Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Post Reply
J T Melsom
Posts: 570
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by J T Melsom » Tue May 14, 2019 2:43 pm

It should be possible for almost all parties to agree that scrutiny is generally a good thing and that there probably hasn't been enough in the past. I do feel that in some instances the scrutiny may become an obsession or an end in itself, and it is then that motives might be questioned, sometimes with added colour. But like all debates which are conducted in these sort of places, knowing when to stop requires a level of self awareness often absent, and in any case will vary from poster to poster. Proportionality is invariably absent.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1716
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue May 14, 2019 2:59 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:43 pm
It should be possible for almost all parties to agree that scrutiny is generally a good thing and that there probably hasn't been enough in the past. I do feel that in some instances the scrutiny may become an obsession or an end in itself, and it is then that motives might be questioned, sometimes with added colour. But like all debates which are conducted in these sort of places, knowing when to stop requires a level of self awareness often absent, and in any case will vary from poster to poster. Proportionality is invariably absent.
Scrutiny is very important, particularly as the ECF is now largely funded by direct members. And the ECF has definitely made progress from the days when Gerry Walsh and others operated behind a veil of secrecy and were accountable to nobody. At that time there was also a lot of muttering about the ECF being run by bumbling amateurs and that successful English chess activity was happening outwith it - most prominently the 4NCL (Mike Truran) and the London Chess Classic (Malcolm Pein). The question then was why can't we have people like that on the ECF board? Now we do and the ECF is better for it.

The main challenge facing the ECF at present, other than the ageing chess demographic, is the disconnect between the ECF and those being asked to fund it. There is a perception that the membership fees are simply a tax to fund Malcolm Pein's international ambitions. The ECF does need to engage more with grass roots players BUT engagement works both ways. We need strategies to regenerate clubs and leagues and, I've said before, most of the initiative on this is coming from ... Malcolm Pein.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 6444
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by JustinHorton » Tue May 14, 2019 3:08 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 1:01 pm
I am not going to write at further length.
I do not think I have ever seen this sentiment expressed on the internet without it immediately being given the lie.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Angus French
Posts: 1604
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Angus French » Tue May 14, 2019 3:25 pm

My comments on Roger Emerson's report to Gold members can be found here.

Angus French
Posts: 1604
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Angus French » Tue May 14, 2019 3:30 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 12:47 pm
As I have said the board does need to be held to account. At the same time they cannot be expected to divulge every detail, particularly confidential payments to players.
No one’s asking for the Board to divulge confidential payments to players. What was requested were expenditure figures for the Open and Women’s teams and a breakdown of the fees figure including the total amount spent on appearance fees. Maybe you don’t know it but at last year’s ECF Finance Council meeting I requested a breakdown of the expenditure on the 2018 Olympiad. This was put to a vote and approved by Council. I made it clear at the meeting – both when the motion was put and later, I think just before the vote – what I was after: a breakdown, for both teams (Open and Women’s), showing expenditure on travel, accommodation, food, coaching and appearance fees (not individual fees but total team spends on appearance fees). As I said: the request was approved by Council.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 12:47 pm
To portray the board and particularly Mike Truran and Malcolm Pein as shifty and economical with the truth is more than misleading. It is malicious.
You're suggesting I've done this? Kindly show the evidence.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 12:47 pm
You were briefly a non executive director (co-opted on to the board as the best placed unsuccessful candidate after Sean Hewitt resigned). You did not seek re-election. You were then elected to the governance committee which lasted all of a few months. Ditto your appointment as voting register officer. Was it because you discovered that there was actually some hard work involved?
These comments are not relevant to whether the points I make and the questions I ask are pertinent and legitimate. What you suggest about me being afraid of hard work is pure supposition.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 12:47 pm
It may well be that I'm doing you an injustice… However I will continue to call out your insinuations about the ECF board.
How does the second part follow the first part? All you’re calling out, Andrew, is your own ignorance and inability to comprehend.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7297
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue May 14, 2019 3:50 pm

On the appearance fees breakdown, I wasn't aware that Malcolm Pein had said:
The effect of the resolution, if passed, would probably lead to England fielding an open team of 1 grandmaster and four young amateur international masters.
I am not sure if I mentioned it when it was first brought up, but there may be an obvious reason why there is resistance to publishing a breakdown of the appearance fees by team (though not by individuals).

