This has been a stunning year for chess in Scotland. Here's why:
Schools chess - our top priority
" We have organised a ground breaking course in North Ayrshire
to provide teachers with the skills to organise a school chess club
- and how to play chess. We may see 17 new school clubs this year as
a result. And follow up courses are being arranged. Chess in Scotland
owes a tremendous debt to North Ayrshire's Head of Services Lesley Owens
for promoting this idea, and securing funding for it. Thanks to Dick
Heathwood for ensuring this project ran smoothly and to all the coaches
who helped make it a success.
" We are now considering how to widen this concept as part of our
general promotion of the educational value of chess for young people.
This idea is increasingly accepted (for example the Education Minister
in England and Wales has publicly endorsed it) and I'm sure that some
of the superb work done by David Leslie in Aberdeen in his 3 year inner
city project has helped persuade people of its value.
" We have improved our administration by constructing a database
of school chess clubs in Scotland, and written to everyone at the end
of last term to try to ensure contact information is right for promoting
this year's competitions. Almost 100 replies were received, most providing
e-mail addresses which will allow better communication.
Television and press coverage of the matches between our leading juniors
and MSPs in Edinburgh and then MPs in Westminster was superb. Enormous
thanks are due to George Clarke, who bore the brunt of the administration
of setting these up, and Peter Macnab [and his wife and daughter!],
for creating this idea and following it through to such a successful
conclusion. Thanks are also due to the politicians and the juniors!
To run one national championship in a year is a challenge. To run two
- well, supply your own line. But Chess Edinburgh's team, led by Hugh
Flockhart, produced a marvellous result including a record entry for
the British Championship, with large numbers of Scots. With the Scottish
Championships also a success, the decision to move them to Easter to
avoid the summer clash is clearly vindicated. I hope that many of the
Scots who took part in the British will consider going to Scarborough
for next year's special British Championships, in the BCF's centenary
year. And congratulations too to the Scots who picked up prizes (see
Member involvement and services
" We have consulted extensively with players on various issues
including receiving strong endorsement that encouraging more chess to
be played in schools should be Chess Scotland's top priority. Thanks
to Dick Heathwood for organising and analysing the feedback.
" The Noticeboard on the website has improved considerably since
David Gillespie started acting as moderator. Thanks to him -and to those
who use it, even when criticising Chess Scotland!
" On line grading updates have become available for members and
proved very popular. Thanks to Alex Bisset for re-writing the grading
programming and scoping this enhancement.
During the year, increased work pressures, job changes and illness
have resulted in some pressure on and changes in personnel within Chess
Scotland. Further changes are also likely and will be confirmed at the
AGM. To all those who were willing to give up their time to help chess
in Scotland, I offer Chess Scotland's grateful thanks.
Two courses for the training of prospective arbiters took place. One
of these was run by Gerald Lobley for those in the Aberdeen area. Six
of the eight participants passed the exam. A second course took place
in Stirling, led by myself. Three of the four participants passed the
exam of whom one (Leonie Wilson) has subsequently qualified as Arbiter.
The fourth has unfortunately not yet been able to sit the exam. I hope
others will soon complete the necessary practical activity in order
to qualify. Courses will be run again next season if demand is sufficient.
The Arbiters' Committee met in March. They discussed various matters
of interest to arbiters and reviewed the list of qualified arbiters
in the light of activity questionnaires' completed by arbiters. Fortunately,
the committee was not called upon to resolve any dispute.
A new draft of the Laws will soon be produced by FIDE and we shall
aim to comment on these and would welcome input to this from interested
players. Proposals by FIDE for an International Organiser title which
might make it more difficult for Scotland to hold title norm events
have been dropped meantime.
During the year ending 30 April 2003 there was a substantial improvement
in membership numbers resulting in an increase in income of £1100
under subscriptions. There were also significant increases in the income
from Publications and the 100 Club. In addition we were also fortunate
to benefit from an increase of £228 in the government grant. The
opportunity also arose to cash in our small holding of consol stock
without any transaction charges.
It is, however, disappointing to report that income from a number of
other sources continued to either fall or, at best, remain fairly static
despite the increases in fees. Affiliation fees is one such area showing
a decline of income and this was largely due to the fall in the number
of junior clubs deciding to affiliate. Grading was another area where
income continued to decline due to a drop in the numbers attending some
of the congresses and the fact that one or two tournaments did not take
place this season. This year we also lost the financial support usually
given to the Team Lightning event by Cadogan Books and although there
was no monetary support for the Grand Prix it is supported by Chessbase
in the form of equipment being donated for prizes.
International expenditure was considerably reduced due to the cancellation
of one event and a few events in which we didn't participate. Our new
editor also managed to make savings in the production costs of the magazine
resulting in reduced expenditure compared to the previous year. In addition,
the same person, in his capacity a membership director, successfully
managed to operate without any additional increase in the membership
services expenditure. The increased costs for the Information Services
was due to the improvements undertaken on the Chess Scotland website.
