There is no doubt that our clubs, leagues and congresses need help recovering from the effects of the pandemic. There is an opportunity to try and gather in some of the players from the online and social chess boom into ECF networks.
Clubs, leagues and congresses are all run by volunteers with limited time. My proposal is just to give them a small helping hand by having a resource available to assist with recovery and development, providing expertise when requested and developing good practise.
A maximum of £20,000 plus travel expenses per annum would be allocated to this from reserves held externally. Two part-time roles would be created. One for MCCU and NCCU and one covering EACU, SCCU and WECU. The Board would receive monthly reports and there would be a review after a year with a decision whether to continue, based on output, positive outcomes for clubs, leagues and congresses and success in fundraising.
There is no doubt that if clubs adapt to the age of social media and provide a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, they will succeed. You only have to look at 2 examples, Battersea Chess Club in SE London and Liverpool Chess Club, both of which are absolutely booming. It is no coincidence that they have an excellent social media presence.
Yet at the same time, I have received reports of clubs having to combine teams to survive and suffering from long-term demographic decline due to increasingly older membership.
I hope Council will look favourably on this proposal.Malcolm Pein, ECF Director of International Chess, Candidate for Chief Executive
What might a Development Officer do?
- Provide advice on Improving club websites and SEO.
- Provide advice on developing a social media presence and advise clubs, leagues and congresses on promoting themselves via social media campaigns.
- Advice on setting up a junior club, including DBS procedures and safeguarding, in coordination with the ECF Safeguarding lead.
- Advise on how to set up a chess club in a local library
- Develop ideas to increase girls’ participation and advise clubs on this.
- Improve the beginners section on the ECF website and act as support for beginners who get in touch
- Act as local PR person for congresses, create templates for congress PR.
- Advise on how to develop community-based chess activity, such as chess in parks and apply for funding
- Engage local councils to find venues and support chess
- Prepare economic impact and PR value statements for councils looking at hosting or supporting chess events. This could be particularly useful in securing venues for the British Championships.
- Be a resource to support the Director of Home Chess as directed, for example assisting with data collection via pull rather than push contact.
- Work with each constituent unit of the ECF and other ECF affiliated organisations to create their own Development Plans for:
What might a Development Officer Job Description Look Like?
To foster, encourage and develop chess in the territories represented by the English Chess Federation at all levels, with a particular emphasis on the grassroots ; to bring more people of all ages and backgrounds into chess and to encourage new social players to join existing ECF networks such as clubs, leagues and congresses; to facilitate the building and financing of chess infrastructure by strengthening and expanding clubs, leagues, congresses, chess activity in schools and libraries. To foster links with other public and private bodies and to create joint projects.
Reporting to: CEO/Dir Home Chess/Dir Junior/Dir International/Dir Women’s Salary: TBD
The Development Officer would do the following:
- Encourage ECF-affiliated chess clubs to link up with local schools.
Encourage chess clubs to build links with local schools, colleges and universities. ECF-affiliated chess clubs should be encouraged to help start a chess club in at least 1 school in their local area, offering teaching, materials, advice and other support, as well as offering opportunities within their club for school students. Clubs could offer to give a simul or chess display in a school as a taster for children to play. Clubs should be encouraged to welcome school students, offering playing times and conditions suitable for juniors. Clubs should encourage potential chess teachers to undergo basic tutor training, for example with such bodies as EJCOA and CSC and to complete DBS checks and safeguarding training.
- Draw up a programme for revitalising chess clubs.
The Development Officer should be responsible for the compilation of a Club Organiser’s Pack for running vibrant, active and welcoming chess clubs.
The Chess Club Organiser’s Handbook to include:
- Practical advice and instruction on how to hold internal club competitions;
- Advice on how to run teams in local and national leagues and competitions;
- FIDE and ECF rules governing the playing, grading and organising of chess competitions;
- Advice on running congresses and various external and public competitions, including simultaneous displays, rapidplay and blitz events;
- Guidelines for running a junior club, including how to make your venue child- and family-friendly, how to encourage parents, older teenage children and other adult club members to get involved in the running of the junior club, and how to run league teams to encourage the participation of children of all ages (earlier starting times, shorter time limits and organising events at times suitable to school students.
- Recommendations on how to reach the general public in their area, local authorities, potential sponsors, media and other stakeholders, such as the management of potential chess venues;
- A basic guide to fundraising, approaching sponsors, and maintaining and using healthy club finances for the purpose of developing chess in their local town, city and region;
- A simple guide to setting up and maintaining a club website, with advice and links to good examples and basic templates for websites capable of being used and developed by club members;
- Ideas and suggestions for how to make chess clubs welcoming to new and existing members, using model examples and success stories from around the UK and internationally. Advice on how to welcome a first timer. The Club Organiser’s Pack should point to the availability of teaching materials aimed at teaching juniors such as those offered by CSC and the Dutch ‘Steps’ method, as well as a suggested package of equipment including: Demo board, chess boards, sets and DGT clocks, a basic ‘Club Version’ of ChessBase or similar program aimed at use by a group of players in a club setting, a basic Club Version of Swiss Manager or similar.
- Running and facilitating the organisation of Chess Organiser Training Days.
These could be based on the guidelines contained in the Chess Club Organiser’s Handbook, and organised on similar lines to Chess Tutor training events, and successful attendees could then be accredited as chess organisers with the ECF.
- Encourage social chess and increase the numbers of people from all backgrounds playing chess.
Seed the organisation of public chess events such as ChessFest – see chess-fest.com and https://youtu.be/kB62- e_tOB4 with the aim of increasing all forms of chess – both casual and competitive. This would ideally result in the raising of chess’s profile in the community.
- Chess clubs, displays and simuls in libraries;
- Including a beginners /newcomers section in every chess congress
- Events for the disabled;
- Live chess games, with human participants, in public venues such as city squares and shopping centres;
- Exhibition Games with giant chess sets;
- Blindfold simultaneous displays by a master;
- Public games of chess between a local master/expert and the public, via local media (newspapers, TV, radio, websites), in a similar style to those undertaken by Kasparov v the World or Carlsen v readers of a Norwegian newspaper, etc.
- Public talks on chess, aimed at the general public/beginner, at local libraries.
- Work with local chess organisers to secure sponsorship for congresses & clubs.
The Development Officer should aim to attract local sponsorship for at least one chess event, congress or club in each ECF region in any given year. Sponsorship can take many forms such as:
- Cash for a local congress,
- Non-cash prizes offered by sponsors such as a weekend for two in a hotel, dinner or similar.
- Goods or services,
- Equipment for a city or town’s junior chess club,
- Providing or funding a venue for a local congress,
- Free publicity in local media for chess events,
- Sponsoring the development of particularly talented juniors.
The Development Officer should work with each constituent unit of the ECF and other ECF affiliated organisations to create their own Development Plans for:
a) chess clubs
b) junior chess clubs
c) public chess activities (Simuls, chess in libraries etc)
- Develop links with media, seed a syndicated chess column (advertising local clubs)