Junior Director 2018 Election

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Paul Cooksey
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Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Paul Cooksey » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:29 pm

I was surprised to see Alex standing after standing down early from the Home Director role due to other commitments.

Anyway, Alex if you are taking questions, the same one I intend to ask everyone - do you have an idea of the budget and team you would need over a 3 year term?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:36 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:29 pm
I was surprised to see Alex standing after standing down early from the Home Director role due to other commitments.
Evidently the "other" commitments are to Junior chess organisation. It seems to be an agreed takeover, given the endorsement by the retiring director.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:24 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:36 pm
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:29 pm
I was surprised to see Alex standing after standing down early from the Home Director role due to other commitments.
Evidently the "other" commitments are to Junior chess organisation. It seems to be an agreed takeover, given the endorsement by the retiring director.
Alex has suggested elsewhere that it was a relatively short notice decision. Certainly I don't think anybody knew that Traci Whitfield was standing down. On that subject, if Traci is reading this I would like to record my appreciation for her service. Despite a difficult inheritance (her predecessor was bullied out of the job and her first year took place against the backdrop of serious board divisions) I think she has delivered genuine and lasting change and deserves to be remembered as one of the strongest directors of recent years.

It is a matter of public record that Alex wished to resign the Home directorate due to that role being busiest in July/ August when he had other commitments - Alex can speak for himself but I suspect the Junior directorate goes quiet around that time of the year. I would be interested to know if Alex has any plans to develop junior chess at `improving level`. By that I mean those juniors who have taken an interest in the game but aren't in any danger of ever being selected for the England team. The one time I spoke to Traci (at Llandudno where she was promoting the Academy) she admitted that she didn't have the time or resources to extend her activities to that level.
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David Robertson
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by David Robertson » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:15 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:24 pm
I would be interested to know if Alex has any plans to develop junior chess at `improving level'
I hope he has none. It's not the business of the ECF to develop 'improving players'. That's our job, in the clubs. The ECF is properly the body to take the elite - the best we can produce - and help to convert them into international standard, titled, players. ECF should be judged by its success or otherwise in adding value at that level. By all means let a discussion be ongoing about 'fair access' to an elite development programme; and about its KPIs. But the role of the ECF in facilitating that programme should not be diminished by a focus on matters properly addressed by other means.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:38 pm

A brief comment, given I'm meant to be printing and sticking up Terafinal pairings...

I only found out that Traci was standing down about 36 hours before the deadline for nominations.

My big issue was that the Home Chess Directorship is busy in April, May, June and July; when I was busy with other activities, particularly work for the UK Chess Challenge. I spoke to Traci before committing to putting my name forward, and apparently the work is much more spread around the calendar year in a way that better fits around my other commitments.

It wouldn't really be fair to say it was an "agreed takeover". I spoke to all of the other executive members of the Board about the situation before the deadline, and they reacted positively to the idea.

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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:40 pm

David Robertson wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:15 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:24 pm
I would be interested to know if Alex has any plans to develop junior chess at `improving level'
I hope he has none. It's not the business of the ECF to develop 'improving players'. That's our job, in the clubs.
I agree, although I might widen it to local organisations (e.g. counties) rather than clubs. It's not really business the ECF should be leading on.

J T Melsom
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by J T Melsom » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:51 pm

I'd agree with the comments re improvers being the responsibility of others, rather than the ECF, bar a couple of points of caution - first what about late developers?, and also what about broadening the participation levels below the elite? I'm not sure that most chess clubs are good at improving players whether junior or adult which particularly in the case of juniors may lead to frustration and accelerate the speed at which they drop out.

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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:35 pm

I agree it's the role of clubs to do the leg work rather than the ECF but I think the ECF should provide some sort of structured framework, even if it's only a list of resources and tips for best practice. The biggest problem we have is that gulf that appears at age eleven where players who might have have played at primary school just vanish off the radar (the secondary school doesn't have a chess club, the adult chess club is too staid for them) unless they are precocious enough to be tipped as future international players. I know I'm not saying anything new here.

The other problem with junior chess organisation nationally is that it can be the `Life of Brian` of English chess (in the same way as county chess is its Jarndyce vs Jarndyce). The Judean People's Front are often at loggerheads with the People's Front of Judea. To be fair the battle lines are rarely drawn as clearly but there are too many organisations with competing ideas and programs.

Some of this may sit with the chess development ideas discussed in the other thread as community chess initiatives will inevitably attract juniors along the way.
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:14 am

J T Melsom wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:51 pm
and also what about broadening the participation levels below the elite? I'm not sure that most chess clubs are good at improving players whether junior or adult which particularly in the case of juniors may lead to frustration and accelerate the speed at which they drop out.
Many chess clubs are entirely unsuitable for juniors; they meet in a pub, they meet late in an evening on a schoolnight, and there is no one else their age for them to have social interactions with. I think deep-down, people already accept this.

From the perspective of the ECF, there are two issues:
1. Developing the elite juniors. At the moment, if chess clubs didn't exist, we would be negligibly less successful than we are at the moment, because juniors are more or less independent of chess clubs.
2. Retaining healthy numbers of junior players. Shorter tournaments, tournaments with more emphasis on the social side and on fun. We don't organise many tournaments like that; maybe we need more tournaments like the Blitzes held last Saturday, but perhaps in an afternoon slot rather than an all-day slot? Maybe we need more variation tournaments (e.g. Exchange/Bughouse)? I'm going to put together a survey for parents to respond to, and retention of junior players through their teenage years will be part of that. It will be interesting to hear the views of parents.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:35 pm
The other problem with junior chess organisation nationally is that it can be the `Life of Brian` of English chess (in the same way as county chess is its Jarndyce vs Jarndyce). The Judean People's Front are often at loggerheads with the People's Front of Judea. To be fair the battle lines are rarely drawn as clearly but there are too many organisations with competing ideas and programs.
As alluded to in my address, this is something I am very keen to at least attempt to solve. There's some goodwill out there...

