The Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU), founded in 1892, is one of five constituent unions of the English Chess Federation (ECF).
For most of its existence, the union has restricted membership to county chess associations, but at the Annual General Meeting in 1998 membership was extended to non-county chess associations.
The SCCU's geographic spread, and number of affiliated counties, has varied over time; certain counties that were once members now affiliate to the West of England or East Anglian Chess Unions, founded in 1957 and 1983, respectively.
At present, membership comprises seven county members and six non-county organisations. The counties are Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex; and the non-county associations are Berkshire Junior Chess Association, Chess in Schools and Communities, Hampshire Junior Chess Association, Hastings International Congress, Maidenhead Chess Club, Oxfordshire Juniors, Richmond Junior Chess Club, and Thanet and East Kent Chess League.
The Union fulfills a number of significant roles:
- As a constituent member of the ECF, it has the right to place motions on the agenda for ECF Council meetings and generally to represent the interests of its members.
- It organises qualifying events for national competitions. The County Championships are well supported, with around 30 teams participating across five divisions.
- It is entitled to nominate the SCCU individual champion for a qualifying place in the British Championships each year.
- Up until 2018, the Union also had three qualifying places to the British Championship each year which it could allocate to Swiss Open tournaments within its jurisdiction.
- It organises events, which are open to teams from both county and non-county members, including:
(a) one or more Under 18 events, held annually on a jamboree basis
(b) a season-long team competition for players aged under 14 and graded under 130
(c) Annual U185 and U150 jamborees
- It organises events to fill gaps in the programme of activities that would otherwise exist within its geographical area. Tournaments to provide opportunities for obtaining international ratings have been successfully organised in the past. In 2010 it organised the National Counties Rapidplay Championship on the ECF's behalf.
- It provides information on chess in the area through the SCCU Website, which succeeds the SCCU Bulletin, published from 1958 to 1998.
- It can mobilise resources for the benefit of one or more of its member organisations. This may involve the organisation of a team or the provision of a means for resolving disputes.
The governing body of the Union is its Council, which comprises the elected officers, two representatives of each member County, and (normally) one representative of each non-County member. An Annual General Meeting is held in late June or early July and there is provision in the general rules for Special General Meetings to be convened.
The general management of the Union is undertaken by the Executive Committee which comprises the elected officers, one representative of each member County, up to five representatives of the non-County members and up to three co-opted members. Executive Committee meetings normally take place in September and March and (briefly) before and after the Annual Council Meeting. Between meetings, the President can take decisions on matters relating to Union affairs after consultation with appropriate officers.
In common with most other chess organisations, the Union is indebted to its officers, who are all unpaid, for making their time available to deal with Union affairs, in many cases as part of a much wider role within the chess community. For the organisation to continue to flourish, it is important that there should be a regular emergence of fresh volunteers willing to take on one of the existing posts or to develop completely new activities under the auspices of the Union. The President would be pleased to discuss with any individual willing to put something back into the game by getting involved with Union activities in any role that he or she might be able to play.