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Updated 18.10.16

Open Forum has been pretty well superseded by other internet media, but it's still there when you want it. To contribute, email Michael Flatt Please say where you're from.

From Peter Lawrence
Dear Richard,
In your summary of the ECF AGM 2015 you commented on the two SCCU proposals and in particular the one concerning the ECF insurance scheme as follows: �The first, on ECF insurance and Protection, was redundant in view of ECF work already under way. However, an SCCU person spoke to the proposal at length before finally withdrawing it. This left no time for the second proposal, on County match entry fees in the national stage. We don't know that there would have been time for it anyway, but we were puzzled by the self-destructive tactic.�
     I find those comments very disappointing. I was heavily involved with the ECF insurance scheme renewal and provided advice to the ECF in the scheme renewal negotiations in view of my insurance background. Although I eventually agreed with them in late July that the agreed changes and reassurances which we received from the brokers were just about acceptable there are steps that clubs and other organizations insured under the scheme have to take in order to ensure that they will indemnified in the event of a child abuse or similar type claim arising. Those steps are onerous and there is a fear that many clubs insured under the scheme with juniors will not comply. For those reasons the proposal was not withdrawn but left so that the issues could be discussed at the ECF AGM. There was never any intention to invite a vote on whether to remarket the scheme.
     I explained the situation at the SCCU Executive Committee Meeting on 9 October. It was agreed that the proposal would be left in place for the reasons explained above but there would not be any vote. Unfortunately that is not recorded in your Minutes of the meeting but in my view it should be.
     I was finally able to speak to the ECF meeting at 6.15 pm and the finish time, which had already been extended, had been set at 6.30 pm. I spoke for 10 minutes finishing at 6.25 pm which is hardly very long for what is a very important issue. There was no time for a discussion and it had already been agreed long before my presentation that there would not be a vote on the proposal.

It would be appreciated if you would kindly suitably amend your comments in the summary.

Peter Lawrence
Administrative Director, Surrey County Chess Association.

From David Smith
Dear Richard,
As many readers will already be aware the last week or so has seen two whole matches defaulted in the U140 and U120 Divisions of the SCCU Counties Championship. It is to the credit of Surrey that they have since offered to re-arrange their match in the U120 event rather than enforce the default.

It is however surely no coincidence that the two defaulting Match Captains who failed to produce teams to fulfil these matches were new appointments by their Counties in September this year and that both matches were the first by each County in their programme of matches. Inevitably one must draw from this the conclusion that the captains concerned were unprepared for the responsibilities involved in taking on this important role in the SCCU County Championships.

I myself must bear some responsibility for this situation. When the appointment of the various Captains was announced in August I sent a brief welcoming email to all the new appointees, pointing out that all the relevant Rules relating to our Championships were on the SCCU Website and urged those concerned to read these Rules before taking any action in their new role. It is now clear that this brief introduction was inadequate and I would like to suggest that in future all Counties introduce a system of training/mentoring for their new Captains once appointed in order to ensure that they receive all the information and instruction needed to enable them to carry out their new duties in a responsible and timely fashion.

I am not proposing any Rule changes to accomplish this, and would simply leave the matter in the hands of appropriate County Officers, e.g. Secretary and other Match Captains, particularly the �retiring� Match Captain from whom the new appointee is taking over. It is hoped that by introducing such a system the new MCs will approach their first matches with the confidence and knowledge to produce viable teams and avoid defaulted matches in future.
David Smith
SCCU County Match Controller

From Mike Gunn
Dear Richard,
I was present at the recent County matches [sic] when there was an issue with some clocks not adding the 20 minutes when expected. The clocks in question were DGT XL clocks and were provided by the venue (our usual clocks are DGT 2010s). Based on this experience we will be taking steps to ensure (as David suggests) that we don't use a clock setting in future which relies on the move counter to add time. I should add that there us no evidence that the clocks were set incorrectly in the first place, but it seems that the behaviour of the clock setting used is too operator sensitive and we will go for the more robst approach (and also publicise more widely information on how to set and reset all the clocks we use for County matches). I am pleased to say that all the difficulties we had on Saturday were resolved in an amicable fashion.
Yours etc.,
Mike Gunn
Surrey President

