Friday, 9 May 2008

Mike Truran - Open Letter, 8 May 2008

The following open letter was sent to me for publication by Mike Truran and he has agreed that I should display it on BCMBlog. To put you in the picture, Mike was until a few days ago a non-executive director of the English Chess Federation. In conjunction with a number of other directors of the federation, he decided to resign from his post last week. The background to the ECF crisis has been summarised elsewhere on the web and I (JS) don't propose to summarise it here (though I may say more at a later date). Links to various background material: SCCU Report of the ECF Council Meeting of 26 April 2008 - Debate at the ECF Forum - Debate at the Atticus CC forum.

Here is Mike Truran's open letter in full:

There is a story (apocryphal or otherwise) of how the Chinese army once decided to establish a military garrison in the middle of the Gobi desert. The garrison was built, supply lines were established, soldiers were dispatched, all at ruinous cost. It apparently took some years for it to dawn on people that nobody, friend or foe, was particularly interested in the middle of the Gobi desert. The point of the garrison was the garrison’s own existence.

Sometimes I’m reminded of the story when thinking about the ECF. It’s as if the main purpose of the ECF is to raise enough funds to perpetuate the ECF. Certainly its purpose doesn’t seem to be to be to sort out the woeful state of chess in this country. The ECF president only a few days ago was apparently heard to say “The ECF is about more than chess”. Let’s hope that’s right, because it sure as hell isn’t particularly about chess.

There has been a lot of speculation about why four of us recently resigned as ECF directors, with many fanciful theories raised on various forums. I speak for myself on this, although I believe that my fellow directors share similar although not necessarily identical thoughts. I resigned because I have lost faith in the ability of the ECF as it is presently structured to take meaningful action to sort out English chess – or indeed in the ability of the ECF to even understand that there is an issue.

When I signed up to Martin Regan’s ticket and agreed to stand for re-election as a non-executive director I genuinely believed that there was at long last an opportunity to revitalise English chess and embark on a radical programme that would restore English chess to its rightful position in the world. I now believe that the vested interest lobbies in Council and on the Board will all they can to prevent meaningful change, and that even if Martin and his team had been able to force through the changes needed the resulting fall-out would have made life intolerable.

I’m a senior business executive in my real life. Time is a valuable commodity for me. That said, I’m willing to give my time for free when I see goodwill and a genuine intention to make things better amongst my colleagues. What I’m not prepared to do is to waste my time pushing water uphill. Life’s too short and I have better things to do.

Have you ever been to an ECF Council meeting? If you ever get invited, run like hell in the other direction. There are, I know, good and competent Council members who recognise that there is a problem with English chess and would like to do something about it. Meeting after meeting these members’ voices are drowned out by a vociferous minority who either bang on about arcane points of order and constitutional minutiae or about their own particular hobbyhorses, which usually involve some variant of the “What does the ECF do for me?” or “What’s the Board trying to slip past us this time?” themes – and usually (which I find more soul-destroying than anything) without a scintilla of doubt as to the correctness of their own opinion and with an absolute refusal to countenance the possibility that there might just possibly be valid points of view other than their own. Most of the subjects discussed involve operational matters which should be within the Board’s remit and so not even on the agenda. The atmosphere typically ranges from the unpleasant to the poisonous. No meeting passes without some confrontation or other between Council and the Board. I recall on one occasion overhearing one Council member saying to another member “I wouldn’t trust this Board as far as I could throw them”. On no occasion can I recall any strategic discussion about how Council thinks the ECF (and the Board on behalf of the ECF) should be developing and improving English chess. The ECF discussing strategy? Don’t make me laugh. It’s much more exciting to discuss whether game fee increase should be 1p or 2p.

ECF Board meetings are little better. The late lamented John Dunleavy once said to Martin Regan “Well, Council have at least given you half a ticket”. As Martin commented recently, that wasn’t enough. In the end, it seems to me that the Board split right down the middle between those who sought radical change and those who wanted to preserve the status quo. In business a divided Board never achieves its objectives. This Board was no different, and I think that in the end Martin and his team recognised that the drag on the reform and modernisation agenda from those who looked to block substantive progress at every turn was going to be insuperable. In any event, as with Council, getting the Board to discuss anything other than trivia was always difficult. As a for instance, I recall one memorable occasion when we spent an enthralling quarter of an hour or so debating whether one particular job title should be “…………Manager” or “Manager of…………”.

