Year Book 2019-20 Contents
Calendar of Events – Results/Reports
(Click on underlined link) \/ to end of list \/
ECF AGM 2019
Thistle City Barbican Hotel, London, 12/10/2019
If you are prone to insomnia, then read on.
Board members conspicuous by their absence were Mike Truran (Chief Exec), Malcolm Pein (International Director), Chris Fegan (Women’s Director) and Alex Holowczak (Junior Director), all with other more-pressing domestic or chess events to attend to. Board members present, were David Eustace, Stephen Woodhouse, Julie Denning, Adrian Elwin, Julian Clissold and Dave Thomas. Perhaps because the more confrontational Board members were among those absent, the meeting was more pleasant than usual.
Also, somewhat worryingly, the new Bronze-Member representative, former Sheffield University student Charlie Higgie, of Malpas, was not there and had appointed no proxy. Nor had he canvassed Bronze Members (at least not me). He has since told me he unfortunately had pressing matters in Malpas, but indicated he aimed to be at the next meeting.
I was attending on behalf of the YCA (3 votes), and Doncaster Congress (1 vote), and was carrying proxies from the Bradford and Leeds Leagues (3 votes each).
There were no really contentious matters except for those with a “down” on one or other of those standing for (re-)election. Voting in elections allows “none of these” (or in this case “not this one”). According, though all standing for election were voted (back) in, there were some plucky “not this one” votes cast to make a point. Most votes on any matter went through nem. con., or virtually so.
If there was anything interesting arising from the meeting then it was more the things which came to light inter alia.
The “Board of Directors’ Report”, and “Draft Strategy and Business Plan” were all approved, albeit with reservations. The latter document received some criticism along the lines of being more a collection of general aspirations rather than any details of planned method. However, given that much of what is covered (too much to hope for realistically, in many people’s eyes) falls within the remit of the newly appointed Development Officer (Carl Portman), who has not officially taken up the job yet, the detail is bound to be a long way away from being developed as yet. “Aspirations” might have been a better title than “Strategy and Business Plan”. These documents can be found on this site at
Board-of-Directors-Report.pdf (answering the age-old question “What does the ECF do?”)
and Strategy-Statement.pdf (with its list of aspirations for the rebuilding of the universe).
The strategy opens up with “The ECF will lead the development and organisation of chess for all players in England and our international teams.” So they will be leading the running of local leagues and congresses etc, and we can all sit back and take a rest? Is it mainly waffle? Things like “Building the financial strength of chess and chess organisations.” and “Provide more effective [means more-effective] support, and advice to independent event organisers.” seem difficult to visualise in real terms.
The proof of the pudding will lie in what the Development Officer can actually achieve, and it seems likely to be a very long road.
On the matter of the appointment of the Development Officer, keen followers of ECF politics (i.e. not your average chess-player) will be aware that Tim Wall has lodged a request for an investigation into the propriety of what happened, and things do if fact look somewhat dodgy (essentially the successful candidate publicly announcing his success before the decision was scheduled to be made by the Board, suggesting a “stich-up” or whatever). This matter was not mentioned in the meeting, presumably by prior agreement between the Governance Director and Tim Wall.
Voting in elections went as follows:
The final column indicates which candidates are contentious in some people’s minds. Only two other YCA officials expressed views regarding these elections. Guided by these, and my own view that electing the sole candidate (warts, if any, and all) is better than having nobody in post, I cast the YCA & Doncaster Congress votes “for” each candidate. In the absence of direction from those whose proxies I held, I cast the proxy votes the same way. Essentially, there was no contest, just some possibly justified disgruntlement.
The “Constitutional Matters” were mainly bringing things in line with existing practice and changed circumstances, and removing inconsistency. The main one for me was redefining the organisation membership fee exemption in terms of games submitted for grading, rather than criteria which no longer exist.
Thus any organisation submitting 25 or more standard-play games for grading (counting a rapidplay game as half) can become a Member Organisation of the ECF “for free”, acquiring one vote for each 1,000 games after rounding up to the next 1,000 (thus 1,001 counts as 2,000). In the absence of such grading submissions the fee is £60. Yorkshire’s local leagues and independent congresses not already in membership ought to consider becoming Member Organisations receiving votes roughly as follows:
The next meeting, the Finance Meeting in London on 25/04/2020, is where they will put the fees up again, though there may then be only a slight increase thereafter in alternate years. The two meetings after that will be in Birmingham.
Hitherto, the ECF office has overlooked the need to invoice counties not submitting any results for grading, for the Membership Fee of £60, but when this was pointed out at an earlier meeting, Council directed that such fees should be invoiced to the counties concerned. Though not on the agenda as such, this too was discussed, which may cause some upset.
Those with an interest in coaching will already be keenly aware that the ECF has discontinued its coaching regulations and ECF‑Accredited Coach system. These people may be interested to hear that thought is being given to a replacement scheme.
The proposal that the ECF pass fines relating to defaulted county match games be passed on the aggrieved counties concerned was passed. (Also, “fine” was replaced by “compensation”. However, things started with a pointless discussion with the merits or otherwise of the fines themselves (not on the agenda). From this it was revealed that in 2018-19 over £1,000 had been invoiced in fines, as compared with much less (£300 plus from memory) in the previous season.
The Staffordshire treasurer then complained he had received an invoice for £20 (for one defaulted game), and that he knew nothing of these fines (though he attends most ECF meetings!) and that his county would not be re-entering! Actually he was getting off easy, as compared with counties paying £100 per defaulted match. I think there was then a second indication of a county intending to withdraw.
A further comment was made that the 4NCL presented a “better run” alternative to traditional county chess. That seems to be a message that although at Union level inter-county chess is doing okay in the Midlands and South, even there the national stages may be becoming progressively less well supported.
The sympathetic chairman then emphasised the need for people to put forward amendment proposals to ECF Council if the wanted to change things.
The Non-Executive Chairman of Council (i. e. he or she is not on the Board, and so more likely to be impartial, was retiring, but no candidate had come forward to replace him (Mike Gunn). Tim Wall had advised prior to the meeting that, as I understood it, his late candidacy had been accepted by the ECF, so I was expecting a vote on that post, but it turns out the ECF Board is to advertise for candidates, though Tim has been put on the list. Conspiracy theorist may believe a dominant caucus on the ECF Board will prevent Tim Wall taking any post in the ECF, but Tim himself seems to think otherwise.
The meeting ran from 1.30 p.m. to about 4.20 p.m.
YCA Delegate to ECF