Reports

This page contains reports from the president, secretary, executive committee, publicity officer, schools liaison officer, treasurer, grading records officer, congress director and league secretary.

Reports – 2008–09

President's Report

In some ways reluctantly and some ways with a sense of relief I am nearly at the end of my 3 year period in office. The reluctance is because there are many things I would like still to do – 3 years just isn’t enough time; even the President of the USA is given 4 years! The relief is because I still have plenty of other things to do for myself and no longer being President will allow me a little more free time.

So, what have I achieved? The present four tier structure of the County Championship was my own innovation and in this I was very well supported by Ian Kingston, to whom goes much thanks. This has now become a successful event, which, among his other duties, Robert Richmond took on after 2 years and he continues to run it with great efficiency. By using various business contacts I also raised a few hundred pounds in sponsorship. These sponsors also provided trophies for each section, except the Open Championship which remains well catered for. To add to this I was instrumental in gaining our association a good, free, and largely central venue, Nottingham High School, for pretty much all of our events.

At the beginning of my term of office and the setting up of an Executive Committee we were charged by one or two members, who were well aware of the decline in adult players, “to do something for the adults.” This has been an ongoing call for almost as long as I can remember. When I first returned to chess, after a very long lay-off, Brian Hayward, the then President, had charted a gradual and worrying decline over about a 10 year period, in active adult players and numbers of clubs competing in the Notts Leagues. It was clear to me then, and still is, that there are not 40 or 50 adults out there eagerly waiting to re-enter the world of competitive chess and 40 or 50 is at least the number we need to retain the status quo. Also, it is very rare for adults to take up chess for the first time in their thirties or forties and then take it up competitively with any degree of success.

Though many players in this association remain sceptical of the use of juniors in their club sides I remain convinced that this is the way forward. Almost all other major sports including soccer, rugby, cricket etc recognise the importance of juniors for the future development of their sports and have in place a properly set up youth policy. Since I began working with juniors in Notts. many clubs have begun to realise the long term value and have either begun to use juniors in their teams or are, at least, hoping to do so. West Nottingham is easily the biggest user of junior players but Long Eaton and Nomads have healthy junior sections too and a few other clubs have employed at least one junior player in one team or another.

Currently there are about 50 juniors regularly competing in the leagues right now. If we took those out of the equation the decline in active players would be catastrophic. Not using juniors is, it seems to me, like burying your head in the sand. But there are other advantages in attracting juniors to our clubs: juniors often bring their parents and some of these, who once played chess themselves, are attracted back to the game [both West Nottingham and Nomads have benefitted from this]; non-playing adults can often be persuaded to take on administrative roles; juniors players become adult players; the media is far more interested in giving publicity to junior achievements!

My work with juniors, along with John Crawley and many others, has resulted in Notts under 11s this year winning the National Counties title, ahead of Kent, coached by GM Chris Ward, while GM Mark Hebden was overheard to remark at the end of one of our Rapidplay events, “How is it Notts produces so many good juniors?” We have the best juniors in the country; it’s time that all clubs began to recognise it and actively began attracting them.

To sum up: my achievements have resulted in a renaissance of the county championship; some useful sponsorship; and a huge growth in junior players across the county, which benefits us all.

If you’ve got this far you may be wondering about my failures? I’m sad to say that I haven’t succeeded in setting up an annual match against a club from Ghent, a city twinned with Nottingham [yet]; I haven’t succeeded in setting up a secondary schools chess association, but once I’m no longer president I may be able to devote some time and energy to this. And there is one other matter in which I’ve failed miserably. The Notts League has a reputation, even outside our county boundaries, of being an unfriendly league; this seems to be particularly true in the higher divisions. In Derbyshire, for instance, when a club cannot field a team at short notice, there seems to be a strong desire to play chess and to play the game at another date. In Notts there seems to be an equally strong desire to grab the points!? Also, it seems to me, that criticism of officers and others is de riguer at meetings and almost anywhere public. Yet anyone who has been on a man management course will have learned that criticism should be something that is done in private. It’s praise that should be done in public! It’s the simple practical truth of, “the carrot not the stick.” Sadly, I don’t seem to have made one jot of difference to this unfriendly, often unnecessarily aggressive attitude.

