CHESS SCOTLAND - MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING
City Inn, Glasgow Saturday 24 February 2007 at 2pm
Present: D Wilson (chair), G Anderson, L Barnes, D Bryson, G Clarke, R Coleman, J Foster, J Glendinning, J Hughes*, W Marshall, A McFarlane, L R McKenzie, D Officer**, C Pritchett, K Stewart
* until Finance Director's report, ** - until President's report
Apologies: Apologies had been received from Ian Carmichael (Scottish Chess and Draughts Association of the Deaf), Glynis Grant (Scottish National League), Sam Collins and David Oswald
1 Minutes of previous meeting
1.1 The Minutes of the previous Council Meeting, 25 February 2006 , were taken as read and approved.
2 Matters arising from previous minutes
2.1 Jeremy Hughes was not aware of any information on “YouthLink. Information available should be passed to him to allow progress with the Junior Board.
2.2 Stephen Hilton agreed to prepare material for clubs and organisers about the disabilities discrimination act and encourage them to make their clubs and tournaments as accessible to the disabled as possible.
3 Matters delegated from 2006 AGM
3.1 Alex McFarlane confirmed that he was still consulting about tie breaks in the Scottish Championship and that a decision would be made and publicised in advance of this year's championship.
3.2 Craig Pritchett indicated that the proposed FIDE conference in Turkey had not proceeded but that there was a conference in Halkadiki , Greece in May, covering wider marketing of chess and (separately) the development of schools chess. It was agreed that it would be desirable to attend and we should provide some financial support if someone wants to go to this.
3.3 The FIDE requirement for players to be members of national federations which were FIDE-rated was discussed. It was agreed that the requirement should be applied from season 2007-8. Tournament organisers would have to require CS membership for all players if the event was to be submitted for FIDE grading.
4 Changes in officebearers
4.1 Jeremy Hughes has been appointed as Home Director (Junior), which was left vacant at the AGM.
4.2 Jacob Aagaard has been replaced by Donna Officer as International Director (Junior) following the former's resignation, although Jacob continues as International Director (Open).
4.3 Andy Howie is standing in for David Gillespie as noticeboard moderator during the latter's illness
4.4 The Chairman asked people to consider whether they have (or someone they know has) something to contribute, with a view to putting themselves (or that other person) forward for election at the 2007 AGM. The work of the vacant posts can be shared if necessary.
5 Directors' reports
5.1 Ken Stewart (Technical Director)
An arbiters' committee meeting was held on 18 February. The minutes are on the CS website.
A one day course is likely to be held in Perth on a Saturday in March or April. The shorter course will be made feasible by participants doing more work on their own.
5.2 John Glendinning (Executive Director)
Very little to report. Currently trying to arrange a celebration for Jonathan Rowson's triple British Championship win, at the same time as he helps with a junior training day organised by Donna Officer. This may be in March or June, depending on which is more feasible.
5.3 Craig Pritchett (Schools Development Director)
Requests for CS's free Beginners' CDs are still being received and the material put together by Alex McFarlane is now being used both in Scotland and other parts of the world.
Sam Collins and Craig Pritchett are running events over the next few weeks to maintain the North Ayrshire schools project. The practice of using funds for the continuing professional development of teachers to develop suitably defined chess in schools projects is potentially transferable and has been picked up elsewhere.
The Junior Review had been launched in Parliament and is being conducted by Frances Benton and George Carlaw. It has been delayed for a number of reasons to nearer the summer. It is therefore not too late to input views.
Craig indicated his personal views on where the review might lead:
the development of a more up to date and active educational trust
an office and CS address and eventually paid administration staff, anticipating a long-term move away from over-reliance on public funding
identifying CS more clearly as a support organisation, providing help to local organisers without whom there will always be sever limits on what can actually be done, and as a lobbying body, concerned with promoting the political and media profile of the game.
It is too early to know what the process of decision making on the report will be.
There will be a conference on schools chess in August in Aberdeen . Craig is in touch with Dod Forrest at Aberdeen University to provide support in building the agenda.
Craig has been in discussion with the promoters of the Harry Potter magazine which includes pieces which build to a complete set. Attempts by him and the English Chess Federation to persuade the promoters to link the magazine with a chess tournament unfortunately failed. There may still be spin off from the promotion of chess over the months.
Craig is helping a teacher in Greenwich develop a half GCSE in chess that would if successful probably be transferable via the commissioning exam board concerned into Scotland, and has had contact from two schools interested in some of the work which Donna Officer has done in developing chess themed mathematics course work.
