Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Laurie Roberts
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Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 5:16 pm

Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Post by Laurie Roberts » Sat May 10, 2008 8:23 am


I have read much of what has been written previously but as there's so much I apologise if I am suggesting something that has already been suggested.

I play around 10-12 games a season. Some at my club play around 8 games, others play up to 30 games. I am guessing that 70% of members of my club don't know what the ECF is as we never get to hear about it and a lot of players might get told their grade by the club secretary once a year without ever realising there is a website and that the grades are calculated by the ECF! So the first problem is actually reaching out to chess players to explain what the ECF is, what its work is, and what the issues are. People are a lot more willing to pay for something if they know what the benefits of paying are, even if those benefits accrue to others such as juniors/professionals. Most people have some element of philanthrophy within them!

I would set up a system as follows:

Everyone who wishes to play chess in any graded congress or graded league is required to register with the ECF and provide an e-mail address or a postal address. Registration could be done on-line but by post too for those members without internet access. A quarterly newsletter would then be sent to all registered chess players (by e-mail or post but not both). This could be used to explain to players what the issues of the day are, what great work the ECF is doing in schools and for professionals, and used to consult chess players on various issues with people invited to e-mail or post views on issues. Once there is a greater understanding of what the ECF is and does, there will be a lot more support for it as a body. And a lot less reluctance to contribute.

I would suggest a dual system whereby people playing in graded congresses or leagues both have to become a member of the ECF for a smallish annual fee (£8 seems right to me for adults, £4 for juniors/unwaged) and pay a small grading fee (cost shold be what is required to provide the ECF with necessary funds but be in the 20p-50p range I think, again with a discount for juniors/unwaged. Clearly, the ECF must not lose money!). Why a dual system? People may baulk at paying £15 or £18 if, as I'm guessing many do, they are only playing 8-12 games a season but £8 seems more reasonable. (Incidentally: Some analysis of the % of people (particularly adults) playing under 15 games a season would be interesting). Paying 50p or less to play a competitive game doesn't take the shine off it for most people I don't think and this money compensates for the lower membership fee.

The reason I have split my proposal into 2 headings is that, even if you disagree with the second, I think there would still be value in doing the first and requiring members to register even at no cost. I think that sending out quarterly newsletters outlining issues and the need for funds would encourage people to join the ECF even if it wasn't made compulsory. But my favoured system is that the £8 membership fee would be paid when registering with the ECF. I think that when people realised what great work the ECF does with the money in schools etc they would be happy to pay! The problem at present - and the reason I am currently not an ECF member - is that, until I visited this web forum I had no idea there even was a chess for schools project! And I have been playing chess for 4 years.

I will join the ECF after reading what has been written.


Mike Gunn
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Re: Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Post by Mike Gunn » Sat May 10, 2008 10:19 am

I support these proposals (subject to the financial side making sense). If you go for the (widely touted) £20 figure and no grade unless you join then the 10 graded games a year people will be lost to league chess (and tournaments, too). A universal membership scheme has benefits for both individuals and the ECF, but the key (in my opinion) is to introduce it a modest way along the lines that Laurie suggests.

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Charles W. Wood
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Re: Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Post by Charles W. Wood » Sat May 10, 2008 11:50 am

The 1st sugestion is fantastic. A great idea, I had been trying to wrestle with that said same thing. The second sadly is not as easy, but you have put a nice idea forward to the debate.
Charles W. Wood
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Greg Breed
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Location: Harrow, Middx, UK

Re: Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Post by Greg Breed » Sat May 10, 2008 8:46 pm

I just posted in another thread about game fee vs. membership and brought up the same subject of most club players being unaware of the greater scheme of things. Thank you Laurie Roberts for posting and taking the time to find this forum, which, until fairly recently was 'dead'. Things seem to have been shaken up recently and somehow word is getting out to the uninformed. All good news in that respect...

link to thread I posted in:-
http://forum.bcfservices.org.uk/viewtop ... 2094#p2094
Hatch End A Captain (Hillingdon League)
Harrow Captain (Middlesex League)

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Re: Potential solution to grading vs membership issue

Post by RichardChristie » Mon May 12, 2008 8:08 pm


Laurie, I agree with you on both of your comments.


I think this is ESSENTIAL. As you say, people wouod be far more willing to pay for something which they know something about.
Email and/or postal newsletters would be a great start - obviously email would be a far cheaper option. But other means of communication would work too - this forum ( which is getting more and more attention and visitors day by day ), the ECF website etc. etc.


This should work well, but involves a wee bit more admin than straight game fees. It does insure an income for the ECF regardless of how many games are played ( though I assume this would be fairly constant - the number of games played )

When I lived and played chess in South Africa in the 80's and 90's we had a dual system too. In order to play in a South African Chess Federation ( SACF, now CHESSA ) event or league or to be a member of a reguisteree club and have your games graded, you had to be an SACF member. The way it worked with my club was that I paid an annual club membership fee, as well as an SACF membership fee - which the club paid to the SACF on my behalf. I could also pay and register at any rated event.
Then, game fees were also payable, in the form of rating fees, paid by the clubs and tournaments when submitting games for rating calulations. The money for this came out of your club fees.

There is one possible small issue here I feel. At present my club in the UK ( for example ), charges me a membership fee based on hoe many leagues I play in - I guess this is to do with the admin involved and the GAME FEES to be paid. But, it does not take into account how many games I play during the eason, only how many leagues I participate in. So, I could play in 3 leagues and only play 10 games in a season, or i could be in 3 leagues and play 30 games - and still be paying the same GAME FEE in effect. So, to satisfy those who play less games, you might need some kind of staggered fee scale. Like 0-10 games = £5, 11-20 = £10 and 21+ = £15 ( purely thumbsucked figures! ). Very hard to implement on a practial level I think.
In SA this wasn't an issue, or certainly I never heard it raised as one. We paid our annual club fee and the club then paid the SAF for any graded games. Some did well out of this, others paid a higher 'per game' price, but hardly here nor there. Just thought this might be worth mentioning.

Ex Surbiton and Wimbledon Chess Clubs early 2000s
Currently President Canterbury Chess Club - Christchurch, New Zealand

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