Unfortunately there were substantial increases in insurance costs due
to stipulations by local authorities regarding the levels of cover required
when their premises are used for tournaments plus a general increase
in premiums. No financial information was supplied for a few of the
junior events so it is unclear if they ended with a deficit or surplus.
The remaining balance on the books for fixed assets has now been paid
off. There is an outstanding balance due from the Scottish Junior Chess
Association and their treasurer is still hopeful he will manage to obtain
this money despite it being very much overdue.
The 2002 Scottish Championships in Stirling were a financial success
thanks to the Stirling Chess Club and in particular George Clarke. They
managed to run a successful event, increase the prize fund and despite
reduced sponsorship still finish with a small surplus that has been
added to the Congress Fund.
On behalf of Chess Scotland I would like to thank all those who contributed
to the funds including all who gave their time and effort yet made no
claim for any expenses they incurred.
GRADING AND WEBSITE
Grading: The new Windows grading program developed by Alex Bisset
of Aberdeen has been the main focus of news this year. The new program
went live in July 2002 and after many revisions has now successfully
completed its first full grading season. The output from the program
can be uploaded to the Chess Scotland website which permits players
to see a "live" display of their latest grade calculations.
Previously we could only supply printouts which players could request
by post. The program can interface with the CS member database allowing
membership status to be recorded directly into the grading program.
This means we can restrict the online data to members only. Several
players have commented that they joined CS specifically so that they
could consult their online grade display. The membership flag in the
database also allocates eligibility to the Grand Prix.
In the coming year the program will continue to be developed with aims
to improve the ease with which Area Graders can compile and submit data.
Many thanks to Alex for his time and skill in developing the new system.
Website: The website enjoyed a professional "makeover"
by designer Dave Bogle and the revamped site went live in January 2003.
The site has received a succession of favourable comments since the
redesign. The addition of high quality online grading data means the
CS site is one of the top national chess websites in the world.
The volume of data on the site and the number of hits received meant
a change of ISP to a firm called Webfusion - the cost is £199
a year for a 10GB bandwidth per month. This may seem excessive but a
2GB bandwidth has been exceeded twice this year after TWIC linked to
stories resulting in a mass influx of new visitors. The new package
should provide sufficient headroom to meet likely requirements. One
feature of the new package is a facility to "farm out" certain
areas of the site to permit updating by individuals other than the webmaster.
Currently we have dozens of links to independently maintained websites
e.g. Chess Edinburgh, but the idea here is the webspace still belongs
to CS but there is more than one person responsible for updates. I am
very keen for this to progress since there is not sufficient time available
to develop all areas of the site fully.
Currently we have one delegated area of the site. The new web Calendar
for 2003-2004 and the web display of Membership are controlled directly
by Sam Collins, not the webmaster. Sam can make changes to these pages
and upload to CS webspace without making any requests to the webmaster.
Other negotiations currently underway involve the Game Download section
of the site. The webmaster task is too wide to be allocated to one individual
and further delegation could be the way to maximise the potential of
Three important activities this year have been (1) the North Ayrshire
chess course for teachers (2) child protection and (3) electronic version
of the magazine.
North Ayrshire:- Full reports of the chess course run in North
Ayrshire have appeared on the website. This project was a major effort
involving a number of CS people acting in various roles. The course
was well received and follow-up courses are being arranged (most immediately,
Arran in September). A small informal group has been considering how
to build upon the North Ayrshire course but, as yet, no recommendations
have been submitted.
Child Protection:- A Paper has been submitted to Council for
consideration on 30 August. The Paper summarises the options open to
CS and submits a number of recommendations. Whilst the basic objective
of child protection is straightforward, thinking through the details
of implementation by way of establishing CS policy and procedures has
involved detailed, careful consideration.
Electronic Magazine:- The possible distribution of an electronic
version of the CS magazine, "Scottish Chess" to be available
alongside the existing traditional format magazine was considered and
recommendations were submitted to the Directors. The decision was taken
not to adopt that option at this stage but to review at a future date.
REPORT ON SCOTTISH / BRITISH 2003
In February 2002, I was appointed as Director to oversee a project
that would bring the British Chess Championships to Edinburgh in the
summer of 2003 bringing forward the Scottish to Easter 2003 to avoid
a clash with the British. After an initial hiccup, Scottish Enterprise
Edinburgh & Lothian agreed to support the project with a grant of
£8000. George Watson's College, the planned location for both
events, were forced to withdraw because of major building maintenance
work. Though functionally less suitable, George Heriot's School was
adopted as the replacement.
Chess Edinburgh acted as hosts with Terry Purkins, David Stewart, Graham
Clarke, David Bond and Mike Anderson and myself as organising committee
for the Scottish. Terry, David S and I continued to meet to bring the
British to fruition. Both events were successful beyond our expectations;
both created record entry levels.
