ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

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Neill Cooper
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ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Neill Cooper » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:31 pm

I have resigned from my post as ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator.

The minutes of the 69th ECF Board meeting on 17th March state that the motion: “That people playing in events organised and graded by the ECF must be ECF members.” was passed. It also records that an amendment to the motion to exempt school team tournaments was not accepted. This is the second time this year that, with minimal consultation, the ECF board have made a decision detrimental to the events I ran for the ECF.

The board decision removes an important part of my activities, as the one day graded schools rapid play events have already been shown to be a stepping stone to encourage more schools to play chess. That held on 17th March at King's School, Grantham was one such event. Whilst most other ECF organised events are national championships, my events were aimed to broaden the appeal of chess in schools.

Similarly, the insistence that schools should be treated in the same way as other clubs does not take into account the very limited number of players available to any schools – only their pupils.

The impact of not grading National Schools Championships matches will lead to most schools no longer featuring in the grading list, making organisation of school fixtures more difficult.

I do hope to continue with some of the activities I started as ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator: the newsletter, afternoon (ungraded) inter-school events and some graded school team rapid plays.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:49 pm

Neill Cooper wrote: The impact of not grading National Schools Championships matches will lead to most schools no longer featuring in the grading list, making organisation of school fixtures more difficult.
Are they actually removing the National Schools event from grading? I read the minutes as demanding ECF membership as a condition of participation in an ECF organised team event.

The ECF does like shooting itself in the foot. A logical approach would be that the school becomes a non-voting member of the ECF and its benefit of membership is that its pupils have games in school events against other member schools graded at no extra cost, or for some nominal fee.

(edit) Presumably the news of the change has only just been made public. If correct, this is news manipulation by the ECF to avoid debate as it's a topic that surely should have been discussed at the Finance Council meeting as part of the review of membership concessions. (/edit)

John Swain
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by John Swain » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:13 pm

As someone who took a team to the event at King's School Grantham, I can testify to how worthwhile the event was (including the grading done during the event by Neill Cooper, which was a major interest for all the participants). It would be very detrimental to lose valuable events like this or to see entries reduce due to funding hurdles. At least one of the schools participating has no budget set aside for chess.

A couple of questions:
Does the ECF wish to see as many schools as possible playing in team events like that at King's Grantham, and if possible entering more than one team?
Does the ECF realise that many juniors only play a handful of games in a year, perhaps just for their school team, but may well later join clubs or play in congresses which then provide the ECF with a lot of income over many years?

I agree with Neill Cooper's obvious frustration with the ECF and its short-sighted, self-defeating policy. The lack of consultation doesn't surprise me either. Maybe his resignation will be a wake-up call to the ECF, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm sorry that the ECF is losing Neill Cooper's services by this obtuse policy.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Is this fair?

Post by Neill Cooper » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:51 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:I do find it depressing that after 70 people have enjoyed an afternoon of chess, played in a great spirit and well organised and controlled by a team of volunteers, it all gets overshadowed by something as stupid and petty as this. I'd rather people cut the kid some slack, said well done for getting off his arse and putting on a good afternoon for all concerned.
It is a pity that the ECF Home Director, who organised the British Blitz, did not take this view to the ECF Schools events I was running. Instead he insisted (with ECF Board support) that if the events were to be graded then all players had to be ECF members.
Last edited by Carl Hibbard on Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Post moved to here by moderators

John Upham
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by John Upham » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:19 pm

Neil,

This is most regrettable. Let us hope that common-sense will be introduced into decision making and a non-Thatcher U-turn on this decision can be made. :(
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Carl Hibbard » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:29 pm

The moderators moved Neil's last post into a more appropriate thread after receiving an off topic post complaint
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Carl Hibbard » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:36 pm

John Upham wrote:Neil,

This is most regrettable. Let us hope that common-sense will be introduced into decision making and a non-Thatcher U-turn on this decision can be made. :(
I agree a poor ECF decision
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:37 pm

John Swain wrote: Does the ECF realise that many juniors only play a handful of games in a year, perhaps just for their school team, but may well later join clubs or play in congresses which then provide the ECF with a lot of income over many years?
This may well be the case overall. Is it the case for those juniors who play in this specific event? (Genuine question; I don't have the figures to hand.)

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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:59 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:[ Is it the case for those juniors who play in this specific event?
I don't think it's just the one specific event, but general reasoning suggests that many players in the 18 to 30 age range would probably have played at school. There are few enough players in the 11 to 18 age range as it is, by comparison to historic numbers.

