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Council meeting
One of the reasons the ECF went down the compulsory membership route was the failure to collect grading fees properly. They didn't know exactly how much went uncollected but speculation of lost fees was as high as 20%.

At CS the structure of submission of results to one central point and invoice issue means that grading fee collection is very near 100%. Occasionally some fees are collected late or an invoice doesn't go out promptly but eventually everyone billed does pay up - and the hardball would be no more results processed until bill paid. The grader and the treasurer liaise to maintain and update a spreadsheet of which events have been invoiced. It's a simple system which works fairly well.
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A compulsory membership system would require extensive accurate admin with a set of rules of what is the procedure for when and how you join, an accurate computerised system to display membership status, a structure for billing procedure, collection and reminders, rules on sanctions to apply if a game
processed for a non-member, each game to be dated to know when the 3rd game membership due kicked in.

ECF still have their own office and properly paid part-time staff. Relying on volunteers on a much extended admin task could create disarray if future admin folk are not up to the job.

A little while ago data was provided on adult activity levels - it attracted no comment. <!-- l --><a class="postlink-local" href="">viewtopic.php?f=4&t=919&p=9849#p9849</a><!-- l -->

The figure of 1200 active adults last season should be reduced by about 150 visitors. (Do visitors need to be CS members?)

At the end of last season there were 139 adult players with 30 games or more, 111 were members = 80%.
There were 529 adult players with 1-10 games, 81 were members = 15%.

The changed impact of a new compulsory policy would be felt mainly by those for whom the game is a more peripheral hobby. The unit cost per game would be highest for the players who play least.


The current level of about 540-560 members is about the same as the level of membership 20 years ago -
despite there being almost 1000 fewer adults playing. i.e. the current membership percentage is the best it has ever been, i.e. people are choosing to voluntarily sign up.


Compulsory membership was mooted 20 years as a policy of then new SCA president Donald Holmes. It failed when some of the larger league paymasters threatened to disaffiliate. The idea was then dropped.
Chess Scotland is walking a financial tightrope, and based on some things some people have said I don't think everyone entirely appreciates that. This is not a case of trying to squeeze as much as possible out of people in order to maximise profits. The organisation needs to be financially viable or the activities that it undertakes will fall down face first, much to the detriment of everyone. We must have a method of generating an income that can support and sustain the most important objectives of a national organisation, without driving away people who cannot afford to contribute. That's not the easiest thing in the world to achieve, and so any idea which aims to achieve it should not be off the discussion table. The latest suggested dicussions on introducing a fee on junior grading; and making membership compulsory, are, therefore, worthy of discussion. But I sincerely hope other methods of generating funds are also suggested and discussed. David Congalton is - once again - being proactive and taking some very innovative steps. But we need more like it.

Introducing a fee on junior grading I support in theory, although I do think 25p is too high. I also think that we could introduce some conditions to it, such as fees only being paid for players who are over a certain rating, or whom have played a certain number of games. That way we are making it more likely the fees aren't a disincentive to new players/parents. I genuinely think that if Chess Scotland is honest with people about the financial situation - that in light of a loss in government funding we must generate new revenue streams to maintain the basic functions of the organisation - then people will listen and be understanding about paying a (small) bit more for their kids to play Chess on a weekend.

I used to support compulsory membership as the way forward for CS. However, in view of the facts it's now clear to me that it would be a bad idea. As Douglas points out, the majority of very active players are already members, and I do believe that forcing membership on the less active players might instead simply drive more players away from the game.

Compulsory membership for juniors is also a bad idea, although for different reasons. To improve membership among the junior populations I think it would be a good idea to give more benefits that are aimed at juniors. Maybe a junior-friendly section in the magazine, for instance... among other things. But I also think that a lot of parents (and juniors) simply aren't aware of Chess Scotland membership and what it offers them already. So perhaps marketing more regularly what already exists would be a good idea. A few small A6 leaflets at some of the junior events will probably convert some non-members into regular paying members, even if for no other reason than out of support for the national body.
Within the current debate it is important not to lose sight of the fact that a motion proposed on behalf of NEJCA by myself to bring adult and junior chess under one umbrella was overwhelmingly approved at the AGM and is therefore Chess Scotland policy. That motion and the brief associated notes were:

This AGM supports the principle that all mainstream adult and junior chess in Scotland should be integrated within Chess Scotland. Therefore the President is instructed to establish a Working Party to determine how best to integrate the various junior chess organisations into Chess Scotland. The Working Party to report to Council before the end of 2013 for early implementation of their recommendations."
Currently none of the junior chess organisations (e.g. SJC, NEJCA, Lothians PSL) that support junior chess within Scotland are affiliated to, or come under the umbrella of, Chess Scotland. This leads to potential disharmony within the Scottish chess scene and creates the possibility of non-accountability. Importantly, we need to see adult and junior chess as part of a continuum and the need for Chess Scotland to speak for all aspects of chess at national level. This is vital at a time of financial constraint and the need to further encourage more players to both take up chess and continue playing throughout their lifetime. The Working Party will seek ways to use the very best of the current junior structures, strengthen those and address opportunities for future developments.

Council is obliged to support all initiatives that lead towards that goal and that needs to be remembered on Sunday. The President delegated the task of progressing this objective to the David Deary as Junior Home Director (JHD). He decided that a newly constituted Home Junior Board (HJB) with a representative from all regional and other junior organisations be invited to participate. The HJB would then potentially include most of the wisdom from junior organisations throughout Scotland and provide authoritative information to Council. No other grouping would have such a wide range of knowledge about junior chess. The HJB should deal with both current issues and tackle how best to progress the aims of the motion passed at the AGM.

Phil Thomas made a careful and reasoned statement on behalf of the SJC and the NEJCA had also informed David Deary that we would reserve our position on several of the issues raised within the various discussion documents presented to Council until we had more information and debated these matters within the HJB.

We should avoid revisiting historic reasons for the split between CS and the SJC. At that time the NEJCA was divided between the two parties and in the end we decided to emulate Switzerland and simply altered our Constitution to state we would ‘liaise with any appropriate body involved in the promotion of junior chess’. That has enabled us to accept invitations to run Chess Scotland national events but also provide heats in both the North and North-East of Scotland for the Chess For Kicks event run by SJC.

What we need to do is try and look forward. If all the junior organisations take up the offered positions on the HJB then we have a real opportunity to create an excellent working forum where problems and initiatives can be properly debated. It is important to recognise that each junior organisation is unique. For example, running events in the large urban areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh is different from competitions in the less populated but larger land areas north of the Tay.

Finally, on to the matter of affiliation and grading fees. The regional junior organisations are currently autonomous (and all outside of Chess Scotland). A large part of that autonomy would need to be retained for reasons described in the paragraph above. Nonetheless, some issues are common and we all have the same aim – to promote junior chess. Affiliation is a simple way of coming together and I would hope that the £40 affiliation fee would be balanced by a grant from Chess Scotland to the organisations towards their running costs. By this means affiliation would be cost-neutral. Obviously there have to be advantages to taking up affiliation and either free, or markedly reduced, grading fees, would be one bonus of joining. Again that, and other benefits or downsides, could be debated by the HJB who could then progress matters based on a consensus view. Therefore, NEJCA would hope that all the junior organisations will take up the offer of membership of the HJB as this offers the chance of a way forward for junior chess.
Gerald, what do you see being affiliated meaning in practical terms?

You mention "non-accountability" and "A large part of that autonomy would need to be retained". Do you see affiliation resulting in CS as having some influence over the running and management of the junior organisations and if so, in what way? What small part of autonomy would be lost?

I understand that it's all up for discussion but you would have had some ideas as to how it would work when you proposed it, and I'm interested in how you envisaged it working.
These are tough times for CS financially. Hope folks take this in the way it's meant but CS are not a charity and we have to be realistic. CS have a responsibility as the national body to support chess at all levels and accordingly, it is only right that all levels contribute.

I have always felt that juniors J13 and under should make a contribution to have their games graded by CS.

Some possible future scenarios...

1/ Junior organisations affiliate to CS, cooperating with them on a junior board. All grading fees for J13 and under are free.

2/ Junior organisations that don't affiliate have to pay a fee for J13 and under to be graded.

