ECF County Championships: Rules and Fixture Dates 2016/17

18-11-16. The Open Quarter Final will be played on 13 May (was 20 May) to avoid a clash with the Under 180.

10-11-16. The Rules and dates of the ECF competition are now available at:

  22 April 2017   Preliminary Round 
  13 May 2017   Quarter Finals (Open, Minor, Under 160, Under 120)
  20 May 2017   Quarter Finals (Under 180, Under 140, Under 100)
  10 June 2017   Semi-Finals
  01 July 2017   Finals

Please note that there have been some changes this year, including:

  • The Open section will be FIDE rated.
  • Captains may not advise players whether or not to accept a draw. Failure to observe this rule may result in loss of the game,
  • It is recommended that an Arbiter oversees the knock-out matches. The cost of the Arbiter will be shared by the two teams teams,
  • All disputes must be referred to the Arbiter.

Report on ECF AGM held at Britannia Hotel, Birmingham, on 15 October 2016

25.10.2016 Report prepared by Julie Denning 9 days after the event with the assistance of minimal notes and a fallible memory! [Editor: the original text has been lightly edited.]

1. Preliminaries. This is a new venue for a Council meeting. Good room, better chairs than some previous venues, but WiFi was poor. Proceedings opened at 13:35 and Council agreed the Board’s proposal that it be chaired by Julian Clissold (Non-Executive Director).

2. A minute’s silence was observed for members and colleagues who had died during the past year, with special mention of Richard Haddrell.

3. Minutes of the Finance Council held on 16th April 2016 were accepted as accurate without comment, prompting a light-hearted comment that we were missing Richard already!

4. Matters Arising. Phil Ehr asked what had come of the proposed National Chess Day. Answer – nothing more had been heard about it. Ben Edgell enquired about progress on the Mind Sports Centre project with the British Go Association. The response was that progress had been slow and no ECF expenditure had been incurred so far.

5. Board Report. As proposed by the Pearce Review, a single Board Report was presented to Council. It was generally accepted as a good report, although a number of comments were raised by Council. The very late arrival of this year’s Yearbook was noted. The Board put their collective hands up for this and promised to do better next year. John Foley observed that credit was due to the previous Board for improvements in communication with the membership. Angus French queried expenditure on publicity and on the funding of Junior chess by the JRYT. Phil Ehr raised comments on financial matters concerning sponsorship money. The Report was approved by Council.

6. Reports from the two Standing Committees were approved without significant comment.

7. Special Resolutions. Robert Stern, Chairman of Governance Committee, presented two resolutions. The first was to increase the maximum number of Directors from 10 to 12. This would permit the proposed election of a Director of Women’s Chess, with 1 spare slot should the Board seek to use it for some other purpose in the future. Mike Gunn observed that the higher figure remained within the range suggested by the SRA as appropriate for a body such as the ECF. The second motion concerned the FIDE Delegate, giving the Board the power to dismiss or suspend. This was a Pearce recommendation and was tidying up after the rejection by Council in April 2016 of the proposal that the FIDE Delegate no longer be an elected post. Both Special Resolutions met the required 75% majority in favour on a hand vote.

8. Amendments to Regulation No's 2 & 3. 'Directors and Officers Responsibilities' and 'Arbiters and Coaches' were noted by Council.

9. Elections were a fairly tame affair compared to some in the recent past. “None of the above” was singularly unsuccessful throughout. Thus, in addition to Directors retaining their existing posts, Julian Clissold (out-going NED) was elected to the re-established post of Non-Executive Chairman of the Board and Sarah Longson was elected to the newly created post of Director of Women’s Chess.

Mike Gunn was elected, as the sole candidate, for the newly created post of Chairman of Council. Malcolm Pein was re-elected, unopposed, as FIDE Delegate.

The two Chairmen of Standing Committees (Robert Stern, Governance and Tim Herring, Finance) were elected, both having been appointed by the Board during the past year to fill vacancies. The proposed Members of each of these committees were approved. In the case of Governance, this involved Angus French being elected for the first time, having been appointed to the Committee by the Board during the past year, whilst the services of Richard Haddrell to this Committee had now been lost. There was one vote against Mike Gunn as a Member of the Governance Committee on the basis of a possible conflict between this and his new position of Chairman of Council.

