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Updated 24.6.00
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MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
London, 17th June 2000
Report 22.6.00 by Chris Majer, SCCU President
Despite the controversial nature of some of the items, attendance was low: possibly due to some sporting event on the box that evening. Perhaps due to the reduced numbers, the agenda was more or less dealt with. The report is given in the order of importance/interest rather than chronologically (so that the reader doesn't get bored and miss the issues).
(1) Management structure. A radical (to me at least; I'm told it's been tried before) proposal was put forward on constitutional reforms. The "justification" for this is that the MB doesn't meet often enough, and is also too unwieldy for decision-making. The main proposals are:
     (a) Merging some of the Directorships to leave 8 Directors (merging Marketing and Publicity and abolishing Management Services).
     (b) Renaming the MB the Management Council and reducing the number of its meetings.
     (c) Introducing a new third tier board (the Executive Board - EB) dealing with the "day-to-day" business (including taking on much of the role of the MB). The EB to consist of the 8 Directors, one elected representative from the Unions, and one elected representative from the Leagues.
     The issue of reducing Union/League representation on the Executive Board was opposed by all but one of the Leagues and Unions and supported by pretty well all of the Directors. The proposal was narrowly carried, although it will undergo detailed revision prior to presenting it to Council in September.
(2) BCF Membership. Work is continuing on a review of Membership Schemes (in particular considering a general membership scheme). This will be led by the new Marketing Director, Nick Hawkins. An interim report will be presented to the September Council and proposals will be considered at the April 2001 Council Meeting.
(3) Banwell bequest. It was agreed to make a grant of 5,000 out of the Ron Banwell bequest for a memorial tournament to be held at the Mind Sports Olympiad between 20 - 28 August 2000. One of the conditions of the grant is that disabled players should have free entry to the event.
(4) British Championships 2001. It was agreed to hold these in Scarborough.
(5) National Club Prize Fund. It was agreed to abolish Game Fee for the National Club Championships and the Final stages of the Counties Championship for the forthcoming season. This will allow an increase in the prize fund for the National Club Championships.
     [rjh: I think a word of explanation may be in order. I had to ask, anyway. There is no Game Fee in these competitions. It would be a constitutional nonsense. What happens, apparently, is that an amount equal to what GF would have been is transferred from NC and Counties Championship funds into the general coffers each year, with a label on it saying "Game Fee". Don't ask me why. They're dropping this practice for next year, and adding the money to the NC prize fund instead. I estimate, on this year's figures, that the amount involved would be getting on for 800.
     I understand that the same annual exercise happens with the BCF Championship Congress, which also does not pay Game Fee.]
(6) Money. The Finance Director brought to the meeting the latest information on the financial status of the BCF. It appears that, subject to audit and as reported to Council, the BCF ended up slightly better than break-even for 99/00.
(7) Chess-as-a-Sport Committee was appointed for 2000/1. It comprises David Anderton as Chairman, Gerry Walsh, Cyril Johnson and Robert McFarland.
(8) Jobs. Howard Curtis (Director of Management Services), Lara Barnes (Director of Women's Chess), and Bryan Fewell (Chairman of the Finance Committee) announced they were not seeking re-election.
(9) BCF's name. It was resolved that the MB would recommend to Council that the issue of changing the name "BCF" to "ECF" should not be considered prior to the Centenary of the BCF in 2004; and that appropriate action should be taken to protect the interests of the BCF should any change be approved thereafter.
(10) Strategic planning. A Committee was established to assist Dave Cole, the Strategic Planning Officer, in his preparation of the BCF Strategic Plans.
(11) Grading. It was resolved to seek tenders for outsourcing the work of producing the BCF Grading Lists under a contract of at least 2 years duration commencing 1 October 2000.



MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
Manchester, 15th April 2000
Report by Chris Majer (SCCU President)
With the meeting in Manchester, I had the delights of an early start. At least the train ride gave me ample time to read the eleventh hour MB papers. This being a Pre-Council Meeting, there was even less chance than usual of getting through the agenda.
(1) ChessMoves and Website. The MB authorized the terms of the contract with BCM [see Council Report below].
(2) Kasparov Chess Online Inc. It was reported that the BCF had been approached by KCO to enter into a contract for the BCF to provide a BCF Section on the KCO Website. Remuneration by KCO would include prize funds provided by KCO for Online championships. The German, French and European Chess Federations had been consulted and they had all confirmed that they intended to enter into similar contracts. It was agreed that, subject to concluding satisfactory negotiations, the BCF would proceed with the KCO contract.
     Some background from Chris 20.4.00. KCO is an American corporation in which Gary Kasparov has a stake. It is endeavouring to build up a major interactive site on which high quality chess is played. The proposal is that the BCF Website, or more likely a subset of it or a dedicated contribution, would appear as part of the KCO website. This would be in addition to the normal BCF Website. The KCO would pay the BCF to maintain their part of the KCO Website and in addition would provide prize money for England online team, individual and junior championships.
(3) Yearbook. The YB was discussed, and it was agreed that:
a) The Yearbook would be published again in November with the same format.
b) The work to produce the Yearbook will be outsourced on the basis of a one-year contract.
c) The format of the Yearbook for future years will be considered by a sub-committee and initial proposals made to the MB in June.
(4) Office. The move was agreed [see Council Report]. It will take place at the end of May.
(5) Banwell Trophy. It was reported that the 4NCL had not taken up the offer of a trophy funded by the Banwell bequest. It was resolved to reconsider an appropriate trophy in accordance with the terms of the will.
(6) Women's event. Lara Barnes reported that she had consulted the leading women players and would be coming forward with proposals to hold a women's event shortly.

[rjh: Chris told me, and I don't think it was confidential, that the MB meeting was considerably more heated than the Council one. Wonder which of those topics generated the heat?]