So where are we now? An organisation with the turnover of a fairly large Cotswold tea shop has a business plan it has neither the resources nor the skills to deliver, seemingly living in a fantasy world in which all manner of lofty ambitions are signed up to year after year with no discernible will to provide the finance to achieve those ambitions. Any meaningful debate about what the ECF should be delivering as opposed to what it actually delivers is immediately hijacked by lobbyists complaining about the cost of chess in England. All Martin and his team wanted to do was to get the debate out on the table. We really didn’t care whether membership was pitched at £2 or £50. What we wanted to flush out was a vision from Council, the elected representatives of chess organisations in England, of what the ECF should be doing and where it should be going. If Council just wanted the ECF to produce a grading list, with no office and a skeleton service (£2?), that was fine. If Council wanted the ECF to run properly funded international teams to represent England, provide appropriate conditions for our top players to play in the British Championship, invest properly in junior chess, have a properly resourced and skilled office delivering proper value added services for members etc etc (£50?) that was fine too. Once the vision was agreed, the costs would follow. We couldn’t even get the debate started.

Well, I’ve said my piece and, having said it, can hardly be excused from the obligation to offer some thoughts on how matters might be improved. So here goes, for what it’s worth…………

• The ECF needs to tear up its present structure and start again. Council in its present form is unworkable, and the Board is emasculated by the need to refer any meaningful decisions to Council. To my mind the present Council structure should be replaced by a small number of shareholders, duly elected by their constituents – in effect the shareholders who hire or fire the directors. As a starter for ten suggestion, these members could, for example, be representatives of the regional unions and/or the major leagues, with the unions/leagues taking responsibility for the democratic processes whereby these members were elected. I recall writing to Gerry Walsh before the BCF morphed into the ECF suggesting that the change of legal status was a golden opportunity to get the structure fit for purpose for the 21st century. True to form, nothing happened.

• The ECF needs to allow its Board to get on with things, as would be the case in the real world. The Board, as Council’s appointees, needs to be able to set the overall strategy for the ECF and then to set about delivering it. If Council isn’t happy it should get rid of its directors and appoint new ones, not seek to second guess them at every turn.

• The ECF should work out what it is for and what it should be doing by way of core activities and value added services. Once that is decided, the chess playing public should fund that level of activity and service on a non-subsided, break-even basis. Whether that is done by way of membership fees or game fees isn’t the issue. The issue is what the chess playing public wants and what it is willing to pay for. Nobody is going to sponsor the ECF in current circumstances, even if the ECF had a brand worth investing in, or indeed any sort of compelling proposition with which to convince potential sponsors. We can’t expect any of this to be funded by sponsorship under current circumstances, and if we think it will be we delude ourselves. Anyway, sponsorship should be used to fund the “icing on the cake” over and above properly funded and resourced day to day activity. Chess players are going to have to be prepared to stump up themselves for what they want. If they are only prepared to pay for a skeleton service that perpetuates the downward spiral of chess in England, so be it. If they want to pay the money needed to re-energise chess in England, that’s fine too. What they shouldn’t do is pretend that they can get something for nothing. What they should do is have the debate about what they really want and what they are really prepared to pay.

• Finally, the ECF needs to get some competent people onto the Board – and that I fear includes replacing some of the present incumbents. Whether you agree or disagree with the views of Martin and his team, it would be pretty hard to argue (based on what they have delivered in the real world) that they were not competent to do the job. With their loss I fear the ECF has missed another golden opportunity. Nobody is irreplaceable, but I suspect the ECF will have to work quite hard even to find people of the calibre of Martin, Peter and Claire, let alone persuade them to act as ECF directors. The ECF’s reputation is just too low.

It distresses me to see how English chess has declined over the last couple of decades. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I compare chess in England with the buoyant state of affairs in countries like Germany, France, Turkey…………I could go on. I suppose we could wait for the old guard on the Board and in Council to die off before we try to put things right. I suspect that by the time that happens chess will be completely moribund in this country.

We really do need to start over. But I’m not holding my breath.