5.4 Donna Officer (International Director (Junior))
Trinations Tournament was held in September 2006 and this was Scotland 's year to host the event. Finding a venue was a problem as the universities were in preparation for the new semester and could not offer their accommodation for our use. Instead we booked luxury residential caravans at Craig Tara in Ayrshire. The Welsh and the Irish were invited and accepted although the Irish struggled to muster a full squad, leaving themselves short of players to field and U/14 Team. Arbiters Alex McFarlane and Lara Barnes managed to find a workable alternative which involved the two remaining U/14 teams playing each other twice. Scotland won the U/16 and U/14 events but the U/12 team succumbed to the Welsh. Scotland even managed to provide a filler team for each section made up of older youth squad members and parents. Many thanks to the numerous chaperones who looked after our players very well.
We decided not to send a squad to the World Youth Chess Championships in Georgia in October in line with the rest of the UK . The journey was going to be very lengthy and expensive with no real assurances that the promised flights and transfers would be realised. Also, the foreign office was listing parts of Georgia as dangerous for travelling through.
Instead the decision was made to send as many of the selected players as could manage to The European Youth Championships which took place in Herceg Novi in Montenegro in September. After some hasty arrangements (many thanks to Jeremy Hughes!) flights were booked, accommodation organised and entries were sent away. We ended up with a squad of 9 players, 1 coach (Esben Lund) and a number of accompanying people. Initially there were accommodation problems as the allocated hotel was in an unacceptable condition for many party members, but this was handled very well and the team was moved to alternative accommodation which was much better. The event was very well organised and our players fared well. A couple of issues arose as a result of this trip including the need for an official chaperone for each trip.
After these events were finished the baton was officially handed over to Jacob Aagaard so that he could take up his position as International Director for juniors. He promptly made selections and arrangements for the weekend trip to Liverpool for the Quadrangular tournament. The event was enjoyed by all who attended and Scotland won the U/14 and U/16 sections. Donna thanked Jacob for the hard work he put in to fulfilling the obligations of a very difficult and time consuming job.
Since taking up the position again in January, Donna has put in place a Youth Squad Training Day which was missed in November. We also plan to involve Jonathan Rowson in this event to give a talk to the players and present awards to the Boy and Girl Player of the Year, but arrangements are still being considered for this.
We have budgeted for Chess Scotland attending the following events:-
European team championships in Serbia
Combined Glorney/Faber/Trinations in July
European Youth in Croatia in September
World Youth in Turkey in November
We may also send players to the European Community Youth Championships in August.
Jacob Aagaard has also agreed to continue with the Internet coaching which proved to be so successful in the 2006/7 season. This year he announced it would be free to all Chess Scotland members. The new sessions will be starting in March and will be presented by a number of Chess Scotland coaches.
It has become necessary to update the list of national selectors and coaches and we now have a list of coaches willing to be involved. We are looking at amending the selection criteria for juniors.
5.5 Jeremy Hughes (Home Chess Director (Junior))
Jeremy explained that he agreed to be appointed as Director to ensure stability but was happy to relinquish post if other suitable candidates emerged.
The date and venue for the Scottish Primary Individual are now fixed. Maureen and Norrie Mathie will be helping at the event.
The Scottish Schools Individual Championship and qualifying tournaments have now attracted sponsorship from the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants. The Association may also support the Scottish Championships and Alex McFarlane will now follow this up with them.
5.6 Home Chess Director (Open)
The Home Chess Director (Open) post remains vacant. The following reports were made:
George Anderson (Membership Secretary) – membership is static
Robbie Coleman (Scottish Chess Editor) – sales of Scottish Chess are up 8% - Council noted with approval the improved quality of the magazine under the editorship of Robbie and David Oswald
Alex McFarlane (Scottish Championship organiser) – arrangements are in place for 2007, including a free venue. Arrangements for 2008 in Glasgow involve an open championship and are being discussed with the Glasgow League. Sponsorship needs to be progressed.
Douglas Bryson (Webmaster and Chief Grader) – Douglas advised that the new online shop on the CS website was linked to Amazon and provided 5% to 7% commission on any goods bought through the link.
Douglas reported that Alex Bissett was unable to update the grading software at present so a number of programmers have been contacted to see if they could assist. This may involve additional expenditure on licences to allow new programmers to operate the software. Alex has indicated that he would prefer if the grading server was relocated. Advice is being sought on these developments and options explored.
5.7 Donald Wilson (President)
Donald circulated a written report (attached as appendix 1 to minutes).
He drew attention to the following:
We must take the junior review seriously and take forward its recommendations
We need an office address, and Craig Pritchett and Jeremy Hughes are pursuing options.
It was agreed that CS should support the Aberdeen conference in August with Donald Wilson, Craig Pritchett and one other attending as delegates. This is likely to cost around £1000.