FINANCE COUNCIL MEETING
Manchester, 15th April 2000
Report by rjh
This was an unusual meeting in more than one way. First, it seems to have started more or less on time. Your Webmaster was fifteen minutes late, having completely underestimated the motorway congestion north of Birmingham and the weather south of it, and they'd not only done Apologies and Proxies when he got there, but got well into Item One. Second, it finished at quarter to six. This may be a modern record. The longueurs were shorter than usual, save from one quarter maybe, and no one even thought of saying "guillotine". There was no mass exodus of people with trains to catch.
     And third, where was the vitriol? What little there was was reserved, as last time, for people who weren't there, and the meeting was otherwise so bland and good humoured a journalist despairs. Your Webmaster noted only two Memorable Remarks, and the one that's fit for a family website is in the Ragbag. Gerry Walsh, whose first Council meeting this was as Chairman, was deplorably competent and unflappable.
     It wasn't a boring meeting. Some very important things emerged. In more or less chronological order, and taking the big with the small:
(1) Attendance. 40-odd. This is low. 50 seems about the norm. A northern delegate attributed it to southerners who wouldn't travel, but we have no breakdown and we missed the Apologies for Absence.
(2) Money. You're not going to expect a blow-by-blow account from Richard Haddrell. There was much detail in the Accounts, though less than some would have liked. (The new Finance Director has pared things down considerably.) Overall impression is that things look healthier than expected. If we've got it right, the forecast for 1999-2000 is a net deficit of 6000 compared with a break-even budget. One disappointment is the loss of the Saitek junior sponsorship.
     There was a lot more. Most of the following items arose, in one way or another, from the Finance Director's report.
(3) Game Fee 2000-2001. No change, and not even a card vote. There might have been one if the Chairman had not agreed to delete the rounding-up clause for Club internal games, which would have been a change. The MB had previously said it was going for the status quo, and this one had probably crept into the draft by accident.
(4) Director of Management Services. You probably knew that the Director had ceased to function, while retaining his seat on the Management Board, and that Cyril Johnson, already Home Director, had taken over his responsibilities on an acting basis. It was with some reluctance that the top table gave any details.
     The Director had been asked to stand down, on a temporary basis, while his outsourcing tender for Office work was under consideration. In the event his tender, along with others, was rejected. For whatever reason, he did not approve this outcome and it became clear that he could not resume his responsibilities. This must mean "clear to the Management Board", because he has not resigned. He continues to receive MB papers, but has not attended meetings.
     It may or may not be relevant that there have been negotiations between the Director and the Board over remuneration claimed by him for Office work. This claim, still under negotiation at the time the Council papers went out three weeks ago, has now been settled.
(5) The Office relocation: some details. The new premises are at Battle, five or six miles up the road. Our current landlords, keen to have us out, have waived substantial dilapidations charges. For a slightly higher rent we have acquired much more attractive (and spacious) premises. One advantage is a ground-floor location (so no more lugging of heavy items up one or two flights of stairs). Your Webmaster confesses to a gothic liking for the nooks and crannies of the old place, but he's never had to work in them. The Office staff are said to be enthusiastic about the move. No date was mentioned, but we have to be out by the end of May and it appears from the MB Report [above] that we will just meet this deadline.
     A northerner congratulated the Federation on moving "ten miles further north". (Just as well he didn't know the real distance.) It was said in reply that there were no other premises on offer at the time and we had to move quickly. Of course there is also the question of relocating, or changing, the staff if you move to another part of the country. Another point, though no one made it at the meeting, is that (?nearly) all of the Office's work is done by post and telephone anyway.
(6) The Library. The Library is currently housed, mostly on shelves but partly in packing cases, in a back room at the St Leonards office. It will be moved, under a five-year agreement, to the library of the University of Kent at Canterbury. This is a move much further northwards than the Office one, though admittedly its easterly component is unconstructive. The Library will be catalogued on the UKC website, and photocopies will be available electronically. The cost of the move, some 5000, will be met from the Golombek bequest.
(7) BCF Membership. Schemes are afoot to add lower tiers to Direct Membership, while leaving Game Fee for the moment untouched. The Finance Director wanted permission for the Management Board to go ahead straight away, with a view to getting it started in 2000-2001. Council resolved not to act in haste, or even to discuss it at this meeting (after all, it was not on the agenda). In the process of not discussing it Council gave it a surprising amount of time, partly because two or three people determinedly repeated all the reasons why it shouldn't. The MB is to prepare papers for the September meeting.
(8) Game Fee 1998-9 (and earlier). Roger Edwards reported that a great deal of the unpaid money had been successfully chased. There had been a fair amount of muddle in the period preceding his election. (One county: "We've already sent you a cheque, and you've cashed it!" Another: "We've sent you two cheques, and you haven't cashed either of them.")
     Somebody sought an assurance that events not paying would not in future be graded. It's not as easy as that, because of timescale difficulties. But obviously this will happen with persistent offenders. The Director said the Spectrum series had not paid, or had paid only in part, for the last two years.
(9) Certificate of Merit scheme is being, or has been, reworked. It has a new 4000 sponsorship from the Board of Actuaries. At their request it is to be renamed "Certificate of Excellence". Pity, that.
(10) Grading List. Sales of grading lists this year, at around 500, are down by 50%. The operation has lost money. Someone suggested just putting it on the Website, and producing paper copies only to order (and at an economic, i.e. high, price). Someone else thought that anything more than the barest details, on a website, would run into Data Protection problems. (Is this true? Date of birth maybe, but what else is sensitive?) Someone else again thought we should not go electronic until we're sure everything is working properly.
(11) BCF Website, and ChessMoves. Brand new major announcement. The BCM has contracted to take over both of these from the 1st May, with ChessMoves appearing every other month in an expanded form. Howard Curtis has agreed to early termination of his twelve-month arrangement for the Website. The new Website will offer a "free bimonthly online magazine". A couple of interesting names were mentioned as contributors to the new site. [For more details 17.4.00, see the BCM site.]
     This was the best news of the day. After two false starts the Federation is long overdue for a proper website. If John Saunders can't do them one, no one can.
     The figure allocated for these services in the 2000-2001 budget is 7500, compared with 1000 for the previous year. Previous year was Website alone. We've looked for ChessMoves figures and can't find any. They are believed to be netted off, and so hidden, under Income from Direct Members. [Editorial aside: Income from Direct Members, forecast as 12,000 for 1999-2000 and upped to 18,000 in the new Budget, is surely fictitious even as a net figure. If nothing else it takes no account of money lost in Game Fee. My guess - but remember I'm a financial idiot - is that zero wouldn't be far out.]
(12) Finance Committee. What is the Finance Committee? This is one of the things your Webmaster has always wanted to know but was afraid to ask, and he's found out. It was set up some years ago as a sort of watchdog, with advisory powers. It last met in December 1997. It reports to Council, but what usually happens is that its chairman writes the report, and circulates it in advance to his colleagues on the Committee inviting comments. (And takes silence for consent, if they are silent.) This time, the report was tabled. What sparked things off at Council was a remark of the Chairman's - Council Chairman's that is - that despite being on the Committee he had hitherto been unaware of one of its recommendations. It was, in other words, a report by the chairman of the Finance Committee.
     Council was scathing. There was even a call for immediate reconstitution of the Committee. Its methods of consultation, even when carried out, did not seem adequate. In particular, there was no excuse for tabling an important paper that could have been circulated in advance. Council has lately developed a healthy taste for Noting (or rejecting) reports it doesn't like, and this one was Noted.
     [A response 17.4.00 from the Chairman of the Finance Committee appears in Open Forum.]
(13) Marketing Director. One of the two candidates had withdrawn, and Council elected the other without more ado. He is JN (Nick) Hawkins, and he had been in the post for a month already on an acting basis. Contact details: JN Hawkins, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Liverpool Business School, John Foster Building, 98 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5UZ. Work 0151 231 3827, fax 0151 707 0423. Home 0151 227 4367. Email n.hawkins@livjm.ac.uk
     We have Nick's permission to publish these details, so he'll not be averse to hearing from you if you've got things to say.
(14) Rule changes from Cyril Johnson. This is the Counties Championship Rules. Well, except the last one. We'll give the drafts in full, incorporating amendments made at the meeting. The changes approved take effect on the 1st September 2000. The BCF Counties Championship Rules on this site have already been updated to reflect the changes, but it should be noted that the old 11(iii) applies for the remainder of this season.
8.1 to read:
In any match in these Championships, each County shall be represented by a minimum of 16 players in the Open and Minor sections and a minimum of 12 a side in all other divisions.
     Lost 26-39.
9.2 to read:
A county may have more than one team in a division. If a county has multiple teams in the same union, then they shall be operated as separate entities and no player shall play for more than one of these teams in a season. If a county wishes to enter the competition run by two or more unions, then it shall declare to the Director of Home Chess which competition it regards as the one from which it shall attempt to qualify to the National Stages by 15th September of each year. If no declaration is received, then the Director of Home Chess shall declare that the union the county last competed in with a single team shall be the qualifying one. The other event, even if the county wins or occupies a qualifying position, shall not award a place in the National Stages to that county, even if that county fails to qualify through its nominated union.
     Carried nem con, after the reason (Cambs U150 and U125 this year) had been explained.
11 iii to read:
iii) Two months immediate previous and present membership of a club either in or affiliated to that County.
     Was two years. Carried easily.
13 to read:
One game shall be played between each pair of players. No player may play more than one board in any one match. A Win shall count as one point and a Draw half a point. If the final scores in any match be equal the match shall be replayed. If this replay is also a draw, then board count shall be taken over the two matches.
     This proposal came from Cambridgeshire, and did not have the Director's support. No one was present from Cambridgeshire to speak for it. We're not sure if you can say nem pro, but nem pro it was.
28 (a new rule) to read:
Mobile phones and other electronic communication devices must be switched off, or set to silent mode, in the playing area.
     Carried with two dissenting votes. Don't know who the other one was.
National Club Rules
We'll quote the Council papers verbatim (with amendment) because we can't find a National Club rule you could drop this into. That may be because we haven't got the latest version. We've got the BCF Website version.
     It is proposed by the Director of Home Chess, that the part of Rule 3 of the National Clubs Championships which refers to the U100 section shall be amended to read "a team shall comprise at least 4 players graded under 100 or the ELO equivalent, and 1 player whose grading shall be less than 120 or the ELO equivalent thereof."
     Carried 36-28. A similar rule had been tried in Leicestershire and had worked well. It was suggested that the U120 player might be an adult car-driver in a team consisting otherwise of juniors.