Finally, my thanks to all those who have supported me these last three years, especially those who served on the Executive Committee and all previous Presidents who set me an example to follow.

David Levens - President

Secretary's Report

I am usually able to report a quiet year, spent contemplating minutes and meetings. There was plenty of that this year too; but also some excitement. Following the AGM, with only two team captains in place, uncertainty surrounding the existence of the Open and U175 teams, and the absence on holiday of several key people, we were asked to complete our entries to 4NCL and the county championships at rather uncomfortably short notice. Luckily, both 4NCL and the MCCU were understanding — all chess administrators are familiar with the problems! — and with a handful of positive responses to the circular and much help from [in particular] Robert Richmond and Neil Graham, we managed to smooth things over.

After that, it was largely business as usual. The absence of NottsNews has made it harder than in recent years to contact the membership; I should like to thank Ian Kingston, who continued in a residual role as guardian of the mailing lists and as forwarder of circulars. I think he and I both hoped this would be a very temporary role, but it has managed to persist through the season. It is not a long-term solution, and the NCA needs a better way to contact everyone. A renewed NN would help!

A. N. Walker

Executive Committee's Report

The committee has met regularly over the season, but as in previous years much of the business has been conducted by email.

We were faced immediately by the task of filling in some of the gaps in officers left by the AGM, and in particular of finding a replacement for Tony Wright, whose resignation became known after the AGM. Tony was a valued member of EC, whose opinions and suggestions always carried weight. A number of replacements were considered; in the end we co-opted Will Place, to join the other co-opted members, Neil Graham and Kevin Harvey and the ex officio members, David Levens, Andy Walker, Rob Richmond and Maurice Hill [for the LMC]. As members will be aware, we also managed to fill most, but not all, of the other vacancies within the NCA, so that all the core activities of the NCA have run smoothly this season. Sadly, we did not manage to replace Ian Kingston in his role as editor of NN, so the really excellent information service that we have all had in recent years has been defunct this season.

Most of the practical decisions of EC either will have come to your attention already, in the form of decisions concerning events such as the Congress or as reported to the RRM or, especially financial matters, will be brought to the AGM. Nevertheless we accept that we have not been timely in reporting our activities. This is partly due to the loss of NN, but has also been rather frustrating to ourselves; the problem is that with a rotating minuting secretary and difficulty in getting full attendance at meetings, the sequence of minutes being produced, discussed, accepted and then sent off for dissemination has been disrupted. It is important that we find a way of managing this better next year; and also important that we establish good channels of communication with everyone.

A. N. Walker,
Executive Committee,
15th June 2009.

Publicity Officer's Report

As in previous seasons I have made every effort to gain us publicity through the press, radio and TV. One effort of mine gave chess huge publicity in all three mediums in September 2008.

With the support of the Executive Committee I instigated the purchase of an 8 x 2 foot banner, which reads, Notts Chess Association {blue lettering on a white background]. This also displays our web address so that anyone interested in playing chess can easily find us. Several Libraries around the county have also been supplied with posters.

The media continues to be keen to receive reports on junior achievements and events, but remains largely uninterested in normal adult events, but an event at Victoria Baths, organised by Kevin Harvey gave us some useful publicity and direct contact with the public.

David Levens
Publicity Officer

School Liaison Officer's Report

I remain in close contact with the Notts Primary Schools Chess Association, as I act as this organisation’s head coach. Apart from giving private lessons to a number of juniors I also visit various schools around the county on a regular basis and support other coaches working with different schools. This last season I set up a coaching award scheme, which gives a working syllabus to anyone wishing to start coaching at a local school. I remain committed to setting up a Secondary Schools Chess Association.

David Levens
School’s Liaison Officer

Treasurer's Report

The surplus for the year is £304 and the accumulated funds of the Association now stand at £7,704. Last year I supported the reduction in league fees from £57/£50 to £45/£36 per team expecting the loss of income of around £450 to be offset by a reduced deficit on the County Championship and increased surpluses on the congress and Rapidplay. This has happened, with an improvement of £600 on the result for the three events. The surplus is not as great as I had hoped this time last year due to increased county match costs - the U125 team was re-started, loss of sponsorship for the 4NCL team, there was an U175 jamboree for once and the cost of the abortive U175 quarter-final vs Essex was £150 (room hire paid in advance).