The other day I was leafing through “Chess Monthly” for 1991 (!) and came across the following (concerning, I believe, something called the Edwards Report which had been commissioned by the then British Chess Federation to “review all aspects of chess activity and organisation in the UK, taking into account the various interests of all levels and groups of players, both amateur and professional, together with organisers and sponsors”). I quote:

“The committee was unanimous in agreeing that the BCF is designed for a structure of British chess that is largely superseded. It recognised that the cumbersome structure with an unwieldy Council and Management Board was ill-equipped to handle the increase in professional chess of the world’s number two chess nation. Difficulties in recent years in finding and keeping sponsors have resulted from the lack of professional commercial management.

The major recommendations of the report are:
1. To appoint a competent, professional, full-time General Secretary.
2. To start a National League.
3. To reform the management structure of the BCF to simplify the organisation and improve communication to members.”

Progress to date:

1. Not achieved.
2. Achieved, but not by the BCF.
3. What do you think?

Seventeen years on we’re still waiting. I had almost forgotten until “Chess Monthly” reminded me that we used to be number two nation in the world. Does anybody in the ECF care any more?

Let me finish with a quote from David Norwood, then the BCF’s Publicity Director, also from 1991:

“The BCF……is simply the sum of its parts: individuals, clubs and counties. If what is commonly termed the ‘grass roots’ then continually demands: ‘What does the BCF do for me?’, as if expecting immediate benefits from above, there is something intrinsically wrong. The BCF can only be what its members make it.”


  1. Amen

    Atticus CC

  2. I've written elsewhere that I am very sorry to see the resignees go and I stick to that: I think they all were (and still can be, in whatever capacity) a force for improvement in English chess. But I don't necessarily agree with all that Mike says or with the approach that he takes here. I'll presumably expand on this as we go, but briefly:

    1. I do not think it is right or reasonable to paint the ECF in the colours that he does: because people disagree with Mike or with Martin Regan doesn't necessarily mean they're self-serving or parchially-minded. No doubt there are people who would fit that description.

    2. I don't think the decline of English chess is the fault of the ECF and at very least there should be recognition of the wider factors involved before anybody tries to pin it on that organisation.

    3. I have to say that even now, after all the discussion, I find myself unsure what the exact cause of the controversy was and I find it odd - as an ECF member - that such a crisis should occur over an issue of which I wasn't even aware.

    I've suggested elsewhere that it might have been better if the proposals had been advertised and discussed more widely. This might seem like a time-consuming process: I can very much understand that people don't want to have a debate lasting months or years before they make every little change. Of course. But when you're new and people don't really know you or understand what you're trying to do, it can be useful or even necessary. When you've established your credentials and people are with you - that is when you can have all the leeway you want to get things done at the speed you want.

    Sometimes you need to win arguments before proceeding - and if you can't win them with some people you can win them with the wider public. If you can't win them with the wider public then well, you can't really act on their behalf whether that public is right or wrong.

    I think this crisis may possibly have the virtue of making people think more deeply about what should be (and indeed can be) done about English chess. In the short term we're more likely to have rows and recriminations, but in the longer term, possibly a way forward can be found. It may well involve restructuring - it may well involve a lot else besides. And if Mike thinks contemplating the decline of English chess distresses him, he wants to have tried supporting Oxford United for the last twenty years.

  3. John Saunders9 May 2008 at 14:56

    Martin Regan writes: Although, I would say that some of Mike's views about Council are a tad on the harsh side - his views in every other respect - are absolutely correct.

    Every chess player who cares for the state of English Chess - and many do not - should read his letter.

    As should every Council member tempted to give their proxy votes to those whose purpose appears to be to run an ECF solely for the purpose of having a federation and being an officer within it.

    Martin Regan

    (n.b. Martin Regan asked me to post this comment here on his behalf. JS)

  4. Thanks for that Mike - backs up what we already knew!

    Steve Henderson

  5. We really didn’t care whether membership was pitched at £2 or £50

    Down at the bottom it makes an immense difference and the board really should try to understand these things. You can price a rapidplay tournament to have an entry fee in the £10-15 range. You might even attract some newcomers to competition chess. That even includes a payment to the ECF of game fee. At £50, it's difficult to believe that you would get new players and you would probably have cut down the English chess population from around 12000 down to a core of about 3000 with the effect that there wouldn't have been a tournament at all.


