Year Book 2019-20 Contents
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On-Line Chess – grading system for on-line play - 2 managers of on-line chess appointed
The ECF continues its progress with provision and advice for on-line chess during the current cessation of over-the-board chess. The latest move has been to appoint a Manager of Online Chess (Nigel Towers) and a Manager of Women’s Online Chess (Jo Hutchinson). See https://englishchessonline.org.uk/ for what events the ECF is organising, as well as the ECF’s on-line grading system.
These efforts are of course alongside the two 4NCL on-line leagues (open and junior), and tournaments set up by various local associations and clubs.
One thing which is glaringly evident is that this mode of chess-playing has an appeal limited mainly to certain categories of player, with primarily younger players being involved, and as yet there are not many on-line events which provide an income for professional chess-players which hitherto has been provide by congresses and international tournaments.
The English Bridge Union has also developed on-line activity (https://www.ebu.co.uk/node/3738), but, again, it seems to be catering for a minority of players.
On-line chess is perhaps not so much a different way of playing chess as an alternative game which is of interest to some chess-players.
County Matches – normal championship moth-balled – on-line alternative initiated
Normal English County Championships are of course still on hold, and the feasibility of the 2020 event taking places is somewhat doubtful. Attempts were initiated to run On-Line County Championships - as well as, not instead of the normal ones. The ECF website may contain information on this, but it is difficult to find.
Here again, those expressing interest in playing on-line county chess are not the same as those usually competing over the board.
World War II is generally held to have been a bad thing, yet it was good for chess in Argentina, as Miguel Najdorf elected to stay there after the Buenos Aires Olympiad, going on to benefit chess in the country. So too the present Covid-19 pandemic has deflected attention from the fact that the project to launch on-line grading is at best limping along, and nowhere near being delivered according to the original target.
The aim was not simply to introduce monthly grading lists, and to do so with an ELO-like calculation method yielding 4-digit grades, but was also to “upgrade” the structure and content of the grading database so that it better served the administrative needs of the ECF with regard to membership and voting rights of member organisations. This in turn would need a new computer data submission format.
Designing the new database and associated data submission format seems to have involved too many people, and as at three weeks ago appeared to be drifting towards “design by committee” syndrome. Accordingly, as a pragmatically more modest short-term objective, somebody was pressing on with devising a system to enable on-line data submission of the files of the formats currently in use. (At present these files have to be e-mailed to Matthew Carr who then has to process all files himself.)
This on-line data submission process was seen as the minimum basic requirement for monthly grading to proceed in any form. At least part of it was working two weeks ago, so it may now be ready.
As things are at present, we are heading towards a normal June-end grading list coming out in July.
In view of the cessation of chess activity to generate games to be graded, further delay in the on-line grading project does not really matter!
Finance Council Meeting
The April ECF Finance Council Meeting, at which a budget would be agreed (or not!) and membership fees for 2020-21 would be set, got postponed like everything else. The plan was then to consult on-line (web forum and/or e-mail). The main ECF website seems to be silent on this topic too. Setting a budget and related fees, without knowing what the future holds, is obviously not easy.
The current Finance Director and Membership Director are expected to be stepping down on October, and the present pandemic hardly makes finding replacements any easier.