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 Post subject: ECF AGM '13
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:16 pm
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Dear all,

This is the report from the 2013 ECF AGM. It's been proof- read, so hopefully shouldn't have any mistakes, but let me know if you find any.

Ben.

edit: I've been asked to make it clear that the Governance Committee is responsible for the complaints procedure, and whilst David Sedgwick is a part of the committee, he is not solely responsible for formulating it. Chris Majer remains the Officer responsible for this.

ECF AGM ‘13

There was roughly somewhere between 40 and 50 people attending the meeting. Most of the early items were skimmed through fairly quickly, and the first item up for discussion was the proposed county rule changes.

The NCCU proposals were heavily defeated without a great deal of support. It was also noted that when a Skype meeting was organised earlier in the year to try to get general agreement amongst the various groups no-one from NCCU attended to support it. I don’t think I’ve heard a single complaint from the South- West about no. of boards for teams, or the grading boundaries, so my intention was to support retaining the rules as at present. There were proposed amendments which were agreed to, and then the vote came, essentially on the following:

Open 16 boards
Combining the u180 and u160 section into an u170 section.
Making the u120 section and u100 sections both 12 board- matches.

The vote was tied on a show of hands and then went 88 for 89 against on a card vote. Which means there are no changes to the county match grade boundaries/ sections.

There was then a proposal that players should be allowed to play in order of known strength (i.e. essentially scrapping the 10 point rule). Having experienced disputes that can occur when captains disagree over known strength, I felt it better to stick with the rule. In the end the hand vote was 13 for, 16 against, and the motion was defeated.

Next up was an update of the ECF’s attempts to gain charitable status. A change in personal circumstances of the Financial Director (and it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to offer him congratulations in respect of this) has lead to a bit of a slowdown in progress in this area. One piece of news is that the board are considering offering a paid role to help with the work in this area. Other then that, hopefully now with a new FD in place progress should move along at a decent pace.

Under Other Matters it was disclosed that although some discussions have taken place with the Cheshire and North Wales League in respect of the membership situation there, no end result has come of it, and more discussions are planned soon. There were also complaints that no business/ strategic plan had been produced by the ECF. The Board have

resolved to produce one going forward. Finally, the registration scheme, which rather seemed to have disappeared from memory, will hopefully be up and running by Xmas.

The Financial Director’s report was up next, and although he wasn’t present in person John Philpott gave the report on his behalf. The 2 points I noted was firstly that game fee invoicing system isn’t as robust as he would like it at the moment but work is being done there and secondly that the British made £7500 more income then budgeted, which more then covered a dinner that was organised during the event (I’m not 100% on the details, but somewhat speculating, I believe they were looking to sell seats to a dinner and the take- up was less then expected) and allowed extra money to be used for conditions for players and prize money.

The Director of Home Chess report was next up. I’ll cover the side points first: there have been new volunteers found to run the British Champs, the National Club Cup, and the County National Stages. The grading website is to remain where it is at present, and not revert to being hosted on the previous site. Alex McFarlane was intending to organise an ECF Seniors’ Championship, but a deal with a hotel which was intending to host the event didn’t come to fruition, and so it’s back to square one with that. Finally, an issue was discussed which I don’t feel comfortable reporting here as I believe it relates largely to a medical issue relating to the individual.

I was asked by Devon to raise the issue of Lara Barnes’ resignation as Manager of the British Championships, and received 3 responses, which hopefully I’ve noted correctly.

The Director of Home Chess stated that Lara wished for an incident that occurred at the British to be raised at the board meeting which took place during the event. The board wished to defer, and Lara resigned.

Sean Hewitt, one of the Non- Exec Directors, identified himself as the Director involved in the incident. He stated that he had attended the British in order to give people involved with next year’s British Championships a chance to sample what was involved. At some point during the day he was confronted by Alex McFarlane, who he felt was overly aggressive in discussing issues relating to the membership scheme. Sean believes he handled it a relatively calm and restrained manner, and walked away after several minutes of the discussion. The issue was discussed at length by the ECF board, and during the meeting Sean offered his resignation, which the board rejected.

Alex McFarlane feels that at some point during the discussion Lara approached both himself and Sean and asked them to leave. Sean refused and referenced CJ De Mooi. Alex was extremely upset by this reference.

The Junior Chess Director’s report was next, and revealed 2 very positive pieces of commercial news. One is somewhat sensitive and so I’m unable to reveal at this time, the other is that Chessbase have offered 100 coupons for discounts for Chessbase 12, which is intended to be passed on to juniors.

