Membership Renewal

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:37 am

Anyway, all this is froth. You don't have to think the ECF operates as well, or as openly, or as democratically, as you would like, in order to to think it's important that it should exist. So if people think it would be better if it didn't exist, could they please say so. If they think it should not run international teams, could they say so too.

But if you think the ECF should exist, and should run international teams, then that's the question right now, isn't it? Not details, not minutae, not this or that dispute from the present or past, but basic questions of existence.
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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:05 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:37 am
But if you think the ECF should exist, and should run international teams, then that's the question right now, isn't it?
On the whole I agree.

I favour significant reform of the ECF. If it is going to be as big as it is, I think it needs to do more. If it is going to do what it does today, I think it needs to shrink. But still, I can live with the ECF being cautious and focusing on survival in the short term.

Jacob Ward
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Jacob Ward » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:12 am

Can I ask a genuine question?

Let's say the ECF doesn't get enough subscriptions this season and has to cut back or shut.

Is there anything that would stop it reopening once clubs reopen and people once again want to be graded and therefore pay their subs? Are there assets that would be permanently lost, for example?

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:31 am

Jacob Ward wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:12 am
Can I ask a genuine question?

Let's say the ECF doesn't get enough subscriptions this season and has to cut back or shut.

Is there anything that would stop it reopening once clubs reopen and people once again want to be graded and therefore pay their subs? Are there assets that would be permanently lost, for example?
I think probably only the ECF Board know the answer, and I would not expect them to say until the AGM in a couple of weeks.

For what it is worth, I don't think grading - or rating if that is now a better term - is under much threat. It is an activity mostly run by volunteers. Even if the ECF went completely bankrupt - which it wont - you could round up the usual suspects in a new Federation of English Chess.

International team activity is relatively easy to restart after a suspension.

The at risk items are those which need support from the office. The ability of the ECF to run the British might be permanently damaged. The website would have to be less ambitious. The country championship might have to become independent

The approach to junior events would probably have to change. The parent led strategy of the ECF being willing to facilitate entries to most events would become impractical without the office.

The approach to ECF governance a very large executive team and a parliament might need to change.

To be honest, a fair number of things I'd like to see happen if properly managed. I'd be very happy for the ECF to divest the county championship so it was run by an independent body, for example. But I wouldn't want to do it in crisis circumstances, when it might fail entirely.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:38 am

Jacob Ward wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:12 am
Are there assets that would be permanently lost, for example?
Unlike the majority of chess organisations in this country the EC has full time employees with associated costs such as office space. Those assets would be lost if it were forced to close from lack of funds. By constitution it is formed by agreement amongst regional chess bodies. If these continued to exist, an ECF mk2 could in principle be set up.

The ECF, or perhaps more widely the chess world, does have access, sometimes indirectly, to funds built up over the years by legacies both to itself and the BCF before it. Most of these funds have earmarked purposes and legal ring fencing, so cannot directly be considered part of the ECF's assets.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:44 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:30 am
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:14 am
I suspect mainly those votes represent one or two individuals running the leagues and congresses.
Not even necessarily the people who run events, but those who attend meetings on their behalf. Hence the pile of proxies at ECF meetings.

If an individual club member or Congress player thought a particular ECF Director or ECF policy was unsuitable for the task, it's a long chain to get that voice heard.
In theory yes. In practice anybody who is that obsessed with how the ECF is run can find a seat on council without too much difficulty.

Regarding the extent to which the national teams should be prioritised I've made the point before that (fifteen years or so ago) Leonard Barden wrote a Guardian article that was hugely critical of the BCF (as it was then) for wasting time haggling over a membership scheme instead of discussing the recent underperformance at the Olympiad and what should be done differently. I'm prepared to bet he wasn't deluged with letters telling him he was wrong.

Leaving aside the conspiracy theory that our elite players line their pockets with our membership money the international scene does attract a considerable audience that stretches far beyond the club/ congress scene - ie people who might not actually play but follow live games. To save the retort that they should pay for it, the ECF has actually taken steps to facilitate that with the ECF Supporter scheme.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:45 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:31 am
The at risk items are those which need support from the office. The ability of the ECF to run the British might be permanently damaged.
The British Championship Congress does now use support from the ECF Office. Another issue, but the implicit cost of this support perhaps should be charged back to the Championship budget.

