April Council meeting 2019

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Paul Cooksey
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Paul Cooksey » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:58 pm

I don't consider the jackets to be material.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:10 pm

The key point I keep returning to is that there is a perception among grassroots chess players that the money they are required to pay to the ECF is a tax to fund the activities of Grandmasters. The alternative case is that ultimately a strong international scene and thriving grassroots go hand in hand and that the more we involve ourselves with the ECF the more we will see benefits. As David Sedgwick says we should be proud of what the England team achieved at the Olympiad. At the same time if £800 of ECF members' money had been spent on jackets it would not have been money well spent. But it wasn't; so let's move on.

Out of curiosity; if contributors to this forum had £800 to spend on grassroots chess - how would they invest it?
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NickFaulks
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:00 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:10 pm
The key point I keep returning to is that there is a perception among grassroots chess players that the money they are required to pay to the ECF is a tax to fund the activities of Grandmasters.
That is the inescapable conclusion if you read the accounts. We can discuss whether there is a trickle down effect, perhaps even a multiplier, but as a starting point it is a simple fact.

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:50 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:10 pm
Out of curiosity; if contributors to this forum had £800 to spend on grassroots chess - how would they invest it?
This is a good question, which raises two strands of thought.

Suppose we placed £800 in front of the Board, or even a humble member, it is not entirely evident that anybody has a particularly well-structured view on how exactly we should invest £800 in grassroot chess.

It may not be everyone's view, but from experience, there is a strong case that (1) keeping membership fees as low as possible, reduces the barrier for entry (whatever the sport or activity, in question), and (2) you can do a lot for grassroots chess, without raising money.

If we want to revive chess, it would be a reasonable starting point to consider the challenges for different demographics. What do clubs do for juniors? Does every club have junior sessions? Do they work? Is the club venue junior friendly? Are the club members actively friendly to juniors? How are clubs keeping juniors, when they head to secondary school and often drop chess? Are clubs making the right effort at keeping juniors when they move through secondary school? Could the league run events that could be more junior friendly/focussed? Are weekend rapidplays better at engaging juniors than league matches? Is the growing popularity of junior training events the way to go? (Is this where money should go?) How do clubs fare at retaining students during and after university, how do we retain these students when they come back? Are clubs keeping in contact/tabs on players potentially returning? How are clubs doing with drawing in adults? Is this a case of publicity? Is this a case of more flyers advertising clubs in local community areas/libraries/schools? Universities are often happy to fund their students to run chess sessions in local schools, are there similar funds out there for local clubs? Or, is simply getting in touch with schools to let them know that a local chess club exists, a good step forwards? Are clubs managing to draw in the parents who bring their kids along to play chess? Alternatively, are clubs encouraging perhaps regular or one-off events for members to bring their kids along? Or perhaps, do clubs run general bring-a-friend sessions to the club for more new adult members? How are clubs balancing online chess with over the board chess? Perhaps that is a way of keep in touch with members who are no longer in the area? What is the role of League and County Associations in all this? etc

There are some questions to ask and consider, which would likely yield different answers for different clubs and different Leagues.

If we attempted to answer these properly, it would probably really help grassroots chess. I'm inclined to believe that very few of these answers would involve throwing £800 at an new initiative (However, some initiatives may indeed benefit with money, but there's so much low hanging fruit that doesn't require money, which we haven't picked!)

(I may be a sceptic, but when it comes to spending other people's money, it's usually quite easy to be wanton, but I rather be small c conservative about it. Warwick University Chess has had record revenue this year (from sponsorship/grants/membership/side events), more than its ever taken in. Its spending on Uber to league matches was also a record high. I wonder why that is?...)

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:48 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:50 am


Suppose we placed £800 in front of the Board, or even a humble member, it is not entirely evident that anybody has a particularly well-structured view on how exactly we should invest £800 in grassroot chess.
Which is the point I keep coming back to. If international chess seems to benefit disproportionately it is because the current International Director knows exactly what needs to be done to take his program to the next stage.
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:50 am
If we want to revive chess, it would be a reasonable starting point to consider the challenges for different demographics. What do clubs do for juniors? Does every club have junior sessions? Do they work? Is the club venue junior friendly? Are the club members actively friendly to juniors? How are clubs keeping juniors, when they head to secondary school and often drop chess? Are clubs making the right effort at keeping juniors when they move through secondary school? Could the league run events that could be more junior friendly/focussed? Are weekend rapidplays better at engaging juniors than league matches? Is the growing popularity of junior training events the way to go? (Is this where money should go?) How do clubs fare at retaining students during and after university, how do we retain these students when they come back? Are clubs keeping in contact/tabs on players potentially returning? How are clubs doing with drawing in adults? Is this a case of publicity? Is this a case of more flyers advertising clubs in local community areas/libraries/schools? Universities are often happy to fund their students to run chess sessions in local schools, are there similar funds out there for local clubs? Or, is simply getting in touch with schools to let them know that a local chess club exists, a good step forwards? Are clubs managing to draw in the parents who bring their kids along to play chess? Alternatively, are clubs encouraging perhaps regular or one-off events for members to bring their kids along? Or perhaps, do clubs run general bring-a-friend sessions to the club for more new adult members? How are clubs balancing online chess with over the board chess? Perhaps that is a way of keep in touch with members who are no longer in the area? What is the role of League and County Associations in all this? etc
Variations on this discussion have been taking place on this forum from the word go.From my own experience junior chess can be something of a minefield - there are many pockets of excellence but co-ordination seems very hard to achieve. I've said before that it is the `Life Of Brian` of English chess organisation with the Judean People's Front clashing with the People's Front of Judea. I've lost count of the number of emails I've been copied into suggesting we set up a junior organisation for etc ... my response is that we don't need more organisations, we need more juniors playing chess.