Am I right that the current presentation of the fees amalgamates the Open and Women's fees (as well as probably coach fees as well)? If so, then publishing the difference between the two might show that the ECF spend far more on the Open team than on the Women's team. Or an exactly equal amount. Either way, it might reveal too much about the differences in/equality of expenditure to make entirely comfortable reading.

[i.e. the fees are presented in amalgamated fashion to obscure detail that it is not wished to be made public.]

A question with a better chance of being answered might be whether all members of both the Open and Women's team receive appearance fees, or if any members of the teams chose to waive such fees.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1716
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue May 14, 2019 4:12 pm

Firstly I would like to thank Angus' for his reply. I raised a few questions which have largely been answered (although I still think his board and standing committee record has a relevance and would certainly welcome a bit more information about why he resigned from the governance committee so quickly). I have no wish to escalate matters any further than they are already.

A few further comments. The part of Roger Emerson's report which has caused this debate is the statement (paraphrasing) that Angus claimed his questions hadn't been answered when Malcolm (and others) believed he had. There does seem to be two different questions here that are getting conflated here. The first is how much money should be spent on international chess and to what extent ECF members should pay for it. The second is what level of scrutiny should then be applied to how that money is spent. If council have agreed that a certain sum is reasonable, as long as Malcolm isn't visibly tipping it down the sink, I think he can be allowed the freedom to use his budget as he feels necessary. Some the decisions he has to make will be sensitive and can't reasonably be put in the public domain to be picked over.

I stand by my position that the remit of direct membership representatives is to speak for their constituents (and I know there is a lot of bronze membership hostility towards international spending) and that more direct oversight is a job for the governance committee. I also feel that Malcolm Pein and Mike Truran (and the rest of the board) are the right people to lead English chess and will speak in their support when I feel they are being unfairly criticised and undermined.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18101
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 14, 2019 4:53 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:59 pm
There is a perception that the membership fees are simply a tax to fund Malcolm Pein's international ambitions.
It's not just a perception, it's a reality. The other main spending area being the staffed office.

As the owner and manager of chess related businesses, it's in Malcolm's commercial interest to expand the base of players who presumably represent much of the market for his products.

Mark Ashley
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:56 pm

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Mark Ashley » Tue May 14, 2019 10:57 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:50 pm
On the appearance fees breakdown, I wasn't aware that Malcolm Pein had said:
The effect of the resolution, if passed, would probably lead to England fielding an open team of 1 grandmaster and four young amateur international masters.
I am not sure if I mentioned it when it was first brought up, but there may be an obvious reason why there is resistance to publishing a breakdown of the appearance fees by team (though not by individuals).

Am I right that the current presentation of the fees amalgamates the Open and Women's fees (as well as probably coach fees as well)? If so, then publishing the difference between the two might show that the ECF spend far more on the Open team than on the Women's team. Or an exactly equal amount. Either way, it might reveal too much about the differences in/equality of expenditure to make entirely comfortable reading.

[i.e. the fees are presented in amalgamated fashion to obscure detail that it is not wished to be made public.]

A question with a better chance of being answered might be whether all members of both the Open and Women's team receive appearance fees, or if any members of the teams chose to waive such fees.
If that is true, and it makes people uncomfortable, then perhaps it should be published so that people can rectify the situation?

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18101
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 14, 2019 11:11 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:50 pm
[i.e. the fees are presented in amalgamated fashion to obscure detail that it is not wished to be made public.]
I would have thought that quite obvious and there may be little choice. Swings and roundabouts perhaps, I would guess in the 4NCL that where appearance fees are paid, there's a female premium compared to a male of comparable rating.

What's the solution though? Transfer the responsibility and budget for the Women's teams to the Director for Women's Chess perhaps?

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1716
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue May 14, 2019 11:24 pm

Mark Ashley wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:57 pm
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:50 pm
On the appearance fees breakdown, I wasn't aware that Malcolm Pein had said:
The effect of the resolution, if passed, would probably lead to England fielding an open team of 1 grandmaster and four young amateur international masters.
I am not sure if I mentioned it when it was first brought up, but there may be an obvious reason why there is resistance to publishing a breakdown of the appearance fees by team (though not by individuals).