From David Smith
Hi Richard/Trevor,
I was very interested to hear of the problems encountered with a digital clock recently. It does sound to me very much as if the clock was incorrectly set in the first place, but before I comment further I would very much like to hear from a Surrey Official/Match captain who is familiar with the particular digital clock used for the Surry home matches.
     In general terms however I would point out that the use of, and reliance upon, any move counter program is to be discouraged. Any such program can only record how many times the clock has been pressed as opposed to the number of moves actually made. I have often observed players giving their clocks extra �test� presses as they start their games and this does nothing but distort the number of moves recorded. Players can also add to the confusion by failing to press their clocks during a rapid series of moves, such as Queen exchanges and forced checking sequences.     I reserve further comment pending information on the actual type of clocks in use on Saturday
David Smith
SCCU County Match Controller

From Trevor Jones
The following may be of interest to readers of the SCCU website. This relates to a clock incident at Surrey U180 v Middx [see U180 page] at Coulsdon (CCF) yesterday. (There were also clock incidents on one or more other boards, but it's not my business to tell you about those. Mine was resolved amicably.
     When starting, I and my opponent were somehow aware we did something wrong (probably pressing wrong button(s)) because we didn't get the clock started cleanly (it didn't start when we expected it to). We therefore agreed that we wouldn't rely on the move counter.
     The initial time check was on move 35. After my opponent's move 35 as White (by both our scoresheets) he had about 1min left, which was NOT incremented by the expected 20min. After my move 35 I as Black had 5min left which was duly increased to 25min. While my opponent was thinking about his move 36 his clock reduced to 0 and indicated a loss on time, which we ignored. The clock then stopped recording his further time used, staying stuck on 0.
     So we stopped the clock and agreed we needed to reset it to continue with 20min on his clock and 25min on mine. We failed to work out how to do this ourselves and so sought help. It took some discussion to convince others that we had no dispute and simply wanted to reset the clock (which had presumably thought I was white as presumably white's first move was made without being counted due to our problem getting started). But it turned out that no one to hand actually knew how to make the adjustment.
     Eventually my opponent found a setting for Fischer 25min + 10sec (RP), so we set his clock going in the coffee room and had tea/coffee for 5min and then resumed play back at the board with him on 20 and me on 25min. End of problem.

Later on (after we had finished play) Adrian Waldock found a clock manual and said there were actually two ways we could have done what we wanted, one being to use the little-known facility to adjust one side's clock setting by a small amount of time (as would be used to apply a 2-min penalty). I forget what the other was, unless it was to do what we did, but I think it was something else. Moral of the tale: if you must use clocks with counters (and I guess that's what you've got) then at least also have a manual readily available.
     This is the second time this month that I've had this problem using that sort of clock1, except it was resolved last time by making another move each causing the increment to be added to both, whereas this time, even pretending to make more moves by pressing the clock-pressing mechanism several times it had no effect on the 0 time remaining for my opponent. I think the difference from the last occasion was that on that last occasion (Crystal Palace v Guildford 2 on 12 Jan, I think) no one actually lost on time before the extra move was made rectifying the situation.
H Trevor Jones
1 rjh: I asked Trevor what sort it was but he was unsure, except that it was a model he's rarely asked to use. Maybe someone at Coulsdon will know. A note by David Smith in our Rules section says how it ought to work with DGT 2010s, and includes a mention of move counters.

From Mike Wiltshire
Dartford like most clubs are happy to welcome new members, younger ones in particular. Tonight however we welcomed a new member namely 95 year old Dick Clifton who last played competitive chess for Welling chess club prior to 1939. Do any other clubs have members of a similar age?
Mike Wiltshire

From Roger de Coverly
Some thoughts on Appendix G and how it is being applied.

I�ve played in three recent Congresses where digital clocks were plentiful but used with conventional time rates. In all of them, the arbiters or organisers felt obliged to mention Appendix G. In two cases, they said G4 (substitution) didn�t apply and in the third, they said it did. Despite the size of that Congress, there were not any Appendix G claims.

A summer AGM for a local league spent a few minutes considering whether a rule could be written to compel adoption of an increment in the event of a claim of a draw under Appendix G. This would be in the deemed absence of an arbiter. Unless you started with a digital clock, there could be no guarantee of there being one available. The attempt was abandoned given that the League rules already permitted an increment to apply from move 1 should a suitable clock be present.
     If though you wanted to mostly retain a non incremental time control, but had digital clocks, it might be possible to locally reword Appendix G so that a claim was first of all a draw offer, but if declined, play would continue, but with the increment in place. This would differ from current practice being to stop the clock and discuss, the position going to the League Controller or the League�s arbiter if no agreed decision was possible.
Roger de Coverly