One other point of note is that several groups asked me to thank the Junior Director for all of his work in the role, and I was pleased to do so.

The International Director’s report was focussed largely on the very disappointing recent news that the ECF has withdrawn the Woman’s team for the upcoming European Championships. The chief issue here is that several top players were unwilling to play without having a coach there with them.

I raised my disappointment on this issue at the meeting.

A long piece was read out on behalf of Jovanka Houska and claimed with the support of 5 other top English females (the Home Chess Director verified that he was aware this was correct for at least one of the females claimed). Jovanka (in summary) felt the issue was entirely avoidable and is extremely disappointed.

The International Director then spoke at length, stating the events that lead up to the team being withdrawn. It was obvious he was equally disappointed by the situation, but believed it was better to have an Open team that was as strong as possible and had a decent shot at success, then having both an Open and Women’s team participate that are semi- funded. Several females dropped out when it became clear the ECF would be unable to fund a coach, and he was unable to find enough replacements.

Malcolm Pein (Chess in Schools etc) enquired as to a ball-part figure for how short of funding the ECF was, and was told £3000-4000. The Open team costs about £24,000, the Women’s £10,000, but the majority of donations were for the Open team.

David Anderton (former International Director etc) felt that the ECF shouldn’t be in a position where it’s ability to send teams to major events hinges on fundraising, and the ECF should commit to sending teams well in advance.

John Philpott (ECF Company Secretary) stated the ECF board were willing to authorise an over- spend but their hands were tied by a combination of a motion voted for at a previous meeting and low reserves.

David Sedgwick (Manager of Arbiters) stated that the Interational budget was higher then ever before.

The International Director stated that although he had raised more money then the previous international team championship, he was disappointed he was unable to gain more ‘small’ donations. He wished for a better method of raising finance then going to donors for each major championship.

The Membership and Marketing Director’s report was next and stated that there had been a glitch with the membership server, that until recently they had been unable to replicate in order to find out what was wrong. They had now found it and sorted it, but there was a back-log of about 300 names.

The Membership and Marketing Director intends to put in more work both in respect of the server, and the membership scheme itself, with the intention of offering a report with potential recommendations for changes with the scheme to be put to the Finance Council meeting in April.

In terms of numbers, 5,500 people have renewed their membership, which is 1400 up on the previous year, and 796 people are on 3- year memberships.

Of the other reports, there are only 2 things to note. One council member raised concerns that Nigel Short was using his report to raise opinions on who he feels should be elected, and 4 people voted to reject his report.

Secondly, David Sedgwick was applauded for his work as Sport and Recreation Alliance Representative, which has been of great help to the Chess in Schools charity (Malcolm Pein mentioned that CSC have won 2 awards thanks in large part to his work.)

The post of Non- Exec Chairman was removed and replaced by Commercial Director, with 1 vote against.

Next up were the elections. Where they were contested all applications were allowed to give a 5 min speech/ question and answer session.

President:

This was contested between Roger Edwards and Andrew Paulson.

Roger Edwards spoke first, and wasn’t impressive. I’ll grant you his hands were somewhat tied by a motion at the previous AGM against his policies, but his speech on the day only ran to a couple of minutes and included several jokes that fell flat. In terms of his policies, he stated that he wished to continue to make personal appearance and do simuls where invited, and ensure there was as little turbulence as possible amongst the board. I think he’s done a pretty decent job of the year he’s been in office, especially given the restraints mentioned above, but it wasn’t a speech that was going to win any votes.

Andrew Paulson was next, and spoke about turning the ECF into a sustainable business, and marketing it. He was asked a question about his connections to English chess. I wouldn’t say his speech was entirely impressive either, but at the same time I’ve no doubt that he possess skills and knowledge in an area the ECF has been sorely lacking for quite some time.

All of the votes I had were cast for Andrew Paulson.

The final result was Andrew Paulson 169 votes, Roger Edwards 106

CEO:

This was contested between Phil Ehr and Andrew Moore.

Phil Ehr spoke about the ECF lacking leadership over the past year, and spoke favourably about Andrew Paulson. One council member asked him a question about his personal circumstances, which seemed wholly unnecessary, and I was surprised that Phil spoke fairly openly about this.

Andrew Moore didn’t attend and didn’t have anyone speak on his behalf. Frankly, given this and the excellent work Phil Ehr has done since volunteering for the ECF, I would be surprised if anyone outside of the groups who nominated him voted for him.

