Friday, May 02, 2008

Again with the ECF

Last Tuesday we posted a short article concerning the recent resignations at the ECF. It sparked off a fair few comments (24 and counting) and if you haven't seen it yet it's well worth having a look with direct or indirect contributions from three of the central players - Martin Regan, Claire Summerscale and particularly Peter Sowray who was kind enough to offer to respond to any points raised in the discussion.

Here's a thought from me to take us into the bank holiday weekend ...

Peter Sowray

"... the Council meeting was poorly attended … I think I counted about 20."

I don't see how any organisation of any kind can make decisions with these kind of numbers - and it was poorly attended? I dread to think how many people would have been in the room had they all turned up.

No wonder things aren't moving forward.


ejh said...

Well, maybe, and slimmed-down boards can be a good thing, but in representative organisations, you need representatives...

Peter Sowray said...

There's a Board (10 people) responsible for the day-to day running of the organisation.

Then there's 'Council', meeting twice a year. Basically, as elh says, representatives of the member organisations. I think about 100 people are entitled to attend these meetings. The ones I've been to have been poorly attended.

Council elects the Board annually, approves the budget, sets the game fee, etc.


Tom Chivers said...

The way most meetings/committees work that I've been involved with are that there is always a large majority of members who basically agree with one another - or who don't care but are friends with the rest - and before any meeting all such people meet up informally to decide (1) what they'll try to get done this time and (2) how to deal with the 'lone-guns' who see meetings as opportunities to ramble, squabble, prevent change. Streatham & Brixton member and trainee-historian Morgan Daniels once told me this is how Cabinet generally functions too. Maybe the ECF suffers from not having such a majority, and too many lone-guns? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

According to the report of the meeting on the SCCU website there were 32 attendees. Elsewhere, I've seen reference to proxy appointments.


Nigel Hanrahan said...

Out here in the "Colonies", we also have problems with our chess organization. Currently the Chess Federation of Canada is wrestling with a standoff between the Executive and the Governors; the Executive has proposed some radical surgery, and done so in an inappropriate way, and the Governors have balked at the "proposal".

Anyway, I did not want to burden this ECF discussion with Canadian problems. I just wanted to point out, however, that the CFC is having serious financial problems and we DO have an annual fee (it varies from province to province) but that does not seem to help. An annual fee is not the panacea that some may think it is; many note its discouraging effect on newcomers. To remedy that, we have a "tournament membership" that is a lot less and does not include a subscription to the CFC magazine.

It is declining membership that is seen as the problem in Canada. We also have the complication of the separateness of the Federation in Quebec, but that is a different story. They are actually more successful than the all-Canada Federation.

with best wishes,
Nigel Hanrahan
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA

P.S. Was your club active in the summer of 1982? I spent a month staying with my cousins on KingsCourt Road that summer and I'm curious ...

Tom Chivers said...

Thanks for your comment Nigel - it makes me think that an international comparison of federations would be an extremely interesting project to seriously undertake...

Anyhow, yes. The club was around then, its championship won that year by Glenn Flear. I however was five years old then and miles away, entirely ignorant of both Streatham and of chess.

Nigel Hanrahan said...

Tom: Yes, I found that reading the discussion here was interesting and gave me some ideas in regard to our problems in Canada.

Chess in Canada is characterized by regional chess centres separated by huge distances. But it all comes down to the local tournament directors, organizers, and volunteer boards for success.

In addition to our modest success in Manitoba, the provinces of Alberta and Quebec have both succeeded in getting governmental support for chess as a cultural/sporting activity. I mention this because it is entirely possible that Canadian chess will revert back to a federation of chess associations; our current problems are that serious.

While the CFC Discussion Board is currently inactive, there is another chess organization, called Chess And Math, that has a good bilingual discussion board. Our current problems are discussed there ... although I should add that it is a rival organization.

It can be found over at


I would have been an ideal candidate for chess tourism back in 1982. Unfortunately for my chess development, I was much more interested in English beer, "birds" and the birth records of my ancestors. It was a great summer but not much chess, gwyddbwyll or fidchell figured in my plans.


Anonymous said...

The ones I've been to have been poorly attended.

Usually the business transacted at ECF meetings is fairly routine so most county associations and leagues just appoint someone to attend "so the rest of us don't have to".

Only when a divisive issue is proposed like compulsory membership does it becomes important for the organisation to establish both what its own views are and whether its council rep or proxy reflects these views. In the limit a league or county AGM can always unelect its rep or proxy if a majority of members feel a policy opposed by the rep is needed. It's congresses that have the unelected power - as corporate members through game fee they have voting rights but no obvious way of consulting a constituency to establish views.


Anonymous said...

(In Canada) we have a "tournament membership" that is a lot less and does not include a subscription to the CFC magazine.

In effect that is what game fee represents although it applies to leagues as well. In the densely populated UK, evening and weekend team matches are an important part of the chess scene.


Jonathan B said...

Was your club active in the summer of 1982

A while back I found out that the club was formed by the merger of Streatham Chess Club and Brixton Chess Club. I forget the exact date now but it was around 100 years ago - end of the 19th century or first decade of the 20the century, something like that.

Anonymous said...

If you think the CFC and the ECF have problems, take a look at the USCF. Federal lawsuits no less.
Nice to see the Empire Loyalist got as far as Manitoba and are alive and well ay.
The main thing is that no matter how these federation boards fall out between themselves and how often. They may even kill themselves off, but they can't kill the game or the local club and the district associations or the friendships within them that are the real backbone.
In my opinion.
David Bentley

ejh said...

Well, I'm off to Zaragoza "Airport" now so hopefully I can continue this discussion with some of you in person at 4NCL over the weekend. (Though not RdC, who if I identify him correctly has been playing in division one this season, while I shall be at the other end of the scale!)