English Primary Schools Chess Association

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Mike Truran
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:44 pm

Nick

I bow the knee to nobody in my respect for your insightful posts, but if the ECF doesn't organise anything how do you think things like the British Championship, the National Club Championship, the County Championship, international teams etc happen?

Matt Bridgeman
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Matt Bridgeman » Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:06 pm

...and of course in junior terms, the ECF organise the actual proper England junior teams going to European Schools, European Union, World Schools, World Cadets and World Junior Championships, etc, not to mention having titled chess players in attendance to assist with coaching duties.

Nick Grey
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:24 pm

Mike, I agree that ECF organise a lot of things. But even they agree they cannot & should not organise everything.

Of course I'm involved in encouraging juniors & parents in the teams I am involved with as well as at Individual events.

Yes to Matt's item, I know well appreciated, & some can be expensive costs for parents, so hopefully ECF can sort that out with more sponsorship & assistance & any legacy funds.

Look forward to seeing you at 4NCL w/e 4.

Mike Truran
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:51 pm

And anyway I do not think ECF actually helps organise things.
I agree that ECF organise a lot of things.
:?

Nick Grey
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:14 pm

Mike - thanks. Will teach me not to rush that first post.

ECF should try to tie up all the inconsistencies in who does what but is not responsible for the content of those organisations websites & claims.

Perhaps something to take up with the organisation's voting rights, but anyway there is a consultation out on that.

A national club championship without an open section is hardly a success but that is another thread.

Mike Truran
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:20 pm

ECF should try to tie up all the inconsistencies in who does what
If only we could. One of the things that has struck me in my short tenure as CEO is the lack of jurisdiction that ECF has in all sorts of areas - and (if I may be controversial) the seeming reluctance of various organisations to risk relinquishing what they see as their own power base for the greater good of English chess.

Alex's comment earlier was well made: "But the whole system is indeed silo orientated. Lots of organisations doing their own things without an overall framework".

Nick Grey
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:45 pm

Mike concentrate on getting the framework. I doubt EPSCA think they are a power base. Alex's comment too. Been certainly enough issues with ECF & BCF & individuals & organisations not working together.

If those in chess have a gripe with EPSCA they ought to take it up with them & those that are their reps to ECF/Council.

There is a lot of change coming in funding for schools in London & elsewhere, as well as being hit with high rates. So likely to be higher charges to those that want to use facilities for. It is a lot worse than that.

Sorry but schools need to concentrate on education & if parents have to pay 4 times more for this type of activity & other activities there may not need to be a need for these organisations. YES PRIME MINISTER - Abolition of des was on again between my posts. Quite amusing.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:52 pm

While I appreciate there are some sensitive souls who will take offence at almost anything, I don’t find Mike’s comments particularly controversial.

It seems to me that one problem is that of trying, even if the ECF had the necessary jurisdiction, to impose a command structure on an organization where most or much of the work is undertaken by voluntary labour as opposed to paid employees.

If someone is giving up time for free, and the ECF then decides to dictate just how they go about it, that someone may decide simply to walk away – net result, instead of the work being done poorly, it isn’t done at all.

A second difficulty, in my view, is that of co-operation and communication which should be of all-round benefit without necessarily compromising anyone’s independence. There’s a separate thread on this forum dealing with major junior events with clashing dates and there are probably wider issues which, in the interests of keeping this succinct, I won’t dwell on here.

To return to the question which prompted this thread, I note that no-one has attempted to defend the EPSCA claim. I am very prepared to believe that the EPSCA does much good work elsewhere, and I can see why the ECF might prefer not to have a public squabble, but the indications from other contributors here (with whom I agree) is that parents are being misled.

I seem to recall that, when there was the first indication that UK Chess Academy might be claiming to select England teams, the ECF (then, admittedly, under somewhat different management) was quick to issue a rebuttal. In principle, I don’t see how this differs from the EPSCA case.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:14 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:While I appreciate there are some sensitive souls who will take offence at almost anything, I don’t find Mike’s comments particularly controversial.