I used all the votes I had in favour of Phil Ehr.

The final result was Phil Ehr: 257 Andrew Moore: 18

Finance Director:

Although this role was uncontested David Eustace took the opportunity to introduce himself and speak about the ECF finance- wise. He wished to ensure good governance, help the International Director (I suspect this was mentioned in connection with the Women’s team news), work on the charitable status issue alongside John Philpott and Chris Mattos (who is staying on to offer help, but not in a Director role), and he also praised the work of the Finance Committee.

I voted all in favour, as did everyone else.

Non- Executive Director:

There were 4 people contesting the 2 positions here: Julian Clissold, Angus French, and the 2 incumbents Sean Hewitt and Jack Rudd.

Julian Clissold spoke first, and spoke of his experience, through his professional and other voluntary work, of strategy, staff appraisals and junior chess. His priorities were junior chess and ordinary chess players. He felt the ECF should have more ambition, the ECF decision with respect of the online calendar was wrong (only events that are graded can be put on there free of charge, the rest have a small charge), the ECF should have a strategic plan for English Chess as opposed to the ECF, the ECF should have more communication with major organisations, the ECF board have been somewhat arrogant in communications at times, and there should be more collaboration between the ECF and major organisations. He felt he was prepared to speak his mind, and described himself as quiet but persistent.

I felt he spoke well, but was concerned as to whether a Non- Executive Director should be focussed on junior chess.

Angus French spoke next, and spoke of his background as a software developer. He would like to see more consultation, a more forensic examination of decisions, more openness, with board meeting summaries online within a week, full reports within a month, and meetings from the AGM/ Finance Council meeting within a month. He would also like to see a register of interests of board members, better uses of email lists for consultation/ discussion, more work on charitable status, and a review of the membership scheme and systems with designs to make it easier.

I felt he made a better case for being elected then Julian Clissold, and certainly a lot of the ideas he suggested were good. If I was being critical I would say he probably didn’t speak as well as Julian, but I know from personal experience it’s not easy to speak confidently in front of a room full of people.

Sean Hewitt spoke next, and spoke of his professional background, and how a Saturday morning discussion at the Bunratty tournament lead to the formation of the e2e4 events. He spoke of being an active chess player as well as organiser, and using that experience to deliver what chess players want. He spoke of his work over the past year as Non- Executive Director, of encouraging board members to consider all options before deciding, challenging the board, and not deciding strategy himself. He was questioned about his role with respect of the Women’s team for the European Championships and stated that he informed the board that he believed withdrawing the team would be detrimental, tried to encourage the board to send a team, and discussed the ramifications of the decision.

I felt Sean spoke well, understood the role, and had done a decent job over the past year. The issue with the British Championships was concerning, but under the circumstances it’s impossible to judge who was right/ wrong.

Jack Rudd spoke next, and didn’t really do a decent job of speaking up for himself. I’m loathe to comment on this in too much detail, as I believe there may have been mitigating circumstances, but I genuinely believe Jack has done a far better job as Non- Exec Director over the past year then it appeared from his address.

The votes I cast were largely split here:

On behalf of Somerset I voted for Julian Clissold and Angus French (I have to say something on a personal note here. I received 1 reply offering an opinion on the AGM. Although I fully understood the reasons why I was asked by an individual to vote for these 2 candidates, the fact that nobody from Somerset replied in support of Jack Rudd is extremely disappointing.)

On behalf of Devon, Torbay, the Teignmouth Rapidplay, Royal Beacon Seniors Congress, and East Devon Congress I voted for Angus French and Jack Rudd.

On behalf of Wiltshire Junior Chess I voted for Julian Clissold and Jack Rudd. Although I hadn’t received instruction directly, I felt they would support Julian’s junior chess enthusiasm, and Jack as a South- West candidate.

On behalf of Bristol, Bournemouth, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucs, and the ECF Finance Director I voted for Jack Rudd and Sean Hewitt. I had received instruction from Bristol to vote this way, and where elsewhere I hadn’t received instruction I felt Sean and Jack were the best 2 candidates.

The final votes were Sean Hewitt- 150, Julian Clissold- 145, Angus French- 133, Jack Rudd- 111. So Sean and Julian were elected.

Home Chess Director:

Alex Holowczak didn’t add anything to his already- released statement, and opened straight up to questions. Alex intends to appoint the British Champs Manager as soon as board approval is given at the next board meeting, and he is confident he can handle the workload.

I voted for him with all the votes.