  6. Matt Harrison9 May 2008 at 16:23

    I can see why people would want to give their time and energy to serving on the Board of the ECF. I can't see why anyone would want to be on the Council. As chair of a charity (unpaid) and chief executive (paid) of another charity (both far larger than the ECF in financial terms, but insignificant in profile) I know how much work it is to run an organisation with an unwieldy and unworkable decision-making structure.

    There is clear debate and difference of opinion about what the role of the ECF should be. Surely the key is for the board (as it seems they were trying to do) to get this debate out in the open and canvass views about the future strategy of the organisation.

    If the clear preference of the membership is for free (or virtually so - given that any subscription system probably costs £5-10 a year per member to administer) then a business plan needs to be written to deliver what can be delivered within that.

    If the preference is for an active ECF, delivering international and junior chess and helping to promote major congresses and leagues, then it will cost money - and the membership fee will need to reflect that.

    I'm a next-to-useless chess player, but the father of a decent junior player. Personally I'd pay £50 per annum for membership to deliver better services for chess.

    I have to say that I was very encouraged by what the board appeared to be doing (eg. the vast improvements in selection methods and numbers of places for international junior representation) and am greatly saddened by the recent developments.

  7. I strongly agree with RdC over this. It matters a great deal at what level membership is priced. Further, charging an exorbitive membership fee seems a very lazy way for the ECF to raise revenue. The average player would - if they coughed up at all - likely see no direct benefits for his or her bucks. While most players wouldn't balk at paying a reasonably priced memebership fee especially if the results were tangible, I can't believe there aren't other more equitable ways to raise money that future (imaginative) directors might dream up.

  8. Mike's £2/£50 comment comes across as a bit Marie-Antoinette-ish ("let them eat cake") but I don't think he intended it to be taken literally. It was an exaggeration for the sake of effect. The point he is making is that the new members of the board wanted to get Council debating what they thought the ECF ought to be doing, rather than arguing over the details of membership/game fees. Not that the latter details are not important - they are - but the role of the federation has to be discussed and agreed before you can start fixing prices.

  9. debating what they thought the ECF ought to be doing

    running a national chess federation.

    next question

    Isn't the April council meeting just supposed to be mostly about rubber stamping the budget? Is it really the right place to start a debate about the direction of the ECF with one hour on the clock?


  10. Dear oh dear. I imagine it was just that sort of dismissive reaction which caused the directors to resign. Isn't it perfectly reasonable to debate the scope of the federation?

    If not in April, when? Anyway, you are assuming that the Council meeting was the trigger for the resignations and I don't think this was the case.

  11. Isn't it perfectly reasonable to debate the scope of the federation?

    Of course. But you start the debate by putting some ideas forward in the chess media. Or present a discussion paper to council.

    I believe the board may have had some plan to spend large amounts of money "to invest in English chess". Ok - present this plan - explain that it doubles the ECF's expenditure budget and then make some proposals to raise the funds.

    Perhaps the plan was to merge with Chess & Bridge and the 4NCL to control the national league and attempt to control the magazine, books and equipment market.


  12. Anyway, you are assuming that the Council meeting was the trigger for the resignations and I don't think this was the case.

    I think this is what bugs me because it's hard to believe that people just suddenly resigned out of the blue over the outcome and atmosphere of one meeting: yet if they did not, I don't have a clue what in particular happened beforehand.

    I don't necessarily agree with all that RdC says but I think I do agree with the first paragraph of his last posting. I stand to be corrected but it does seem to me to have been less well-prepared than it might and should have been, and I don't really understand why. None of the resignees are organisationally inept.

  13. RdC and Ejh both make interesting points. I'll ask Mike Truran if he has anything to say on the matter.

  14. Yes, we could have prepared the ground better - and had we had our time again we may well have done just that. Would it have made any difference? I don't think so. I hope my letter got over the sense that it wasn't just one meeting. It was the culmination of a long series of confrontations, discussions about trivia, refusal to address the issues etc etc. I think it's instructive that despite the lack of briefing material supporting the discussion point we wanted to air (what is your vision for what your federation should be delivering and what are you willing to pay to deliver that vision?) the subject was immediately shouted down by the minority I referred to in my letter - without, I'm afraid to say, any significant push-back from the majority of Council members who, I still believe, at heart wished the Board well and wanted them to succeed. Had the opposition been based on properly argued objections to previously published briefing papers I could have understood that - but in fact it seemed to me that the opposition was in fact based on a deeply held, emotional and almost visceral antipathy to the idea of change which no amount of pre-briefing was going to change.