3/ Junior organisations that don't affiliate may wish to start grading J13 and under games independently.

4/ All J13 juniors and under who are members of CS have their games graded for free.

Now, there are probably plenty more scenarios but the ones above are at least worthy of discussion. I personally don't like number three at all.
Again the use of the word affiliate but nobody seems willing to define what it means. Is it just pay £40 and get your name on the CS website or is there more to it?

As for grading fees, it seems most who want to introduce them are happy to have them waived for affiliation. I am left concluding that raising cash from grading fees is therefore not the objective if they are willing not to impose it. Surely raising £120 in total from the potential affiliation of NEJCA, SJC and LJC isn't what this is all about either? While that's nice to have, it's not making a huge impact on the CS budget.

Is it really all about forcing affiliation from the junior organisations and this is the only way that it can be done?
SJC recently spent much more than £40 donating brand new equipment to three new junior clubs. It seemed unlikely to us that Chess Scotland were going to produce any such support and after the event CS were essentially silent about the donations. Our actions, I suspect, have saved CS much more than £40.

All of which supports my growing belief that this is all about affiliation and concomitant loss of SJC autonomy.

I am still waiting for Jacqui to get a substantial answer to the benefits SJC would acquire by affiliation.
Retaining most of our current autonomy for a £40 investment is not a persuasive argument. We would much rather spend any excess cash in our bank account helping grass roots juniors.
Phil, Derek,

I don't believe I can be any clearer, my proposal is that the HJB discuss how affiliation would work in practical terms and what the benefits are etc.

The first meeting is on the 28 March @ 19:15 via Skype, you are welcome to attend, SJC were invited onto the HJB and that invite still stands. That is the correct 'forum' to engage in, in this instance. Alternatively, if you don't wish to join the meeting, you can email me prior to the HJB meeting with concerns or issues and these will be considered. Following the HJB's discussions I will contact you to keep you aprised of developments.

I don't think it would be fair for me to be drawn into predetermining that discussion of the HJB and as such I won't be adding anything further.

Also Phil,

I think it was a very nice gesture by SJC to donate the boards, sets and clocks to junior clubs. I'm happy to put on record the gratitude that CS has to SJC and the other junior organisations, leagues and associations who also do this to encourage chess at the grass roots level. To my recollection, I don't believe this has been acknowledged by any previous Junior Director but I agree with you and believe it is something that should be put right.

As an example, this year in Ayrshire, the Ayrshire Chess Association donated new boards and sets to kick start chess on Arran coupled with our policy of getting boards and sets into primary schools across Ayrshire. This is part of the ACA's policy of supporting and encouraging chess throughout Ayrshire and we have requested funding from CS in the past and it was never forthcoming even when CS had the income from the grant. From memory, I believe you were a Director at this time so with the loss of the grant I find it surprising that you now imply that CS would be in a position to fund such activities. ;-)
Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional!
Slightly different angle on the grading discussion, my club discussed becoming a 'CSMember Club' last season and eventually decided against it. The only real benefit was being able to grade internal club games (the new Spens/Rich Cup rules meant no club memership was required to enter).

However rather than pay for the volume of games it was just a set membership fee. I can't find the information on this site, but if I recall correctly it is something like £24 m/ship fee if your a small club with less than 12 members and £36 I think if your a bigger club.

My point would be, clubs are typicaly paying £36 however many graded games they submit as I understand it. Correct me if I am wrong. But you could be submitting 20 graded games a season or 220 games and it will still cost £36 as I understand it. This probably could do with a bit of adjustment in the cost setting? I'd quite like it if my gas/elec bills had a small membership cost rather than pay for what I use!

Turning attention back to the hot potato issue of junior grading fees, I can see why the current setup is a concern, but I am inclined to support junior grading getting a 'free ride' as many may see it, and would rather there were ideas formed on how to offset those costs. I think this has been a good thing, and Scottish Chess should be proud of having covered junior grading for all this time. When I was a junior I never paid any attention to the costs of playing chess. When people are talking in terms of 'juniors should pay their way', I respect the argument and sound reasons for the issue, but we need to remember it is the parents who are paying for their chess.

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