If the Championships could become self supporting in terms of the admin of entries etc., you could see perhaps a team of arbiters and administrators taking over the running and financing of it as a third party body. If it could be demonstrated as totally independent of the national body, that should also give a useful saving of VAT on net entry fees.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:07 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:44 am
.
Leaving aside the conspiracy theory that our elite players line their pockets with our membership money
It's far from the most important thing here but I wish people wouldn't use the term "conspiracy theory" when they mean something else
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Ian Thompson
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Ian Thompson » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:19 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:31 am
The at risk items are those which need support from the office. The ability of the ECF to run the British might be permanently damaged.
I thought the ECF ran the British Championships on behalf of the British Isles Chess Coordinating Committee (BICCC). I assume the ECF could tell the BICCC that it was no longer able to run the championships, or the BICCC could terminate the agreement with the ECF and make alternative arrangements.
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:45 am
If the Championships could become self supporting in terms of the admin of entries etc., you could see perhaps a team of arbiters and administrators taking over the running and financing of it as a third party body. If it could be demonstrated as totally independent of the national body, that should also give a useful saving of VAT on net entry fees.
If the BICCC were to organise the championships itself that would be sufficient, wouldn't it?

Jacob Ward
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Jacob Ward » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:32 am

Thank you to those above who explained the position in response to my query.

Without trying to be either defeatist or blase about the consequences, it sounds like, if the worst comes to the worst and the ECF largely collapsed or had to go into hibernation, it would be relatively straightforward for it to restart once the pandemic is over/manageable.

I appreciate that is cold comfort to the employees who would lose their jobs or see their hours cut back, of course.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:34 am

Ian Thompson wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:19 am
I thought the ECF ran the British Championships on behalf of the British Isles Chess Coordinating Committee (BICCC).
It's actually the BICC. The word "Chess" does not appear in the official title.

As regards your statement which I have quoted, that was not the case up to 2017. Allegedly it is now, as a new BICC Agreement was adopted in 2017.

However, virtually no-one knows the content of the 2017 Agreement. The ECF, traditionally responsible for publishing the Agreement, have persistently declined or refused to do so for over three years. The obsolete 2007 Agreement is still published in the ECF Documents section of the ECF website.

A question for both the candidates for the position of Director of Home Chess, should they happen to read this:

If you are elected, will you commit to publishing the BICC Agreement 2017 as a matter of urgency, before the end of October 2020?

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:12 pm

"But if you think the ECF should exist, and should run international teams, then that's the question right now, isn't it?"

That is the question, and I think the answer is "yes". England doing well at an Olympiad or an individual challenging for the World Championship does (or did) create good publicity. But many people who just play club chess don't care.

A major problem with ECF and previously BCF is that it's so secretive. International chess seems a bit murky and junior chess seems excessively based on patronage and pressure groups. But that's another story.

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by Chris Goodall » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:25 pm

Okay, lots to reply to.
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:30 am
Chris Goodall wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:14 am
No. Let us be under no illusions. "Operational problems" is code for the International gravy train coming off the rails.
Either Chris hasn't looked at the ECF finances or he hasn't understood them. I don't know which is worse.
I used the words "net flow of money" deliberately. I don't suppose the International teams are paid for by handing them a green bag with a £ sign on it, that the members of Wimblecaster CC have stuffed with banknotes. But the grassroots are net contributors and the International teams are net recipients, and money is money, and has no memory of where it came from. Hence, net flow.
JustinHorton wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:29 am
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:14 am
Most ordinary players are aware they have to pay subscriptions, and most of those are aware they get a grading out of it and I suspect that's where the interest ends.
I also suspect there's some interest in how representative national teams perform, and there would be some surprise and consternation if, say, Olympiads were held and there was no England team taking part.
We're not talking about England not taking part. Absolute worst-case scenario, England are represented by whatever well-heeled IMs are willing to take their annual holiday in Eastern Europe. There'd be a stampede to play Board 1. I think we'd still crack the top 50. We are, as I said, only the 26th federation by population.

