NCCU and the MCF

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Mick Norris
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NCCU and the MCF

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:24 pm

I am opening this topic to ask for help

I have been told that a past President of the NCCU undertook an investigation on behalf of the BCF and the NCCU. The BCF asked all parties to the dispute to accept his findings. The inquiry found that yes the GMCCA had the support of a majority of clubs in the county of Greater Manchester when it was founded. It decided under this situation the county of Greater Manchester had the full support of the BCF and that all parties ought to recognise its existence. Formally all parties affiliated to the BCF did so. This included the Lancashire Chess Association (LCA), the Cheshire Chess Association and the NCCU.

There was never any legal action. The whole matter was settled amicably by the inquiry.

Now, I know that some individuals were, and obviously continue to be, dissatisfied, which is why the LCA have opposed the MCF application to join the NCCU.

I don't want to hear opinions on this (I've heard enough to last a lifetime), but if anyone has seen, or even better can provide me with, evidence to the contrary, I'd be very grateful

Mick Norris
MCF President
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Paul Buswell
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Paul Buswell » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:14 am

Mick Norris wrote:I am opening this topic to ask for help

I have been told that a past President of the NCCU undertook an investigation on behalf of the BCF and the NCCU. The BCF asked all parties to the dispute to accept his findings. The inquiry found that yes the GMCCA had the support of a majority of clubs in the county of Greater Manchester when it was founded. It decided under this situation the county of Greater Manchester had the full support of the BCF and that all parties ought to recognise its existence. Formally all parties affiliated to the BCF did so. This included the Lancashire Chess Association (LCA), the Cheshire Chess Association and the NCCU.

There was never any legal action. The whole matter was settled amicably by the inquiry.

Now, I know that some individuals were, and obviously continue to be, dissatisfied, which is why the LCA have opposed the MCF application to join the NCCU.

I don't want to hear opinions on this (I've heard enough to last a lifetime), but if anyone has seen, or even better can provide me with, evidence to the contrary, I'd be very grateful

Mick Norris
MCF President

Mick:

I shall try to keep this to the things I am confident of after 35 years; to say more I would need to refresh my memory with the BCF Minutes from the time.

1) There was legal action to the extent that a lawsuit was started against myself as Secretary of the BCF and Sandy Cordon as its President - I remember the process server turning up at the office! As I recall it was in the name of Jim Tennant-Smith, I may be wrong - other protagonists may have been on it. I do recall a meeting with a barrister to discuss the issues and the defence.

2) The BCF canvassed all Clubs in the administrative county of Greater Manchester and in due course the BCF asked Richard Moore to undertake an enquiry. I do not recall whether he also acted for the NCCU - I suspect not, as it would be difficult for him to act on behalf of two bodies and the NCCU might have been considered partisan.

3) I do not recall the exact outcome of his enquiry but in due course the BCF Council voted to affirm (can't think of a better verb) GMCCA's membership of the BCF, also setting out eligibility rules for counties' champs etc.

4) I do not recall 'all parties formally accepting' the position other than to the extent they were members of the BCF and its Council had taken a final decision.

5) The lawsuit was withdrawn without any substantive hearing, both sides paying their own costs.

PB

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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:18 am

Paul

Very helpful

Thank you
Mick
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harrylamb
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by harrylamb » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:03 pm

Hi Mick

I have a file of documents in my loft. It is over one foot tall and it contains all the papers I collected on this subject in the 1970’s and 1980’s. You are welcome to borrow them and read them but I do want them back. As requested I will try not to give my opinions in this post but quote from the documents I have.

Formation of Great Manchester
Minutes of the 1972 NCCU December meeting wrote: Mr G Walsh requested that a projected new Association viz. the Cleveland CA (Teesside and some of N Yorkshire) be recognised as a constituent Association of the Union. This was agreed subject to the idea being acceptable to the Durham CA whose strength would be about halved. Lancashire were in favour of County teams representing the new Local Government Areas eg the present Lancashire and Cheshire Chess Associations would become the four counties Lancashire Cheshire Merseyside and Greater Manchester
Minutes of the Lancashire AGM Jun-1974 wrote: The following proposal was passed 5-2 :-
That in view of the county boundary changes and the proposal passed at the 1973 AGM the association supports moves by appropriate organisations to form counties in line with new boundaries, replacing the old Lancashire and Cheshire.
I was President of the Manchester and District Chess Association which was clearly an appropriate organisation. The NCCU supported the new counties. Lancashire at its AGM supported them and encouraged the formation of new counties. With the help of a team of enthusiastic players and organisers we set about forming GMCCA. The team included Mohammed Amin, a future BCF Treasurer. Richard Furness, a future Cheshire CA and NCCU President. It also included four Presidents of the MDCA.