    So yes - we could have prepared the ground better. And no - I am convinced that the outcome would have been the same. Waiting until October to have a more clearly defined proposal rejected would have been a waste of time. Our take-away from the Council meeting was that there was such hostility to any suggestion of significant change that it really wasn't worth going on.

    However, until the chess world is ready to front up to the key issue of what it wants English chess to look like and what it's prepared to pay to deliver it, any debate will continue be conducted under the wrong terms of reference. If people want a £2 service, that's OK, and if they want to pay more for a better service that's OK as well. What they should not do is delude themselves that they can get something for nothing. That was really the only question we wanted discussed.

  15. I have been to many BCF council meetings, but not any more, and I quite understand why people don't go.... The problem at all levels of chess from county (or similar) upwards is that a lot of the people at meetings are only there to further their own ends, or to attack people they hate. Hatred is frequently based on jealousy. Last county meeting I attended, one individual said that a club should be expelled from the county, because they had religious posters at their venue! The rather supine chair of the meeting (who turned up for a change), as somnolent as a very tired person working as a mogadon tester, took no notice (as usual). If you have people like that involved you are doomed really. Other officers privately wrote off the person who commented on the religious posters as "stupid" or "mentally ill", but did not want to take action. And he is the delegate to the ECF!
    Of course, there are decent people out there, but all too often, they get sick of the attitude of others and resign. This has always happened, and it will still happen. Losing people like Mike is really sad.

  16. I realise that this information is presumably readily available, but would anyone care to post and explain to me (i) who the members of the council are, and (ii) who elected them? I seem to recall voting for the present board, and I don't recall voting for the council. That being so, I don't understand why it's sensible for the board to have to go back to the council and seek the council's approval to carry out the policies on which they were voted in.

  17. Egad. This seems to be the answer to my question.

    There are 46 Leagues who have a total of 87 votes between them. For example, the 4NCL has 6 votes and the Hammersmith & District League has 1.

    There are 38 Counties with a total of 82 votes. The range is 4 votes for big counties like Surrey, to 1 vote for tiddlers like Warwickshire.

    There are 53 Congresses wielding 66 votes. Golders Green carries a mighty 4.

    There are 7 Constituent Units - these include the London Chess League, the Northern Counties Chess Union and the like. 19 Votes.

    There are 10 Other Organisations (basically not fitting into other categories) - Braille Chess Association, British Federation for Correspondence Chess, to name but two. They have one vote each so - 10 votes.

    Then there are 16 votes going to various individuals - one each - people like the President, the Board (that’s where I get my one vote as International Director), Trustees, Past Chief Executive.

    And last, but not least, there are the Representatives of Direct Members (remember them) - who are 8 individuals each with a single vote = 8 votes -"

    So that's 288 people entitled to attend council meetings and vote.

    Can anyone seriously doubt that Mike Truran is right? This is absolutely, completely and utterly bonkers.

    Isn't it? Or have I misunderstood?

    As far as I can see the surprise is not that Peter et al have resigned but that anyone was ever prepared to take the jobs.

    John Cox

  18. Can anyone seriously doubt that Mike Truran is right? This is absolutely, completely and utterly bonkers.

    Well, the point is surely that if you want to have representative bodies then you need to have representatives. Often this results in organisations being unwieldy, but is there an yreason to think that English chess is paricularly problematic in that regard? It may be, but I'd want that demonstrated rather than asserted.

    I'm not (remotely) saying that a better arrangment, quite likely a much better one, could not be come to, but I am, perhaps, saying that first, I very much doubt that the decline of English chess is particuarly linked to the organisational structure of English chess - and second, that one has to work within and understand the structures that already exist, or if one thinks they should be changed, put the case for change and have a debate about it. I think a lot of ECF members would welcome that discussion and I think I'd be one of them: but the trouble is that we seem to be having the discussion too late in the day.

