ECF Awards 2010

The ECF Awards Committee can now announce their selections for 2010

Presidents Award for Services to Chess
One nomination received this year and the award is well deserved. Julie Johnson took up chess after meeting her future husband, Cyril Johnson.  She has never professed to be a strong player. Her expertise lies in chess administration and hospitality. Initially she limited herself to setting up the Syston Chess Club. After this proved successful she assisted the Leicestershire contingent at the National Youth Chess Association, being elected in due course as Chairman of that organisation.
In Leicestershire Julie took over as Gradings Officer in 1992 and started a local Newsletter, combining that with her work on the local league committee and running as many as 3 County Under-100 teams in the Midlands. She acted as President of the Leicestershire and Rutland Chess Association from 1998 – 2000, the first Lady President of that organisation.
She was then persuaded to take over producing the Newsletter for the Midland Counties Chess Association which she undertook for the next 5 years, turning it from a printed missive to one which is available online on the MCCU website.  When Lee Collier resigned as the MCCU’s Chief Executive Officer, she combined that post with her editorial duties, whilst standing down from the newsletter production.
Nationally Julie was a member of the old British Chess Federation Board, where her expertise in matters relating to Value Added Tax was invaluable.  Gradually she took over as Minutes Secretary with the English Chess Federation Board, taking pride in ensuring that her minutes were available to the Chief Executive Officer within 7 days.  She also found time to assist the ECF when a Controller of the Counties Championship resigned, taking over in mid-event.  In more recent times she has organised a Section of the National Club Tournament and then returned as Chief Controller of that event.
All this pales into insignificance against her reputation for laying on a stellar spread for Leicestershire county matches and acting as hostess for counties seeking a neutral venue.  She has matched this by doing all the catering for several National Finals, her swansong being that at Moat College, Leicester, in 2010.

Club of the Year
Two nominations were received both with very impressive citations. The committee selected Horsham Chess Club and the following is the introduction from their 9 page citation:
Horsham Chess Club celebrated its 130th anniversary this year and in recognition of its current success and its long standing services to club, county and community chess it is honoured to apply for the English Chess Federation title of club of the year 2010. This document is supported by a copy of “The History of Horsham Chess Club 1879 – 2009” and “The 130th Anniversary Celebrations” album.
Horsham has had a very successful season in 2009-2010 managing the rare double of winning both the knockout and the division 1 championship of the Sussex wide Mid Sussex League. We are rightly proud of this success but equally we have a commitment to chess at all levels. We were honoured to be the first club to propose fielding six teams in the Mid Sussex League and our long standing commitment to juniors extends beyond the junior section of the club to decades long commitment to cub chess. We are also pleased to include a number of juniors who have represented England.
The club has also made a substantial contribution to Sussex County Chess with one player creating an unparalleled record of playing more than 450 county games and record numbers of Horsham players contributing to Sussex success.
We also enjoy a great amount of internal club competitions comprising three all-play-all competitions, a knockout and plate, a quick play knockout and plate, a ten second lightning tournament and an invitational competition for members who just want more!
This season we had a number of additional activities to celebrate our 130th anniversary. These included a reception and a match against representatives of other Sussex teams, a full day playing all comers at the bandstand in the centre of Horsham,
an exhibition at the celebrated Horsham Museum and a group visit to the London Chess Classic.
This document highlights some of the achievements that make our members so proud to be part of the club. It will provide a flavour of the current activities alluding to our long standing contribution to chess as a whole but the greatest success of our club is its warm, welcoming  atmosphere .We are pleased to include an unsolicited recommendation from a member of another Sussex club which highlights this.
Above all we are pleased to appeal to all members of the community and are proud that our membership includes an age range of 7 to 90.

Small Chess Club of the Year
We only received one nomination this year, from St Helens Chess Club, last year’s winners. The committee considered that they merited the award for the second time …