All the above elections were clearly passed on hand votes. The only card voting was for the contested posts of Non-Executive Director. There were 4 candidates for 2 posts. Julie Denning was standing for re-election, whilst there were 3 new candidates. These were John Foley, who had served on a previous Board in this capacity, Stephen Woodhouse and Peter Hornsby. Julie Denning was forgiven by Phil Ehr for “slagging him off on the forum” (she remains mystified!) and was questioned on the appropriateness of another Director expressing support for her, given that such support for particular candidates had been contentious with Council in the past. She responded (honestly!) that she had no knowledge of this and if it had happened it was presumed to have been in the Director’s capacity of a Council Member.

John Foley adopted what some saw as an adversarial tone with the CEO regarding views the latter had expressed regarding the troubles with the UK Chess Challenge, using this to indicate his preparedness to confront issues and speak truth to power. Peter Hornsby, aided by Powerpoint slides, spoke of his achievements in promoting university chess activities. Stephen Woodhouse described his experience of having worked in both the legal (as a solicitor) and finance sectors. Once the card votes had been counted, the elected candidates were declared to be Julie Denning (240 votes) and Stephen Woodhouse (193 votes). Peter Hornsby received 55 votes and John Foley 31.

In your reporter’s opinion, John Foley may have been hindered in Council’s eyes as still carrying some baggage from the proceedings at the last AGM and in the tone he adopted this time. Whilst Peter Hornsby was unsuccessful, he spoke with passion and enthusiasm, and could well be an asset for the ECF – although perhaps not as a non-exec where his talents may not be used to the full.

10. Awards Committee. Stewart Reuben presented details of the various awards being made. These included the title of Honorary Life Vice-President being awarded to Richard Haddrell. It was noted that this would not be the first time it had been awarded posthumously, the recipient having died after the recommendation had been made. All recommendations were approved by Council. [editor: see ECF Awards 2016]

11. Strategy Statement. The revised document was presented and accepted, albeit seen by all as a developing document. David Fryer raised concern that actions such as reduced entry fees to congresses to try to encourage more female participation amounted to discrimination against men. He considered this quite wrong. However, the level of support for this view from Council made Jeremy Corbyn seem popular with Labour MPs.

12. SCCU Proposal. Following a request from the floor (not involving any SCCU representative) item 14 on the agenda was brought forward. This was the SCCU proposal that the penalty for a Union not taking up a place it had bid for in the Final Stage of the County Championships be reduced from £100 to £25. This was presented on our behalf by Chris Majer, referring to the paper prepared by David Sedgwick. The Director of Home Chess, who oversees the competition, proposed an amendment (against SCCU wishes) that the draw for the Final Stage be delayed until the teams being entered had been declared, thus eliminating the basis for any such penalty at all. Julie Denning, speaking on behalf of the SCCU, stated that this was not supported as they believed it was important for the draw to take place earlier, allowing teams greater indication of the opponents they were likely to face and time to plan accordingly. However, the amendment was overwhelmingly supported by Council, and so became the substantive proposal that Council also approved.

13. Finance. The Director of Finance presented a revised budget for 2016 / 17. There was only one change other than adopting the motions passed by Council in April to approve proposed expenditure, but with any shortfall covered by the reserves rather than by increases in membership and game fees. The change was the provision of £10,000 for bookkeeping expenses in the light of what was still seen as the forthcoming retirement of John Philpott as Financial Controller. This was approved by Council. He then went on to present current thinking for a 5-year plan. This envisaged increased expenditure to be covered by a mix of increased membership and game fees in the 2nd and 4th years of the plan, and by drawdowns of capital from the JRYT and PIFs. Any such drawdowns remain subject to concurrence with the stipulations of John Robinson’s will and approval of each set of Trustees. David Eustace emphasised that what he was seeking was guidance from Council on “a direction of travel” that would inform future budgets. There were more discussion points than my notes do justice to, but there was discussion on increased areas of expenditure and the extent to which members’ fees would be used to cover this. David Welch was concerned that the JRYT Trustees had not had the opportunity to discuss these plans before they were presented to Council. There was general support from Council for the plans.

14. Close of AGM. With the expected motion to extend the closing time having been proposed and passed, the meeting was concluded at 18:05.

15. BCF Council Meeting. As usual, during a break in the ECF AGM, the BCF Council Meeting was held and all business on its agenda was duly passed.

All the above was sadly overshadowed during the journey home as news of the death of John Philpott began to circulate.