Sean Hewitt wrote:
Despite your protestations to the contrary, game fee is paid to the ECF by players. Institutional members merely acted as the tax collectors - whether that be by subscription, entry fee or whatever.
I totally disagree. Game Fee was a levy on organisations to pay for their membership of the ECF. When running an event, you have expenses such as room hire, arbiters, prizes and rating fees. You need to recover these from sponsorship, patronage, donations and entry fees. Fail to do so and the event makes a loss. You could run an event with no entry fee to the players and still have it graded. Quite clearly the Game Fee is the organisation's liability, alongside room hire, arbiter costs and prize money. Ask yourself who the ECF chases if an event doesn't pay. It's not the players.
Once upon a time, the BCF was trying to promote what was then the equivalent of Platinum membership, in other words money raising for the general benefit of the BCF. It was thought necessary to offer bells and whistles, in other words an annual grading print, a monthly printed Chess Moves, a free Year Book and diary plus the right to have games graded that were played outside the BCF. In addition the BCF wanted Congresses to offer discounts on entry fees to members. Congresses got a discount on their BCF membership costs to help them afford this. From this small start, the whole notion that Congresses should be given free membership and complimentary grading services was built.
The fact that Â£ 2 per head isn't a personal levy has enabled some league and counties to have a more relaxed approach to demands of membership and thereby retain some hopes of attracting new, casual and returning players.