He was elected with 2 votes for ‘none of the above’.

Junior Chess Director:

Lawrence Cooper was unable to attend, but as he was running unopposed and is a very decent candidate there was never any danger of him not being elected. On his behalf Alex Holowczak stated that Lawrence was aware on potential conflicts of interest with respect of his coaching and Junior 4NCL team. Another Director also added that Lawrence wasn’t intending any radical changes, and wished to discuss any potential issues with the team of junior chess volunteers.

I voted for him with all votes.

He was elected with 2 votes for ‘none of the above’.

International Director:

David Openshaw stated that he supported the candidacy of Andrew Paulson and the creation of the Commercial Director position. He was pleased with the progress of the board and praised Sean Hewitt and Alex Holowczak for securing sponsorship for the British Championships. He wants to work with the Junior Director to help strong juniors become 2700- strength players.

I voted him for him with all votes.

He was elected with 10 votes for ‘none of the above’.

FIDE Delegate:

Nigel Short was unable to attend, but David Anderton answered questions on his behalf. David believed that Nigel is fully committed to supporting Gary Kasparov’s campaign to become FIDE President. He believed that although Nigel had a strong viewpoint, Nigel understands that decisions are the responsibility of the board as a whole, not him as an individual. An item regarding opinions on the FIDE President could feature on April’s Finance Council meeting. The board knew Nigel was unable to attend a recent FIDE meeting, but were unaware of who he had nominated as the ECF’s proxy.

I voted for him with all votes.

He was elected with 34 votes for ‘none of the above’.

Other elections:

I’m grouping these together as there isn’t a great deal to report here. The only piece of news is that David Sedgwick is set to join the Governance Committee.

In all of the other elections I voted for the person standing.

I think in all cases there were a small number of votes for ‘none of the above’, but nothing close to significant.

For the ECF awards, for most categories there were no nominations, and thus no winners. There was a suggestion that the awards should have been more widely publicised. The Director of Membership and Marketing wasn’t sure whether it came under his remit, but will ensure it is more widely publicised in future.

The ECF Player of the Year is Michael Adams. Of the 7,500 emails sent out asking for entries, the ECF received 76 replies, and 75% of these had silly answers (i.e. a brother voting for his sister, who did the same in reverse). 67 people received at least 1 vote.

The complaints procedure was withdrawn, and David Sedgwick will look to assist the Governance Committee in formulating a new one in time for the April Finance Council meeting.

A couple of minor items were withdrawn due to time constraints (14i and 14ii).

There was a lot of discussion about the potential for One Member One Vote. Some people were heavily in favour, some heavily against. For whatever its worth, I would love to see it happen, but between my experience of asking people their views before ECF meetings and the report on the Player of the Year awards above, I think its highly unlikely it would work. Nevertheless, the proposal was for the board to investigate the viability of it, which I have no objections to in the slightest.

Following the discussion the motion was altered to: “Council instructs the board to investigate the appropriate balance of voting power and influence between direct members and affiliated organisations” or something very close to that. It was voted in favour of by a large margin.

The proposal regarding sanctions for cheating was passed pretty swiftly.

There then followed a long discussion about the ECF’s decision to require membership of all players in events organised and graded by the ECF in respect of school team competitions. I have to admit going in I was fully supportive of the SCCU’s motion to rescind this, but upon hearing the arguments I was somewhat swayed. For groups I received instruction from my opinions were irrelevant, but for every other group I switched from voting in favour of the motion to voting against.

The hand vote on the matter was very close, and as some of the largest vote-holders in the room voted to keep the rule as it is, a card vote was called for.

I voted in favour of the motion (to rescind the rule) for Devon, Teignmouth Rapid, Royal Beacon Seniors, Torbay, East Devon Congress, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire Junior and Wiltshire.

I voted against (to keep the rule as it is) for Bournemouth, Dorset, Gloucs, and the ECF Finance Director.

The card vote came back 143- 96 in favour of the motion.

Creation of a Manager of Senior’s Chess position was approved. The board will decide who he or she reports to, and there was a request from a member of council that the board give the MoSC a budget to work with.

One item that was postponed from earlier in the meeting (13.2), which was a minor wording change, was approved, and Sean Hewitt offered his assistance to Sussex in relation to a problem with lost archive files, and that was the end of the meeting, just before 6pm.

On a final note, I’m pleased to say the meeting ran a lot more smoothly then previous ones, thanks in large part to the excellent work from the chair.


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ECF AGM 2013.doc [50.5 KiB]
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