Ecf Silver member letter

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:00 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:39 am
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:28 am
We now have a board that is putting together a pro active development strategy and all they are getting in return is nitpicking negativity; mainly from people who would never dream of volunteering for anything.
It's not just forum posters who can be accused of nit-picking negativity. The same applies to the ECF, a particular example being the demand to pre-register and establish a grade for a temporarily ungraded player taking part in a totally Open competition.
Is this a reference to the county championships? If so I would ask you to note the following;

a) The open section is still subject to rules governing the board order. Therefore prior clearance and an estimated grade is necessary to ensure compliance with the rule.
b) A significant number of county captains adore pedantic rules. The competition wouldn't be so much fun without other captains inadvertently tripping over them.
c) The ECF has made two attempts at reform in recent years and were rebuffed both times.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:10 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:00 am
a) The open section is still subject to rules governing the board order. Therefore prior clearance and an estimated grade is necessary to ensure compliance with the rule.
The rules don't have to be written or enforced that way and that's the point. It's a good way for the ECF to annoy and discourage volunteers.

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:12 am

I am not entirely sure why there isn't much discussion on the rather ambitious membership fee increases, of ~25% over two years from 2018-2020.

Are members, clubs, and leagues, actually aware of the scope of the membership fee proposals, and perhaps not all of them are entirely sensible, and therefore should not have so much money spent on it?
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:47 am
This thread started by Roger is actually worth a lot of attention, for a number of reasons.

Intentionally ambiguous or not, the ECF appears to have published a breakdown of costs that don't appear to add up properly in their requests for more funding, and seem to lack sufficient clarity that it would be expected in academia or industry:
The paper C29.12 asks for £26,500 of additional spending. However, the ECF Silver Reps have detailed that the ECF wishes to have £49,500 of additional spending - conversations with insiders indicate that the Silver Reps are closer to the real figures.. It took me a long while, and a lot of consulting to get to the bottom of this:
  • 2018-19: Bronze-£16; Silver-£23.50; Gold-£34; Platinum-£70; J Bronze/Silver £5; J Gold £17;
  • 2019-20: Bronze-£18; Silver-£27; Gold-£39; Platinum-£75; J Bronze/Silver £6; J Gold £19.5;
  • 2020-21: Bronze-£20; Silver-£30; Gold-£41; Platinum-£80; J Bronze/Silver £6; J Gold £20.5;
(Current rates https://www.englishchess.org.uk/members ... hip-rates/)
(Proposed rates https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-cont ... -rates.pdf)

Percentage Increase over 2 years from 2018-2020: Bronze 25%; Silver 28%; Gold 20%;

At the last Financial Council meeting, delegates expressed a concern that the proposed merger of Silver/Bronze would not give value for money to Bronze members (whilst, those in favour believe it would give people more chess opportunities by reducing barriers for Bronze members to play in Congresses).

Bronze members will now be expected to pay 25% more than at present for no extra benefit (significantly more than 2.7% annual inflation), Silver members will be expected to play 28% more, and Gold, 20%. I think delegates and leagues need to ask whether members are indeed getting 25% or even 28% more value from the ECF over two year? Or perhaps, the ECF can enlighten on the following:
  • £17,500 extra on International Chess (on top of last years's £63,000 seems a bit excessive)
  • £10,000 extra on a Development Officer seems a bit misplaced, many of the Directors already address much of what the role seems to entail.
When ECF fees start to increase above Student Union fees, then there are serious questions to be asked. (At Warwick University, members have to pay £19 to be allowed to join a student society, and then pay £3 to join the Chess Society, somehow these addition fee charges give me the same vibe as my SU, and that does not fill me with confidence)

The ECF should be making it easier for players to play in Leagues and in Congresses, not start by raising the financial barriers.

I think every League or Congress organiser needs to pay due attention to these proposals, and work out whether it is viable for the long term future of their members and clubs.

It is worth noting that Directors come and go, and their different priorities come and go, however what doesn't change is the desire to increase membership fees; once we set setting the precedence of 20%+ increases, you may find future Boards embarking on similar white elephant ideas.

I am sure a lot of chess players/members of the ECF come from industry, engineering, or a lean thinking background; there is probably a lot of untapped talent that can help the ECF achieve its objectives without setting a precedence of dubiously justified fee increases.