As we left at 5.45, the Management Board was sitting down to an adjournment session.



CORRECTED GRADING LIST
7.4.00
What it says on the front page of the new ChessMoves is true. The Corrected List, in electronic form, is now available for 2 (free to graders) from the BCF Office. Graders should get it automatically, and many of them got it today.
     You can have your new list on CD or floppy disk, or by email. The price is 2 irrespective of medium. Our email copy took a few minutes to download. What you get is a program that puts the list on your hard disk. Our understanding is that if you're not a grader it will be the "published" list - that is, the 10-game-plus people with proper grades (as in the August paper list, without the less active players that came on the CD). The list is dBase, readable by anything that will read dBase. If you're running a 286 that can only read text files, you could always try asking for a text version. We don't know whether you can have it on paper, you'd have to ask the Office, but you would obviously expect to pay more.
     You will already know that this is a complete new list, superseding the Autumn one and correcting many errors found in it. It includes some 1998-9 events not reported in time for the August list, but does not include anything from 1999-2000. Corrected grades will not be used for eligibility in this season's Counties Championship or National Club. They may, of course, be used in congresses at the organisers' discretion.



BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD
11.3.00
Report by Chris Majer (SCCU President)
The full agenda was very nearly covered, and the only outstanding item not discussed at all was Standing Orders (item left over from November MB meeting). However, the debate on a number of items was severely curtailed (including two items covered in five minutes) and some of the Directors' papers were not addressed in full.
     (1) Marketing Director. To date two applications have been received for this post: J N Hawkins & David Levens. The new Marketing Director will be appointed at the April Council meeting. In the interim J N Hawkins, who was interviewed at the meeting, has been given the post of Acting Marketing Officer (there was a view that there is more than enough work for one person and the MB wished to get him on the team while leaving the options open.)
     (2) The Coaching Directorship has been abolished and the coaching work is now covered under the Junior Directorship (Peter Turner). Matthew Turner has been appointed as acting Coaching Officer. Note: to avoid any potential impropriety, since the Turners are father and son, MT's expenses will be approved by Cyril Johnson.
     (3) Cyril Johnson is acting Director of Home Chess. Howard Curtis retains a seat on the MB with no Directorial responsibilities. The situation will be regularized at the September Council meeting.
     (4) It was agreed to set up an IT & Telecommunications sub-committee.
     (5) Chess as a Sport. A joint meeting with the English Bridge Union has been held with the Minister for Sport. It appears unlikely that time will be found before the next election for a change in the classification of chess. Pressure will continue to be applied through sympathetic MPs. English chess could well be caught between FIDE signing up to all the sports regulations of the IOC (e.g. mandatory drugs testing), while not receiving the appropriate level of support from government. Added complications are the Scots and Welsh parliaments, who are not sympathetic. This issue would be avoided if the BCF became the ECF. The Constitution Committee has been asked to advise on the implications of a change from the BCF to the ECF.
     (6) Outsourcing. As a result of exploring opportunities for Outsourcing specific activities with the BCM, it has been decided to seek tenders for running Chess Moves* and/or the Website**. The closing date for tenders is 17th March. A report should be made to the April Council. Other business opportunities (Grading lists and Yearbook***) will be explored in a longer timescale.
     (7) Classic Editions (who produce reproductions of chess memorabilia) have experienced interest in producing books on the Hastings congress and the Short-Kasparov match. It has been agreed to do a deal with them, which should generate some extra revenue.
     (8) An open letter to FIDE on their "Commercialization" proposals has been drafted and will be published shortly.1
     (9) BCF Office. A location for the relocated Office premises has been identified in Battle, and David Anderton is authorized to finalize negotiations.
     (10) Money. The latest forecast for 1999/2000 shows a small surplus, despite the fall in income. This is due to the reduction in the Office staff, the considerable efforts of the Directors (performing work without remuneration) & a compensation payment from FIDE.
     Next year's budget has been set. Provision has been made for an international women's congress (by accruing funding over several years).
     (11) A green paper on a membership scheme to replace payment for grade will be prepared for the September Council meeting.
     (12) Grading and Game Fee. Roger Edwards was unable to be present, but submitted a written report. The amendment list is expected this month and may be published on the Website. There are no plans to increase the Game Fee for next season, but it is hoped to increase revenue by more efficient collection. Provision for the employment of a Grading/Game Fee assistant to facilitate this will be included in the budget.

* In evaluating the Offers, consideration will be given to reducing the number of issues and increasing the number of pages per issue.
** Howard Curtis has agreed to relinquish responsibility for the Website early if a suitable tender is received.
*** BCM have informed the Federation that they do not consider that the Yearbook is a commercial proposition. Once the Directory information is included on the Website, the rationale for the Yearbook is likely to disappear. If no one is interested in taking on the Yearbook, then it may be dropped when the current commitments to Direct Members have been completed.

1 Note 20.3.00. The text is on the BCM site.



BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD
12.2.00
Report by Chris Majer (SCCU President)
     (1) I was laid low by the flu the day before the MB meeting and so was unable to attend. I am grateful to John Dunleavy (WECU delegate) for furnishing me with the details for this report.
     (2) As is traditional, the full agenda was not covered and so there was no debate on:
a) English Chess Federation,
b) IT/Telecom Sub-committee (item left over from previous MB meeting),
c) Chess as a Sport,
d) British Isles Co-ordinating Committee,
e) Standing Orders (item left over from previous MB meeting),
f) Yearbook (see item 13).
     (3) A new Marketing Director is still being sought and the post will be advertised in Chess Moves. Gary Kenworthy (Coaching Director) has resigned due to business/personal commitments. It was decided to review whether this Directorship should be merged with the Junior Directorship.
     It is intended to make the job of producing the report for the DCMS an Officer's post reporting to the Finance Director. A volunteer needs to be found.
     (4) An additional MB meeting has been set for 11th March.
     (5) The Tender Evaluation Committee (TEC), the committee set up to evaluate bids to run the Office on behalf of the BCF, reported to the MB. Three bids had been received: one from the Coulsdon Chess Fellowship; one from CRD Cook associates of Potters Bar; and a partial bid from the BCM. The MB accepted the TEC's unanimous recommendation that the Outsourcing tenders should be rejected because it was desirable for the BCF to maintain an independent central Office for strategic reasons1. Arrangements for the alternative option of relocating the Office2 within the Hastings area were not available for the meeting. This will be addressed at the additional MB meeting in March3. David Anderton has been tasked with dealing with these arrangements.
     (6) The BCF library, currently stored (partly in boxes) at the Office, will be housed by the University of Canterbury for the next five to ten years. This will mean that the books will be put on shelves and catalogued and made available to the public.
     (7) The new Finance Director* wishes to review the Finance standing orders (I understood that they had been adopted at the last meeting, but suppose that the new man is entitled to review what was agreed).
     Initial figures, presented at the meeting and so not analysed by the board members as yet, suggest that the Financial position may not be as dire this year as thought in that although revenue is a long way down, so is expenditure. But this could just be wild optimism.
     (8) The Junior Director issued a policy statement and provided the latest draft of the selection procedure.
     (9) The Home Chess Director provided a corrected draw for the County Championship [see BCF Stage Matches] & some proposals for rule changes [see Rules section] for consideration.
     (10) On the international front, talks between FIDE and IOC regarding doping tests are imminent. But we can still drink coffee in the UK in the interim (but check the rules carefully if you play abroad!)
     (11) Grading and Game Fee: Roger Edwards was unable to be present, but submitted a written report. Problems are still occurring and this has delayed the production of the January amendment list. Two leagues have not provided results despite being repeatedly chased. Two further grading officers have resigned. It has been necessary to reintroduce a manual system for the collection of Game Fee. The job is too large for one person unless that person can treat it as full time employment. Provision for the employment of a Grading/Game Fee assistant will be included in the budget.
     (12) Thought is being given to the feasibility of an Individual Membership Scheme to replace Game Fee in due course. A discussion paper will be produced for the April Council meeting.
     (13) The Yearbook is under review. It is recommended by John Poole, although not discussed by the MB as yet, that:
a) The BCF continues to publish a Yearbook.
b) The publication date is early August (i.e. sold at the British).
c) The directory information is excluded and made available on the BCF Website.
d) Discussions are held with BCM on publishing it collaboratively.
I would certainly be interested in any views as to whether a Yearbook is necessary and what should be the content. [Watch this space. - rjh]