Eight-year rule. From the date that you, as an adult, first accept funding from the International budget, you have eight years to crack the Candidates. If you don't, then you're done; there are lots of other careers that will pay a person of your intelligence better than chess will. If your ambition isn't to get into the Candidates, if your strategy for getting English chess onto the back page is to pootle around the top 100 for 30 years and retire, do that on your own dime.
JustinHorton wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:37 am
Anyway, all this is froth. You don't have to think the ECF operates as well, or as openly, or as democratically, as you would like, in order to to think it's important that it should exist. So if people think it would be better if it didn't exist, could they please say so. If they think it should not run international teams, could they say so too.

But if you think the ECF should exist, and should run international teams, then that's the question right now, isn't it? Not details, not minutae, not this or that dispute from the present or past, but basic questions of existence.
No, that's not the question right now. Did you read the chess24 article? "Operational problems". Not "ceasing to exist". Yes, it is important that the ECF continue to exist, otherwise our players can't play FIDE-rated games. The BCF still exists, despite having no membership income.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:44 am
Regarding the extent to which the national teams should be prioritised...
When you say that in the passive voice, you're already accepting the hidden premise that the national teams are the responsibility of the organisation that happens to get most of its income from the grading tax. They are two completely unrelated activities. If they were not already linked, no-one would think to link them.
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:45 am
The British Championship Congress does now use support from the ECF Office. Another issue, but the implicit cost of this support perhaps should be charged back to the Championship budget.

If the Championships could become self supporting in terms of the admin of entries etc., you could see perhaps a team of arbiters and administrators taking over the running and financing of it as a third party body. If it could be demonstrated as totally independent of the national body, that should also give a useful saving of VAT on net entry fees.
I've asked before what the difficulty is with allocating the Office's time to the correct budget lines. "The Office work really hard and also Taylorism" is the standard reply, which is daft. Writing on a piece of paper what you've been mostly doing today, is not the same as someone standing behind you with a stopwatch.
JustinHorton wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:07 am
It's far from the most important thing here but I wish people wouldn't use the term "conspiracy theory" when they mean something else
I wish people would convey calculated insouciance by not saying anything rather than by dispensing with full stops, but we rarely get what we wish for.
Chris Goodall, formerly known as Chris Wardle. ECF Grader for Durham and the NCCU.
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David Sedgwick
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:46 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:34 am
However, virtually no-one knows the content of the 2017 [BICC} Agreement. The ECF, traditionally responsible for publishing the Agreement, have persistently declined or refused to do so for over three years. The obsolete 2007 Agreement is still published in the ECF Documents section of the ECF website.

A question for both the candidates for the position of Director of Home Chess, should they happen to read this:

If you are elected, will you commit to publishing the BICC Agreement 2017 as a matter of urgency, before the end of October 2020?
I have been advised, that although all parties are content with the 2017 Agreement, some of them have yet to sign it. The relevant ECF Directors do not wish to publish the Agreement until this has happened.

Having checked my records, I also wish to acknowledge that I had previously been made aware that not all the signatures had yet been obtained.

John Reyes
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Re: Membership Renewal

Post by John Reyes » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:26 pm

Chris Goodall wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:07 am
IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:29 am
Chris Goodall wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:14 am
Here is my long-term view: that there is a net flow of money in English chess from the grassroots to the elite, is rock stupid. No-one ever decided that or voted on it.
What exactly do you think an ECF Council Meeting is?
A forum for deciding whether, given that the elite being funded by the grassroots is inevitable, they should be given all the money they've asked for or just most of it.

(I was actually going to mention Malcolm Pein's infamous "who wants to know?" exchange with Angus French, but I see Angus French is here :) )
Can I asked a question Chris?

The ecf does have overhead with admin staffand also funding chess events and overheads for junior and paying for the software for the new grading database

Do you know what happened at an Ecf Financial and AGM meeting?

I love going to the meeting and represent the views of the local members and you see my records at ecf meeting and standing up for the members
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

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