Yorkshire Chess Association

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ECF Delegate's Reports, 2017-18; Joining the ECF


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The English Chess Federation’s Annual General Meeting
was held at the Thistle City Barbican Hotel, 120 Central Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 8DS
on Saturday 14th October, starting at 1.30pm, and finishing around 5.30 p.m.


This AGM, which I attended carrying the votes or proxy votes of the YCA (3), Doncaster Congress (1), Leeds CA (2) and the English Federation for Correspondence Chess(1), the latter a first for me, was uneventful by recent standards.  A few noteworthy points are as follows:



All posts where an election was taking place resulted in re-election of the incumbent.

Only one post was actually being contested by another party.


Calderdale Congress is “Congress of the Year”.

Congratulations to Noel Boostred.  (See below.)


The Board is looking at more-frequent grading lists

and whether, in that case, an ELO‑style approach to calculation would be more appropriate.


The structure of the County Championship is to be looked at,

with non-participating counties being asked why they don’t participate, and so on.


The matter of eligibility to represent a given county was raised but not pursued.

(This was not a matter over which Yorkshire had any concerns.)


A further point of interest was the statement in the Board’s Report that in had been engaged in “developing stronger links with the Yorkshire Chess Association and leagues.”  I didn’t ask for elaboration, but I suspect this means one or two ECF Directors have spoken individually to one or two YCA officials, while the Hull & DCA have opted for ECF grading of its league.  It may refer also to the 2017 British Rapidplay being held in Ilkley and the 2018 British Championships are being held in Hull.


Although the papers are sent out by e-mail well in advance of the meeting (22/09/2017), attendance forms (which serve also for appointing a proxy) are often left to the last minute, leaving the ECF office staff with a load of work to cram in before the meeting itself: collation and printing of voting lists and proxy lists, and voting papers and cards particular to each attender of the meeting, supplying numbers to caterers, and so on.


Congress of the Year


Only two congresses were nominated for the “Congress of the Year” award, and the selection by the Awards Committee of Noel Boostred’s Calderdale Congress was perhaps based on its unusual nature.  The comments on the ECF website (http://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-awards-2017-3/) are as follows:


“Organiser, Noel Boustred, had discovered a niche market for a different sort of congress.  He noticed that in most of the big congresses the strong Open Sections with big prizes are financed by the entry fees for the Minor Sections.  As well as Calderdale he runs annual tournaments at Whitby and Harrogate.  These events, run on a shoestring, don’t have Open sections and big prizes, but are cheap, cheerful events for players with maximum grade of 170 and with the modest minor players mainly in mind.  That he has been able to keep these congresses going for so many years shows that he is meeting a popular demand.”


This doesn’t mention that the events tend to run at a loss, being kept going by popular demand rather than pecuniary considerations.


I recall Noel mentioned at the recent Harrogate Congress that for the success of the Calderdale congress he owed much to Nigel Hepworth’s assistance, but one senses the award was as much as anything for the whole set of Calderdale, Harrogate and Whitby as a “brand”.


Noel is a civil servant resident in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear (or Northumberland as far as chess is concerned), so why his congress-organising is set in Yorkshire is difficult to explain.


Steve Mann, 15/10/2017



Outcomes from the ECF Council (“Finance”) Meeting, 28/04/2018, London


I attended the above meeting as YCA delegate to the English Chess Federation and also that of Doncaster Congress.  The YCA gets 3 votes in its own right, on the basis of number of games submitted for grading.  Doncaster Congress gets 1 vote.


Organisations which submit results for grading, but are not ECF Full Members, are allowed to allocate their total of graded games to an organisation which is a Full Member.  Few people know this.  However, the new ECF Voting Register Officer proactively contacted such non-member organisations, and as a result the YCA acquired the grading data totals from the Sheffield Congress and some other source.  Accordingly, Yorkshire’s vote was boosted to 5, which, with Doncaster’s 1, gave me 6 votes to cast.


Chronologically . . . .


1) Fees


ECF membership rates and game fees for 2018-19 were left unchanged (as per 5-year plan), except for reductions at junior level, the amounts being as follows:


Direct (individual) membership rates:

















However, the £1 discount for on-line payment is being withdrawn, allegedly as part of a change of on-line payment service provider.  This is perceived by some (including me) as a “stealth” fee increase.


Minimum fee for Member Organisations: still £60.


Grading fees in congresses:

ECF-graded (adult events)


ECF‑graded (junior events)





Non-member game fee in adult leagues (4 or more games) still £16.


Non-member game fee in junior leagues (4 or more games) still £5.


2) County Championships, Final Stages


The idea of reducing teams in U-180, U-160 and U-140 sections to 12 boards rather than the present 16 was defeated on a “card vote”: 96 votes for, and 129 against, with 35 registered abstentions.  (I voted against.  There were seemingly some bulk abstentions by some carrying many but balanced proxies.)


It was clear that a number of counties struggle with 16 and would prefer 12, but things remain as they were, which is what the Yorkshire captains wanted in principle (though Rupert Jones is not opposed to 12 as a way of getting more teams from other counties).


[A slightly poignant postscript is the fact that as this was being discussed, in the U-140s, Hampshire were defaulting three boards in a 16-board match with Lancashire, the latter winning 9½-6½.  One Lancashire player is recorded as not showing up on a different board, so it was still 6½-5½ on boards actually played.]


3) “Minor” County Championship


The idea of abolishing the Minor Counties Championship was defeated on a show of hands, without resort to a card vote.


This event was originally for counties who, expressing it crudely, hadn’t won anything recently, hence the name “Minor”.  Recently it was changed to an event limited by average grade.  This is perceived by some as undermining the other events, especially the Open, on which basis I voted for the proposal.  I think there was only one other vote “for”.


4) FIDE Rating of U-180 and “Minor”


The idea of FIDE-rating of the U-180 section of the County Championship final stages, in addition to the Open (already FIDE-rated) was defeated on a hand vote in which I voted against the motion.


The consequent need for players to be ECF Gold members was generally perceived as an obstacle to raising enough players, and was strongly opposed by the YCA’s U-180 captain when he was consulted before the meeting.


5) NCCU Proposal to Merge Bronze and Silver ECF Membership Levels


This would take time to implement, which is why it came after fixing of fees for 2018-19.  If the levels were merge, then a new fee somewhere between present Bronze and Silver fees, probably around £20, but in any event an amount higher than the present Bronze fee, would need to be determined so as to keep the budget balanced.


Clearly, the very existence of ECF membership fees is widely perceived as an obstacle to getting new players extensively involved in organised (ECF-graded) chess.  Raising the cost at the “entry level” was widely perceived as counter-productive, and the motion was defeated on a card vote by 63 for, 233 against, with 10 registered abstentions.  I voted against the motion.


6) Other Items


Little else considered at the meeting would interest many YCA players, but for the few who might be interested, an application for a one-off £6,000 (more, incidentally, than the ECF Schools budget of £5,000) was requested by “Casual Chess”.  (See paper on ECF website: https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/C28.10-Casual-Chess.pdf )  This was reduced to £3,000 in an amendment to the original request, but it still failed to get approval.  I think I abstained on this vote, lacking the energy to raise my arm, but would have voted against.


Steve Mann,





Joining the English Chess Federation


Information on becoming an ECF Direct Member (fees above) can be found at: