 am
Having reread the proposal I've noticed that Casual Chess are asking for an annual grant of £6,000, as opposed to a one off payment as I assumed.
Wow. That is not a small number. How does a single club shovel that much money into a hole in 12 months? Our whole county would take five years to lose that amount if we had no income whatsoever.

I'm sorry but these people aren't exactly the first to try and tackle chess's Cold Church Hall Syndrome. Newcastle's Bar Loco has a casual chess night. Nottingham's board game cafe has a permanent chess table. Sandy Bell's in Edinburgh used to share the space with a folk music night! They're not the first to be open several days a week (Edinburgh). They're not the first to have lots of women involved (Newcastle University). None of those needed propping up to the tune of £6,000 a year.

Why don't they charge white male adults £2 entry, and let everyone else in for free? Boom, instant social justice!
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:04 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:07 pm
And are Council the body that should have the final say?
Yes nd no.

Yes, it should have the final say if its answer is 'no'. Council is the sovereign authority and if it decides this is not the way ECF funds should be used then that is that.

No, it should not give itself the final say if its answer is 'yes'. A business proposition like this needs a proper formal scrutiny which Council cannot do. The current proposal does not show how the money is being spent. It does not show who are the individuals making the application and what their standing is. The best that Council should do is to say "Maybe, Please Board take a look at it for us and come back with a recommendation."

My experience of Council is that it will choose one of the above two options and is pretty unlikely to give a plain 'yes'. Which makes May 2018 look rather doubtful.

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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:40 am

"And are Council the body that should have the final say?"

I don't know about "should", but they wouldn't as the Board would overrule if they felt like it, as with membership matters in the last year...

I would have thought a request for such an amount must be accompanied by a very detailed proposal, and it would take time to go through it, so perhaps the Board should look at it first and then present to Council, otherwise the great B/ECF tradition of not getting through the agenda will occur again.

I make no comment on the merits of the actual proposal.

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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:44 am

Apparently this item has been placed on the agenda by the Chairman of Council. Does that mean the request was made to him or just that the authority to do so was his?

If the ECF is going to use surplus to fund chess initiatives in the country (and I would be in favour of this) there should be a standing committee elected by council that considers funding requests. It shouldn't be for council to vote piecemeal on each and every request (as Michael says they could not provide the necessary scrutiny). I would also say that any grants need to be for the sole purpose of attracting new players to the game (ie not because the Bogborough rapidplay want a higher prize fund for their tenth anniversary event, for example).

If the Casual Chess motion is successful those of us in the North need to get our own initiatives going (the hard bit - it is important this thread doesn't detract from what Casual Chess appear to have achieved) and then ensure we get a similar grant.
Last edited by Andrew Zigmond on Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mike Truran
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:14 pm

I'm a bit reluctant to say this but I do see the hand of one director in this.
No director had a hand in this.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:28 pm

Mike Truran wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:14 pm
I'm a bit reluctant to say this but I do see the hand of one director in this.
No director had a hand in this.
Thanks Mike. I have edited my post accordingly.
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Mike Gunn
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Mike Gunn » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:06 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:44 am
Apparently this item has been placed on the agenda by the Chairman of Council. Does that mean the request was made to him or just that the authority to do so was his?
Both.

Amanda's proposal has obvious consequences for the budget and it's probably the case that Council does not have the power to vote an annual grant to any body apart from through the budgeting process. I received her paper after returning home from the ECF board meeting (where I was present as an observer) on the 22nd. At that meeting the ECF Board had gone through the budget for 2018/2019 and made various decisions. I therefore suggested that she contact the board member who will have responsibility for women's chess next year but she was adamant that she wanted to have opinion on her proposal tested at Council and I think there is some merit in that idea. You will note that I included the phrase "supports in principle" in the agenda item which gives everybody a get-out.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by David Sedgwick » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:04 pm

As far as I can discern, Casual Chess is not affiliated to the ECF either directly or indirectly. In my opinion that should make Council consider carefully whether they are suitable recipients of such largesse.

Many member organisations have supported the ECF / BCF loyally for years and in some cases decades. I imagine that quite a number of them could make good use of a grant of this kind.

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Re: Casual Chess cafe

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:48 pm

A bit worrying that I cannot find Amanda on the ECF membership list.
An extortionate amount of money is my personal view (far more than any voluntary organisation small grant that was previously on offer).
More funding than the Government grants to one pupil for education in the area and we are the highest funded in the country.

Our social chess runs on the same night as our club. It is picking up. The players are quite happy socialising and buying drinks and I've been told that the wine is excellent. The coffee is nice too and cheaper than across the road in the coffee shop. Players are playing for teams, the County, and 1 played his first games in 4NCL last weekend.

The sum is too large and why - it is not very clear.

It was a bit unreasonable for the government to go back on their promises to release 100% of Business Rates back to Westminster City Council and others, and only 75% but not being able to really support the economy. That is because London's money is going up north so keeping their prices down in businesses and pubs, cafes etc, and the cost of playing chess up north.

Of course if I was arriving early for a London League match I may check the venue out, have a coffee and a bite to eat and see if a casual game of chess is available.

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