If the University of Warwick Chess Society can get sponsorship, I am quite sure the more experienced, and well-known ECF can secure more sponsorship as an income source.
Last edited by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu on Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Celebrating 100 Years of the Coventry & District Chess League 1919-2019

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:25 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:10 am
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:00 am
a) The open section is still subject to rules governing the board order. Therefore prior clearance and an estimated grade is necessary to ensure compliance with the rule.
The rules don't have to be written or enforced that way and that's the point. It's a good way for the ECF to annoy and discourage volunteers.
Off topic but which part of the following statement is unclear? The ECF has tried to reform the event, the resistance has come (generally) from long standing county captains and players.

The rules don't `have` to be written that way but the final word lies with council, not the ECF. As for enforced - and bear in mind that following changes in recent years appeals are heard by a relatively independent committee rather than the ECF itself - there are plenty of county captains who would happily crucify the ECF for not enforcing them.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:30 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:25 am
The rules don't `have` to be written that way but the final word lies with council, not the ECF.
I doubt that Council are interested in the detail rules on board order for the County Championship. Whatever these rules say or are interpreted is down to the Controller and behind the Controller, the Home Director.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Paul Cooksey » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:45 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:28 am
We now have a board that is putting together a pro active development strategy and all they are getting in return is nitpicking negativity; mainly from people who would never dream of volunteering for anything.
Sigh. Whenever we try to discuss ECF matters there is always someone trying to frame it as a simplistic culture war between organisers and members without any supporting evidence at all. It is an annoying distraction.
J T Melsom wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:50 pm
I need to consider more closely the case for greater international spend
I think there is a case for higher spend on elite chess although I am not convinced yet. But my main reason for disagreeing with it at this time is that I think the International Director ought to be accountable for setting this budget. Otherwise there is little point electing executive board members.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:14 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:30 am
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:25 am
The rules don't `have` to be written that way but the final word lies with council, not the ECF.
I doubt that Council are interested in the detail rules on board order for the County Championship. Whatever these rules say or are interpreted is down to the Controller and behind the Controller, the Home Director.
The first part is nonsense, quite frankly. The county championships are contested between county associations and unions who make up a substantial amount of the voting membership of council. Of course they're interested in the rules.

I do consider the county championships to be a little bit rule heavy and that was one of the reasons I chose to step down as controller to free up time for other things. However I stand by my view that it is the counties themselves that want it that way, not the ECF.
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Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:39 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:45 am
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:28 am
We now have a board that is putting together a pro active development strategy and all they are getting in return is nitpicking negativity; mainly from people who would never dream of volunteering for anything.
Sigh. Whenever we try to discuss ECF matters there is always someone trying to frame it as a simplistic culture war between organisers and members without any supporting evidence at all. It is an annoying distraction.
Assuming you mean `members` in the context of `every paid up member of the ECF` most members are generally appreciative of the organisers who make chess possible for them. If I am framing anything as a culture war it's a very small minority of members who criticise anything organisers do while a) not doing a lot themselves and b) claiming to speak on behalf of all members.

For me the bottom line is that I support the current board and want to hear their ideas to develop chess in this country. The demographic time bomb will hit in about ten years and we no longer have time to mess about (I had to resist the temptation to use another word instead of mess). Paying £3.50 a month to support ECF activities is not a problem for me.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:05 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:39 am
For me the bottom line is that I support the current board and want to hear their ideas to develop chess in this country. The demographic time bomb will hit in about ten years and we no longer have time to mess about (I had to resist the temptation to use another word instead of mess). Paying £3.50 a month to support ECF activities is not a problem for me.
I must protest, the current board contain a lot of individuals who I know personally very well, and are great fun to work with/for (namely DT and AH). However, I will not simply support anything from the Board, especially given I don't know whether those individuals supported the proposals, and even if they did, it doesn't mean I can't profoundly disagree.

There is a demographic time bomb, but I don't believe it can be solved by the ECF, local issues and factors vary across the country, we need the ECF to not pursue the raising of financial barriers by 25% across slightly under 2 years, with no tangible benefit.

(In fact, the passing of this proposal will prevent anybody from re-proposing a silver and bronze merger for the next 2 years, given that a new merger proposal would be even more expensive for Bronze members)

I must disagree on this thread (again - sorry!) at the use of the £3.50 per month number; if every organisation, membership, product, or service I buy, sold everything as a per month cost, than that would be a sensible use of statistic, but apart from overprice media and energy companies, I'm not so convinced!
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:09 pm

