SCCU Executive Committee Meeting (20th April)

  • Dear All,
    Herewith my somewhat belated report back to you on this series of meetings held in the latter part of last month.  I’m content for this to appear on websites.
    SCCU Executive Committee Meeting (20th April)
    I shall try to just pick out those elements of a 3 hour meeting that seem relevant to be passed on to you.
    County Championship Disputes and Appeals.
    As Union President I am also ex officio Convenor of the Rules & Appeals Sub-Committee (R&A S-C).  I noted in my report to the meeting that this had been an unusually busy season for us, with 3 occasions when a decision by the Union’s County Match Controller (CMC) had been appealed.  It is worth noting these so that at least our team captains can be aware of them.
    The first case concerned an ungraded player whose participation in a grade-limited team had not been cleared by the CMC ahead of the match.  The CMC had taken the view that granting this clearance in arrears was acceptable and in the best interests of ensuring as many games were played as possible.  Whilst not doubting the CMC’s good motives, the R&A S-C took the view that the wording of SCCU County Match Rule 5(2)(i) “only with the prior clearance of the County Match Controller” was quite unambiguous and did not permit the CMC’s interpretation.  The appeal was upheld and the CMC’s decision was over-ruled.  Will captain’s please ensure that if they wish to play an ungraded player, they contact the CMC in advance, giving as much justification as they can for the player being eligible to play within the relevant grade limit.
    The second case involved the use of a mobile ‘phone during play.  This one got a bit involved!  The home county were hosting 2 matches simultaneously.  I’ll call these Match A and Match B, the former being the higher-graded one.  The dispute arose over a game in Match A, with players I’ll call X and Y, the former being from the home team.  After only a few moves X left the immediate playing area with his mobile ‘phone and made a call.  There followed some sort of altercation between X and Y, whereupon Y declared that he was claiming a win on the basis of X having contravened the rules on mobile ‘phones, and he (Y) declined to continue to play.  The captains got involved, but to no avail.  The CMC ruled that whilst the SCCU County Match Rules allowed for possession of a mobile ‘phone, they did not permit its unauthorised use during play.  He therefore concluded that X had contravened the FIDE Laws and upheld Y’s claim of a win.  X stated that he had used his ‘phone to try to call a fellow club member who was due to play in Match B, but who had not yet arrived.  X claimed that this had been authorised by the home team captain of Match B.  He also stated that he had made a number of attempts to call this absent player before the start of play.  No evidence was given to suggest that X’s account of why he had used his ‘phone was inaccurate.  SCCU County Match Rule 19 does permit mobile ‘phones in the playing area but “they must be either switched off or switched to silent mode for the duration of play”.  On the face of it, this does not allow for any use of a mobile ‘phone during play.  However, the R&A S-C took the view that practicality and generally accepted practice did allow use provided it was agreed with the opposing team.  For example, in case of a team captain chasing up a missing player (or receiving a call from such a player) or by someone required to be on call for professional or other reasons.  The argument therefore revolved over whether or not this use by X had been reasonably authorised.  The R&A S-C decided that it was not reasonable to believe that a captain from Match B could give such authorisation as he had no authority with regard to Match A.  An aggravating factor was that X had been trying to contact the missing player for some time, so could well have anticipated before the start of play a wish to try again during play.  He could have raised this with his opponent and opposing captain ahead of play starting.  Whilst not over-enamoured by Y simply walking away from the game (rather than registering his intention to make a claim, but playing on) the R&A S-C decided that the CMC’s decision was correct and the appeal was rejected.
    [ There may be some follow up to this case.  The SCCU may wish to consider whether its Rule on mobile ‘phones and / or guidance to team captains would benefit from further review or clarification.  The existing Rule was introduced following the first reference to mobile ‘phones in the FIDE Laws, when the concern was largely over distraction.  The Laws have since been tightened further due to increased concern over the use of electronic devices in cheating.  Whether by intention or default, the SCCU Rule has not been updated since the latest FIDE changes. ]
    In the third case Player A’s flag fell before completing the required number of moves.  Player B claimed a win on time.  However, player A argued that on at least 2 occasions B had moved before A had pressed his clock.  He claimed this constituted illegal moves, so he should be awarded the game.  The CMC ruled that A had indeed lost on time, but A appealed this.  The R&A S-C determined that the action of B had not been illegal and therefore A’s case was without merit.  The appeal was rejected.