1 Discussions will be held with the BCM regarding their taking responsibility for some of the BCF's publications (e.g. the Yearbook).
2 The tenancy of the existing premises at 9a Grand Parade has been extended to 31st May.
3 As Outsourcing has been rejected, an extraordinary Council meeting is not deemed necessary.

* Finance Director. We gave the Director's name and address in November (13.11.99 below, item 5) but withheld his phone number because he was not yet in post. It is 0171 794 5422.



UPDATE: BCF OFFICE, COUNCIL MEETINGS, AND GRADING
31.1.00
We report further down that the Management Board 13.11.99 set up a sub-committee to evaluate all the options on the Office, and resolved on an additional Council Meeting in February to decide the way forward. The meeting won't now happen in February, and may not happen at all. The sub-committee (endearingly named the Tender Evaluation Committee, so maybe it isn't evaluating all the options?) is to report back to the MB on the 12th February, and after that the MB will decide whether a Council meeting is needed after all. Don't hold your breath. There's one in April anyway.
     The Office is now answering the telephone only between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. At least that's what the recorded message said when we tried at ten past two the other afternoon. They've been under-staffed for ages.
     On grading, Roger Edwards reports that the list of revised grades has been delayed by continued software problems. He hopes to bring it out some time in February. Reminder: corrections won't count for eligibility this season in BCF competitions.



ANOTHER GRADING UPDATE
21.12.99
Roger Edwards, Director of Game Fee and Grading, has just sent out to graders a list of 967 merges. That is, 967 entries to be deleted from the list because they were duplicates. The players concerned now have all their results merged under one entry. This will presumably mean some changed grades, and some new entries in the published list (for people who previously had several entries, but no single entry with enough games to qualify).
     It has emerged that some events were graded twice. These were: Manchester League; Scarborough Congress; Inter Bank Team Championship; York Congress; Chester YMCA; Sheffield Autumn Congress; Rochdale Congress. There may be others that have not come to light yet. (Don't know where Inter Bank Team Championship is, sounds like London, but there seems to be a pattern to the others. It may mean nothing.)



DOES FIDE MATTER?
25.11.99
An email from the BCF's Publicity Officer Robin Mackley robin@pubrels.demon.co.uk asks:
How should the BCF approach the controversial nature of the current FIDE Presidency?
     In the light of various allegations which increasingly dominate media references to the game, the Federation has decided to assess the extent to which these are damaging to chess in the UK. The Federation is seeking the views of anyone with an interest in the game.
     The BCF can be contacted at 9a Grand Parade, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN38 0DD 01424 442500: fax 01424 718372: email office@bcf.org.uk. Contributions should be marked for the attention of Robin Mackley.
     [rjh: This is clearly a reference to recent suggestions of possible corruption.]



BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD
13.11.99
Report by Chris Majer (SCCU President)
     (1) Gerry Walsh was unable to be present and Cyril Johnson was elected as Chairman for the meeting. Despite his best efforts, the agenda proved an impossible challenge and some items were not addressed.
     (2) The meeting was augmented by the attendance of the chairmen of the main standing committees (policy, constitution).
     (3) A tribute to Ron Drury was given. [See BCF Website.]
     (4) Witley. Legal advice has now been provided that no further action can be taken in respect of the Witley event.
     (5) Finance Director. An election between Messrs Robert McFarland and David Rowe for the post of Finance Director (to take over from Ray Clark in December) was held. The MB elected Robert McFarland. [Not in post yet, and don't go pestering him until he does take over. Probably not before late December. But he is R McFarland, 57 Harvard Court, Honeybourne Rd, West Hampstead NW6 1HN.]
     (6) Still Finance. The revised Finance Standing Instructions were adopted, as were recommendations linked to the DCMS grant.
     (7) Marketing Director. This vacant post will be advertised.
     (8) BCF Championship 2004. The Centenary Championship will be held at Scarborough. The sponsorship of the championship by Smith and Williamson has been extended.
     (9) Radio 5 Live. The recent broadcast on FIDE was discussed. It was agreed that a policy paper would be produced for the next MB.
     (10) FIDE extraordinary meeting at Qatar. The International Director reported. There are issues connected with the recognition of chess as a sport by the IOC in June 1999. Of particular concern is doping and drug abuse. Caffeine is apparently a prohibited substance! A single drug test costs 100, and random testing of players could be required at major events. Advice on this issue is being sought.
     [rjh: email just received from Robin Mackley: "Newswire reports coming in of drugs testing at Spanish team championships."]
     (11) England team for the European Team Championships to be held in Batumi, Georgia, 27/11/99 to 8/12/99 has been selected. Unfortunately, it is not the strongest possible team, due to work commitments with some players and unwillingness of others to travel to Russia. However, it is expected that most of the leading players will make themselves available for the next Olympiad in November 2000.
     (12) Grading lists. The Management Board confirmed, as already reported (next article down), that there will be a January correction list but no new full list until August.
     The technical audit of the new grading software has been delayed due to work commitments and illness of the relevant people. The audit will address not only the integrity of the software, but also the lessons learnt for the future.
     (13) Game Fee. Last season's backlog is being checked manually and the non-paying events will be invoiced manually. For the current season, invoices will be sent out to leagues based on the number of results submitted last season.
     Due to reduced Game Fee income and Grading List sales, the BCF is likely to make a substantial loss again, further depleting reserves. The focus for reducing expenditure is on the BCF Office (see next item).
     (14) BCF Office. The BCF will vacate the existing Office premises by end of April 2000. This has been forced upon the BCF by the landlord. The need to reduce expenditure and the necessity of a move has led to a review of the BCF Office and the following options are being explored:
     (a) Relocate the Office within the Hastings area. It has been suggested that savings can be made in the way the Office is run. These proposals should be refined during the next few months.
     (b) Relocate the Office to some other part of the country, should any offer come from one of the Unions.
     (c) Outsource the Office to a service company (i.e. see if an outside body will run the Office cheaper). The services to be provided are the general and administrative duties excluding the financial support, which would be relocated to a smaller office within the Hastings area. An advert will be placed in the BCM and other appropriate places inviting tenders. Interested parties will be asked to contact the BCF Office and will be sent an information pack against which a bid can be made. Note: Howard Curtis has expressed an interest in tendering for the Office. [In accordance with MB rules, he was absent for the parts of the meeting concerning the tender documentation.]
     A sub-committee has been set up to evaluate all of the options and make recommendations to the MB. [rjh: I have heard, at second or third hand, that the sub-committee is BA Fewell, J Poole and CE Majer.] I would stress that no decision has been made to outsource the Office. The BCF is currently evaluating the options and it is possible that it will be deemed that relocation within Hastings is the best option. It will be necessary to make a decision by end of February, so that it can be implemented at the time that the current Office premises are vacated. Consequently, there will be an additional Council Meeting in February (probably the MB meeting will be expanded) at which the MB will make recommendations and Council will be asked to make the decision on the way forward for the Office. Note: this will necessitate an additional SCCU Executive Meeting so that an SCCU policy on the options can be agreed.
     (15) BCF Membership. In order to put the funding of the BCF on a sounder footing, the idea of a general membership scheme (as is used in Bridge) to replace payment for grading is being explored. A discussion paper on this topic will be prepared for the April Council meeting.
     (16) BCF Website. It was agreed that the BCF Website would be outsourced to Coulson Chess Fellowship at a cost of 1000 per annum (excluding annual fee for site). It was agreed that terms of reference for the provision of the service will be produced. [rjh: This came up ten minutes before the guillotine.]
     (17) Due to a guillotine at 6pm the following topics were not addressed:
a) Report from IT sub-committee;
b) Chess as a Sport;
c) British Isles Co-ordinating Committee;
d) Standing Orders of MB;
e) Minutes of September Council Meeting.