Tennant Smith Legal Actions

Action against the Presidents
Mr Tenant Smith took two legal actions over the next few years. The first one was against the four Presidents of the MDCA mentioned above. With a precision that must have been planned we all received solicitor's letters on Christmas Eve. Not a nice Christmas present when you have a wife and two young children and have never been involved with the Law before. Worse still I was going to Hasting the day after boxing day and he gave me 7 days to reply or "else". I no longer have the solicitor's letter I received. So I am not sure of my exact “offence” Three of us including myself settled out of court. The fourth person said “see you in court”. Mr Tennant Smith did not purse the matter with him. I learned a lesson. If people threaten legal proceedings against you, call their bluff.

Action against the BCF
As Paul Buswell says. Mr Tennant Smith took Legal action against the BCF. I have a set of papers from the defendant (the BCF). This contains 204 documents including minutes of all the relevant chess meetings. I have a set of papers from Mr Tennants Smiths solicitors. It is full of legalese so I do not know what they are claiming. It does say the claim is on “the plaintiffs behalf and on behalf of all other members of the BCF”. I found it amusing that the BCF’s first line of defence was that Tennant Smith was not a member of the BCF (constitutionally members were organisations such as Counties, Unions, or direct members etc). As he was not a member he could not sue the BCF. It also amused me that although his claim was denying the existence of Greater Manchester. His address was given as Heywood near Rochdale Greater Manchester :) . The action was commenced in 1978 and was settled out of court in 1985

An important point about this action is that it was solely in Tenants Smiths name. He did not have the support of the NCCU or the Lancashire CA.
Paul wrote:5) The lawsuit was withdrawn without any substantive hearing, both sides paying their own costs.
While this is correct it is not the full story. There was an out of court settlement. I do not have space hear to quote it all but the crux is Paragraph 4 where it states.

(i) A fact finding enquiry to be conducted by Mr Richard Moore shall be set up to establish whether during the 1975 season the GMCCA had the support of a majority of BCF affiliated clubs in Greater Manchester….

(iv) Should the fact finding enquiry establish that GMCCA did have a majority support in 1975- 6 ….then the current dual registration arrangements for players in Greater Manchester should cease with effect from 1st October 1987 and be replaced by the same arrangements as apply to other new counties, eg Merseyside.

Apart from the issue of treating Greater Manchester as a “new” county there were no other chess conditions in the court settlement

Mr Moore was from Cleveland. He was selected because he was a solicitor. He was either a past president or past Secretary of the NCCU. In conducting this enquiry he was expected to be independent and without bias. In my opinion he was so.

Mr Moore conducted his enquiry in the Portland Hotel Piccadilly Manchester and took evidence from interested parties over 3 or 4 days. He subsequently issued a written report (I do not have a copy in my files because at this time I was not a GMCCA official).

Mr Moore’s report concluded was that “GMCCA did have a majority support in 1975- 6”. As agreed they then became subject exactly the same rules and regulations as other new counties.

Legal agreements
I have seen much on another thread about legal agreements involving Lancashire NCCU GMCCA and other bodies. It is important to note that the only legal actions in this affair have been initiated by Tennant Smith in his own name. Not by Lancashire, not by NCCU, not by GMCCA. Neither Lancashire or the NCCU have ever supported Tennant Smith in his legal actions. The only situation that can be described as a legal agreement were the terms of the settlement that gave rise to the 1985 fact finding enquiry. The enquiry reported that GMCCA had the support of the majority of the clubs in Greater Manchester in 1975-6. Consequently GMCCA was recognised as a county exactly like all other new counties and as part of the agreement all parties including Tennant Smith undertook to agree to this.
Last edited by harrylamb on Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Mike Truran
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Mike Truran » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:18 pm

Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.

Mick Norris
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:44 pm

Thanks

That gives me enough to think about during my holiday!
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:16 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:For example, would someone born within the last 25 years in a town that is now part of Greater Manchester but was once part of Cheshire for example be excluded from qualification?
It's going to be one or the other - probably dual eligibility. Why anyone would want to take legal action against the BCF on this issue is beyond me. In the south, it was agreed without much debate that the pre 1974 boundaries would continue to apply for "chess" purposes.
Ernie Lazenby wrote:
Its not hard to understand why wars start when we have this sort of difficulty within our game and it is only a 'game'
It was only 7 years after the Greater Manchester thing was "settled", that the 4NCL demonstrated from 1993 onwards that basing teams on where you were born or where you lived was not the only way of organising weekend team chess.

It's probably not relevant, but has anyone else noticed just how few people are quoted as attending Lancashire AGMs.

Their website is here:-
http://www.lancashirechess.org.uk/officers.html

Paul Buswell
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Paul Buswell » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:50 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:While this discussion is active perhaps someone can answer this question;

Is it correct that all those years back an agreement was reached that anyone living at that time or born thereafter within the old county boundaries could play for the NCCU and qualify for the NCCU titles both Senior and junior. For example, would someone born within the last 25 years in a town that is now part of Greater Manchester but was once part of Cheshire for example be excluded from qualification?
My recollection is this: that during the later 70s and until the mid 80s at least the BCF official position was that anyone already or in the future qualified on the basis of a locus in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester could choose, and change, between eligibility for Greater Manchester or the 'traditional' county appropriate to that place.