Donald talked through discussions with SJC. He engaged with those involved on an individual basis but found they raised barriers when together.
They feel we are competing with them and do not realise they have our blessing to run competitions (but not international participation or national championships) or to run national competitions for CS (but branded CS). In particular, it had been made clear that we had no problem with the Chess for Kicks events.
A meeting involving Donald and Donna Officer (CS) and Peter Woods, David Leslie and Phil Thomas (SJC) had considered ways in which clashes of tournaments could be avoided and joint CS and SJC tournaments could be run with financial assistance and joint branding.
SJC had indicated they wanted to do development work in schools and asked whether CS would provide financial assistance. In principle it had been indicated we could provide money if SJC would explain afterwards what it had been spent on.
SJC were left to put together costings including tournaments and development estimated at £2000 to £3000 per year.
Donald had expected to receive that in time for the Council Meeting but it had now been made clear by SJC that the information would not be released until another condition was met.
The new condition was that SJC should be able to appoint their own nominees to Home Director (Junior) and Schools Development Director.
It was agreed that this would be contrary to the democratic process used in filling all positions at the AGM.
Donald proposed that a further meeting should be held with Donald, Jeremy Hughes, Craig Pritchett and Donna Officer representing CS.
It was advocated by Jeremy and several others that we should have received a document from SJC dealing with all issues for consideration before any date is set for a follow up meeting.
Council welcomed discussion with the SJC. It also felt that the Junior Review was an ideal opportunity for all with an interest to put forward views so that shared goals and aspirations would be established. It is in the best interests of all those concerned about the future of chess to participate.
5.8 L R McKenzie (Finance Director)
Last year's Scottish Championship had no sponsorship other than the local council reducing the rent for the venue. Costs would have been a major drain on Chess Scotland's resources without help from a bequest, some substantial donations plus donations from the participants.
In addition the administration costs of running the event were kept to the minimum. Without this support the deficit would have been more than £2000 but thanks to this help the deficit was just under £300.
This now means that there are no reserves to talk about for any future Championships.
It is likely income from most of our main sources will end the year lower than anticipated due to either lower numbers or less activity. Club affiliations, congress grading and insurance income are below expectations and publication income is also down but there is possibly some income still to be received. It is anticipated that membership income will be on target at the end of the year.
However we have received a number of generous donations plus the full Awards for All grant of £5000 and our government grant has also been increased by approximately £200.
Based on the year to date, expenditure for the year may be less than originally estimated although the end of the year tends to be when a number of expense claims are received. International expenditure will be down because, for various reasons, we didn't participate in a couple of events. Grading expenses are likely to be higher than originally anticipated for the reasons Douglas has explained, new software licence etc. Publication costs will also be higher at the end of the year but this was expected as the figures will include the costs for the two late issues prior to the current editors taking over.
We have paid half the costs of the consultancy; with the balance being due once the report has been completed.
6 Proposed Budget and Fees for 2007-08
6.1 Based on estimated figures submitted it was anticipated that expenditure for next season would increase by approximately £3000. Both the proposed income and expenditure for the year had been advised prior to the meeting. We have just had confirmation that our grant application had been approved for £31,600 over the next 3 years. This was £600 less than requested.
6.2 The proposed changes to the fees were:
Individual adult subscription should be increased by £1 with the junior fees being increased by 50 pence. Family and Life fees would increase in line.
Insurance fees would increase by 5p /£100 for equipment and £1.50 per event for congresses
The Primary Girls Team event fee should increase by £1 to bring it in line with the other junior team events.
Inserts in the magazine should be charged at the rate of 15p per copy to cover the cost of postage and insertion.
All other fees to remain unchanged.
The insert charge to be effective from 1 May with the other changes effective from the 1 August.
6.3 George Anderson raised concerns about the payments made to the Scottish Correspondence Chess Association (SCCA) and Scottish Junior Chess Association Educational Trust (SJCA Trust). It was agreed that the Finance Director would explore the level of grant to SCCA further and report back to the next Council Meeting. On the SJCA Trust, it was agreed that this would be considered in the context of the Junior Report proposals. Neither would change for the 2007-8 financial year.
6.4 It was agreed that the charge for inserts with Scottish Chess should be set at £30 per insert per issue as a more practical basis.
6.5 With that change, the budget and fees were approved.
7 President's Awards
7.1 Council considered the following proposal
“President's Awards shall be presented each year to up to three people who have given long service in supporting chess in Scotland at club, regional or national level. The President shall be responsible for ensuring that the Awards are arranged. Nominations for award shall be invited from CS members. Nominees do not need to be CS members. A committee comprising the President, and the two Home Chess Directors, will be convened and chaired by the President to decide the winner(s). If any of these offices is vacant, the Council can appoint a substitute. The Committee may take CS membership status into consideration.”
