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chess report on current status scottish Chess
Hi Huys
I've compiled a report for discussion. Forgive me if it's not accurate its meant as a discussion point on where we go forward in Scottish chess anyway here goes... sorry about the length and thanks to those who have already commented on it
Report of the state of Chess Scotland
By Ian Brownlee

To investigate the current state of play in Scotland both at national and local level, detail the relationship between the various bodies, and hopefully suggest any improvements. This is purely a personal report and in no way reflects the views of any chess organisation

Ian Brownlee is currently both the President and secretary of the Lanarkshire Chess League. Ian is also a member of Lanark Chess Club. Ian also coaches chess at Underbank Primary School on a part time basis

Present status of Chess in Scotland
The national chess body is Chess Scotland, which was created by a merger of the Scottish Chess Association and the Scottish Junior Chess Association (SJCA). The aim of this merger was primarily to uniform the main two bodies of Scottish Chess although this objective seems to be failing. Chess Scotland is a member of FIDE (Federation Internationale Des Eschecs) and is recognised as such as the official Chess governing body. Chess Scotland has various regional Chess leagues under its umbrella, which turn are responsible for running chess leagues (mostly adult) within their areas. Chess league have local clubs which are mostly all members in turn of Chess Scotland
There are other chess bodies within Scotland such as The North East Junior Chess Association and Scottish Junior Chess which are in reality more regionalized and specialised towards a specific target (e.g. juniors)in a specific target area. These organisations are separate from Chess Scotland, although on occasion can work with each other depending on the event(s). Junior Chess Organisations are overall run on a local basis and have little if any communication with each other
Part of Chess Scotland’s remit is to supply national chess teams, both adult and junior, to overseas and international tournaments. To accomplish this Chess Scotland relies heavily on grants, fees from the regional leagues, and lastly and most importantly volunteers, especially with junior events.
Most of the posts held by Chess Scotland officials are strictly on a volunteer basis with minimum expenses paid when available. It is beyond the remit of this report as to the internal financial breakdown of Chess Scotland.
Communication and transparency
There appears to be a distinct lack of communication and trust between various parties. At its worst , the only perceived way of getting a point across is via the Chess Scotland forum which can degrade into a slanging match, which defeats the main points of the forum, and shows a bad impression of Chess Scotland. There is also an impression of some members that there is a lot of public information not being made public for different reasons or agendas. This is based on various posts made on the forums.
As already mentioned The Scottish Junior Chess Association merged with The Scottish Chess Association to form Chess Scotland. However there now appears to be separate tournaments and events run either by certain Junior organisations and others under Chess Scotland, an even some of Chess Scotland’ events are in reality run by the junior organisations. The primary school events are well attended and organised but the secondary schools are being on the whole neglected. This is partly due to local school authority policies and other considerations. The secondary school age group have historically been a source for new members for chess clubs and this may be one of the issues that has to be addressed. Rather than an overlap between the chess organisations, there is a gap here that these potential new members are falling through.
It should also be noted about volunteers in the junior ranks. Chess volunteers have a considerable amount of responsibility and work tirelessly to look after the large number of children. As well as chess volunteers, there are parents who not only have the normal responsibilities of a volunteer but the legal responsibilities of guardianship of the children. These responsibilities are paramount and take precedence of all other considerations during an event. The parent must always be in charge of their own children, including the responsibility of their well being. However there is a tremendous responsibility of the person put in charge who must look after the delegation in general and parents must recognise this and do their part in supporting the official in charge.

National Team selection
Currently the national teams are selected by a committee under Chess Scotland.

Chess Scotland Membership
Membership can be taken out on a variety of ways, for example the popular annual membership entitles members to receive discount in Chess Scotland tournaments, receive a quarterly magazine and other fringe benefits. Member Chess Clubs receive a discount on regional chess and grading fees.
Chess Scotland Forums
The forum is a popular method of expressing views and opinions with free speech (with responsibility) always advocated. However the forum moderators have to monitor comments made and have to on occasion remove offending or inflammatory posts. Presently the fine line of what is allowed is decided by these moderators. The forum is also used for news and announcements.

Grading on most events within Scotland are done with a national based system throughout Scotland. Modifications are done to the system to allow for an increase of a players playing strength as well as what is known as a junior addition for chess players up until the age of twenty one. There is another global system known as the FIDE grading system. There are very few FIDE rated tournaments in Scotland and FIDE rated players are reluctant to play unrated players in Scotland for several reasons:
1. The FIDE time controls is generally slower in the normal time controls played in Scotland
2. The FIDE rating is a hard fought rating system played over many years and it would take a high percentage of wins for any FIDE rated player playing a high percentage of non rated players (i.e. there is no incentive for the FIDE rated player)
The chief grader is ultimately responsible for collating the grading data which is currently on a yearly basis. This individual grade is called the published grade. A secondary grade called the live grade is upgraded on a weekly basis to allow for current playing strength. A large percentage of players indicate this grade is more up to date than the published grade even though even calculations are based on an opponent’s published grade. A perceived problem with the published grade is the fact it is only upgraded nationally.