  19. As someone who has followed British Chess through playing relatives, for 50 or 60 years, I do not understand any of this.. I still cannot quite understand whether the real problem is more than extreme personality clashes between the Board and the Council. My chess playing relative is full of praise and respect for the members who have resigned for the efforts they have made and is sad that they have gone.
    I would like to know WHY England is so low down the international chess league now.. can anyone tell me? Why a professional GM has to work as a builder's labourer or any other casual work between competitions in this country whilst on meeting players from other countries he can only marvel at their conditions and support. What is needed? Can anyone actually say? Do we need genius marketing and promotion to acquire more funds? Can anyone suggest what is needed... surely it must be tempting to really good chess players to try to change nationality so they can survive economically!!

  20. There's some discussion of some of the issues involved here and here if it's any help.

  21. It's incredibly tough to become a super GM in England. The problem is you work hard to reach 2500, then realise there is no money, so spend the majority of time doing other jobs to get money, thus neglecting your game at a time when it needs most work. When you improve at a lower level, just playing chess is the most important factor. A little coaching certainly doesn't hurt too. As you reach a stronger level you really need to work at chess. Top players should be studying openings, top games, endings etc for 5-6 hours a day, ideally as part of a team. In England that never happens. 1) We need to make money. 2) Anyone we study with is likely to be a main rival for what little money there is, so it's hard to be too open when it comes to openings in particular!

    Lack of money is the main problem, and it doesn't matter how you look at it, it always comes back to the same thing. I guess it's the ECF's job to get that money, I know it's not easy, but i'm sure they could make more effort to contact tv channels / newspapers / radio stations or just a bit of fundraising. Even a charity box at every tournament would be a good start, so people can chip in a couple of quid if they feel like it!

    If they can get money, and spend it wisely it will make an enormous difference, otherwise top chess players just can't afford the time to get better. I've just moved to number 4 active chess player in England (including McShane) and I've recently started a fulltime, non chess related job as the future looks bleak as a pro!

  22. Well, I guess it always comes back to the main point I was trying to make in my article - what do English chess players want and what are they prepared to pay for it? I would argue that core activity (and I wwould argue that support for potential and existing GMs falls in that category) should be funded by the English chess fraternity. If I were a sponsor I might ask myself why I should put myslef out to fund English chess if the English chess fraternity itself can't be bothered.


  23. Anonymous: I agree with every word you say until you "guess it's the ECF's job to get that money". Is it? It's a moot point. The ECF has usually found some money to support team chess, etc, but it has never had the money to pay English pros a living wage on a regular basis. The English chess explosion was masterminded by private individuals who worked together in an adhoc sort of way and it also relied on external factors (e.g. a rotten national economy which meant that graduates couldn't find jobs - so pro chess became an attractive alternative for some). The BCF didn't plough much money into pro chess even when England briefly became world no.2 in team chess. They sometimes liked to take credit for being involved in it - some of which they deserved, but not a lot. Things might get better if some chess-friendly and professional-quality fund-raiser came along to help the cause or the next Magnus Carlsen turned out to be English but we would need to be extraordinarily lucky.

    You are just unlucky to be born in a wealthy country with good job opportunities, health care, etc. If you had been born in some God-forsaken part of Eastern Europe, then a chessplaying career would have made more sense, etc.

    Mike: what you are suggesting ('the English chess fraternity' contributing significantly to the support of pro chess) goes beyond what you were saying in your original posting here. It has never been done before in the UK to any great degree (even during the 'good times')and will be seen as controversial in many people's eyes. I personally doubt it would have wide support, particularly if it meant rank and file members of the ECF having to pay a significantly bigger subscription. Just my twopenny'orth - what do others think?

    Describing it as 'the English chess fraternity' is quite optimistic in its own right. More fratricidal than Cain...

  24. John, I absolutely agree with you. The point I should have made more clearly is that whilst it's my own view that the English chess fraternity (as you say, as ill-chosen a phrase as one could think of) should support professionals to some degree, that view will not necessarily be shared more widely. That is absolutely fair enough - what people should not, however, do is delude themselves that they can get something for nothing. Sponsorship is often mentioned as a panacea - but unless people actually get off their bottoms and put in the effort to search for sponsorship in a professional and focused way (compared with the half-a****d way it's done at the moment) it won't happen. Looking for sponsorship properly means time, effort, expertise and (let's not fool ourselves) money - all of which seems to be in short supply.