7.2 This was agreed with the replacement of the word “long” by “meritorious”, though it was noted that in practice there is likely to be a catch up process involving long serving organisers anyway.
7.3 As there was no Home Chess Director (Open), it was agreed that Alex McFarlane would be the third person in the decision committee, with Donald Wilson and Jeremy Hughes.
8 Next meeting
8.1 A decision on the date of the next Council meeting was deferred.
9 Other business
The meeting closed at about 6.50pm.
According to Chess Scotland's constitution, the President's job is to chair general meetings of the Members, and meetings of the Council. Of course, I knew there was more to it than that when I agreed to be nominated. But if I had known how much more, I'm not entirely sure that I would have agreed.
However, here I am, and the six months since my election have been interesting, challenging – and even alarming at times. The experience has not been quite what I expected, but then life would be dull without surprises, and part of the attraction of chess lies in the challenge of responding to the unexpected.
When Robbie asked me to give readers of Scottish Chess a summary of what I hoped to achieve in my time as President of Chess Scotland, I mentioned two specific aims: to end the conflict with SJC, and to restore the Scottish Championship to its proper place as the highlight of the chess year in Scotland. I'll comment on what progress (if any) I think has been made towards the achievement of these aims, but before I do that there are some other matters I'd like to remark on.
First, there's the review by Frances Benton, funded through “Awards for All”. I knew almost nothing about this before the AGM, so I could not guess what might come of it. I don't think we'll have the final report and recommendations before this summer, and I really don't know what any of the recommendations will be. But I suspect some of them will be quite radical, maybe even revolutionary. And whatever they are, I hope Chess Scotland will be prepared to be bold, and implement them.
Next, I want to put on record my appreciation of the time, effort, skill and wisdom the Directors of Chess Scotland put into the work they do, unpaid and generally unthanked, on behalf not just of Chess Scotland but of the entire chess community in Scotland. I've always known, in the back of my mind, that they do a lot, but it's only in the last six months that I've begun to have a real understanding of how much their commitment costs them, and how valuable each of them is to Chess Scotland.
Then there's a problem that was brought home to me immediately after I agreed to have all e-mails addressed to the President forwarded to my work address: Chess Scotland badly needs an office, preferably with a part-time worker who can sort the important messages from the spam, and receive and deal with post and phone calls. Craig and Jeremy are looking into a possible location in Edinburgh, but if anyone else has a suggestion it will be listened to.
Looking ahead, there is going to be a major international conference on Chess in Schools, to be held in Aberdeen at the end of August this year. Chess Scotland will be represented at the conference – Craig has already been providing assistance to the organisers.
Turning now to relations with SJC, I've had two meetings with their leaders in Stirling – on my own (with five of them – and it should have been six!) in December, and the second accompanied by Donna two weeks ago. After each meeting I have felt that real progress towards peace is being made, even if only slowly. But it seems to me that too much history is being remembered in both organisations (and, dare I say it, not enough history is being understood). Since the alternative is a war that neither side can win, I believe the only logical course for Chess Scotland is to offer a generous peace settlement. The tricky question is: how generous? My feeling is that Chess Scotland is strong enough to err on the side of being more generous than is strictly necessary, and that in the long term the rewards of peace will easily outweigh the costs – but I am very aware that I may be mistaken.
Finally, the Scottish Championships: I think we would all agree that Scotland's strongest players should participate regularly in the Championship, and that the national title should be a prize they want to fight for. At present, this is not happening. Nor do the other tournaments which form the Scottish Congress attract the numbers of entries they used to do, and that is as worrying as the decline in the status of the Championship itself. Timing may be part of the problem, though it is not clear that any time of the year is better than July. Location is certainly part of the problem – yet Aviemore attracted a larger entry in 1997 than Troon did in 2006; and we have to remember that we are Chess Scotland , not Chess Central Belt. It may, in fact, be the format of the Scottish Congress that is its biggest weakness – and we will test this theory in 2008, when the Glasgow Chess League hosts the Championships. In November, Alex McFarlane and I, on behalf of Chess Scotland, met Sam Collins and Andy Howie, representing the Glasgow League, and we agreed that the main event at the 2008 Scottish Congress would be an international Open tournament. Other details will be fixed later, as it becomes clear how much sponsorship can be obtained, but we are thinking big, and are prepared to take risks.
All in all it's been a busy six months, and the next year or two promise to be even busier. Let's continue to work together, to make them successful as well as busy.