Oct elections - Candidate statements

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Andrew Farthing
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Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:12 pm

In a different thread, David Sedgwick suggested that it would be useful for me to set out what my priorities would be if I were elected ECF Chief Executive in October. I’ll produce a more formal statement for circulation nearer the time, but for now, here is a basic outline.

VISION & STRATEGY: Since I was the author of the ECF’s Long-Term Strategic Plan (available at http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... lOct09.doc), it won’t come as a surprise that I intend to follow through on the basic strategy as set out in that document.

TRUST & TRANSPARENCY: It pains me to see the degree of suspicion sometimes directed at the ECF but I accept that the federation can seem less than transparent at times. On the basis that trust has to be earned, I shall do all that I can to demonstrate openness and honesty. For example:

- Prompt publication of summary Minutes;
- I shall answer whatever questions I can (e.g. on this forum) or explain why I cannot;
- Improve the quality and quantity of information about the ECF’s activities on its website;
- Make myself as available as possible to listen to the views of chess-players and answer questions (e.g. at weekend congresses);
- Press for restoration of a link to this forum on the ECF website without undermining the forum’s independence.

FINANCES: The ECF has to establish a sustainable funding basis for its activities. My assumption for planning purposes (not, I stress, confirmed by any formal statement by the DCMS) is that the government grant will continue to reduce until it is gone entirely. While commercial activities (such as the Certificate of Merit) are the province of the Marketing Director, I’ll be working on the following:

- Making sure we capture the £35,000 efficiency savings from Phase I of the office review; and
- Finding additional savings by simplifying the ECF’s funding (both Membership and Game Fee are too complicated as they stand and need redesigning).

My aim is to find a framework for funding which feels like good value to chess-players and organisations, i.e. a fair price for what is delivered on behalf of English chess.

ORGANISATIONAL MATTERS: I believe that I can apply my past experience to improve the functioning of the ECF as an organisation, e.g.

- Clearer roles and responsibilities which leave directors confident to act and the Board free to focus on major collective decisions (within the broad remit set by Council);
- Quality of delivery – we need to get more things right first time;
- Responsiveness – prompt replies to queries; speedy decision-making.

These are the major headings. I’ve deliberately not commented on Chess for Schools, because I need to see what the situation is in October and talk to the parties involved. There are also some areas which I should like to develop such as expanded on-line content and chess for older people (a particular interest for me due to my involvement with Age Concern), but I need to give these further thought.

I hope that this provides some idea of what I would like to focus on if I am given the opportunity to serve as Chief Executive. Inevitably, these priorities are not set in stone. Comments and suggestions would therefore be welcome.

Andrew Farthing

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate staements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:15 pm

Carl - Ironically, given my mention of getting things right first time, I spotted a typo in the title of this thread ("staements" instead of "statements"). D'oh!
Can you correct it please?

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:26 pm

In Adam's meeting report the following comment was made:

Chess for Schools. The Memorandum of Understanding expired that day. A further announcement would be made.

Is there a timescale on this please?
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:33 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:In Adam's meeting report the following comment was made:

Chess for Schools. The Memorandum of Understanding expired that day. A further announcement would be made.

Is there a timescale on this please?
At the risk of telling the admin how to do his job... Is this the right place for that question? Shouldn't it be in the CfS section?

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:42 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:In Adam's meeting report the following comment was made:

Chess for Schools. The Memorandum of Understanding expired that day. A further announcement would be made.

Is there a timescale on this please?
No idea. It's all gone very quiet on the CfS front, as far as I know.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by David Sedgwick » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:43 pm

Andrew, thank you very much for your excellent initial statement.

Could I suggest that another important priority under Organisational Matters should be ensuring that information on the ECF website is clear, accurate and comprehensive? Take a look for instance at the list of ECF Officials at http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=79. Does it meet any of those three criteria?

One small example - my own role as the ECF's CCPR Representative, a fairly minor appointment. My name is given, with no contact details, between those of the Chairman of the Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Governance Committee, two of the most important positions in the Federation.

As an example of a key document which is missing competely, how about the BICC Agreement? It shouldn't have been necessary for me to post it on this Forum.

I could go on, but I'm sure that's not necessary. Things are a lot better in many ways than they were a year ago. With your impending election, they'll be better again in another twelve months.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:49 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:At the risk of telling the admin how to do his job... Is this the right place for that question? Shouldn't it be in the CfS section?
I tried asking there but everyone seems to either avoid the question or does not know the answer :roll:
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:16 am

Andrew Farthing wrote:I hope that this provides some idea of what I would like to focus on if I am given the opportunity to serve as Chief Executive. Inevitably, these priorities are not set in stone. Comments and suggestions would therefore be welcome.
<rest snipped>

Thank you for posting this - it really is wonderful to have the opportunity to ask questions in a forum like this (reminiscent of the Roman fora!). As an ECF member and someone who plays chess in England and someone who only just joined this forum, I hope you don't mind me asking a couple of questions.

1) Would it be possible to be told a bit of your background, both personal and professional, for those that haven't heard of you before? How did you get involved in chess and the ECF?

2) How much time do you have to spend on the role, and how will you work with others in the organisation?

I hope those questions aren't too vague (I'm sure others will have more specific questions). Many thanks from me to you and anyone who volunteers and/or stands for election to this or any other role. I know from experience how thankless such roles can be, but also how rewarding they can be as well.

PS. There was one initialism I couldn't decipher: what is the DCMS?

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:23 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:1) Would it be possible to be told a bit of your background, both personal and professional, for those that haven't heard of you before? How did you get involved in chess and the ECF?

