I want the ECF to adopt a more ambitious and forward-looking approach that befits a governing body. It should actively fundraise and try to engage with government while seeking to grow the game.
There is huge potential. While ECF membership fluctuates around 10,000, the number of English based players on the major chess servers is over a million.
It should be emphasised that we have an excellent team of operational Board members. Nigel Towers (Home), Rob Willmoth (Membership), Chris Fegan / Agnieszka Milewska (Women) and Alex Holoczwak (Junior) who it should be remembered, are all volunteers, have worked very hard, and successfully, together with other volunteers to bring members the Go membership scheme, hugely improved grading and many new online events.
If elected as Chief Executive, my primary objective would be to increase the game’s popularity both over-the-board and online in order to feed players into our traditional mainstays of clubs, congresses and leagues many of which are experiencing a gradual decline with older membership.
The first prerequisite for this is leadership. It’s important Council members understand I have tried to avoid a contested election. I wrote to Mike Truran to try and resolve our differences before standing.
My Policies are:
A more ambitious approach:
I have outlined my vision above. Mike has written to me that he believes in the ‘enabling only’ approach and this is a clear difference between us.
BCF, Chess Centre Ltd, PIF:
Covid has put significant strain on ECF finances making the allocation of approximately £200,000 of investments, cash and other assets that remain in the BCF an important issue.
The BCF/ECF structure should be streamlined ASAP – it’s 15 years since the BCF ceased to function – and these legacy assets need to be secured and leveraged for the benefit of members. I am against these funds being moved anywhere other than the ECF without significant safeguards. I have tabled motions to Council which will amend the motion passed in 2018, pre Covid, when circumstances differed.
I will publish a roadmap to streamline the structure and distribute the assets in a tax-efficient way shortly.
Funds would be used for the following purposes:
- To build the reserves to an amount specified by the Finance Committee, likely £100,000.
- To limit or avoid entirely any possible increase in membership fees.
- Use a portion of the funds, to be determined by agreement between the Board and PIF Trustees (I propose 20%), over the next three years to support clubs, leagues and congresses in their Covid recovery. I would focus on the areas highlighted by clubs in the recent survey (ECF Website). This could include engaging part-time Development Officers one for the north (NCCU & MCCU) and one for the South and West – SCCU, EACU and WECU, to provide logistical help and advice on publicity, junior development, local government liaison and fundraising. The ECF should actively invite applications to The Chess Trust for new initiatives.
We should relaunch the Weekend Grand Prix to support congresses.
Chess clubs should be encouraged and incentivised to reach out into the community and recruit new members. The ECF should organise more public chess events like ‘ChessFest,’ the UK’s biggest open-air chess festival, organised by Chess in Schools and Communities in London and Liverpool this July. We should also make chess events more accessible to new players.
Internationally rated events
Seed a year-round programme of regional and international chess tournaments to produce the chess stars of tomorrow. We would follow the excellent example of the Northumbria Masters, a local initiative supported by Chess in Schools and Communities and the ECF’s International Director’s Budget, which produced the norms necessary to create new Grandmasters and International Masters. A series of women’s tournament must be a priority.
The game’s development has been hampered by a lack of government support due to it having no official status.
I would strongly make the case for supporting chess to government to get chess the recognition and funding it deserves, so that we can substantially grow the game and make English chess healthy and vibrant for future generations to enjoy.