St Helens Chess Club ECF Small Club of the Year Entry 2010
St Helens Chess Club meets throughout the year at the Sprayhurst Social Club in St Helens. We have 22 members and play in the Warrington and District Chess League and the Richard Furness 500 League. There are also a few non-members who attend from time to time, who we hope will join subsequently when they feel comfortable. All members who regularly represent the club in matches are ECF members.
Although we currently only have 22 members, graded from 186 down to 20, this season we entered 3 league teams and 4 cup teams in the Warrington and District Chess League (requiring a minimum 15 players) and 2 teams in the Richard Furness 500 League (requiring a minimum of 8 players). The Warrington League teams are split using a traditional grading strength criterion, but the Richard Furness 500 League teams have a grading cap of 500 points for 4 players This helps to create a good social mix between the highest and lowest graded players and is very influential in creating a team spirit and camaraderie in the club that we are all very proud of.
This season we had an excellent performance once again finishing 1st in the Richard Furness 500 League and we won the Peninsular Cup for the first time. This is the most prestigious cup competition in the Warrington and District Chess League and we’re very proud to have won this competition.
The club continues throughout the summer after the league season has ended, when we run an 8 round ECF graded Swiss tournament in June and July to decide our club champion. We would normally expect an absolute minimum of 15 of our members to play in this tournament, which again helps to merge the players from different teams. The spirit that we have created within the club is also evident throughout the season when A-Team players turn out to watch C-Team matches and vice-versa, something that we are noticing is becoming less common amongst other clubs.
On non-match nights our head-coach (who has an enhanced CRB clearance) conducts training sessions. This can take many forms, be it demo-board analysis, individual or group work, a selection of positions spread across the playing hall, or consultation games.
We have no formal policies relating to junior members apart from them being accompanied by an adult. We are very proud of our juniors as both returned from the British at Torquay with a first placed finish.
Club members also support the local congresses and can regularly be found at the more local congresses, but sometimes also at those congresses that require travel and an overnight stay. One of our members is the Assistant Cheshire & North Wales Junior Organiser and organises the Cheshire and North Wales Junior Championship. Our head-coach provides chess puzzle sheets to entertain the juniors between rounds at this event.
Our members also help administer the Warrington and District Chess League. Currently the positions of Match Secretary, Publicity Secretary and Webmaster are carried out by St Helens Chess Club members.
Moving away from the competitive side of chess to the more social side of the club, we have a social membership category for those who do not want to play chess competitively and arrange non-competitive activities and training. This has included Christmas Fun nights where for example, pieces took on random properties during the game, and a more relaxed week after the 8 rounds of the club championship. We generally have at least half a dozen members turn up on match nights who are not playing in the match.
We also have a website, www.sthelenschessclub.co.uk, which members use to keep each other informed about recent and forthcoming events, share games, etc. When asking first time visitors how they found out about us, the majority said it was through this website.

Chess Website of the Year
Once again we received several nominations and all of a high standard. The standard and quality of the websites improves each year making the committees job in selecting one a difficult one as we do not wish to disappoint the other excellent websites that make our shortlist.
The one that impressed us this year is http://www.kingstonchess.org.uk/, the website of Kingston Chess Club. It was the general feel of the website providing information as well as comment and news in an entertaining way. The webmaster is John Foley

Congress of the Year
We selected e2e4
e2e4 has fast obtained a reputation as being the best tournaments in the country.  Why?  Well maybe it’s because in the last 12 months e2e4 chess has:-
•    had 49,949 website hits
•    had 654 players enter an e2e4 tournament, including 12 GM’s, 10 IM’s and 13 FM’s
•    submitted 3586 ‘half’ games of chess for grading
•    Paid out over £10,000 in prize money
•    helped 85 players get their first FIDE rating or part rating
•    facilitated three players to score IM norms
But it’s more than that.  e2e4 give amateur chess players professional standard playing conditions.  Every game is played on a separate table, with a minimum of 5m² room for each game within the playing area (see attached photos for typical layout).  And, uniquely for an English weekend event, players can stay onsite in a 3/4 star hotel for little more than the cost of a local B&B.
We don’t expect anyone to take just our word for it.  This is what some players have said to us when they’ve emailed us after one of our events in the last 12 months :-

Impeccably organised and run with attention to every detail, the whole circuit of ‘e2e4 Chess’ tournaments really are unsurpassed for both amateurs and professionals alike. Win or lose, I always come away from these events not only having enjoyed myself socially but also with the feeling that chess playing has been treated with the respect that it deserves.
– GM Keith Arkell, 27 June 2010

Increasingly other congresses pale into insignificance when compared with the ones e2e4 organise.
– SH, 26 February 2010

I just wanted to express my thanks and appreciation for all your hard work in organising and running such an enjoyable tournament at the weekend. I’m reluctant these days to spend what little free time I have freezing to death in draughty church halls that smell of mildew, so it was a great pleasure to be able to play chess in such comfortable surroundings. I had a great time and very much hope to take part in more of your events in the future.
– NS, 21 September 2009

Just a short line to say how much I enjoyed the Uxbridge congress at the weekend. This was my first event for around 28 years and I am sure I will make every effort to enter another one of your events.
– JM, 21 September 2009

Many thanks to you and the organisers for putting on such a well run event.
It was my first congress and a truly great and memorable experience.
The venue and facilities were superb.
– AW, 21 September 2009

This was the first time I had played Uxbridge, but its the best weekend tournament I’ve played in.  I’m going to play every congress you run from now on!
– AS, 20 September 2009

Chess Magazine of the Year
No nominations were received this year.

– John Wickham, ECF Awards Committee Chairman

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