From John Cannon
In answer to Gary Kenworthy: No, all the matches were against non-Sussex teams. I was interested to hear about Prof. Bernard Scott�s secret wartime work. One of his maths students at Sussex University was Virginia Wade, who was already making a name for herself at amateur tennis tournaments. Those who know former Horsham player Stephen Hawes may be interested to know that one of his four older sisters worked at Bletchley Park during the war.
John Cannon

From Kevin Thurlow
500 County matches is a magnificent achievement. Well done John.
best wishes
Kevin Thurlow
Redhill (probably fewer than 50 County Matches)

From Gary Kenworthy
Hello RH,
Congratulations to L John Cannon. I strongly believe that this 500 mark is completely unique and a first. Making a century is a major feat, especially in some Unions.
     I remember Prof D B Scott because he kept his secret very well of being Government Code and Cypher School, not until after his death did it appear. He was not at Bletchley Park, but at the successful Japanese section at Bedford. (Hugh Alexander later took over that unit in 1945, the chess team was rather strong).
     I was captain of Sussex in those Minor Counties telephone matches, against Cornwall, and the Cheshire and N Wales. We did play more of them, for instance, versus Durham. Which really put me off that form of chess.
     I wonder if John has included any friendly matches like East v West Sussex training matches that I set up, to get the "rust" out of the system?
Gary Kenworthy
Also former Sec and Treasurer Mid-Sussex league (where my very first game in Sussex, in that league, was against Horsham....(05th Feb 1979). I remember, the gentleman on board 2 for Horsham played the Black side of a pseudo Staunton Gambit and the game ended in a draw for L John Cannon. Whilst, my game on board one was a bit more of a "dynamic" draw.

From John Cannon
Reflections on a National County Match Record
Today's Sussex v Middlesex U160 match on Nov. 22nd was my 500th county match, played over a period of 63 years. There is little doubt that the total is unique, since national and regional announcements from time to time have always failed to produce a rival challenge. (Geoffrey James of Brighton has played in 414 matches, which were entirely for the Sussex first team.) The figure includes 20 NCCU matches for Northumberland during my time at Durham University in the 1950s and 18 default wins (some of which were notified in advance). The high total stems purely from the fact that since March 1990, after 240 matches for Sussex 1, I have had the opportunity and will to consistently play for more than one Sussex team, thereby notching up figures completely beyond the reach of most county players. For instance there have been three seasons of 13 matches, five of 12 and five of 11. When I reached 450 matches in Feb. 2009, the �milestone� of 500 seemed a long way off, but since then I have played for four Sussex teams, namely Open, Minor Counties, U180 and U160, and averaged almost 10 matches a season.

Included are 44 ECF-Stage matches, during which Sussex faced 17 different non-SCCU counties and won the Minor Counties Championship four times and the U175 Championship twice. Sussex has, to a degree, lived in the shadow of the Metropolitan Counties, but one highlight came in 1994, when Sussex 1 defeated National Open Champions Kent, to win the SCCU Championship. The matches have been in a variety of formats. Up until 1970 there were 50-board Amboyna Shield matches, with the top 20 counting in the SCCU�s Shannon Trophy. 20-board SCCU matches then continued and 25-board second team matches were introduced. Two years later there was further reorganisation, with the creation of four SCCU Divisions, all with 20-board matches. In 1992-93 Sussex 1 became �Sussex Open� and grading restrictions were introduced for the lower three competitions. Sussex 1 matches continued to be played over 20 boards, with U175 and U150 matches of 16 boards and U125 ones of 12. In 1996-97 the Open matches were also reduced to 16 boards, and the various grading limits were adjusted in 2009-10.

Sussex also competed in 10-board SCCU Jamborees in the 1960s and 70s and played 20 and 25-board friendly matches against London University in the 1960s. There have also been spasmodic friendly matches against London Insurance, over variable numbers of boards, between the 1960s and the early 2000s. One doesn�t hear of telephone matches nowadays, but I played in three: Northumberland v Cheshire in 1955, Sussex v Cornwall in 1982 and Sussex v �Cheshire and North Wales� in 1983, in the third of which I rather remarkably won on time (in a won position). My years with Sussex 1 saw the team fielding two distinguished academics, in the form of Sussex University maths professor Bernard Scott and Prof. Sir John Cornforth (joint winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for Chemistry), and GM Ray Keene twice played on board 1. I recall the blossoming of the careers of IM David Cummings, GM Stuart Conquest and GM David Howell, and among my higher profile opponents have been Andrew Whiteley (recently deceased), Stewart Reuben, George Botterill, Jon Speelman and the late Sir Stuart Milner-Barry.