    I suspect though that you are spot on with your analysis. In the last resort chess is a deeply unattractive commodity for sponsors, we live in a country where chess is not an attractive career option and our chess culture in this country is one which refuses to contribute financially unless a tangible and immediate benefit is delivered.

    All deeply depressing. Then again, the sun is shining outside and I'm off for a glass of wine in the garden. There is a real world beyond chess.

  25. As a direct member of the ECF I play most of my chess in congresses and on the internet.
    The ECF offers me membership to the national organisation enabling my to play abroad. Discounted enries to congresses. And on the occasions I do win any money I have an official rating preventing me from me from being called a cheat.

  26. That's fine if that's all you want from your federation. However, there are different models that could be adopted in which far more (or indeed somewhat less) than your wish list could be provided. What English chess should debate is what it wants its federation to provide and what it is willing to pay. It can't pay for a Lada and expect a Bentley.

  27. The last post was from me. Sorry, I seem to be having trouble with my password.

    Mike T

  28. As anonymous from May 17th (now signing as PD) I thank EJH and others who have tried to explain what is happening with the ECF. I cannot say that I am any more optimistic for the financial immediate future of my GM relative. (I did think it might be him writing as GM of 23rd May but he says not.. although most of the comments are very relevant to his life.)
    From my perspectiove I think ongoing efforts by everyone, ordinary everyones as well as chess players, to raise the profile of chess are the most hopeful way forward. I emailed Radio 4 when someone laughed at chess being described as a sport,I hope many others did so. (To play chess for often 4 or 5 hours or longer demands fitness both physical and mental and a keen competitive spirit and coolness under pressure.. how does that compare to the description of sport); I have written to Charles Clarke MP about the comparative support for the game between this country and others- thousands of letters to him and Angela Eagle and any other chess interested MPs might make a small indentation; I like the fact that Spassky is about to play loads of people in a simul and reported on the TV news and I admire the thinking concerning Youth Chess in London in the same year as the Olympics... the more people that keep up pressure to highlight this sport the more likely it seems to me that fonaces for professional players will improve. PD

  29. From Ray Collett, ECF Delegate Worcs. E-mail:
    ehj wrote: 3. I have to say that even now, after all the discussion, I find myself unsure what the exact cause of the controversy was and I find it odd - as an ECF member - that such a crisis should occur over an issue of which I wasn't even aware.
    I attended this council meeting and although leaving 30 minutes before the scheduled closing time to catch my train back from London, I was very suprised to read that 3 directors had resigned on a matter of policy shortly after.
    It was not made clear to those attending the meeting what policy issues separate the resignees from other ECF directors and managers. One of the directors who resigned argued strongly for compulsory membership and dropping game fee. There did not seem to be a coherent plan to replace the income that would be lost from game fee and I was concerned that ECF would have to reduce the level of its activities further in line with a reduced income. I was not convinced (there were comments from the floor of the meeting suggesting I was not alone) that the ECF could continue to sustain its current activities without a viable plan to replace the income from game fee. The debate could have been more focused and productive if the resignees had produced a paper that could have been sent to delegates before the meeting and the debate better directed from the Chair of the meeting.
    Volunteer directors of ECF should be able to consider strategic issues in depth and are not currently able to do so because they are burdened with day-to-day matters. Strategies need to be researched and presented cogently to members at national, regional and county meetings, congresses and circulated widely by electronic mail. More income is also required to enhance the professional skills of organisers at national and regional level.
    My perception is that there are a few player-organisers, player-coaches, publishers, equipment sellers and chess journalists who derive significant income from the game and many part-time businesses that derive part of their income from chess. Are they too suspicious of each other to work together? Or, do they think a strong ECF led by member players would damage their businesses? If prominent chess players, journalists and enterprises could agree to work together within the ECF, there would be a chance that the game would achieve a higher profile, which would make it easier to gain sponsorship. With more income and a national office that could relieve ECF volunteer directors and managers of the day-to-day running of chess, all players would benefit through better organisation of the game.

  30. OK, This is what you do you get hold of the complete format of the French Chess Federation and its consitution and you got through it and cross out French and put English and then you adopt these structures and consitution wholesale, completely no ifs or buts. Then you get a sucessful format and infrastructure for running a chess federation instead of of the complete shambles we have now.

    Its that simple, they have highly sucessfull set up so lets lets adopt it. No more meetings period.

    How difficult is that to understand?