Members of Council:
JM Glendinning (chair), G Anderson, DM Bryson, GA Clarke, R Coleman, S Collins, J Dempsey, T Donohue, S Emery, DL Gillespie, G Grant, P Macnab, W Marshall, C McClure, L R McKenzie, J Montgomery, C Pritchett, R Tweedie, D Wilson and K Stewart (minutes)
Non Members:[attending for Scottish Junior Chess item only]
A Bisset, A Howie, D Leslie, S O'Donnell, F Petrie, J Shovlin, L Shovlin
Apologies had been received from the following: - I Carmichael, D Griffin, J Hughes, I Mackintosh, A McFarlane, A Plato, S Taylor. Also M Mathie, N Mathie [non members].
The Minutes of the previous Council Meeting, 29 August 2004, were approved.
It was noted that George Murphy withdrew from the Executive Council on 15 October. His justification was: the reasons for constitutional reform had not been adequately explained to him before he was appointed; he was critical of the conduct of the AGM; after 29 August it became increasingly apparent that the role allocated to him had very little to do with constitutional reform and much more to do with politics; a negotiated political settlement with dissenters should precede any constitutional reform that might be necessary.
K Stewart had agreed to take minutes of the meeting.
SCOTTISH JUNIOR CHESS
The President introduced the item by asking if the meeting agreed to the attendance of representatives of the new group known as Scottish Junior Chess (SJC). This was agreed and these representatives joined the meeting.
The President indicated that he would invite SJC to expand upon the proposal they had sent (proposal 1 in appendix 3), then offer some personal response, then open the meeting to the floor. But before doing so he wanted to emphasise two features which he hoped would characterise the discussion. The first was courtesy in expressing views in what might become a heated discussion. The second was imagination to see what chess in Scotland could become if everyone worked together. It was the people in this meeting who would create the future.
He then invited Fiona Petrie, as chair of SJC to make an opening statement. She began by asking that the minutes of the meeting might be agreed with SJC before publication. On a proposal by the chairman, it was agreed to adopt this approach and to include the opening statement (Appendix 1) within this minute. Mrs Petrie emphasised that the major differences lay in the areas of junior funding and management.
The Chairman asked Mrs Petrie to confirm who the officebearers of SJC were since this information was not known to CS. The main officials of SJC were stated to be:
Chair: F Petrie Secretary: P Woods Treasurer: A Howie
Ordinary member: David Leslie and Joe McAdam, General Member John Shovlin,
Promotion/Events co-ordinator M Hanley
The President gave a short historical summary for the benefit of Council. He pointed out that the aim had been to rebuild arrangements for junior events from 2003; following two years under CS (2001-03) which had been agreed at time of merger to operate on the former SJCA pattern. Unfortunately, mainly through lack of resource, this had not happened. However, new appointments over the last 12 months had repositioned what CS was able to achieve, and a full and open review of CS competitions and more widely had been conducted by C Pritchett during the past months – all documented on the website. A more complete summary of responses is contained in appendix 2.
C Pritchett explained how he had been asked to go beyond his initial schools development remit in order to try to reconsider the plans for junior events. He realised there were different factions and that related issues had to be addressed. He thought the arrangements for the current season took these issues on board and looked forward to greater involvement in decision-making by a newly constituted Junior Commission. He particularly noted that the consultation process that took place earlier in the year attracted many new CS volunteers on the schools national events side and the teams being put in place on “international events / coaching” remits, in addition to” schools development” put CS in a strong position.
An extensive further discussion of the background to the situation then took place, with many contributors.
The meeting then moved on to try to find a way forward. There was again extensive discussion. The issue of junior funding was addressed at some length. The treasurer gave a breakdown of some aspects of junior expenditure and made it clear that budgets for junior activity were clearly set and included in the budget published on the website, though international expenditure (mostly junior) was not published on a separate adult/junior basis. So budgets were set at CS level and identified expenditure for junior activity which was currently controlled by the appropriate director. People offering to raise funds for specific development or other objectives were not turned away! . C Pritchett also noted that CS would also always listen to people seeking a financial contribution for a meritorious idea, or advice on raising funds, and do what it could, subject to practicality, time and available resources. It appeared that SJC representatives were reasonably satisfied on this topic.
