eNewsletter No. 49 – October 2020

Dear ECF Member

Welcome to the October 2020 eNewsletter. In this edition we feature an interview with Michael Farthing, the ECF Chair of Council, and Tim Wall revisits a silent chess movie from 1925 that has resonated during lockdown.

As the new rule of six takes effect, over the board chess is looking more remote. The Northumberland Weekend Congress is the latest victim of the pandemic, organiser Mick Riding calling off its 56th consecutive event in late September. However the resourceful Mick and his team have ensured that their work was not in vain by kindly giving the ECF permission to publish the comprehensive risk assessment they had produced on getting back to over the board chess. There’s more here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/northumberland-weekend-congress-a-superb-effort-in-moving-chess-from-zoom-to-room/

With a potential financial crisis looming, Chief Executive Mike Truran’s Appeal to Members below is a call to action to ensure that vital services are able to continue. This year’s AGM (being held on Zoom on Saturday 17th October) will have some crucial decisions to make. The situation has been highlighted by chess24 here –

There is plenty of opportunity to play online – https://englishchessonline.org.uk/ – with the London Chess League, the UK’s oldest league, going online through the Tornelo platform later this month.

The priority is to get back ‘from Zoom to Room’ but we cannot take risks. We are grateful to the 43 percent of members who have renewed their subscriptions, but unless we can get that up to at least 75 percent, we are looking at a very tricky endgame.

Stay safe …

Mark Rivlin

Message to members from ECF Chief Executive Mike Truran

I am writing to you to ask for your help in the ECF’s hour of need.

Our sincere thanks go to all our members who have shown such faith in the ECF by renewing their memberships even though over the board chess has ‘hit the buffers’ for the time being; the Board is immensely grateful to them. Renewal of membership fees is vital for ensuring the continuation of the ECF’s work both online and over the board. Like many sports and leisure organisations we have taken an enormous hit over the past six months, and we need members’ help to continue providing online and over the board services now and in the future.

Despite members’ best efforts so far, however, only 43 percent of members have renewed their subscriptions. We will face serious financial difficulties and potential damage to our infrastructure if the current crisis extends too far into 2021 without sufficient membership income to sustain a cost base that we have already stripped back as far as we feel able.

More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-membership-2020-21/, and club members can get a good idea of what the ECF does here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/what-we-do/

Renewal is a very simple process using this link – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-membership-2020-21/

Wishing you all a safe and healthy autumn and beyond.

Kind regards, Mike Truran

Penny Farthing for your thoughts
Mark Rivlin interviews the new ECF Chair of Council Michael Farthing here

Chess Fever – Tim Wall
Click here

Monthly Rating System – an update
Brian Valentine writes — The new monthly rating system has been live for a month now. We passed another milestone at the beginning of October with our first ‘official’ monthly list, with updated ratings appearing on Friday 1st October. The old grading system can still be found for now at http://ecfgrading.org.uk/new/menu.php, containing the final set of 3 digit grades, and the new system can be found here with the new 4 digit ratings – https://www.ecfrating.org.uk/v2/new/list_players.php

You can use the menu at the top of the page to select Players, Clubs, Events, Top Players, and a detailed set of Help Screens which explain how the new Elo ratings are calculated.

The October monthly list contains results from 15 new OTB events played under socially-distanced conditions between July and September, and it’s great to see the start of the return to ECF-rated OTB chess. As well as the monthly ‘lists’, ratings are updated nightly with results submitted to date. We are also reviewing the category rules (how long a player’s rating remains active) in light of the reduction in OTB chess, and we expect to be making some changes in that area to avoid people losing active ratings unnecessarily.

The monthly system has been a big success so far, with graders and players alike. We are grateful for the constructive feedback received from members since the website became live, and the team are working through a number of issues. The team are gearing up for a period of continuous improvement including the addition of a number of back office functions like game fee reporting. The most visible next job will be integrating the best features from both the OTB and online systems. Further feedback and suggestions for improvements are welcome and we do hope you enjoy using the new system as a player, grader or system owner.

At this stage, I would like to thank the large number of people who have contributed to the Federation getting this far on time and within budget. In particular I must single out the following volunteers – Steve Bush who has worked long hours as lead developer over many months in building the new system into the success it now is; Jon Griffith, who made a fast start possible by making available the Chessnuts database; and Nigel Towers who has managed the project despite also having the burden of supervising developments for the ECF online.

I am also grateful to other members of the core team, who were – Dave Thomas, Malcolm Peacock and Matt Carr. Also, I must mention Roger Marsh, Steve Mann and David Wild, who all made notable contributions to testing.

Moving forward the team will have additional support from Kelvin Hunter, Jay Steel and Mark Davey.

Online Roundup – Nigel Towers
We started the month with the very successful North vs South Match with 108 boards on Chess.com on 5th September and continued with a full programme of ECF Online events during the month. These included the 6 regular ECF members club events on Chess.com and Lichess for each week.

We also had a number of International Events during the month on lichess including –

  • The September Nations Cup, where we came second in our European group stage on 22nd September but went on to finish 10th in the final on the 23rd.
  • Various World Series Team Battles
  • 3 Team Battles on successive Saturdays within the ‘Hasta La Victoria’ Europe vs Americas series, which is now a regular fixture at 9.00pm on Saturdays
  • A friendly fixture against the South African Federation on Sunday 27th September with England winning by 220-182 points.