It seems to me that one problem is that of trying, even if the ECF had the necessary jurisdiction, to impose a command structure on an organization where most or much of the work is undertaken by voluntary labour as opposed to paid employees.

If someone is giving up time for free, and the ECF then decides to dictate just how they go about it, that someone may decide simply to walk away – net result, instead of the work being done poorly, it isn’t done at all.

A second difficulty, in my view, is that of co-operation and communication which should be of all-round benefit without necessarily compromising anyone’s independence. There’s a separate thread on this forum dealing with major junior events with clashing dates and there are probably wider issues which, in the interests of keeping this succinct, I won’t dwell on here.

To return to the question which prompted this thread, I note that no-one has attempted to defend the EPSCA claim. I am very prepared to believe that the EPSCA does much good work elsewhere, and I can see why the ECF might prefer not to have a public squabble, but the indications from other contributors here (with whom I agree) is that parents are being misled.

I seem to recall that, when there was the first indication that UK Chess Academy might be claiming to select England teams, the ECF (then, admittedly, under somewhat different management) was quick to issue a rebuttal. In principle, I don’t see how this differs from the EPSCA case.
I attended the AGM last year. NYCA asked if EPSCA could hold its AGM on a Sunday, or a different Saturday, so that they could hold their Sunday county event on the Saturday, which they thought was better for their usual entrants. This was thought to be helpful for NYCA, and was desirable because they like to have Peter Purland as their arbiter, who was normally at the EPSCA AGM. The prevailing attitude was "Why should we inconvenience ourselves to suit NYCA?" and "How many teams actually enter that?". It was difficult to schedule an alternative date for their AGM because of Peter Purland's commitments to the Isle of Man International, but the mood of the meeting was one that their AGM was more important than an event where children actually turn up and play chess.

A few years ago, there was some discussion at the Squad event about why England was struggling to compete internationally. Undoubtedly there are many social and cultural reasons, but the EPSCA person present offered "I think we've got as good a system as any in Europe, but it's just not producing the players." Having thought about it since, I think this must be wrong. While the system may have been the same as it was in 1970whatever, it's unreasonable to expect the same system to work in 2017 - you have to constantly evolve/improve things rather than keep things the same, otherwise you'll go backwards relative to the competition. The system should be judged by a few metrics, for example: (a) The number of juniors playing (b) The number of FIDE-titled juniors created (c) The number of players of my sort of age who keep playing into adulthood. These are areas where England lags behind many other similar countries, so I don't see that we can conclude that "we've got as good a system as any in Europe", because where's the end product from the current system?

To some extent, if EPSCA association organisers want, they're able to communicate the actual status of these "England" teams when their charges when they get invited to things like the "England trial". I don't think anyone from Warwickshire has been invited yet, but as ever, I won't be shy in volunteering that information if they are.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:49 pm

"One of the things that has struck me in my short tenure as CEO is the lack of jurisdiction that ECF has in all sorts of areas - and (if I may be controversial) the seeming reluctance of various organisations to risk relinquishing what they see as their own power base for the greater good of English chess. "

This is true - I think in some cases the organizations just think they are too important to take any notice of anyone else. Some may justifiably feel they don't want outside interference. Roger makes very good points and Alex's first paragraph is very interesting!

I am sure ECF doesn't want to get bogged down in detail (nor should it). I don't think ECF should ban adjudications e.g. (or refuse to grade games which could be adjudicated), as it is none of ECF's business, but if people make false claims about their teams or events, then that is important.

Michael Flatt
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:26 am

Anyone wishing to understand the role of EPSCA, as with any organisation, should take time to read its constitution[1]. Paragraphs 33-35 relate to the role of the England Team Manager.
EPSCA Constitution wrote:England Team
33. The England Team Manager shall arrange to select teams from players from currently affiliated associations to represent the Association.
34. The England Team Manager may select suitable players for England Teams who do not belong to currently affiliated associations at his
discretion. The schools of such players shall be regarded thereby as affiliated to the Association for the current Association year.
35. The England Team Manager shall organise suitable events for these teams to take part in.
EPSCA is affiliated to ECF and various members of its Council[2] currently hold appointments with the ECF: ECF Non Executive Chairman, Director of Junior and Education, Director of Home Chess. The ECF International Director is a former EPSCA President. Thus, communication between EPSCA and ECF shouldn't present any difficulty.