The emphasis then shifted to the formal structure within which decisions on junior chess were to be made. CS office-bearers argued that many of the changes sought by SJC had been put in place, and that in particular the Junior Commission had a powerful role to play in future. SJC representatives were not convinced that this was the best way forward and preferred an executive decision making group. The AGM had already agreed to pursue how such a structure could be accommodated within the director structure of CS. It would of course be important if the proposals were developed and agreed that SJC people would support the new arrangements.
It was agreed unanimously that to take this forward a committee of perhaps four people on each side should be put together by G Grant and F Petrie with a remit to:
(a) put together a co-ordinated programme of events for the current season on an ad hoc basis,
(b) devise proposals for the principles of constitutional reform to put, when finalised, to a SGM.
The committee should produce clear proposals two weeks in advance of the next Council Meeting, to which SJC representatives would again be invited. If agreed, Council could then form a group to work on the detailed rewording of the Constitution.
Proposal 2 (see Appendix 3) was agreed unanimously. It was agreed that the appointment of the committee above meant that Proposal 3 was also agreed. Both proposals were explicitly agreed by SJC representatives following a recess which they sought to consider their views.
The President proposed that GM Jonathan Rowson should be elected as Honorary President. Mr Rowson had indicated his willingness to serve. The proposal was unanimously approved.
The President pointed out that an appointment to the post of Executive Director was still required and would be carried forward.
P Macnab appealed for all the good work done on various projects to be put together in detail in order to build a proposal to the Scottish Executive for more funding. The ground has been laid with the politicians; it now needs to be used.
The next Meeting of Council will be held on 20 February 2005.
APPENDIX 1 (Statement by F Petrie on behalf of SJC)
OPENING STATEMENT by SJC
Before discussions begin in earnest, we suggest that the minutes of this meeting should be agreed by both parties before publication. In his council meeting notice email of 6th Nov, John Glendinning suggested that SJC expand on the two major differences between CS and SJC, i.e., Junior Funding and Independent Junior Committee. There are other substantial differences, but SJC take the view that these two points must be addressed first, otherwise other issues become irrelevant.
As a preamble to the discussion on the main points, we should be clear that the merger between SJCA and SCA was not a takeover. It was a union of two equal partners, but the structure of CS does not, in any way, reflect this. SCJ state that prior to June 12, our members were making constructive contributions to the junior debate. We were dismayed at the outcomes of that meeting, which some of us could not attend.
During a meeting attended by disillusioned junior organisers in July, several options were considered as to how best to deal with CS tactics of consciously disregarding the views of a number of dedicated junior organisers. The result was the email sent to John on 21 July, to inform him that we were withdrawing our support, for the reasons given.
At the 25th August meeting in Perth , all proposals offered to CS were rejected.
We firmly believe that all current junior conflicts are the result of CS politics. The mistrust of CS is widespread, and directly linked to the culture of spin and miss-information emanating from the heart of CS.
Postings on noticeboard require explanations - the posts regarding Alex & John not knowing who the SJC were. It is astonishing that given the gulf that exists between the group of junior organisers who actually introduce children to chess, and the directors of CS, the only answers demanded of us concerned Child Protection Policy, long term plans, and whether we planned to refer to the North Ayrshire CPD Course in any funding applications we might make.
Nothing mentioned about the core reasons for the fundamental differences between us.
No admission that CS individual directors have failed in their given roles.
No one accepting responsibility for the current crisis in junior chess.
No review of the failures leading to this crisis.
Instead, we are asked to accept that those responsible for the mess are the very people who will lead the renaissance of Scottish Junior Chess.
Of the new organisers, Glynis and Jeremy were forthright enough to inform CS members of the facts as they knew them. But no satisfactory explanation has been publicly forthcoming from CS regarding the impression given that they knew nothing of SJC personnel.
Regarding the 4 proposals outlined by John, we are not persuaded of their relevance: -
No1 is the SJC agenda for discussion;
No2 is a statement which both CS and SJC would agree on;
No3 won't apply if no agreement is reached
No4 can be construed as a threat, but is for CS to consider in the event of no agreement or interim agreement being reached following discussions today.
If the national body refuses us access to their facilities, it is acting as a closed membership club, which should allow us good reason to ask for financial assistance from the Scottish Executive to promote Chess widely within the Scottish community. We are unconcerned by the threat and have options available to deal with it. However, one astute observer (pro-CS) has pointed out some consequences for CS in particular, with regard to grading.