[rjh: items 14 and 16 have moved me to comment in the, well, Comment page.]



MORE NEWS ABOUT GRADING LISTS
31.10.99
Just a few things that emerged from Roger Edwards's graders' meeting yesterday.
(1) The new system is not being thrown away. The intention is to build on it by mending the things that are wrong.
(2) This year's lists. There will be no "January List". That is, no new six-month list with new grades for everybody. Next Grading List is beginning of August.
     There WILL be a January list of corrections. It will be available free on request by e-mail, CD or floppy. For a printed copy, there may be a charge. Corrections will be quite numerous, because of (a) some bugs found in the calculation routines, for people with grades other than R or A; and (b) all the players with multiple entries, who will now have to be merged. In some cases a new player appears three or four times in unpublished form, with half a dozen games each time, and when you put him together again he's going to get a published grade.
(3) Future Lists (2000-2001 and beyond). People tend to dislike the physical size of the current list. Any views? It would be possible to publish five separate Union lists in future, rather than the big expensive National one. There's no reason why the (full) CD shouldn't be sold separately, for maybe a fiver, to people that wanted it.
     It would also be possible to do two lists a year for juniors only. Naturally you'd use their January grades in calculations for the second half-year. You can't make January grades for juniors without also making them for their opponents, and it would be improper to use January grades for adults without publishing them. What you can do is grade the two half-years separately, and still use the adults' August grades in the second half-year. Not sure what a purist would make of this.
(4) There was some discussion of changing to an Elo style of grade (?rating), but no one was very obviously in favour in the short term.
(5) The "technical" Audit. Nothing known.
(6) Not about grading, but it's important. Collection of Game Fee. The Director has still not found his third Assistant, the one that handles this while we're waiting for the system to learn how to do it. He has made a start on sorting out the backlog, and will look after the invoicing himself if no volunteer emerges.



A GRADING UPDATE
24.10.99
When were there ever no complaints about a BCF grading list? But there do seem to have been more than usual this time. To what extent this is due to a general climate of disgruntlement is hard to say. The BCF have certainly taken the complaints seriously, and the list has come under close scrutiny. We're not aware that any statements have been issued since the Council meeting, and we are not privy to all the details, but the state of play as we know it is something like this.
     (1) The technical audit (mentioned in the next item down). This is something we don't know about. Not even sure what it's looking at. Don't think anything has emerged so far, but we understand that the team is to report to the Management Board on the 13th November.
     (2) The practical stuff. Roger Edwards has enlisted two helpers (and still seeks a third, but not really about grading: see Notices 13.10.99). One of them is handling the large number of merges that have cropped up. That is, corrections for people with multiple entries in the list. Something like 900 merges have so far been identified, in a master list of 34000 names or nearly. The helper is already half way through doing them. Merges could account for some of the "inaccuracies" in the list. Graders are being encouraged to report instances, in case they have not been picked up.
     Worryingly, instances have emerged where the accuracy of the calculations is in doubt. Analysis has shown that, in a (largish) minority of cases, calculated results under the new system differ from those that the old system would have produced. Sometimes by more than 10 points. Last we heard, no one was sure whether this was due to bugs in the new system, or to rule changes it had introduced without telling anyone. Bugs in the old system are, of course, also a possibility. A real problem is the fact that the previous Director is probably the only person who knows exactly what the new system does. Liaison with him will be of great importance, but (we believe) has so far not been achieved.
     We understand that the Director has other causes for concern, but we don't know what they are. At all events, he has said that grading input as generated by the new system will still be acceptable for the coming season. In the longer term, your Webmaster hopes that something very like the new system will become established. Cryptic it may have been, buggy it may or may not be, but it's the way forward.
     The Director intends a list of corrections at some point, maybe around the new year; accompanied, probably, by a revised master list for graders' use. Enthusiasm for a complete new updated mid-term January Grading List seems to have waned.

What's being done to make things less cryptic? Two things.
     The Director is holding a meeting on the 30th October, for Union Grading Secretaries and others, to try and thrash out the future. There may be an "open" Graders' Meeting in the spring. His predecessor was more of a lone operator.
     A Grading Forum has been set up, operating by email, for grass-roots graders who want to air concerns or just talk to each other. The Director supports the Forum, and it has already thrown up new ideas for him to think about. If you're a grader and would like details, contact your Webmaster rjh@sccu.ndo.co.uk.



ON GRADING, CHESS AS A SPORT, AND CHESS IN EDUCATION
We reproduce (nearly all of) an email from Gary Kenworthy which appeared 4.10.99 in the "Chess Discussion List"1.
     Yes, there is an audit [of the new grading system]. Its T[erms] O[f] R[eference] and composition is being put together by me. I do not know why others failed to report this matter. The [?MB] minuted section will appear soon - minute taker is currently engaged. The team are extra BCF, I am the only board member, one more place to fill - need to speak to Carl [?Tillotson] about o/s tool sets, compatibility and maintainability. Nigel Johnson and Colin Mackenzie are the other two. The inquiry will be serious, it is treated very very seriously within the BCF.
     It has already cost the BCF 15,000 in next years projected revenue. As I said at the Sunday "informal" board the full cost is circa 5 Witleys and others the day before believed it to be higher. It will be open and accountable. The reason is that it's the biggest blunder by the BCF for at least 15 years - the degree of blundering is on the three or four question mark move on the annotations scale.
     Chess as sport information will be going up on the BCF website in the next 36 hours. This is nine pages of info I have collected from Sport England about entry requirements and criteria...
     There is a huge amount of literature about the benefits of chess in child development. Only a few of the reports are so far mentioned [on this forum]. I will provide over the next ten days, via the BCF site. There is a new coaching column to appear.
1The Discussion List is an emailed discussion forum. It is a privately run initiative, nothing to do with the BCF. To subscribe, contact Carl Tillotson lca@lancashirechess.demon.co.uk. No fee, and no obligation to contribute if you just want to find out what people are saying. Be warned that much of the content is chit-chat.



BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
at the Birmingham Grand Moat House, 25th September 1999
My initiation into the BCF Management Board had the pleasure of an extra day's meeting. I attribute my loss from a winning position on Monday night solely to the cares of office.
     Saturday's was the usual pre-Council meeting and nothing of substance was debated that was not raised at Council.
CE Majer
SCCU President
rjh: The Sunday meeting has been put where it belongs, after the Council meeting.



BCF COUNCIL MEETING
at the Birmingham Grand Moat House, 25th September 1999
You'd think, arriving at Birmingham New Street station for the first time in your life, that it would be a simple matter to get your bearings by finding New Street. Not for your Webmaster, it wasn't. It didn't help matters, twenty minutes later, when the Grand Moat House, which admitted to that name if you went inside and asked, was identifiable from the outside only as the Grand Hotel. Interesting place, Birmingham.
     Still, we got there, and the meeting only started ten minutes late. It was a better meeting than the April one. David Sedgwick had a very good outing as chairman, and if the occasional pointed question ruffled its target, tempers remained commendably restrained. If there was vitriol, it was reserved for people who weren't there.
     Anyway, what happened? Fifty-plus people attended, for a start, not counting proxies and postals. This cannot be a comprehensive report, but here's our attempt at the interesting bits.
(1) Enfranchisement of small organisations.
Some organisations pay too little in Game Fee to qualify for a vote at Council. (They can still attend, and speak.) The Constitution provides for their enfranchisement, with one vote each, if Council so decides at the start of a meeting. It seems to have become the custom, over the years, for Council to enfranchise them more or less automatically. This time, the custom was questioned and the enfranchisement did not happen. Don't know whether any of them were there.
(2) Financial Matters.
     (a) Looking back, the Witley affair had of course been investigated and the meeting received the Report. The Report concluded that the event had quite obviously gone ahead before financial provisions were in place, and that the responsibility lay firmly with the previous Junior Director. The meeting was assured that he had certainly not acted for personal gain.
     The Management Board was to seek a legal opinion on the possibility of recouping at least some of the money. Indications already were that such an action, at any rate against the Junior Squad, would be ill advised and impolitic. Relations with the Squad remained good, and they had even made the Federation a goodwill payment of more than 2000.
     Measures were proposed to prevent this sort of thing happening again. Council passed a motion allowing a Director's financial management to be taken over at any time by (any two of) the BCF's Chairman, and Finance Director, and Finance Committee Chairman. Not everyone was convinced that this would have prevented what happened at Witley.
     (b) Still looking back, Council had the 1998-9 Accounts before it. It is no secret that they made depressing reading. The advised deficit of 21000 had, after late adjustments which your Webmaster did not follow, been reduced by a few thousands of pounds. You are advised, not for the first time, to seek details from a competent source.
     One item that aroused comment, or questions at least, was Fees, Honoraria and Benefits. Came to more than 12000. A number of recipients were named at the meeting, and we won't list them because we don't think we got all of them, but single honoraria of several hundred pounds were mentioned. There's no need to spell out the questions this raises. Fees for grading work, which ran to several thousand, are a different case. The meeting voted to go on giving members of the Management Board reduced-fee entries at the British. (50% reduced. Think it was 100%, previously.)
(3) Looking Forward.
We'd better start with the surprise announcement on the BCF Office. The office at 9a Grand Parade, St Leonards, is to close by the 24th March 2000. This had only been finalised that morning, we understand. The landlord wanted us out, and had agreed to waive substantial dilapidations charges in return for an undertaking to go quickly. No decision has been taken on whether to seek alternative premises in the Hastings area, or elsewhere, or at all.
     There has been talk of moving some of the Office's functions to Coulsdon. "Let's not pussyfoot around," someone said. "That means all of them, as a long-term proposal." The current Office staff will be feeling anything but secure, at least until some decisions are made. Exactly what might go to Coulsdon, in the short or the long term, or how it might save money, was not gone into. Howard Curtis said he had proposals for the Management Board, but he did not divulge them to Council.
     John Poole said he had proposed "radical improvements" to the Direct Membership Scheme which he envisaged would bring in extra funding well in excess of 100,000. Proposals were not before Council, because something similar had been rejected in April 1998. However, it was recognised that circumstances had changed, and maybe these ideas should be looked at again.
(4) Directors' Reports (or at least the newsworthy ones. Only four of them.)
     (a) President. Stewart Reuben was not there. His final report to Council was widely felt to gloss over, or ignore, many of the problems that had beset the Federation of late. In a move which someone described as shoddy, it was resolved to "note" his report instead of accepting it. The effect of this resolution appears to be nil, beyond its rudeness to Stewart.
     (b) Director of Junior Chess. To get the SCCU bit in first, our point about wanting more teams in the U18 Finals was (at last!) put to the Director. He said the U18 had been withering on the vine, with some counties displaying no interest or withdrawing late in the day. He already planned to accept two entries from any Union with at least seven teams in its local competition. (The WECU said that would mean all their counties, and the Director suggested that their case would be treated sympathetically.)
     Junior selection came up. The Director felt that one player per sex per age group was the right policy, in the present financial circumstances. He thought Leonard Barden's unremitting public attacks on this policy had been less than helpful. Policy would be made in the proper way and not by campaigns conducted outside the Federation. He may have had certain emails in mind, as well as newspaper articles. Leonard Barden was not there. He would find support among the emailers, but he got none from Council. Its support of Mr Turner, if maybe not unanimous, went as far as a spontaneous round of applause.
     A contract has just been signed with Jonathan Tuck, of Sussex, to assist schools in obtaining New Opportunities funding. The very active Sussex Junior Chess have already secured funds for a number of their schools.
     (c) Director for Congress Chess. Neil Graham: "How many people here have some acquaintance with the Grand Prix rules?" Twenty-odd. "How many understand them?" Two. There's a re-write coming.
     (d) Director of Game Fee and Grading. Chris Howell was not there. His report was felt to paint far too rosy a picture of the new system, failing as it did to acknowledge many serious problems. Unlike Stewart's, it was not even noted. Council, while recognising Chris's huge investment of time (and money) in the new system, rejected his report.
     On Game Fee, the main problem was the programs that calculate how much to invoice people for. They're not written yet. As a result, counties and leagues and congresses have been waiting for their bills for (in some cases) many months. Nobody blamed them for not having paid yet. Some have paid, and that brings us to the other part of the problem. The computer records are incomplete and unreliable, so the BCF can't be sure who they are. This is presumably the fault of the late Office junior, who was dismissed for incapacity some months ago. It had not even been possible to calculate voting rights for the current meeting, but fortunately no one objected to using the previous meeting's figures. (It never mattered in the end, because there weren't any "card votes".) An "honesty form" had gone out with the papers, requesting people to say what, if anything, they had paid, and how much they thought they were liable for, and if possible could they pay it please without waiting for the bill. This Website does not know how many people have responded.
     On Grading, the following insufficiencies were mentioned: (a) the very late appearance of the Results Officers' software, in what was barely more than a prototype form; (b) the (consequent) failure to publish a January list, though one was used in August calculations; (c) Chris's management style, which had caused a lot of Graders to vote with their feet; (d) his constant failure to reply to enquiries; and (e) the large number of mistakes and omissions in the eventual "August" list. (We have very little information on these. There don't seem to have been many in Kent. We have heard, but it may be a misunderstanding, that a whole county got left out after sending their results and receiving acknowledgment of them.)
     Naturally the lateness of the list excited comment as well. The failings of the Office junior, mentioned in the report as a contributory factor, were only a part of it.
     Roger Edwards was elected to take over the reins. He will have the assistance of Marc Shaw. Roger has already done a report on the current situation for the Management Board, and a full "audit" of the new system is intended. Roger has said that he will enhance the consultation process. He does not intend a full mid-term list this season, but rather a list of corrections and new players. [OK by me (rjh) so long as I can have it electronically. My views on hard-copy partial lists are unprintable.]
     Another rjh note. I see the force of Council's criticisms, and I've said most of those things myself. And more. But we must not lose sight of the fact that Chris's system, shorn of its bugs, will be an immeasurable improvement on what we had before. The bugs are serious, and the absence of the billing apparatus is ridiculous. But in principle the system works, and the biggest mistake has been a failure to appreciate just how long it would take to apply it.
(5) Elections.
One or two newsworthy items. Roger Edwards, as we have said, took over Game Fee and Grading. David Anderton resumed office as International Director. The rival candidate, Nigel Johnson, withdrew but the Management Board issued a statement that it felt a role should be found for him at a senior level at the earliest opportunity. Ray Clark, Finance Director, was re-elected but said he would be available till the end of the calendar year at latest. The Federation must start looking for a successor at once.
     Oh, and Council made no appointment of Marketing Director. The incumbent was not thought to have made much progress. (It should be noted that he had said, on taking office, that he was not an expert but would do what he could.) Nigel Johnson, asked if he would be interested, said he could not recommend himself. His expertise lay elsewhere.
     John Poole was elected Chairman of the Policy Unit. Chris Lean stood down from the Constitution Committee and John Dunleavy of Devon was elected to replace him.
(6) Awards.
Presidents Awards you know: John Leake and Albert Philpott. And the Times, the last SCCU Report never mentioned that. There were six BCET Schools Awards. It must be many years since there were so many. What they get is an inscribed board and a DGT. Both SCCU nominees were successful. They were Maidstone Boys GS, and Aldro School Godalming. Awards also to two EPSCA nominees: Liverpool College (Liverpool), and one in our patch: Immanuel & St Andrew CE Primary, London SW. And to Cyril Johnson's nominee, Uppingham School (Rutland), which you'll have heard of; and to Whale Hill Primary School in Cleveland, nominated by the Cleveland CA. The impression is that only one Union made any nominations.
(7) BCF Constitution.
Various things were on the agenda. There was time for only one of them, and it wasn't the one that had already appeared twice at Council meetings without getting as far as a decision. A paper by Lara Barnes on Equal Opportunities was discussed, and agreed in principle as the way forward for eventual inclusion in the Constitution.
(8) Council meeting, April 2000.
It had been announced that this meeting had been switched from Manchester to Birmingham as no Manchester venue was available. Rubbish, said the Northern delegates. We'll find you one. So Manchester it is if they find one in the next three weeks, otherwise back to Brum.



BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
at the Birmingham Grand Moat House, 26th September 1999
This was the overflow meeting.
     (1) The meeting was not formal because due notice, in accordance with all the procedures of Standing Orders, had not been given. Instead it was held as a session to brainstorm ideas as to how to address the problems the BCF currently faces. All present considered it a very constructive day. The points raised were, of course, recommendations not decisions.
     (2) The position of Finance Director should be advertised as soon as possible with a view to an appointment effective as at 1st January 2000. A Finance Controller should also be sought to deal with budgeting matters. A decision about replacing Mario Houska was postponed until the next meeting.
     (3) The state of the finances is thought to be serious with large shortfalls on receipts from the sale of the Grading List and receipts of Game Fee possible. (Although the Director of Coaching and the International Director have identified some savings.)
     (4) Recommendations were made to Roger Edwards, who was unable to be present, relating to rectification of the current problems with grading and Game Fee.
     (5) It is thought not unlikely that, in future, the level of Game Fee income will fall below current levels and there could also be a significant reduction in income from sale of Grading. Thus the Federation should budget for a significant drop in income from the next financial year in May. If the office relocated within the St Leonard's area there would also be increased rent and rates. As the major expenditure item, the Management Services budget needs to be reviewed carefully with a view to identifying significant savings. The Director of Management Services tabled three papers relating to the Office. It was agreed that detailed proposals should be prepared for the Management Board on 13th November.
     (6) It was noted that the Federation had offered a trophy to the 4NCL (on the basis of the Ron Banwell legacy), but the matter had not been progressed. Now that the Ron Banwell legacy was clear of restraints it was suggested that this should be pursued. The status of the legacy should be clarified, so that any balance could be properly applied.
     (7) The Chairman will ask John Poole to produce a paper for the Board on 13th November dealing with the Membership Scheme.
CE Majer
SCCU President



CONGRESS GRAND PRIX
BCF Press Release 22nd September 1999
The BCF's annual congress Grand Prix has a new sponsor, the Terence Chapman Group plc, the financial blue chip IT consultancy services and software group.
     More than 20,000 chess players take part in the Grand Prix. It has been held annually since 1974, and includes nearly 200 congresses ranging from Hastings to one day rapidplays and blitz tournaments.
     The Terence Chapman Group Grand Prix will commence in the year 2000 and offers a total prize fund of 13,000 - a rise of 50% on the 1999 figure. This includes 10,000 for the open competition, with a 5,000 first prize, plus 3,000 for the subsidiary events.
     Executive Chairman Terry Chapman said:
"We are delighted to have this opportunity to support the Grand Prix, which has become an integral part of the British chess scene and played a part in our becoming one of the world's strongest chess nations. The Grand Prix enjoys the support of the UK's top GMs and has stimulated young talent as well as encouraging keen amateurs."
     The Terence Chapman Group, specialist providers to the financial sector, listed on the London Stock Exchange in July, has a high quality client base that includes major institutions such as Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and Prudential Bank.
     Terry Chapman, now 43, was British Under 14 champion, London Under 18 champion and captain of the England Under 18 Glorney Cup team. At one time he was England's third strongest junior behind Jonathan Speelman and Jonathan Mestel, who both became GMs and British champions. Mr Chapman now plays competitively for the Oxford and Cambridge Club in the London Clubs League. He is the strongest player ever to head a UK public company.
     BCF Director of Congress Chess Neil Graham commented:
"This important sponsorship is a considerable boost for chess. The Grand Prix has expanded over the years to include categories for junior, senior, women, amateur and disabled players as well as congress organisers. At a time when chess is campaigning to be recognised as a sport, the Terence Chapman Group sponsorship highlights the Federation's continuing commitment to all sections of the game's community."
     The Grand Prix has been won four times each by GMs Michael Adams, Tony Miles and Mark Hebden. With three months to go the 1999 Grand Prix is set for a close finish between two-time winner GM Keith Arkell, current British Champion GM Julian Hodgson and GM Bogdan Lalic. First prize will probably not be decided until late in December.
     Further details:
The Terence Chapman Group 0171 415 8000
Grand Prix (Leonard Barden) 0181 959 1758
BCF (Robin Mackley) 01765 677644 robin@pubrels.demon.co.uk



ARBITER TRAINING WITHIN THE SCCU AREA
     David Sedgwick writes:
After some four years, during which I have been making increasingly forceful representations to the Chess Arbiters' Association, I am delighted to be able to report that arbiter training withing the SCCU area can finally resume. At the CAA Annual General Meeting in Scarborough on 7th August, BCF Arbiter Ewart Smith volunteered to resume the relevant responsibility and the CAA is in the process of formally appointing him [can't AGMs do that?] to the post. Ewart actually lives in Hampshire but does much of his arbiting within the SCCU area.
     The first training course will be conducted jointly by Ewart and BCF Senior Arbiter Steve Boniface and will be held at Coulsdon Chess Fellowship over two Thursday evenings, 25th November and 9th December. Subject to demand, further courses will be held next year both at Coulsdon and at other locations.
     Details of the first course will be available during October from Ewart Smith, One and a Half Linden Avenue, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hants RG24 7HG 01256 327173 ewart.pearl@btinternet.com; or
     Scott Freeman, Coulsdon Chess fellowship, 84-90 Chipstead Valley Rd, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 3BA 0181 645 0302 chess@ccfs.freeserve.co.uk