The Scottish entry totalled 226 with 91 at week events and 235 at the
weekend. This does not include 86 juniors who attended our Age Championships
on the first weekend. The British entry of 1009 beat the previous highest
of 1001 attained at Hove. There were 188 entries for 11-round, 264 for
adult, 305 for junior, 157 for weekend and 95 for rapidplay events.
The record was achieved because of a significant Scottish entry particularly
at the weekend.
I attach the final press releases for both events - see Appendix
First Woman to be Scottish Champion
The 110th Scottish Chess Championships incorporating the ever-popular
Edinburgh Congress held in George Heriot's School, Edinburgh drew a
record entry of 330 participants. Held in the Easter holidays to avoid
a clash with the British Championships in the summer at the same venue,
the event culminated in a tie for the Scottish Championship between
favourite and defending champion, Grandmaster Paul Motwani, and Woman
Grandmaster Kete Arakhamia-Grant. Hailing from Georgia and married to
Jonathan Grant, also a participant in the Championship, Kete became
the first woman ever to share the Championship winning her last round
match in style.
However it was the juniors who stole the show! A thirteen year old
from Dollar, Christopher MacDonald became the youngest player ever to
compete for the Championship finishing the tournament strongly. Graeme
Kafka, a student at The University of Edinburgh, produced the performance
of the Championship beating International Master Mark Orr and giving
Grandmaster Paul Motwani his most uncomfortable match. Paul declared
afterwards that he felt very relieved when a draw was agreed. Graeme's
rating performance for the tournament was over 2400 and, had the pairings
for the last round been kinder to him, he could have achieved an International
Master norm. Not bad for a player rated 2103 at the start of the Championship.
One his friends and also a student at Edinburgh, Duncan Grassie, won
the Open event with the best score of the Championships, eight out of
nine points, and considerably enhancing his international rating.
Bob Clapham of the Castlehill club in Dundee won the Seniors Championship;
and Grandmaster Ganbold Odondoo from Mongolia via Newcastle won the
Premier weekend event with a perfect score. Twelve year old Michael
Emery from Stonehaven won the Giant Killing prize and Dunfermline player
Ian Robertson won the best game prize for his win against Grandmaster
Colin McNab in the first round.
Paul Motwani heads the list of Scottish players who have indicated
their intention to compete in the British Chess Championships, 20th
July to 2nd August. One thousand players, adults and junior, and their
families are expected to converge on Edinburgh from all over the British
Isles and the Commonwealth to play in these Championships.
15 April 2003
Record Entry for the British Chess Championships
Abhijit Kunte takes the Title
Edinburgh's George Heriot's School proved to be an outstanding venue
for the Smith & Williamson British Chess Championships attracting
a record entry of 1009. Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte from India became
British Champion in close and exciting finish. Scottish Champion, Paul
Motwani, was always in contention and finished in second place shared
by Cypriot, Vassilios Kotronias, and Indian, Pentala Harikrisna.
However, Woman Grandmaster Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant was the star of the
show at Prizegiving Ceremony. She became joint Scottish Champion in
April and today Lord Provost, Lesley Hinds, crowned her British Ladies
Champion. She also shared fifth place with among others Jonathan Rowson
our top-rated Scot and received the Best Game prize for her stunning
defeat of English top seed, Stuart Conquest. Keti hails from Georgia
but now lives in Edinburgh with her husband, Jonathan Grant, and daughter.
Two other notable winners were John Dempsey from Glasgow in the Weekend
Soames Tournament and Rhian Hughes of Edinburgh who became the British
Under 9 Girls Champion.
2 August 2003
Some reflections on the Scottish that may help organisers of future
1 The introduction of a FIDE Open Event was well received.
2 The provision of a cash float enabled the prizegiving to start much
3 Despite approaching almost one hundred top Scottish companies, there
was no response to our sponsorship requests. Chess Edinburgh was our
only sponsor. In consequence, the proposal to present the top games
'live' on the internet had to be shelved.
4 The transmission of the Championship Programme by e-mail attachment
5 Some juniors could not attend because their school holidays were later
than those in the Edinburgh area.
6 The entry form has been refined to a high quality. However, to help
the Entries Secretary, the Surname and Christian Names should have separate
lines. The Postcode should be separated giving more space for the Address.
The Date of Birth of Seniors (60 & over) should be requested to
identify beneficiaries of the BCF Grand Prix.
7 Press communication could be improved by the appointment of a Press
Officer for the Championship.
8 The desirability of a method of tie breaking in the Championship by
play-off was raised again. As an organiser, I would rather avoid this
possibility on practical grounds
e.g. delay in the prizegiving, the extension of the hall let, the possibility
of a multiple play-off and the reluctance of players to start rapid
play games after a long last round encounter. However, I am aware that
others hold a contrary view.
I have felt privileged to oversee this project and to observe the goodwill
it has generated. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to
I am looking forward to the playing season without stress, portfolio
or directorship. If needed, I will continue to organise our Scottish
Grand Prix with Douglas Bryson's support.
Hugh S Flockhart
7 August 2003