APPENDIX 2 (Statement by CS in relation to items in Appendix 1)
Opening Statement by CS
SJC were asked to draft their own proposal for discussion at the Council Meeting, and then to speak and expand on it. At no time did we seek to inhibit any issues which SJC wanted to discuss.
CS has always accepted that not everything has run as smoothly as desirable over the last 3 years. But we believe that CS - a small, almost exclusively voluntary organisation -achieves a great deal. From the North Ayrshire programme so important for grass roots chess development in schools to the superb website with its excellent grading system produced by Alex Bissett and up to the minute junior grand prix. From the junior international competitions for the Glorney and Faber Cup to the hard work of developing schools chess competitions led by Glynis Grant and her team, including Stephen O'Donnell who has developed a database of all Scottish schools and an on line web access to allow them to register free and receive regular news.
The 12th June SJC refer to was well attended by many junior organisers, including Fiona Petrie, Peter Woods and John Shovlin. The meeting was chaired by Rod Tweedie on the basis of an extensive review and report by a CS committee chaired managed by Craig Pritchett who with others committed tremendous time and energy offering a fresh "baggage - free" view on schools and junior chess. All ideas were considered including one of John Shovlin's which was adopted. No indication was given at the meeting or in subsequently requested responses to the minutes and recommendations posted on the CS website that those attending were dismayed – meetings can only proceed on the basis of what is said.
The language of some of the note is very emotional and lacking in substantive information or points which can be addressed. CS runs its meetings democratically – that may mean that people don't get their way. That simply means they have not persuaded the majority to adopt it. Having said that, it is not clear what issues are being referred to.
Much of the meeting on 25th August was helping SJC representatives know what CS did, though much of this was already on the CS website. The most positive part of the meeting was a proposal made by John Glendinning that an executive group dealing with junior chess might be considered within Chess Scotland, though within overall CS budgeting and with details of how this would sit within a director environment to be worked out. Glendinning offered to support this at the forthcoming AGM, and did so. We therefore simply do not recognise the impression of the August meeting given by SJC.
There are many reasons for current junior conflicts and to characterise it as one sided is both inaccurate and disingenuous.
The question which Glendinning asked about personnel was who are SJC's officebearers. This is a rather more precise question than suggested by SJC and was not answered in full until the Council Meeting, when it was again asked. The full question asked [and the only formal CS enquiry] was:
"To allow cs to reply to some concerns about sjc, could you please send me a copy of your constitution and details of your officebearers. Can you please also let me know your plans for the immediate and longer term?"
Several SJC representatives attended the AGM. No calls for resignations were made during the elections of office-bearers. No alternative nominees were put forward for any positions.
The proposals outlined in the agenda papers were clearly explained as being first a proposal by SJC and then 3 proposals which pulled together feedback
which had been provided by CS members etc. We do not accept they are irrelevant since they represent the views of important groups viz SJC, CS junior organisers, CS members.
APPENDIX 3 (Agenda proposals to meeting)
Proposal 1 (by SJC)
Have had several consultations with group and the 2 primary areas we see as being essential to achieve an agreement on with CS are funding/finance issues and the structuring of an independent junior committee - ie able to function in its own right either within or outwith CS - discussions to help resolve this. Other concerns may be raised as they become relevant in the light of these key issues and their resolution.
Council believes that a single strong, forward looking, inclusive national organisation for chess in Scotland offers the most effective route to a successful chess environment at all ages in Scotland. We affirm our commitment to junior and schools chess as first priority in building that success, and recognise the importance of fostering an environment which encourages more young players to continue active chessplaying into adult life.
We strongly encourage the organisers in SJC to work with Chess Scotland:
to review the constitution of Chess Scotland and to see in what ways it might be changed to improve the structure of CS
to bring all schools and junior national chess competitions under the Chess Scotland banner
to unite this year's competitions by combining the final stages of both the individual and team competitions which are in competition with each other
to ensure that only Chess Scotland makes application to the Scottish Executive for funding schools development at national level
and to report back jointly to the February 2005 Council Meeting.
Based on the information available to it, Council judges that SJC is setting up a separate national organisation in competition to Chess Scotland. If nothing changes over the next few months to persuade Council that this is not the case, then Chess Scotland will provide no services for SJC events. This will apply for the grading and Junior Grand Prix status of any SJC competitions which finish after 20 February and be subject to final decision at the Council Meeting on that date. We will publicise this so that all concerned and in particular players are aware of the possibility.