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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:30 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:14 am

From the perspective of the ECF, there are two issues:
1. Developing the elite juniors. At the moment, if chess clubs didn't exist, we would be negligibly less successful than we are at the moment, because juniors are more or less independent of chess clubs.
2. Retaining healthy numbers of junior players. Shorter tournaments, tournaments with more emphasis on the social side and on fun. We don't organise many tournaments like that; maybe we need more tournaments like the Blitzes held last Saturday, but perhaps in an afternoon slot rather than an all-day slot? Maybe we need more variation tournaments (e.g. Exchange/Bughouse)? I'm going to put together a survey for parents to respond to, and retention of junior players through their teenage years will be part of that. It will be interesting to hear the views of parents.
The rather obvious solution is more bespoke junior clubs run by suitably qualified individuals. I'd add two further qualifiers here;

a) More clubs that are solely for 12-18 year olds. I'm only aware of two people across the whole of the UK who do this. One is Neill Cooper and one is myself (I'm sure there must be others). Such clubs are going to be relatively small (the most players I've ever had at any one time is 11) but if every town had one ...

b) A bit more controversial here but some adult chess clubs aren't junior friendly but are quite happy to `farm` where junior clubs exist (for example `I see young Johnny seems quite useful, can I have his number so I can persuade his parents to let him play in a league match he won't be ready for yet`). The interface with adult chess is important but I'd rather build the overall base and then feed the right players into the right event.

I hasten to add I'm not trying to be sanctimonious here. I'm a sinner who has learnt from bitter experience.

I also have to admit that I'm not a fan of variants, if only because some kids will start playing them as if they're on a parity with the actual game. Hand and brain is always fun.
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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:14 pm

I can't say I agree with Andrew on what the Home Director's priorities should be.

The current regulation below. I understand Alex was pressed for time so hope he will be able to expand on the ideas in his address. The start of a new term seems a good moment to review and update.

Director of Junior Chess & Education
• Management of the Federation’s activities, and of development & chess
education, for junior members (under 21)
• Management of the ECF Chess Academy
• Management of events specifically for junior members including the
National Counties Under 18 and the ECF Schools Championships
• Management of the Federation’s participation in international junior
events (under 21)
• Liaison with the Directors of Home, International and Women’s Chess to
co-ordinate the development of chess for junior members
• Responsible for the development of the Junior Chess & Education and the
ECF Chess Academy business plans
Specific aspects:
• Responsible for the Manager of Coaches and others appointed within the
directorate
• Responsible for the development and maintenance of safeguarding
policies

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:54 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:14 pm
I can't say I agree with Andrew on what the Home Director's priorities should be.

The current regulation below. I understand Alex was pressed for time so hope he will be able to expand on the ideas in his address. The start of a new term seems a good moment to review and update.

Director of Junior Chess & Education
• Management of the Federation’s activities, and of development & chess
education, for junior members (under 21)
• Management of the ECF Chess Academy
• Management of events specifically for junior members including the
National Counties Under 18 and the ECF Schools Championships
• Management of the Federation’s participation in international junior
events (under 21)
• Liaison with the Directors of Home, International and Women’s Chess to
co-ordinate the development of chess for junior members
• Responsible for the development of the Junior Chess & Education and the
ECF Chess Academy business plans
Specific aspects:
• Responsible for the Manager of Coaches and others appointed within the
directorate
• Responsible for the development and maintenance of safeguarding
policies
I'm assuming you mean Junior director as per the subject of this thread. It's not as if we ever agree on anything substantive anyway. However the elections for junior and home director matter to me because the policies they pursue will ripple down to the work I do locally. Obviously I can't comment on whether they will impact on your own local program.

However the regulations have one interesting point; they refer to JUNIOR MEMBERS (my capitals) on no less than three occasions. This implies not just the junior elite but all junior members. It's also noticeable that the regulations imply that somebody remains a junior member until they are 21 and that student level activities sit within the directorate.
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Neill Cooper
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:42 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:30 am
a) More clubs that are solely for 12-18 year olds. I'm only aware of two people across the whole of the UK who do this. One is Neill Cooper and one is myself (I'm sure there must be others). Such clubs are going to be relatively small (the most players I've ever had at any one time is 11) but if every town had one ...
Which is one reason why secondary school chess is so important. There are 37 'clubs' playing at the school event at Eton College on Sunday, and about 300 young people playing. There is the obvious problem of what about those whose schools do not run chess clubs, and I think we need to be more creative in solving that situation.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:37 am

Neil, Why is the competition a "schools" competition rather than a "junior club" competition? How would you react to, say, a Scout Troop wanting to enter?

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Re: Junior Director 2018 Election

Post by Paul Cooksey » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:37 pm

I imagine Andrew was astonished that there are 36 clubs run by someone other than him or Neil.

My feeling is that school chess clubs make most sense as a long term structure. Something that new volunteers, particularly parents, can support without reinventing the wheel. Junior County chess also well established, at least in my area.

I am slightly uncomfortable with the ECF prioritising its own events rather than providing support as needed to everyone. But I would hope schools chess would be an area Alex saw as growth or at least maintain quadrant in his strategy.

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