Category Archives: English Chess Federation

Major investment to transform future of English chess announced

Major investment to transform future of English chess announced

  • Package of measures worth almost £1 million will inspire the next generation of chess players, bringing chess to a wider audience, whilst supporting the development of elite players.
  • Plans will see 100 new chess tables installed in public spaces, and grants for schools in disadvantaged areas to get more primary school children playing chess
  • Investment in the English Chess Federation will ensure players receive world-leading training and development opportunities, and help make England a chess heavyweight
  • Plans form part of Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer’s mission to give young people “someone to talk to, something to do and somewhere to go” outside of school

Chess will receive a major boost, thanks to a package of measures announced today.

The package will support primary school children attending schools in disadvantaged areas across England to learn and play chess, improve the visibility and availability of chess in communities, as well as fund elite playing as part of a combined package worth almost £1 million.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will invest £500,000 in the English Chess Federation (ECF) over two years, in order to develop the next generation of world-class talent. Funds will support expert coaching, training camps and cutting-edge computer analysis for international events to assist current grandmasters and up-and-coming players.

Investment into the ECF will include funding for junior training camps and one-to-one coaching with England internationals, prioritising access for young chess players to take part in an educational, productive activity that helps develop critical thinking skills. A portion of the money will be dedicated to support visually impaired and deaf players to compete in their own elite level competitions.

This investment comes following a speech at the Onward think tank in July, where Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer set out her commitment to ensure that young people have “someone to talk to, something to do and somewhere to go” outside of school.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

“Chess is a brilliant way for young people to develop skills such as patience and critical thinking. It is something constructive on which to spend their time and feel part of. It inspires creativity and sparks the competitive spirit.

“We want to give more young people the opportunity to find the thing that they love and realise their potential. So this package is focused on getting more young people playing chess and supporting them to develop their talent.

“We’re also equipping our elite chess players with expert coaching to help them dominate at the highest levels of the global game and restore England’s reputation among the best in the world.”

English Chess Federation Director of International Chess Malcolm Pein:

“The unprecedented grant funding will be transformational for English chess, helping to train more grandmasters and beginning the process of regaining England’s former status as a force in international chess.

“The funds will enable us to support a training programme and pipeline for our growing pool of young talent as well as assist our elite players, seniors, visually impaired and deaf players to compete for top honours in their respective international competitions. The funding will also enable the ECF to revitalise the chess tournament circuit here at home.”

Alongside the support committed to elite players, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will provide £250,000 to 85 Local Authorities throughout England to install 100 new chess tables in public parks and outdoor green spaces, to allow more people to play, connect, tackle loneliness, and develop problem solving skills.

Local authorities which are currently receiving the Levelling Up Parks Fund (LUPF) and have been identified as communities most in need of improved quality green space will determine where to locate the chess tables.

In addition, the Government has set out plans to encourage more primary school children, particularly girls, to learn to play the game. The Department for Education will award grants of up to £2,000 to at least 100 schools in disadvantaged areas across England, subject to interest.

The grants will enable them to purchase chess sets, provide access to weekly online chess tutorials, and set up online learning platforms and curriculum planning materials for teachers. This will give even more young people access to a productive, enriching activity, helping them build relationships and develop key skills that can be used beyond the game.

Children’s Minister Claire Coutinho said:

“Chess is for everyone, regardless of background. I’m thrilled that more primary school children will learn how to play, boosting their concentration, problem-solving and wellbeing in the process.

“From providing in-person tuition to helping pupils enter competitive tournaments, this funding will support schools to spark a passion for chess in children across the country.”

Learning to play chess is already a skill that young people aged 14-24 can choose to pick up while working towards their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE). Since 2021, 8,000 young people have pursued chess as part of the Skills section of their DofE.

Harriet Hunt, International Master and former World Girls’ Champion said:

“My own journey into international chess was inspired by the world-leading England players and teams at that time. I am delighted that this government funding will enable the next generation of English talents to reach their potential and compete successfully at the highest level internationally’.