Andrew,

It is not a consideration for me either, but a lot of members nevertheless resent it, and there are those for whom it is a serious consideration. The Board figures assume 100% price elasticity - that no one will either cease membership or downgrade to a lower level. I suspect that the loss of membership will not be large but it will not be zero. These are possibilities that will add to the time bomb rather than deal with it. Amongst our respondents we frequently get comments from club officials who are acutely aware of the difficulty of getting new social players to pay for membership when faced with a baptism into league matches. It is noticeable that with the reduction in junior membership fees the number of junior events being graded is rising quite dramatically. Admittedly, that is more predictable and there may be other factors involved, but these things should not just be set aside without consideration.
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J T Melsom
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:51 pm

i don't want us to get side-tracked by the usual suspects into a debate about funding models. I think the element of flexibility within the current system is helpful. But I wonder if it would be more helpful if the exemptions that apply to league games were applied to internal club events up to a certain cap. The current exempton doesn't cover a full five or six round event (I wouldn't want all club events to be free as some are rather extended). I would argue that a club event at the home venue is exactly the way to integrate new players, rather than have to play league chess often against people less warmly disposed.

It would also make it easier to market the club as to what sort of chess we offer. Of course there are many activities where participation in a serious expression of your pastime requires more money, but at present my club can only offer a room and casual chess, if you want more there is a charge, albeit one which is deferred slightly and is not unduly onerous.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:06 pm

Clubs differ of course. My own club has several internal graded competitions and the vast majority of games played on club nights get graded. Membership of the ECF is therefore more or less compulsory to take a full part in the club and we have little difficulty in persuading new members to do this. OTOH we make little effort at active recruitment (partly because in any case we are seriously pushed for space). Our good neighbours down the road, by contrast, do not grade their internal games and there is a much more informal feel to their club nights.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:28 pm

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:05 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:39 am
For me the bottom line is that I support the current board and want to hear their ideas to develop chess in this country. The demographic time bomb will hit in about ten years and we no longer have time to mess about (I had to resist the temptation to use another word instead of mess). Paying £3.50 a month to support ECF activities is not a problem for me.
I must protest, the current board contain a lot of individuals who I know personally very well, and are great fun to work with/for (namely DT and AH). However, I will not simply support anything from the Board, especially given I don't know whether those individuals supported the proposals, and even if they did, it doesn't mean I can't profoundly disagree.

There is a demographic time bomb, but I don't believe it can be solved by the ECF, local issues and factors vary across the country, we need the ECF to not pursue the raising of financial barriers by 25% across slightly under 2 years, with no tangible benefit.

(In fact, the passing of this proposal will prevent anybody from re-proposing a silver and bronze merger for the next 2 years, given that a new merger proposal would be even more expensive for Bronze members)

I must disagree on this thread (again - sorry!) at the use of the £3.50 per month number; if every organisation, membership, product, or service I buy, sold everything as a per month cost, than that would be a sensible use of statistic, but apart from overprice media and energy companies, I'm not so convinced!
I never said that I'd support everything the board did. My point is that I think that these are the right people to be running English chess at this moment in time and I will listen to what they have to say.

The ECF can't `solve` the demographic time bomb as such but they can provide a framework for local organisers such as you and me to work within and share best practice.

On reflection I agree that my £3.50 a month figure is slightly unhelpful as the ECF charges an annual lump sum rather than a monthly subscription. My point is to show that the cost is negligible compared to other outgoings. This ties into Michael's comment as well but I strongly suspect that other activities such as football and tennis have a similar funding model. I can't do a full detailed analysis but football has never struck me as a particularly cheap hobby from what I've picked up over the years. The problem with chess in this country has always been that players seem to expect it on the cheap.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:46 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:28 pm
I can't do a full detailed analysis but football has never struck me as a particularly cheap hobby from what I've picked up over the years.
How does it work then for amateur players who play in the lowest levels of formal competition? Are they expected to finance the Football Association, or is the flow of funds the other way, namely that grants and prizes are made available financed from the sums earned by sponsorship?

If the ECF was so flush with funds that it not only didn't have to levy individual players, but also subsidised clubs, county associations, leagues and Congresses, what effects would this have?

J T Melsom
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Re: Ecf Silver member letter

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:16 pm

If the ECF was so flush with funds that it not only didn't have to levy individual players, but also subsidised clubs, county associations, leagues and Congresses, what effects would this have?


It isn't though is it? So your hypothesis is a waste of time, unless you are now saying chess players should not support the netional body at all. I have never heard anybody say that a national body isn't a good thing. In the absence of government funding somebody has to pay. And even some of the cash rich sports get funding cut because of failing to reach diversity and performance targets, so the ECF taking steps to develop strategies to increase participation is exactly what government would expect, were the funding debate to be re-visited.

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