Northern Counties Chess Union
A constituent unit of the English Chess Federation
ECF AGM 2022
The ECF Annual General Meeting for 2022 was held on 15 October 2022, commencing at 1.30 p.m., and was held as a hybrid meeting with face-to-face participation at the Simister Hall of The Signing Tree Conference Centre, Ladywood Road, Birmingham, B16 8SZ, and access via Zoom.
There were about 14 people attending face-to-face in Birmingham and about 30 via Zoom. The total of Zoom attenders was somewhat higher than 30 as it included some in the face-to-face meeting who were also tuned in via Zoom.
A fuller report is expected from NCCU President and ECF election candidate Tim Wall, in due course. Meanwhile, this brief report is offered by the Doncaster Congress Delegate attending by Zoom.
The venue was relatively cheap, at about £800 as compared with figures more like £2,400 for each of the previous two meetings.
There is a saying, “You get what you pay for.” Technically, this was the worst Zoom meeting I have experienced on account of the quality of sound delivered from the face-to-facers to those on Zoom. In previous meetings there has been a Zoom tech-whizz, supplied by the venue, who beetled about frenetically in the background, generally adjusting things as necessary to achieve optimum results. Additionally, at one meeting, speakers had spoken into a microphone from a podium, addressing the face-to-facers directly as well as being clearly visible and audible to the Zoom attenders.
In the first half hour, those on Zoom heard only echoing mumblings from those in Birmingham, as if from the far end of a very long cocoa tin filled with cotton wool. Somebody did manage to make things workable, albeit not very good, by 2 o’clock.
The items partly missed in this way were the routine reports, which all get “approved” anyway, even if some people don’t like them. “Apologies” were also lost on the writer, who therefore does not know why the Chief Executive was absent, though maybe it is not hard to guess.
Audited Accounts for 2020-21
The meeting should have been presented with the audited accounts for 2020-21 for formal approval, but they had not been circulated, so nobody could approve them. The Finance Director had apparently not noticed this item on the agenda!
David Eustace, as previous Finance Director, was difficult to follow, with his 10-sheet Excel workbook of management accounts which offered scope for hours of close scrutiny by the financial knit-pickers prior at the April Finance Meeting. (It is a massive job, but of course ECF posts are.)
Then came the elections, which are staggered over a three-year cycle, so that only some come up at any one AGM. These elections were marred by some e-mails sent out by certain parties prior to the meeting.
You have to understand that you can vote for one of the candidates standing, or for “not this candidate” or “none of the above”, depending on whether there is only one, or else two or more candidates - and yes, “none of these” has won in elections for major posts in the past, leaving a vacancy to be filled by the Board. So, here are the results:
So, as regards Northern candidates, it’s congratulations to Stephen Greep of Hull, and commiserations to Tim Wall of Forest Hall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Meanwhile, Mike Gunn from “down south” gets the award for only candidate to get through without incurring any “not this candidate” votes!
A significant point is that Malcolm Pein gave notice that this would be his last 3-year stint as International Director, but he held that their were suitable potential successors in the offing.
Venue of Meetings
For some time the two council meetings held each year, pre-Covid, oscillated between London and Birmingham (two in London then two in Birmingham). At this meeting there was a proposal to extend the geographical scope of meetings to the Northern Counties. In the past some delegates have expressed preference for London and Birmingham over closer venues on the basis of relative ease of travel as compared with some closer possible venues. In the event, the following was passed.
This in itself does not address the question of manner of conducting meetings: face-to-face only, just by Zoom, or the hybrid system of this meeting. It was acknowledged by some attending in person that they were doing so out of a sense of duty rather than personal preference. The outcome of discussions, which was a compromise, meant the next season’s Council Meeting would be conducted as follows:
Finance Meeting purely by Zoom on 22/04/2023, and
AGM on 14/10/2023 in Manchester or Leeds with access also by Zoom.
Doncaster Congress Delegate to ECF