I was appointed in November 2017 to represent Kent at English Chess Federation (ECF) Council meetings. Unexpectedly that appointment also meant I’d become Kent’s ex-officio appointee to the Executive Board of the Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU). Both Alan Hanreck and I represent Kent at meetings of the SCCU Council.

Since my appointment I’ve attended one ECF meeting and one SCCU Executive Board meeting. I consulted widely with Committee members in advance of those meetings and reported back. This report is a slightly fuller version of those feedback.

The ECF Finance Meeting took place at Thistle City Barbican Hotel at Clerkenwell on Saturday 28th April 2018.

• Membership fees are unchanged, but there was comment on the loss of the £1 on-line discount and the loss of the of the three-year membership.

• The 2016/17 audited accounts were still subject to a review process but outturn figures were better than anticipated.

• After a good deal of probing the budget for 2018/19 was approved. It includes forecast growth in membership numbers. This reflects the Board’s belief that Yorkshire players will want their games rated after the closure of the county’s grading system and on the assumption that free junior membership last year will lead to paying juniors next year. The cost of junior Bronze and Silver membership will be £5. There is an anomaly on junior Gold membership which is £17.50. But a Silver member (£5) can up-grade to Gold by paying £10.50p at a FIDE rated event, saving £2. The Board was left to ponder.

• Hidden away in the Home Director’s budget line was a note that the National Club Championships has been abandoned.

• There was a discussion about the projected expenditure on international teams which ended with a request for the International Director (not present) to provide a breakdown of the figures.

• The Chess Library at the Hastings Office should soon be open for members to visit.

• Changes to the way the Voting Register is composed were agreed. If a league or congress sends games for grading and that organisation is not represented in Council, they may transfer recognition for those games to another organisation (increasing the voting power of the recipient). For example, Tunbridge Wells could allocate its games to Kent for voting purposes.

• The Board pulled back from its proposal to withdraw the post of Director of Women’s Chess, much to Council’s relief. There have been at least two applications to take the job. The £5k allocated to the Home Director will be ‘ring-fenced’. (Also see the report from the SCCU Executive Board beneath.)

• All the proposals on the County Championships were lost. The Minor Counties remains, the 140, 160 and 180 competitions keep 16 boards and the 180 will not be FIDE-rated. The 100 and 120 retain 12 boards. Kent voted against all proposals.

• The NCCU plan to merge the Bronze and Silver categories was lost by a substantial majority. Kent was among the minority who voted in favour.

• A proposal to provide £6k to Casual Chess run by Amanda Ross from the National Film Institute (reduced on amendment to £3k) was lost, but with the door to the Friends of Chess was left ajar.

• The top junior players are being put in to an accelerator programme, financially supported by the Chess Trust. It is guaranteed for the 1st year, then will be reviewed before commitments are made for future years.

The SCCU Executive Board met on Friday, 20 April 2018 at the Green Top Centre in Colindale.

• The SCCU website is up and running. It had previously been hoped that county teams captains would be able to submit results direct to the site. However the interface was too complex and it was decided this will not be pursued further.

• There was quite a bit of discussion about junior chess during the meeting, some of it seemed quite trivial to me, but I know very little about the politics in this area and I was unsure about whether Kent Junior Chess Association is separately represented. What did occur to me was that given the number of juniors playing in the Kent League whether we should have a safeguarding policy?

• The outcome of Kent’s two county appeals were confirmed as lost. In the Surrey v Essex U180 match the game involving an unregistered Kent player, will be submitted as a win for grading purposes. After a discussion the Rules and Appeals Sub-Committee will meet to discuss whether further competition rule changes are necessary following the appeals.

• Twickenham and Goldstone (Hove) schools were nominated for British Chess Educational Awards (there were no citations from Kent).

• Thanet was awarded the SCCU individual championships for 2019/20 for the August 2019 tournament. There is currently no award for the 2018/19 season. Applications are encouraged. As far as I’m aware, Thanet is the only congress that takes place under the auspices of the KCA?

• In readiness for the ECF Finance meeting the SCCU would use their votes according to the wishes of the majority of votes from constituent organisations as follows:

• County Championships:
• Reduce U180, U160 & U140 to 12 boards. Against
• Drop Minor Counties Against
• FIDE-rate the U180 Against

• NCCU proposal to merge Silver & Bronze Against

• Casual Chess application for £6k Against

• Women’s Chess. 18 months ago the ECF Board amended its own Regulations to allow the appointment of a Director of Women’s Chess. The appointee was unable to commit the time and the role of the post was never determined. The Board, after arguing for the post, with strong support from Council, has now changed direction and has withdrawn the position. Council will be invited to note this at next week’e meeting. The SCCU’s position is that we will vote ‘not to note the position’. (Also see the outcome in the report from the ECF meeting)

• General Data Protection Regulations. These come into effect on 25 May 2018 and apply equally to big and small organisations. The SCCU has undertaken an audit of the data it collects and processes. It has made the case for collecting information without the need for consent in a Legitimate Interest Assessment and a comprehensive Privacy Statement will soon appear on the SCCU website. The work was highly commended. Kent, and other County Associations, Clubs and Congresses, should take note, or risk an intervention from the Information Commissioner, but this should be made much easier with the SCCU templates. The ECF has subsequently issued a Privacy Statement template for Clubs.

• There is continuing discussion about how to convey the proceedings of SCCU Executive Board meetings to a wider audience. There remains concern about the ability of representatives to speak candidly if full or redacted minutes are published.

• Little progress has been made on the possible digitalisation of the SCCU historical archive. The amount of material is still unexplored, and therefore the potential cost remains unknown.

• The SCCU Council Meeting will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, 1 July 2018, probably in Colindale. I expect to attend.

Finally time ran out before there could be any discussion about how to engage better with SCCU individual players and to improve awareness and increase participation in county teams. My idea had been for the SCCU to run a weekend Club Championship to include London-based Clubs in the Spring/Summer of 2019. It could run either as a one-day rapidplay or a two-day standard play, with up to three sections. This was conveyed to representatives after the meeting and has been warmly received. It will be considered at the Council Meeting on 1 July 2018 as a Kent proposal. If Kent Committee members are unsupportive I will withdraw the proposal.

David Gilbert