Getting OTB Chess Going Again Is the Priority - Not Longer Tenure for Officials
The inertia of incumbency: Vladimir Putin has been in power for 21 years. Is this what we want in chess? (Creative Commons/WEF/Remy Steinegger)

Getting OTB Chess Going Again Is the Priority - Not Longer Tenure for Officials

FM timpeterwall

The following report is one I sent out this week to Silver Members of the English Chess Federation. While many of the points refer specifically to English chess, there is a message for chess federations everywhere around the world: Put the interests of ordinary members first, rather than seeking to extend the tenure of officials.

Getting grassroots OTB chess restarted is the biggest challenge we face in 2021 - let's not fluff it!

'About as much use as an old-style analog chess clock'

"The headline news (and perhaps the only useful thing that will come out of the [English Chess Federation's] April 24 Finance Council meeting for ordinary ECF members) is that membership fees will stay the same for 2021-22.

Many Silver members may well want to stop reading here, because most of the other items on the Agenda are about as much use to you and your local chess club as an old-style analog chess clock.

In fact, judging by the resolutions at Saturday’s meeting, the ECF Council (or at least the people putting those resolutions forward) currently seem to have all the wrong priorities.

Action plan needed to get OTB chess going

Rather than working out an action plan to get over-the-board chess going again, to help local clubs and congresses survive and to rebuild the ECF membership (based on the surge in public interest in chess during the lockdown), we are instead discussing the equivalent of ‘How many angels can dance on the point of a pin?’

It may be important to a handful of ECF officials to propose ways to extend their terms in office, and it may be interesting for a few event organisers for them to get more votes at Council meetings, but I think these issues and preoccupations leave the vast majority of ordinary ECF members stone cold.

Longer tenure for officials - isn't that what Vladimir Putin did?

Four to six years is plenty of time for one person to hold the same post before allowing someone else to have their turn.

For the record, I intend to vote the only way my conscience will let me: in favour of regular renewal of officials, and in favour of members’ rights. Therefore, on the Directors’ Terms in Office resolution, I will support option A - that directors be eligible to serve for a maximum of 2 consecutive terms in one post (i.e. more than one 3-year term). Not the 3 or 4 terms, or no term limits being proposed by some people – which seem to me something more akin to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

This is because I strongly believe there should be regular renewal of the ECF Board, and that 4-6 years is plenty of time for one person to hold the same post before allowing someone else to have their turn.

On allocating votes to the organisers of online events, I am against this – as it gives more votes to people who are not accountable to members. At least with county associations, ordinary members can have their say and influence their local delegate.

Members need a direct voice in ECF elections

A couple of months ago, I put forward a proposal that would have given Direct Members (i.e. you) a total of one-third of the votes in any ECF Board election, but the Governance Committee refused to consider it, saying that working out term limits and Council votes for online event organisers was more important.

Finally, there is one reasonable resolution, to make it easier to organise county matches by reducing the number of rating bands. I am in favour of this.

As a Silver Members rep, I welcome your feedback and constructive suggestions. If you would like to express your view through me at the April 24 Council meeting, please message me and I will try to reply to everyone."