The question for the ECF is whether it believes that an insistence on membership for all will increase both the number of players and the number of graded games played by this age range.

There's the curious arbitrage that if events like the National Schools were to be removed from ECF control, they could revert to paying Junior Game Fee and enable participation without membership.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:12 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
IM Jack Rudd wrote:Is it the case for those juniors who play in this specific event?
I don't think it's just the one specific event, but general reasoning suggests that many players in the 18 to 30 age range would probably have played at school. There are few enough players in the 11 to 18 age range as it is, by comparison to historic numbers.
I think you're missing the point I was trying to make, because it is linked to this specific event: are competitors in this event likely to be people such that, even if this event were not an ECF-organized event, they would be best served by becoming ECF members anyway? I suspect the answer to that one will be "yes" for a significant proportion of the competitors, and almost certainly a larger proportion than it will be for the competitors in some random local secondary schools' league.

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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Neill Cooper » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:36 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:I think you're missing the point I was trying to make, because it is linked to this specific event: are competitors in this event likely to be people such that, even if this event were not an ECF-organized event, they would be best served by becoming ECF members anyway? I suspect the answer to that one will be "yes" for a significant proportion of the competitors, and almost certainly a larger proportion than it will be for the competitors in some random local secondary schools' league.
Jack - How do you mean, 'Best served'? In what ways do you see ECF-organized and not ECF-organized events as being different?
For your information 17 of the 58 players were ECF members. 10 were new to the grading database and quite a few more had not played enough games to have a grade.

It was be nice to think of 'some local random secondary schools' league, but in 2011 there were only three in the whole country.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:48 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
IM Jack Rudd wrote:I think you're missing the point I was trying to make, because it is linked to this specific event: are competitors in this event likely to be people such that, even if this event were not an ECF-organized event, they would be best served by becoming ECF members anyway? I suspect the answer to that one will be "yes" for a significant proportion of the competitors, and almost certainly a larger proportion than it will be for the competitors in some random local secondary schools' league.
Jack - How do you mean, 'Best served'?
Simply in terms of what will minimize their costs over the whole season, making the simplifying assumption that any game fee liability will be passed on to the players concerned.

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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Neill Cooper » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:59 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:Simply in terms of what will minimize their costs over the whole season, making the simplifying assumption that any game fee liability will be passed on to the players concerned.
I don't know of any secondary School that passes such charges on to their players. In many cases schools find it difficult to get enough pupils to play, so they would not want to put that (or any other) disincentive in place.

In what ways do you see ECF-organized and not ECF-organized events as being different?

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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:05 pm

Let's look at the simple facts. English chess is facing a grave crisis due to the lack of new blood coming through at secondary school level. I'm 32 which makes me the second youngest member of my club (by three weeks) and it's very rare that I face a younger player either in club matches or at congresses. This is not an isolated case; most chess events in this country must have an average age of about sixty. THIS IS A GRAVE CRISIS! So I fail to see any logic in this decision.

There is actually a fair amount of activity in junior chess, however it doesn't seem to communicate well with the adult chess scene. There is currently no bridge into the league/ congress scene and a lot of talent is going into a vacuum. To my mind building those bridges needs to be the priority - ECF membership would then naturally follow.

I just hope somebody can force this on to the agenda at the October AGM and get the decision reversed; that's if it doesn't get buried by minutaie (which it probably will).

Incidentally I'm assuming the National Schools Championship is the descendant of the Times sponsored event which I played in during the nineties. In which case I can safely say that compulsary ECF membership would have had a dire effect on participation - and this in a more chess friendly climate.
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Re: ECF National Secondary Schools Co-ordinator

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:20 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:In what ways do you see ECF-organized and not ECF-organized events as being different?
The principal one is that we take responsibility for the former in a way that we don't for the latter; while we will provide services for the latter (grading/rating, inclusion on the calendar, contact details of qualified arbiters and so on), we don't get involved at a closer level.

Events actually organized by the ECF are relatively rare, and normally limited to those where a national title of some sort is at stake. These will tend to be events populated by players who are more active than average, and therefore better placed to benefit from membership. The other thing about these events is that we, as an organization, will be under scrutiny with regard to their rules. It's important for the credibility of our membership scheme that we are seen to be supporting it, and supporting it here means insisting on its use for ECF-organized graded events.

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