    One thing that came out of all theses cases was the need for captains to do all they can to resolve any issues that arise on the day.  Onerous and difficult as this might seem at the time, it’s even more difficult for them to be resolved by Union officials who weren’t present and can be confronted with differing accounts of what actually took place.
    BCET Awards.
    It was resolved that the SCCU would make 2 nominations for British Chess Education Trust awards.  The names are not normally advertised at this stage, but I can report that one of them is from Sussex.
    SCCU Championship.
    Each year the SCCU bestows upon a congress within our area the right to award the title of SCCU Champion, and Glenroy Cup, to the highest finishing player with SCCU credentials.  We agreed a request from the Thanet Congress to be the chosen congress for the 2019 / 20 season, marking their 50th anniversary.  However, no applications have yet been received for the 2018 / 19 season.  Under tightened qualification rules, the Union Champion is the only person we have the right to nominate for entry into the open section of the British Championships – and even this becomes meaningless if the winner is a titled player who automatically qualifies.  (Not wishing to take anything away from titled players who have often been SCCU Champion.)
    Voting Intentions for ECF Finance Council.
    The SCCU decided to support the adoption of the Finance Director’s Report and proposed Budget for 2018 / 19, including membership and related fees, although detailed questions might be raised on individual items in the budget concerning the Junior and International Directorates.
    The governance item concerning the ECF Council Voting Register would be supported, but their was concern over the amendments to Regulation No. 2.  This involved deletion of the role of Director of Women’s Chess.  Armed with a little insider knowledge, I was able to advise that it was possible that the ECF Board would seek to withdraw this item.
    The SCCU votes would be cast against all the proposed changes to the County Championship rules; namely, reducing from 16 to 12 boards in the U180, U160 and U140 competitions, deleting the Minor competition and FIDE-rating the U180 and (if retained) the Minor.  There was some individual county dissent on some of these points, but this was the clear consensus in each case.
    There were mixed views on the proposal from the NCCU to merge Bronze and Silver Memberships at a common figure for adults of £20, but with a small majority against.  If this went to a card vote, the SCCU votes should be split 3 against, 2 in favour.
    There was universal lack of support for the request for funding from Casual Chess.
    The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on 25th May and will impact all of us with responsibilities not only at Union level, but also at County, League and Club levels.  The SCCU Deputy President, and solicitor by profession, Mark Murrell had done a lot of preparatory work for the SCCU, some of which I can share more widely.  I think this is a topic I need to take up with our County, League and Club officials in a separate and dedicated message.  “Legitimate Interest” is likely to be the saviour for what we all do, but this does not absolve us from considering the subject in detail and preparing some paperwork.
    SCCU Website Material.
    Minutes of meetings such as this one have never appeared on the SCCU website, but when Richard Haddrell was still with us his activities in support of the Union included write ups on the website, not purporting to be Minutes, but written in his own inimitable style.  These helped, in my view, to provide an historical record and to publicise Union activities.  Since his death, there has been nothing comparable.  I raised this again at this latest meeting.  There was not universal support.  The usual counter-arguments were raised of any published minutes needing to be so bland as to have little meaning, or attendees being inhibited from speaking candidly at meetings.  Nobody has volunteered to mimic Richard’s style of unofficial accounts.  I understand the counter arguments (I’ve struggled with them myself with regard to my reports such as this one, but have come to the view that transparency is more important) but would still like to see something appearing on the website for anyone who wanted to take an interest.  Remains unresolved.