Am I right that the current presentation of the fees amalgamates the Open and Women's fees (as well as probably coach fees as well)? If so, then publishing the difference between the two might show that the ECF spend far more on the Open team than on the Women's team. Or an exactly equal amount. Either way, it might reveal too much about the differences in/equality of expenditure to make entirely comfortable reading.

[i.e. the fees are presented in amalgamated fashion to obscure detail that it is not wished to be made public.]

A question with a better chance of being answered might be whether all members of both the Open and Women's team receive appearance fees, or if any members of the teams chose to waive such fees.
If that is true, and it makes people uncomfortable, then perhaps it should be published so that people can rectify the situation?
Or perhaps there should be a line beyond which matters remain confidential. Ultimately the job of council is to approve the budget, not micro manage how the money is spent. At the end of the day professional chess players expect to be paid for their services and go where the money is. If the ECF (or those that fund it) aren't willing to pay them then we will end up with weak unrepresentative teams. Which at one point was happening, I have a vague recollection of Nigel Short referring to a past England squad as an `emaciated travesty`. Rewinding to 2007ish (if memory serves) and an England under performance at the Olympiad, Leonard Barden absolutely castigated the BCF (as was) in the Guardian for not making international chess their top priority, instead spending the time chewing the cud over the failed Northern Membership Scheme. I doubt he was deluged with letters telling him he was wrong.

The question of whether sponsorship or private donations could offset some of the membership spend on international chess is a valid one. However I'm not quite sure this is the question many members of council are asking. And we're certainly no nearer an answer to the question of how surplus from membership funds should be spent.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18101
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 14, 2019 11:37 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 11:24 pm
Rewinding to 2007ish (if memory serves) and an England under performance at the Olympiad, Leonard Barden absolutely castigated the BCF (as was) in the Guardian for not making international chess their top priority, instead spending the time chewing the cud over the failed Northern Membership Scheme.
It was the ECF by this stage. In terms of holding ECF Directors to account, they should have been pulled up over their instance that FIDE referring to "membership of a National Federation" meant "become a guarantor in a UK Companies Act sense". Had that been done, there wouldn't have been the "you must sign the form" fiasco on the Northern Scheme. Equally though it would have prevented the ECF Office turning up at first 4NCL weekends demanding money for membership as a condition of playing in the 4NCL.

So if someone like Angus rattles the cage of the Board, that can be good thing rather than a bad one.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1716
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue May 14, 2019 11:59 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 11:37 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 11:24 pm
Rewinding to 2007ish (if memory serves) and an England under performance at the Olympiad, Leonard Barden absolutely castigated the BCF (as was) in the Guardian for not making international chess their top priority, instead spending the time chewing the cud over the failed Northern Membership Scheme.
It was the ECF by this stage. In terms of holding ECF Directors to account, they should have been pulled up over their instance that FIDE referring to "membership of a National Federation" meant "become a guarantor in a UK Companies Act sense". Had that been done, there wouldn't have been the "you must sign the form" fiasco on the Northern Scheme. Equally though it would have prevented the ECF Office turning up at first 4NCL weekends demanding money for membership as a condition of playing in the 4NCL.

So if someone like Angus rattles the cage of the Board, that can be good thing rather than a bad one.
I agree but in this case I don't think the cage is being rattled the right way. And that any scrutiny of the activities of Mike Truran and Malcolm Pein should be prefaced with a thanks for the long hours they put in the ECF and English chess in general.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 6444
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 15, 2019 6:38 am

Maybe what you should do, Andrew, is put together some kind of protocol for how people should put their questions and how they should phrase the thanks with which they should preface them?

(And then maybe compare the approach you demand from others with the approach you adopt yourself, because the contrast is really eyewatering.)
Last edited by JustinHorton on Wed May 15, 2019 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Mick Norris
Posts: 7498
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 10:12 am
Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester
Contact:

Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Mick Norris » Wed May 15, 2019 7:51 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 11:24 pm
Or perhaps there should be a line beyond which matters remain confidential. Ultimately the job of council is
Well, there's a divergence of opinion on that; however, if Council passes a motion, then the relevant ECF Director has to comply, and that is what Angus is saying
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Post Reply