Counties Chess

2008 Annual Meeting

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Page published 2010


Julie Johnson

It was pleasing to see 8 of 11 counties sending one or more delegate, especially bearing in mind that 2 of the 3 not represented do not have an appointed delegate. Officers' reports outlined a quiet year on the MCCU front. Unfortunately the CEO, Publicity & Junior Directors all experienced health and family problems, including bereavements, during the year, which had curtailed their activities. Thankfully, although an infection prevented the Junior Director from attending the AGM, all 3 were able to report significant improvement in their circumstances.

The Events Director Sean Hewitt asked the meeting to consider how the MCCU British Championship qualifying places should be allocated, as one more application had been received than places available. After some discussion, and with only 1 dissenting vote, the places were awarded to the MCCU Grand Prix, and those congresses currently forming the Grand Prix circuit i.e. Nottingham , Leicester & Warwickshire. The MCCU Board was invited to consider options for the future, when it was expected more Midlands events would be part of the Grand Prix, these will be presented at the 2009 AGM.

Sean also asked the meeting to consider whether an MCCU club event could be run. There were mixed feelings, with concerns that county matches & congresses left insufficient space in the calendar. Perhaps a 1 day event could be scheduled with handicapping to encourage a wider range of teams to enter? At this stage it is unclear whether there is likely to be sufficient interest for an event.

The County teams tournament had run relatively smoothly, although the withdrawal of an U125 team, along with defaults, had caused some annoyance. The meeting felt that further sanctions were needed where teams defaulted, it was decided that the MCCU rules should mirror the ECF rules in this respect. This would allow fines to be levied, but provide for discretion depending on the circumstances. The format of the Open event gave rise to query. Last year saw the Championship & Minor divisions introduced, the use of the term Minor instead of Division 2 had possibly caused some confusion, as the ECF have a Minor section which has an average grading limit. The MCCU Minor still involves Open teams. No changes to this format were proposed. Delegates appeared to confirm the view that an U175 competition was unlikely to find entries, however, it was pointed out that some of the Open Minor teams actually qualify for that section on grading. The Union can nominate a team for the ECF stages, even if no U175 event is held, it was therefore suggested that any such team could be offered the option of a place in the U175.

The PC Gibbs individual correspondence trophy had again been won by Keith McLauglin of Leics. Entries for the 2008/9 event were up on last year, but more competitors could be accommodated, and it was not too late to enter. The meeting was reminded that the rules were changed last year, so that instead of each county being able to nominate 1 player, anyone born, living or playing chess in the MCCU area could enter. There has not been enough interest in resurrecting an MCCU county team correspondence event.

ECF matters caused some debate. The main messages for the recently changed ECF Board were that delegates and their counties wanted better communication, greater transparency regarding what was going on, and clearer information about the finances, including investments handled by the Permanent Invested Fund.

PC Gibbs was elected to the MCCU Presidency, which had been left vacant for the past year as a tribute to Roy Woodcock. Peter is well known across the Midlands and ably fulfils the expressed desire of the 2007 AGM to see another elder statesman in this role. The only other changes to officers saw Ray Collett elected as Publicity Director & Andrew Farthing replace Gordon Christie as one of the 2 Non-executive Directors. Ray has recently retired and was keen to assist the MCCU, as Cyril Johnson did not wish to be considered for re-election, Ray's offer came at an opportune time. The only unfilled elected post was that of Secretary.

Delegates had been circulated with information about the ECF Chess in Schools initiative. For those who have not heard about this, any school that applies can have 10 sets & boards absolutely free. This has arisen due to Holloid Plastics offering to use plastic that would otherwise be waste material, to produce 250,000 sets & boards, and to donate these to schools. This presents a significant opportunity for increase in chess activity, but only if those youngsters taking up chess can be encouraged beyond simply learning the moves and playing each other within their school.

The ECF will be looking to strengthen the pool of approved coaches, and find coaches to coach potential coaches, but counties clearly have a role to play in encouraging youngsters. The CEO felt that the MCCU also had a role to play, in bringing together interested parties and building up a support network, so that individual counties were not left to work in isolation. Interested parties could learn from each other and pick up on successful approaches that could be replicated in their area. There were concerns from some delegates who had heard that schools would be tied to purchasing coaching material from a designated source. This is not the case, the free sets & boards come with no strings attached. The “new” ECF Board is exploring producing material for sale to schools, but there would be no obligation on them to buy. It was agreed that Ray Collett the new Publicity Director would form a team with Cyril & Julie Johnson to take the idea of the MCCU providing co-ordination opportunities forward.

Delegates decided that it was only necessary to have 1 scheduled general meeting a year, the AGM, rather than 2. The CEO will have the discretion to call an interim meeting if there are significant issues to be discussed. They also agreed that the AGM should start earlier than the long standing tradition of 2.30pm and that the 2009 meeting would be held on the 3 rd Sunday in June, in the West Midlands .