The cash flow has been affected by the changes agreed last year. Most of the significant items of expenditure are in the autumn. League fees are largely received in November/December and the congress is not until April. In previous years it has been possible to juggle the cash flow, but not this year, or going forward. I have transferred £1,000 from the Building Society to maintain an acceptable working balance turning to next year. Following the dramatic reduction in rates this year we are now only getting 0.75%, and interest received could be below £50. The proposal on clock prizes for division winners will cost over £100. The surplus on tournaments was £572 and the deficit on all other activity £268 this year. It would be unwise to rely on tournaments to balance the books, so there is a case for increasing league fees to £50/£40, partially reversing the reduction agreed last year.

Robert Richmond

Grading Records Officer's Report

There are a number of match results that are still outstanding before I can finalise things and send the completed data to the ECF. I should however be able to let you have a full report by the end of the month.

Obtaining match results from the NCA website has worked reasonably well I think, but it has highlighted one problem area. Most team captains just supply a players surname and initial (or initials). This has caused a number of problems for both Will Place and myself particularly with new players and where a club has two different players with the same initial and surname. It would save a great many problems if team captains were asked to provide a players forename and surname and both could be included on the NCA website.

I am willing to continue in post as grading results officer if required.

B. M. Hayward

Congress Director's Report

The County Championship (Nov 1/2), Rapidplay (Jan 25th) and Congress (April 25/26) all had increased entries and improved financial performance. The County Championship benefited from the move to the High School. I plan to trim some of the smaller prizes and possibly increase entry fees to bring the event closer to break-even. The surplus on the Rapidplay was broadly unchanged due to the net effect of free entry to juniors and free venue for the first time being slightly adverse.

The congress entry was only up 6, but the surplus increased by 400. This was due to charging out-county juniors and increased numbers of paying adults. The local junior entry was down by about a dozen due to clashes with other junior events, which also also had a knock-on effect on the adult entry. The more usual 3rd weekend in April would have been out of term for the High School and only one week away from Easter. Happily Easter is a week earlier this coming year and we can revert to the preferred weekend, and I would hope the entry will go over 160 next year. We have been blessed (or is it cursed) with good weather the past two years, making the venue somewhat stuffy. For next year the High School have agreed to make available the large Hall in the building next door, which will be used for the OPEN and MAJOR, and thus reduce the numbers in the Refectory. One final observation - entry fees are now among the lowest, if not actually the lowest, in the country. I'm not proposing an increase in 2010, but there is scope should that be necessary in future years.

Robert Richmond

League Secretary's Report

Congratulations to University 1 on winning the league, and West Nottingham 1, Nomads 2, Grantham 2 and Long Eaton 2 for winning the other divisions.

The introduction of submitting results by e-mail has worked better than expected, with only 2 or 3 captains regularly sending in results on cards.

Defaulted matches 8 (3 in 2007/8)
Defaulted Boards 36 (23 in 2007/8)
Disputes 1 (1 in 2007/8)

The main change was in division 1 with 4 defaulted matches and 8 defaulted boards, compared to not a single default of any sort in the previous season.

The league ran very smoothly this year until the bad weather in the first week in February, resulting in a number of postponments. There were many cases of failure to seek the approval for the postponement, to rearrange within 14 days and to notify the league officers of rearranged dates.

Following the rule change at the Rules Revision Meeting the LMC will be meeting to fix the League structure for 2009/10 on July 1st. An update following the meeting will be given to the AGM, but known changes so far are the withdrawal of LE2, offset by an additional team from WB.

League Management System:

This is an idea whose time has nearly come. The basic idea is that the electronic submission of results automatically updates the website, including the league table. This ensures speedier updating of results and all but eliminates the job of the Record Secretary. A further advantage is that it could also generate the league grading. We had a look at the system already written by John Upham and already in use by Surrey and Berkshire Chess Associations and the Surrey Border League (why not have a look at their websites). The grading module does not exist currently, but is planned. However this would cost 200 p.a. and John Upham would be webmaster - we effectively lose control of our own website. Surrey Boarder League are very happy with the system but Surrey CA, which had a website before adopting the system, are not. There are things that have appeared on the website which shouldn't and things that should have not appeared. The EC decided not to proceed with this, and alternatives are being actively explored.

Robert Richmond (League Secretary) and
Will Place (Records Secretary)