2) How much time do you have to spend on the role, and how will you work with others in the organisation?

PS. There was one initialism I couldn't decipher: what is the DCMS?
DCMS = Department of Culture Media & Sport. Prior to this year, they gave the ECF an annual grant of £60,000 as part of their support for "elite sport" (i.e. they expected the money to support international successes by English players, e.g. in the Olympiad, and the development of junior players to create future generations of international-strength players). This year, the DCMS announced that the grant would be reduced to £45,000. The context for this is the Government search for spending cuts to tackle the budget deficit.


I'm 46 years old and live in Worcester. I started to play chess when I was 11 or 12 but have never risen above mediocrity - current grade 144 (which I think is more or less the mid-point in the grading list). Since I stopped full-time work four years ago, I've been an active participant in weekend congresses and my local leagues, with about 135 graded games last year. I don't claim to be an experienced chess organiser: I run two individual season-long cup competitions in Worcestershire and am part of the organising team for the Worcestershire Open Chess Congress. Essentially, I'm a long-time chess enthusiast - the sort of classic amateur who's not much good at the game but loves it, with an abiding interest in the game and a roomful of chess books and magazines.

Once I had the time, I became involved in chess organisations in what I imagine is a fairly typical way - club level first, then the local county association, followed by the Midlands Counties Chess Union (I was the Worcs CA's MCCU representative and I've just been elected ECF delegate for the MCCU). In December 2008 I spotted an advert for the role of ECF Strategic Planning Officer, thought it suited my strengths, applied for it and was appointed. As a consequence, I've been attending ECF Board and Council meetings for about 20 months now. The Chief Exec, Chris Majer, asked me to be his Alternate in the middle of last year.

Due to Chris's work commitments, I have ended up covering the Chief Exec job for a total of about 4 months in the last year, so I have some experience now of what's involved and working with the rest of the Board.

Outside of chess, I worked for Lloyds Bank, mostly in risk management roles. For my last 5 years at the bank, I was a senior executive running a department of about 100 people. It was enjoyable work but all-consuming in terms of time and energy (I didn't play chess at all, for instance, from mid-1999 to mid-2006). When I reached 42 - obviously reflecting on the meaning of life - I decided that I could afford to stop and spend time doing things I wanted to do, so I resigned.

Since then, I've split my time between personal interests, voluntary work for Age Concern Sandwell (nr Birmingham), which I chair, and voluntary work in the chess arena (mostly the ECF). The Age Concern work typically demands about a day a week, so my "available" time is fairly extensive. The main limitation is my wish for free time (for example, I do want to keep playing lots of congresses). I thought long and hard about the time commitment required. I estimate that it needs about 3 hours a day on average, and I'm ready to do this.

I've put myself forward for this role because I believe that I can do a decent job and for the selfish reason that a successful ECF means a thriving English chess scene which in turn means lots of opportunities for me to indulge in my hobby! On top of that, I realise that I'm very fortunate to have the freedom to choose how I spend my time and I know how difficult it is to find volunteers in every walk of life; it seems like the right thing to do.

Matthew Turner
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Matthew Turner » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:06 am

DCMS = Department of Culture Media & Sport. Prior to this year, they gave the ECF an annual grant of £60,000 as part of their support for "elite sport" (i.e. they expected the money to support international successes by English players, e.g. in the Olympiad, and the development of junior players to create future generations of international-strength players). This year, the DCMS announced that the grant would be reduced to £45,000. The context for this is the Government search for spending cuts to tackle the budget deficit.

Thank goodness somebody appreciates this. Whether we agree with these priorities or not, we have to play the DCMS's game if we wish to have any hope of maintaining the grant.

John Philpott

Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by John Philpott » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:12 am

Andrew Farthing wrote
DCMS = Department of Culture Media & Sport
To be precise it is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A pedantic comment, but it would probably be as well to get this right if you have to write to the Department after you are elected! I can still remember how well one meeting I attended at the DTI (sorry, Department of Trade & Industry) went after I had written a letter that achieved the rare feat of referring correctly to GAD as the "Government Actuary's Department" rather than the "Government Actuaries Department"

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:26 am

John Philpott wrote:Andrew Farthing wrote
DCMS = Department of Culture Media & Sport
To be precise it is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A pedantic comment, but it would probably be as well to get this right if you have to write to the Department after you are elected!
It's a fair cop, John! Can I plead that I was distracted by the urge to place a comma after "Culture", which is surely correct but which I understand the DCMS avoids?

David Sedgwick
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:56 am

Andrew Farthing wrote:
John Philpott wrote:Andrew Farthing wrote
DCMS = Department of Culture Media & Sport
To be precise it is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A pedantic comment, but it would probably be as well to get this right if you have to write to the Department after you are elected!
It's a fair cop, John! Can I plead that I was distracted by the urge to place a comma after "Culture", which is surely correct but which I understand the DCMS avoids?
Actually, it seems to be the "department for culture, media and sport", with the comma, with "and" rather than an ampersand, but without initial capital letters. See, for example, http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... 69_001.pdf.

If I were writing to them I'd be inclined to use initial capital letters, whether they liked it or not.

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by Andrew Farthing » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:04 pm

Quite right, David, although I could swear that I had previously seen correspondence from them which omitted the comma. I'm with you on the capital letters - I don't think I can bring myself to use lower case only.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Oct elections - Candidate statements

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:45 pm

Andrew Farthing wrote:Quite right, David, although I could swear that I had previously seen correspondence from them which omitted the comma.
Using Internet Explorer, go to their website at http://www.dcms.gov.uk/, and look at what appears at the top left of the screen.

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