EPSCA in common with all other organisations hold their AGM in accordance with their regulations and convenience of their own members.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the last AGM but the EPSCA Secretary does keep me informed of EPSCA's activities.

Junior Associations affiliated to EPSCA are entitled to nominate the player on board one of their u11 team to the England Trials. This last week such an invitation has been emailed to the Secretaries of each of the Junior Associations.

This year EPSCA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

[1] EPSCA Consitution: http://www.epsca.org.uk/rules/Constitution06.pdf
[2] Members of EPSCA Council: http://www.epsca.org.uk/about.html

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:39 am

It's worth noting that Alex is not the only member of the ECF board involved with the EPSCA; he is one of three on the committee. I think the pattern is consistent across much of the country, there are numerous organisations but only so many people willing to get involved as organisers. Even in a medium sized town such as Harrogate we have four different organisations locally with generally the same people involved in each. The famous scene in Life of Brian with the Judean People's Front at odds with the People's Front Of Judea to nobody's benefit springs to mind.

There are reasons this happens. The most frequent one is that a particular organisation doesn't branch into a certain area, either because they don't have the resources or entrenched officers don't see it as within their remit. Which means that an organiser wanting to focus on a specific area has to go it alone and do their own thing. In practice this shouldn't be a problem. It becomes one when the new organisation starts to encroach back into the territory of the original one, sometimes through necessity (an obvious overlap) and sometimes because the devolved organisation thinks it can do better. I should add that this is on my mind at the moment for several reasons.

The ECF is making big progress under Mike's leadership but twenty years of drift can't be corrected overnight.
Controller - Yorkshire League
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All views expressed entirely my own

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:53 am

These exchanges of opinion have raised interesting some side-issues although my central point remains, unless someone from EPSCA can persuade me otherwise, that parents are being misled by its headline claim.

Michael Flatt and I work in the same county, are generally in agreement over junior matters, and I have a high regard for his work locally with juniors. However, on this occasion I do have some difficulty following his point. The average parent is not going to read clause 33 et seq of the EPSCA constitution and, in any case, the constitution is only of limited value – it does not override the ECF in deciding how things are done.

Michael and Alex Holowczak are, almost certainly, in a better position than I to judge how effective the EPSCA is. I haven’t wished to get diverted from my central point by going down this road. However, my strong impression is that it has been a force for good at grass roots level in much the same way as UK Chess Challenge – both have opened up chess to a larger number of children.

Where stronger juniors are concerned, I am more sceptical. Many, probably most, of the games played under EPSCA auspices have been ungraded rapidplay events. There are plenty of rapidplay events already and what juniors need, if they are ever to get anywhere near international status, is more standard play experience. And, in any case, many juniors (and their parents) are disinclined to travel long distances for ungraded events.

Having said that, it is not clear to me that EPSCA is to blame for the failure of the England system to produce – by international standards - stronger juniors. But it’s equally unclear that it’s a major constituent of the solution.

Mick Norris
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mick Norris » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:08 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:If someone is giving up time for free, and the ECF then decides to dictate just how they go about it, that someone may decide simply to walk away – net result, instead of the work being done poorly, it isn’t done at all
My long experience in chess administration is that sometimes it is better that a job isn't done than that it is done poorly

It is precisely the filling of vacancies with unsuitable people that has led to decline in a number of areas

People work hard in junior chess, no doubt, but I find it hard based on Alex's criteria above, to say that it is successful
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:35 am

I take Mick's point and perhaps my choice of the word "poorly" was unwise. How about "adequately" instead?

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