Another possible factor is that there is no direct interface between the ECF and progressive grassroots initiative. League and county representatives on council tend to me (some, not all) conservatives at best and many of those who claim to represent members are primarily there to push their own agenda.
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:58 am

If someone gave me £800 and said I had to spend it on something to benefit chess in this country, I'd spend it on booking accommodation for titled players at Paignton. (I use Paignton as an example because that's the norm tournament I'm organizing.)

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Angus French » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:30 am

Message from the Bronze members' reps here.

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:11 am

Angus French wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:30 am
Message from the Bronze members' reps here.
I found the summary of members responses very helpful. While I stand by my point that members need to tell the ECF what they want, rather than what they don't want, it does show the mountains to be climbed and what the `ordinary` chess player is thinking.
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by John Upham » Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:56 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:58 pm
I don't consider the jackets to be material.
Did Frederick Forsyth suggest that each jacket will have its day ?
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John Reyes
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by John Reyes » Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:42 pm

I know Michael and me have sent a email to the silver members and so far the number is very good on feedback !!
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:33 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:48 am
Which is the point I keep coming back to. If international chess seems to benefit disproportionately it is because the current International Director knows exactly what needs to be done to take his program to the next stage.
Whilst I think it is admirable to be ambitious and to come up with news ways of doing things, I must disagree on your proposition. Just because a director (or anybody else) has a plan to spend £xxx, does not necessarily make the plan financially sound, in particular if it demands a voluntary membership to pay more, without a direct and clear benefit to bronze/silver members.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:48 am
Another possible factor is that there is no direct interface between the ECF and progressive grassroots initiative. League and county representatives on council tend to me (some, not all) conservatives at best and many of those who claim to represent members are primarily there to push their own agenda.
I suppose we differ in how we view 'conservatism' in English chess. My position is that chess is sport that has been around for hundreds of years, and it has been and should be fundamentally as low-cost and accessible to all, as possible; and that we can do so much more for junior/student/adult participation without having to increase ECF fees. I fundamentally believe that is both conservative, and in the interests of grassroots chess.
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Apr 23, 2019 1:55 pm

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:33 pm

I suppose we differ in how we view 'conservatism' in English chess. My position is that chess is sport that has been around for hundreds of years, and it has been and should be fundamentally as low-cost and accessible to all, as possible; and that we can do so much more for junior/student/adult participation without having to increase ECF fees. I fundamentally believe that is both conservative, and in the interests of grassroots chess.
Chess as a sport is actually dirt cheap compared to other sports. By coincidence I heard a great example yesterday; my new manager is a keen golfer and he mentioned that his golf club membership used to cost him £1,000 a year (which he gave up because weekend work meant he wasn't able to participate and justify the cost). Suddenly that £34 ECF Gold membership doesn't seem that bad at all!

But up to a point you are right about the sport being accessible to all. Taking football as an example it doesn't cost anything for a group of kids to go to the park and have a kick around (with jumpers or school blazers for goal posts). Of course, if they want to join a junior football club (as many do) then that costs money and if they have sufficient talent to take things to the stage above where professional coaching and other fees have to be paid for the cost increases that's the way of things.

In the same way I've been able to start a chess club for young people without having to stress about ECF membership fees. If they reach the stage where they want to start playing club/ league chess then a conversation needs to be had. The same is true of student/ adult beginner chess. ECF membership is a factor but it's the cart, not the horse.

We need strategies to increase grassroots participation at all levels. At some point a player might need to join the ECF but that bridge can be crossed when we come to it - and if somebody can't/ won't pay then that's that. But the first stage is finding practical and affordable ways to achieve that increase in participation and I believe the ECF is willing to listen - the problem is that either nobody is talking or everybody is talking at once.
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Angus French
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Angus French » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:29 pm

Golf and football club memberships are different though. They're going to reflect at least the value of real estate and the cost of maintaining courses or pitches - and other facilities.

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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:43 pm

Angus French wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:29 pm
Golf and football club memberships are different though. They're going to reflect at least the value of real estate and the cost of maintaining courses or pitches - and other facilities.
Well yes. But maybe chess club subscriptions should reflect the value of having a half decent venue rather than a draughty church hall or dingy pub function room. Or sleek digital clocks as opposed to rattly old analogue ones that have been in use since the 1980s.
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: April Council meeting 2019

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:13 pm

Well even my club has digital clocks now, though some still prefer to use the old ones (of course)
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