My records include the colours I would have played had the opposition not defaulted. For the benefit of those who point out that �colours even themselves out with time�, the totals stand at 260 whites and 240 blacks. Needless to say the changing face of county chess has always provided much enjoyment, but as for the quality of some of the games, that is another story!

John Cannon

From David Fryer
Just in case the casual reader of this forum thinks that there is a 100% support for adjudications I would like to put on record my support for this initiative by one of the younger members of the ECF administrative team.
     To accuse the proposal of not being thought through is unfair. The arguments for and against are well documented and voluminous. The fact that adjudications are allowed within certain chess leagues is deterring players from competing in local team chess.
     As for the distances travelled in the Sussex League that is true as also is the common practice of players, well within their rights under the adjudication laws, to sit there without moving for the final part of the playing session because 42 moves have been played. This is extremely annoying when you have travelled for over an hour to a game with an hour�s travel back in prospect.
     On returning after 5 hours and asked how did you get on? I usually have to answer �Oh I played 1 game of chess for 3 hours but we didn�t finish so I am now going to turn on the computer and study the position for another hour or two then fill in an adjudication form and put a claim into an independent arbiter and maybe within 10 days I will be able to tell you, unless of course I decide to appeal�.
     It is adjudications that are annoying players and preventing us from enjoying local team chess not the other way around.
David Fryer

From Kevin Thurlow
Dear Richard
I agree with Bernard. Also, the ECF proposal makes no mention of adjournments, where you ask your friends, team-mates and silicon monsters what to do (during the game), which seems even more reason not to grade the game. Actually, why grade league chess at all? I was offered a draw in a league match, asked the captain the score, he said a draw would win us the match, so I accepted the draw. In a tournament I would have played on. But then in tournaments, the leader frequently takes a short draw in the last round to guarantee winning a prize. Maybe we should not grade tournaments!
     The proposal has not been thought through � we should be enjoying chess, not finding ways to annoy people and persuade them not to play.
Best wishes
Kevin Thurlow

From Roger de Coverly
Those who follow the ecforum debate on this subject may be aware of a brilliant legalistic suggestion. Adjournment is still part of the FIDE laws of chess, so treat an adjudication as just an adjournment where the players or their match captains agree the result without resumption. Failing agreement they accept the opinion of a third party.
     As regards eligibility of games with quickplay finishes for grading, that was resolved years ago. If a game is scheduled for completion in less than an hour for the player, it counts as rapidplay,, otherwise standard play. The detail of intermediate time controls, if any, makes no difference. There isn�t any logical difference between playing all the moves in 90 minutes or, say, playing 40 in 70 and then adding 20 to the clock. In practice the latter and the numerous variations on the same theme forces a faster pace of play through the opening and middle game.
     I think it is the gamesmanship surrounding adjudication that its opponents find objectionable. The concept that perhaps you win material early in the game and then play as few moves as possible in the hope that you still have a decisive advantage, or alternatively not quite equalise and avoid being ground down in an ending by limiting the length of the game.
Roger de Coverly

From Bernard Cafferty
In response to the ECF's proposal that competitions where adjudication is possible be no longer graded from 1st July 2015 -

I would like to recall that the practice of adjudication was inaugurated, as far as the record goes, in the 'Varsity Matches starting in the 1870s. It is a matter of regret that this abolition of a 140-year old tradition in British chess is raised at such short notice. Lasker, William Winter and Yates also did adjudications (not on the spot) in British chess of the 1920s and 1930s.
     Adjudication has been regarded as a pragmatic way of dealing with an intractable problem ever since the 19th century and so has an excellent pedigree. Leading players such as Steinitz, Zukertort and Blackburne did adjudications on the spot in matches of the Victorian period with little or no demur.
     It is also a matter of regret that the motion is proposed by ECF officials who, it seems to me, have their league experience in cities with a limited catchment area and a good transport network. I recall that the B�ham & District Chess League restricted membership to those clubs who were within 15 miles of the centre of Birmingham. That situation cannot possibly be compared with a large rural county like Sussex. Journeys to away matches often involve more than an hour to more distant venues (for example 1.5 hours from Hastings to Hove stations by train).
     As Brian Denman has pointed out, a single game played at two different time rates could equally be argued as not being eligible for a slow-play grading list � or is it eligible for counting in both slow-play and QP lists? The mind boggles.
     I urge maximum resistance to this ill-thought-out proposal.
Bernard Cafferty

Earlier material (lots of it) is in the Archive.

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