This meeting, was held by Zoom on 08/05/2021, running from 2.00 p.m. to 3.45 p.m. It was attended by 17 counties and/or unions, including, from Northern Counties, Andy McAtear (Cumbria), Bill O’Rourke (Lancashire), Mick Riding (Northumberland) and Steve Mann (Yorkshire).
I had invited match captains to take my place if they wished, as they know more than I about these things, but none took up the offer.
Part 1 – Structure of ECF County Championships from 2021/22 Onwards
This was essentially a completion of the earlier Council Meeting which ran out of time, but was limited to representatives only of counties and unions, along with the ECF Director for Home Chess as chairman, and Mark Murrell as County Controller.
The ECF Board had proposed a structure which set values for the upper limits of rating-limited (formerly grade-limited) sections in terms of the new 4-digit ratings, but at the same time cut the total number of sections from 6 to 5. Surrey and Middlesex had tabled an amendment to the original proposal, then SCCU and Croydon had tabled a second amendment. The alternatives structures were thus:
In general, it seems desirable to have gaps between rating limits such that roughly equal numbers of players fall by rating into the five bands formed. On the basis of Yorkshire players’ ratings, this is best met by option 1. However, the main general objection to Option 1 is the very low limit for the bottom section. Finding a captain would be particularly difficult for Yorkshire. Option 3 is also fairly good at achieving a fairly balanced spread, and in my opinion is probably the best in general terms.
However, lowering the limits can lead to existing captains becoming ineligible to play in the team they formerly captained, and Option 2 seems far preferable for Yorkshire on the basis of captain retention.
Voting on Option 2 to be the substantive proposal was 8 votes for (including Yorkshire’s two votes) and 34 against, so it failed.
Then, voting on Option 3 to be the substantive proposal was 29 votes for (including Yorkshire’s two votes re-cast) and 14 against.
Voting on Option 3 as the substantive motion was 38 votes for (including Yorkshire’s two votes) and 14 against. Had the motion been defeated then we would still have six sections, with old grade limits converted, by the standard formula, to 4 digits.
Thus, until things are changed again, ECF Counties Championships will be run with the following sections:
Open, U-2050, U-1850, U-1650 and U-1450.
Peter Ackley and Rupert Jones are the only current Yorkshire captains whose current ratings would allow then to comfortably fit into the new structure as captains of the highest team for which they are eligible to play. Of course, and post-COVID considerations such as wearing masks might rule out either of these as captains if that was how they felt. Daniel Sullivan (2050) as a player is currently forced into the Open section. David Mills (1698) is similarly forced into the U-1850.
Part 2 – Ideas for County Chess in late Summer and in Autumn onwards.
Two ideas were advanced.
1) The first was a friendly National Inter-County Competition to be played as a Swiss event over three or four rounds. The somewhat over-optimistic default format was that each team would be at its own venue, overseen by an arbiter, playing on physical sets, but with moves transmitted via an on-line playing platform. Thus it would be like a telephone match but using the internet instead of telephones. Alternatively, by mutual agreement, matches could be played over-the-board at a neutral venue, if legal and otherwise feasible. This drew little support, due to the need for all players to have laptops, the need for a venue with reliable internet connection, and the possible need for various measures (some possibly needed in law) such as masks, spacing, prior COVID testing, and so on.
2) The second was a format for Regional Events for counties to qualify for the ECF Counties Championships of 2021/22. The probable unpreparedness of Unions to organise their usual qualifying events makes it probably desirable that the ECF organise these events, but it rather smacks of the ECF trying to bypass the Unions long-term for this purpose. The “Regions” were billed as North, South, East and West, but were also said to be the territories of the Unions (which include the Midlands), so the Director for Home Chess seemed not to know much of inter-county chess! In practice, entries would probably be collected, and then divided into 3, 4 or 5 regions according to the numbers concerned. The proposed default format was that each match would be a normal (as far as possible) over-the-board match at a neutral venue, though by mutual agreement teams could play the above type of “hybrid” match. Again, the possible need for various COVID mitigation measures would need to be considered. I indicated tentative support from Yorkshire for some interest in participation of such an event, but the organisers of the meeting realised that counties could not commit themselves at that meeting. More-concrete proposals will be disseminated by the ECF in due course. This may prove to be a non-starter for Yorkshire, but also may be enthusiastically taken up by some at least, according to circumstances as they unfold.
YCA Delegate to ECF