I note Harry Lamb's comments up-thread about the proposed 1987 cessation of dual registration.
then the current dual registration arrangements for players in Greater Manchester should cease with effect from 1st October 1987
I defer to Harry's possession of the papers but I am sure some qualification must have been added as taken literally it could be interpreted as making long-standing Mancunians ineligible for Lancs....
However I don't know how it played from October 1987 as I left BCF employ in, I believe, 1986.

PB

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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by David Robertson » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:00 pm

Yes, some of this is coming back to me now (and I really wish it wouldn't) :(

But one aspect still escapes me, and I suspect it did at the time: namely, in pursuing his action against the various parties, what principle did Mr Tennant-Smith seek to uphold; and/or what common good achieve?

On Paul Buswell's point, my recollection from Merseyside (calved/carved out of Lancashire & Cheshire also) is that we regarded 'bilocation' as a natural condition. That is, players were free to choose and unchoose where they played in respect of the ancient and new counties. No sensible means could be imagined to prevent this.

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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by David Pardoe » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:08 pm

Maybe it would be helpful if a senior Lancs figure with detailed knowledge, could come on here and explain how they see things.
It does seem curious to me that an individual could fight an action that so intimately involved the NCCU & LCA, and yet not have any formal backing from either party.
It would be even better if they would consider waiving all claims (or obtaining any necessary agreements to do so), and letting current officials discuss matters and come to an arrangement that allowed us to move on, in the interests of Northern Chess.
Last edited by David Pardoe on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Neil Graham
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Neil Graham » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:10 pm

Fortunately I have thrown out copious amounts of paperwork over the years or packed it off to some other overworked official. I have sat through innumerable meetings where this matter was dissected, discussed etc. At the time I was MCCU Bulletin editor so did suffer some fallout from the lawsuit. John Crampton was MCCU General Secretary and he had to shoulder the main burden on the union.

However I can give some insight into the MCCU position. The Union Constitution stated that any body/association could apply or be accepted for membership of the Union. The case quoted at the time was "What if the Orkney Chess Association asked to be affiliated to the MCCU?" and the answer was if the Union approved their affiliation they would be accepted. The Union's position was that it could affiliate who it wanted and that no Union had automatic territorial rights over an area - consequently Greater Manchester was accepted into membership despite a NCCU claim that Manchester was "their area". A few years after this, the EACU was formed mostly from counties previously in the SCCU but with the old county of Huntingdon and Peterborough which was a MCCU affiliate. Hunts & Peterborough gave notice that they would disaffiliate from the MCCU and join the new Union and off they went perfectly amicably as did Norfolk, Suffolk, etc from the SCCU. Although both the Midland and Southern Unions were the only ones affected by the new Union, the NCCU tried to stop it's affiliation to the Federation.

Incidentally if anyone wonders what happened to Hunts and Peterborough - I believe they joined with Cambridgeshire and ceased to be an Association in their own right.

Neil Graham
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Neil Graham » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:23 pm

David Pardoe wrote:Maybe it would be helpful if Mr Tennant-Smith or another senior Lancs figure with detailed knowledge, could come on here and explain how they see things.
It does seem curious to me that an individual could fight an action that so intimately involved the NCCU & LCA, and yet not have any formal backing from either party.
It would be even better if they would consider waiving all claims and letting current officials discuss matters and come to and arrangement that allowed us to move on, in the interests of Northern Chess.
David - it would be most unhelpful. It's absolutely clear that despite 35 years of hurt this dispute is still festering away and all you will do is open all the old wounds again. There are still enough people around who aren't prepared to let the matter drop. Mike Truran's comments and references to Dickens are most apposite and if we turn to another of his works I don't think "something will turn up" in this case.

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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by David Pardoe » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:39 pm

Neil..if this is so, let these people state there position, and, more importantly any specific legal points they wish to base it on.
Otherwise, it would seem to me that we have enough people (and enough good will), on all sides with the nouse to set North West chess off on a better footing, to do the deed.
I do hope we dont end up wading through the minutie of a 10 foot high pile of 30 year old reports and legal papers, trying to pick out the bones. We need to put our efforts into constructively moving forward in the interests of our northern players.
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Mike Truran
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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Mike Truran » Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:39 am

David

Time to move on.

Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

Mike

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Re: NCCU and the MCF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:04 am

Mike Truran wrote:David

Time to move on.

Jarndyce v Jarndyce.
Perhaps.

But difficult to achieve when the Lancs county association (and the NCCU?) insist that any proposal that Greater Manchester moves north is automatically vetoed.

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