ECF Online Club memberships have continued to increase with more than 1,000 players in the Chess.com members club and almost 800 in the Lichess English Chess Players Club. The August and September lists were issued during the month with around 4,000 players with online ratings from club and affiliated events. We’ve also seen a big increase in the number of affiliated events which are now ECF online-rated with national and local leagues and competitions. You can find more details of the month’s events in the monthly roundup here. You can also find details of how to join the clubs, together with upcoming National and International events on the ECF Online web site – https://englishchessonline.org.uk/, https://www.chess.com/club/english-chess-federation-members, https://lichess.org/team/english-chess-players. We also have well supported Junior and England Women’s Clubs at the links here – https://lichess.org/team/england-juniors, https://lichess.org/team/england-women

The ECF AGM is being held on Zoom on Saturday 17th October. Further details here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/about/ecf-council-and-board/ and here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/agm-announcement-of-candidates/

Director of Home Chess Adrian Elwin reports — The ECF is delighted to announce that FIDE is proposing to hold the First FIDE Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities. The competition will take place between 20 November and 3 December 2020. The number of teams that each federation is allowed to enter depends on the number of disabled players that the federation has registered on the FIDE Commission for the Disabled website. This leaves the ECF with a problem, as the ECF does not collect information about the disabilities of any of its members.

We are now asking that any player who considers themselves to be disabled to inform the ECF by sending an email to the ECF Office via this online form – https://britchess.wufoo.com/forms/ecf-disabled-chess-players-information-form/. The ECF can then register all the players with the FIDE Commission for the Disabled (FIDE may ask for supporting documentation at a later date but that is not necessary, at the moment). The final deadline to register with the ECF is 13th October 2020.

Please note that FIDE publish a significant amount of information on their website including name, the player’s federation, FIDE ID, FIDE rating, the type of disability, gender and age of all registered players. By responding to this call, you will be agreeing that the ECF can pass this information to FIDE and FIDE that can make this information publicly available.

Director of Women’s Chess Chris Fegan reports — I am delighted with the recent appointment of Aga Milewska as Alternate Director of Women’s Chess. I took on the role of Director of Women’s Chess, as the post had been vacant for several months at the time and the Board was considering the future of the role, and when I was subsequently elected by the ECF Council in October 2018, I advised Council members that I would seek to find a woman to replace me. I have now done so and I am also improving on my promise by making sure my intended successor has all the tools required to hit the ground running. Aga has agreed to become the Alternate Director of Women’s Chess and she plans to stand for election as Director next year. I will not seek re-election as Director of Women’s Chess when my three-year term comes to an end in October 2021. Aga and I will work together for the next 12 months as a team, while she gets to know the working of the ECF Board and issues relating to ECF finance and DoWC policy. In effect Aga will shadow me as part of this succession planning.
Says Aga, ‘I am very pleased to be taking up this new role, and I see my main priority as encouraging more women and girls to play various forms of chess, both online and hopefully later over-the-board, in these challenging times. Over the next year, I will support Chris and represent women and girl players on the ECF Board when the Director is not able to attend. Women and girl players are welcome to get in touch with me via the ECF Office’

September online ratings
Here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/september-online-ratings-are-out/

ECF Book of the Year 2020
Here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-book-of-the-year-2020/

Gary Lane book reviews
Timman Triumphs – My 100 Best Games; How to become a Candidate Master by Alex Dunne; and A Modern Guide to Checkmating Patterns by Vladimir Barsky. More here –

Hull 4NCL Online Congress
This takes place on Friday 30th October to Sunday 1st November 2020. Four sections – Open, U2000, U1700 and U1400. Entry Fee £5. Five rounds (one round on Friday evening, two rounds each on Saturday and Sunday), 45 mins + 15 secs/move. More here – http://www.4ncl.co.uk/fide/online/arrangements_hull20.htm. There are three innovations – A new Under 1400 section; GM Danny Gormally will be holding a free online simultaneous display for 25 congress entrants on the evening of Wednesday 28 October and he will be live streaming during the congress. Participation will be decided by drawing of lots; please tick the appropriate box on the entry form if you would like to be considered for this. Entries need to be received by close of play on Sunday 25th October please if you would like to be entered in the draw; the first prize in all four sections will be the choice of the usual engraved glass trophy or a two-hour online coaching session with Danny.
Thanks to Hull City Council and Hull Culture & Leisure for providing financial support for the simultaneous display and coaching prizes.

Problem Corner
Christopher Jones with another coffee break conundrum here

Government Guidelines
Here –

ECF office hours changes
During October, the opening times are changing. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/change-to-ecf-office-hours/

Problems solved

Tweet of the Month

Director of Junior Chess Alex Holowczak writes — The ECF will be organising the Online Under 18 County Championship on Saturday, 21st November. Main details — – The tournament will be played on Chess.com; Open to ECF counties only; 7 rounds, Team Swiss, 10+5 time limit; Team of 6: 2 U18, 2 U18 Girls, 1 U11, 1 U11 Girl; Players will need to be on Zoom throughout for Fair Play and share screens. More here – . The entry fee is £24, and the deadline to enter is 9.00pm on Wednesday 18th November

They’re tough in Northern Ireland –

CHESS Magazine
This month’s taster is here

To purchase and/or subscribe, click here

Sam Livingston – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=46
Brian Birchall – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11049
Lyndon Todd – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11053
Rik Thomas – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11054
Stan Owen – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11055
Philip D Porter – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11059
Terry Adcock – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11060
Una Bartlett – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11062
Alan Williams – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11064
Mike Duck – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11076
Robert Chalenor (Bob) Pentecost – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11075
Paul Guinness – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11101