GRADES WILL BE A LITTLE LATE THIS YEAR
31.7.99, with various updates (see foot of article) to 22.9.99
This was never going to be an easy year for the BCF Grading System, with untried new processes coming on stream and the Local Grader's job changing radically. To be honest, some Local Graders jacked it in at the start. In protest, possibly, at what seemed impenetrable bumf coming through from the BCF. It was impenetrable, to the uninitiate. They were a bit previous maybe, but you could see their point of view. If not computerised they were more or less ruled out anyway. At any rate, new Graders (Results Officers, sorry) have come forward and it remains to be seen how this year's input compares with last.
     The process has not been helped by unforeseen and late-explained delays which may have further alienated the traditional Graders. It is fair to say that things have not been easy in the BCF Office.
     Plan was, the Results Officers would all get computer-generated feedback on their entries and would respond accordingly. This happened, for a while. Feedback was very detailed. Too detailed, maybe. They responded anyway. But things got delayed, and in the end the feedback stopped going to the Results Officers and of necessity got dealt with in the Office instead.
     This probably negated the whole concept of event-driven organiser-oriented entries, but time pressure imposed it. The result was BCF Officers and volunteers spending weeks camped out in the Office doing what the local people should have been doing.
     Chris Howell did this while seriously job-hunting. Several others gave odd days for nothing. Derek Harvey, of the BCF Office, might have been of considerable help had not his bicycle, at a critical moment, lost an argument with a motor car resulting in a three-week lay-off.
     It's been done, and NOTHING that's been sent has been missed out. But next year is expected to be a whole lot smoother. Current expectation, for 1999, is that everything will be with the printer today (31st July), and the printed list will be on sale during the second week of the British. The accompanying CD will probably not be available until a week or so afterwards, and will be forwarded to all purchasers.
    County Lists
We understand from the BCF that a county, having purchased the CD, may publish extracts from it in any way it wishes. However, the BCF would like to know what you're doing. Ask permission, if only as a matter of courtesy.
    BCF Congress
Believe that new grades are getting used for seeding, in certain events. They are being rushed to Tony Corfe for that purpose, so he may get them early. Hope we've got this right.
    Update
Chris was working on the final run on Friday night 30th July, and still intending to get everything to the printer on Saturday. But things ran very slowly, we hear, and the deadline was missed. On Sunday the job was still not finished, and other priorities asserted themselves. Work will resume after the British. The BCF now hope to go to the printer shortly after that, and publish about the end of August or start of September. We guess, but it is a guess, that the timescale for the CD will be similar.
    Tony Corfe did get some grades for the seeding. We don't know where these came from. Maybe it was a small partial run, done specially.
    SCCU Update 4.8.99
The SCCU deadline for inter-County entries is 15th August. This date was put in the rules on the assumption that grades would be available by then. This year, they won't be. In fact most Counties have already (4.8.99) made their entries. If any are outstanding on the 15th August David Smith, County Match Controller, will contact those Counties explaining the situation and requesting entries as quickly as possible anyway. We'll have to be understanding if that means they're guessing. Chances are few teams will be affected, and it is not feasible to wait until the BCF list is published.
     New Update 20.8.99
Spoke to Chris Howell this evening, still working on it in the BCF Office. Latest projection, after one or two more alarms and excursions, is publication around the 3rd September. So you should get your List (with CD) soon afterwards.
     County Associations and impending Congresses, not to mention Union Organisers, may well be in urgent need of data before that. In these cases only, the BCF is prepared to release data before the general publication date (while the List is still with the printer). Don't apply unless you fall under one of those categories. Clubs should apply via their Counties. But Counties and Unions and very-soon Congresses may have the data quickly by EMAILING THE BCF OFFICE office@bcf.org.uk. Do that now and they should get emailed data by reply within a week from today.
     Chris's successor as Director may well be Marc Shaw of Harrow. As of this evening, he is the only applicant. (Looked for ages as though there would be no applicants at all, and who can wonder.) Marc is Championships Organiser for the BCF Junior Squad. He is a professional programmer and the author of Tournament Director.
     Another Update 22.8.99
Snag hit last night, with everything due at the printer's in the morning, would have meant the omission of lots of new players. This was thought unacceptable, and work resumes on Tuesday 24th August we believe. If you're a County Association (etc) - see two paragraphs back - there's still no harm in emailing the Office to get your data as quickly as possible.
     And another 3.9.99
Marc Shaw has now stood down, we hear, in favour of Roger Edwards. Roger has been long involved in the BCF grading process.
     The List is with the printer, and is expected to emerge at the end of next week. Mentioned a few days ago, in What's New?, that we'd had a (sort of) preliminary version. It was bare-bones, and excluded people with less than 10 games, as the "published" list always has. (CD will include everyone.)
     How we've done will emerge when everyone's had a chance to check. But your Webmaster checked the 60 new players he'd entered on 10 games or more, and five were missing. Three others had incorrect letters by their grades. (You can't be an "E" - less than 15 games - if I've entered 24 games for you all by myself.) BCF said, when asked, that these anomalies could be due to insufficient merging of players. Horace Morris of Humpshire has gone down as three different Horace Morrises with 6 games each. This despite the fact that his three congresses were entered, simultaneously, by the same Results Officer, who would have told you it was the same player if you'd asked.
     They're supposed to ask, but that's mostly not what happened this year. And then, it got done in a hurry. (It came into the snag mentioned 22nd August above.) Don't know how many new players will turn out to be affected. Think the rule was, players with identical names and dates of birth got merged, and others (usually?) not. No date of birth, no merge. Your Webmaster's hit rate was quite high because they were mostly juniors, with lots of birthdates. As we said, it's not supposed to be done this way.
     Stop press 02:51. Kent's urgent preview of the CD data (Kent only) arrived an hour ago. It's true. It was lack of merging. Try this quick test. How many BJ Cuddigans of Charlton do you think there are? Your average human would probably hazard One, which is the right answer. The BCF computer thinks there are three. It's deeply irritating, because he has three different grades and you can't tell how many games any of them are based on, except that it's less than ten, so there's no way of merging them by hand to find out what his grade ought to be. He should, in fact, have a proper published grade. Irritating? It's disastrous, if it's happened to hundreds of new players all over the country.
     Update 18.9.99
CD came this morning. It's more comprehensive than the Kent version we'd seen, and it does tell you how many games have gone into a grade. So you can merge those new players by hand if you want. Thought at first that we'd found an anomaly, and an earlier version of this note said: "It's got your Webmaster wrong. It correctly gives him 18 games for 1998-9, but its figure of zero for the previous year is nonsense." Then we thought, Hang about. Are those two years half-years? That would explain it. Hard to be sure, since there's no explanation on the CD.
     SEND US YOUR COMMENTS, anyway. Replies not guaranteed, if there's dozens of them, but we'll read them.
     Update 22.9.99
Some things are in the printed list but not on the CD. These include the Top 100 and Top 20s lists and the list of events graded. You can download those by clicking here. Zipped Word and Excel, 51K. This service is provided for the benefit of Results Officers who, like your Webmaster, received their free CD but were too mean to pay 15 for a (much shorter) printed list. If you're not a Results Officer but just mean full stop, you can download anyway.
     They are half-years, by the way. See previous Update if baffled. That's another of the things that get explained in the book and not on the CD.


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