Tournaments usually fall into one of the following categories
1. Primary School tournaments run by one of the local junior associations
2. Regional Chess leagues
3. Adult weekly or more commonly weekend tournaments run by tournament directors usually assisted by a qualified arbiter
One of these tournaments is the Scottish National Chess League run by one or more tournament directors with one or more arbiters in attendance. Unlike any other tournament it runs on a monthly basis during the season. The time control is slower than most of the regional leagues, but faster than most FIDE rated tournaments. This is the nationally recognised chess league although a large percentage of players who wish selection for the national team do not play at this tournament. National team selection will be discussed elsewhere in this document

1. One governing body with a committee with an immediate lower tier of regional chess leagues, junior associations etc
2. External organisations (e.g. schools) to recognise this structure and governing body
3. Standardise the grading with an eventual move towards the FIDE system as the standard grading system.
4. Chess forums to be monitored and regulated but not censored unless there are sanctioned by a forums committee properly regulated by Chess Scotland
5. Funding to be planned and established with a possibility of fund raising ventures by interested parties initiated by Chess Scotland
6. Communication to national regional bodies to be established including schools and other areas of interest
7. Publicity to be established at national and local level
8. Local Chess Clubs and Regional leagues promote chess with an immediate emphasis on secondary schools which seems to have no communication at the moment. Responsible chess clubs should be able to accommodate children from secondary schools on club nights as there appears to be little support anywhere at the moment
9. Agreed parameters between all chess organisations as to function and responsibility
10. Adopt a nomenclature for all regional chess leagues and organisations as to their location and responsibilities under the Chess Scotland umbrella, for example all junior organisations to be named for the area they cover and whether they cover primary, secondary of both. Chess Scotland should allocate the names accordingly so that they are similarly named In this way external organisations would easily identify who they are dealing with.
11. Funding and raising monies should be constantly reviewed with an idea of fund raising events such as simultaneous events by national and international players
12. The status of the Scottish National Chess League (SNCL) should be enhanced and made more attractive, possibly by making at least Division One FIDE rated. Individual performance at the SNCL should be considered when selecting the adult and junior teams.
13. Adult and junior team selection should be handled either by an appointed coach or committee under the auspices of Chess Scotland.
14. The published grade should be updated more regularly , perhaps on a six monthly basis
15. The chess forum is too frequently used out of context. This is partially due to lack of opportunity for communication to the relevant bodies within Chess Scotland. If a Chess Scotland member is also a member of a chess club then a line of communication could be made to Chess Scotland via the chess club or regional body such as a regional chess league. Alternatively any member can attend a council meeting or AGM and make their grievance known. If any of these avenues are unavailable for one reason or another then the forum may be used responsibly.
16. A suggestion would be for Chess Scotland to promote an interregional tournament, based on membership of the regional chess leagues. This tournament could be used to raise funds, promote communication between regional chess leagues and used for publicity. It could also be FIDE rated if desired.
17. A grievance committee should be available for anyone who feels that they cannot their point across by other methods. If this is not possible, then a members only post for grievances should be established on the chess Scotland forum (to be used as a last resort)
18. An immediate effort by Chess Scotland in coordination with local chess clubs to recruit new members especially secondary schools in an effort to boost numbers, starting with a list sent to schools detailing local chess clubs with a point of contact both nationally and locally
19. As far as children are concerned parents’ wishes must always be respected whilst abroad as parents are legally and morally responsible for their well being, but it must be recognised that person in charge also has responsibilities both to the delegation and to Chess Scotland
20. In order to show transparency all complaints, decisions reports etc , must be posted on the Chess Scotland forum. If a report is deemed slanderous, detrimental or downright useless than Chess Scotland may edit that report but not omit it entirely
21. There has been recent criticism of recipients who object to getting certain emails. The solution is to utilise chessscotland distribution lists an example is given below.

The following email addresses are used 1. <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e --> (forwarded to the president’s own email address) 3. An email is ceated called <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e --> Each league gets an email address e.g. <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e --> 4. Each club gets a chess Scotland email address e.g . <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e --> 5. Finally each committee post gets an email address from chesscotland
The president’s email and the committee’s email may forwarded to the distribution lists. The regional league email address is a distribution list for that leagues committee, possibly also including that leagues clubs and so on. To get on that list each club submits responsible a person who is willing to accept emails. This would also serve as a reliable way of improving communication

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