    The AGM of the SCCU Council will take place in London on the afternoon of Sunday 1st July 2018.  Each County Member is entitled to send 2 representatives, so if anyone would like to accompany me, please let Dix Roberts (as County Secretary) know.
    ECF Finance Council (28th April).
    This was held in London this year and was a reasonably restrained affair.  I didn’t record actual numbers, but it appeared to be a little better attended than in some recent years.  I shall skip over the housekeeping items and approval of previous Minutes, and concentrate on the more substantive agenda items.
    The Finance Director presented final accounts for 2015 / 16, which were fully signed off, audited and closed, and for 2016 / 17 which had been audited but were still subject to a final review.  (No, I don’t fully understand that.  Apparently the auditing process can now involve the basic audit, which has been done satisfactorily, and a final upper level review, which is outstanding.)
    Turning to the budget for 2018 / 19, concerns raised were largely over the International figures, seeking greater clarity on how the budget would be spent and whether it would be sufficient to meet the costs of the events coming up.  On the latter point, it was noted that it was hoped to bring in further funds through sponsorship; otherwise the International Director might need to return to the Board for further financial support.  There was a proposal from the floor that future accounts should provide a greater breakdown on items of expenditure in International.  This was put to a hand vote and was passed.
    The proposals for membership fees, non-member fees and pay to play fees, as set out in the agenda, were passed overwhelmingly, with just 2 (hand) votes against.  This means that adult membership fees remain unchanged from the current year (although the £1 discount for joining or renewing online will no longer be offered).  For juniors, beyond free Silver Membership for one year, membership will cost £5 for benefits up to those of Silver Membership.
    Governance Matters.
    The proposals concerning the voting register were passed unanimously on a hand vote.
    The Board withdrew the amendments to Regulation No. 2, which would have deleted reference to a Director of Women’s Chess.  I’m anticipating a development on this topic in the reasonably near future, but am not at liberty to be more specific at this stage.  In any event, the post is going to be re-advertised and at least 2 possible candidates are anticipated.
    County Championship Proposals.
    The first proposed change was to reduce the U180, U160 and U140 competitions to 12 boards from the current 16.  There was some sympathy for this and despite the proposal being rejected by 15 votes to 6 on a hand vote, a card vote was called.  The outcome was 96 votes in favour, 129 against and 35 abstentions.  I had a total of 14 votes, of which I cast 3 in favour and 11 against.
    The proposal to delete the Minor Counties competition was rejected on a hand vote, with just 2 votes in favour.
    The proposal to FIDE-rate the U180 and Minor Counties was rejected on a hand vote with just 5 votes in favour.
    At this point David Sedgwick sought, and was granted, permission to address the meeting.  He made an impassioned defence of the county championship arrangements that have existed for many years.
    Merging of Bronze and Silver Membership.
    This proposal from the NCCU received mixed views in discussion.  On a hand vote, 10 were in favour, but 20 against.  It was put to a card vote that was far more decisive, with 63 for, 233 against and 10 abstentions.  I voted against.
    Request for Funding From Casual Chess.
    Amanda Ross had been invited to attend the meeting and put her request that the Casual Chess Café that she runs in central London be supported financially to the tune of £6,000 per annum by the ECF.  She reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult to support this venture with volunteers alone.  There was an amendment proposed to reduce the request to £3,000, which was narrowly passed (10 for, 9 against) and which Amanda accepted as a change to her request.  Thus, the final vote was on this reduced request, but was lost by 21 against with 7 in favour.
    BCF Council Meeting (28th April).
    This meeting was held during a mid-session break in the ECF Finance Council.  Housekeeping matters were quickly disposed of.  BCF accounts for the year ending 31st August 2017 were approved.  Those for the Chess Centre Ltd for the same period were noted.  The proposal to transfer jurisdiction of the Permanent Invested Funds was withdrawn.  The reason behind this is that some of my legal-minded colleagues on the Board have raised some procedural points which they wish to investigate further before any such change goes ahead.
    The next Council gatherings will be in Birmingham on Saturday 13th October 2018.