David Howell, Grandmaster and UK No.1:

“Chess has been my life and, as a professional player, the news of support from the government is music to my ears. Hopefully this will inspire the next generation of chess players, as well as bringing the joys of the game that I love to an even wider audience.”

Jitendra Singh, father of UK’s No.1 chess prodigy Shreyas Royal said:

“I was struggling to support my son with the required chess tournaments and coaching instrumental to his development at such a young and crucial age.

“With this grant from the government we will be able to help more kids flourish at the game through the hard-working organisations of the English Chess Federation and chess in Schools and Communities. I believe that it is also a very beneficial hobby and would love to see more people getting into the game from this monumental announcement.”

Notes to Editors

  • The chess table locations will be determined by Local Authorities who rate highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation and have limited access to green space. The Index of Multiple Deprivation is a dataset used within the UK that looks at a number of measures of deprivation including income, employment, health, crime and access to housing.
  • DLUHC is also committed to working with the devolved governments to consider how best to support the installation of outdoor chess boards in Scotland and Wales.
  • Schools with higher proportions of pupils on free school meals will be eligible for grant funding.
  • As part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), young people can choose their own activity for the skills section. Chess is already one skill they can learn or improve their game. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department of Education (DfE) are providing over £7 million between 2022 and 2025 for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) charity to support more secondary schools and community settings to deliver the DofE, giving young people the opportunity to develop new skills and discover new interests and passions, such as chess.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
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ECF Director of Women’s Chess on Announced FIDE Sponsorship Deal

I was surprised to hear of the sponsorship deal between FIDE and Establishment Labs. If this is the only sponsor FIDE can find, after the success of The Queen’s Gambit and the increase in the number of women playing chess online, they need to seriously improve their commercial game.

While the money will doubtless be welcome to female professional players, a deal with a company whose main focus is breast enlargement sends all the wrong messages and potentially exposes the promotion of women’s chess to ridicule and could inhibit other potential sponsors.

Chris Fegan, ECF Director of Women’s Chess

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Putting the Record Straight II: Answering John Reyes and Mike Truran

Dear Colleague,

I am writing in support of my candidature for the role of ECF Chair of Governance.

During the recent past I have been subjected to a campaign of disinformation and downright untruths by Mike Truran and John Reyes and I am writing to set the record straight on both my record as Director of Women’s Chess and my qualifications for the role I am standing for.

Mike Truran has tried to argue that my time as Director of Women’s Chess has not been a success. Mr. Truran is currently undergoing formal investigation for this assertion and is the subject of a second complaint about his behaviour from another ECF Director.

He is without doubt a divisive figure who has caused division and unrest in the ECF Board.

I attach my election statement herewith which demonstrates my record in office.

Clearly, Mr Truran does not share my wish to improve the position of women in English chess. As you can see from the ECF Board minutes in 2018, at his initiative, the post was abolished

I have also had sight of a document from Mr Reyes where he claims that I have no experience of Governance and Government for this role. This has been repeated by other supporters of the status quo. As it happens, I am far more experienced in Governance and Government than my opponent.

I outline some relevant qualifications and experience

  • Honours degree in Governance/Politics
  • Worked with 2 UK Prime Ministers and several Cabinet Ministers on policy development and implementation.
  • Worked with and continue to work with the United Nations and UNEA/UNEP
  • Worked with and continue to work with European Union bodies
  • Chair a major EU-wide Committee
  • Leader of and the most senior political adviser to major UK Local Authorities including those with budgets of around £2 Billion per annum and a senior member of the Local Government Association.

I could list many more, but just wished to give these few examples to counter the on-going smear campaign against me by Mr. Truran and Mr. Reyes.

Best wishes,

Chris Fegan

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Putting the Record Straight: Answering John Reyes and Mike Truran

Putting the Record Straight: Answering John Reyes and Mike Truran

Statement by Malcolm Pein, 20th September, 2021
For British Chess News / Immediate Release

The recent message from ECF Silver Members’ Representative John Reyes, posted on the forum is such an awful misrepresentation of my position that I can only conclude it’s deliberately designed to mislead. It’s quite an intellectual leap for John Reyes to read my election address, which lists, as the first possible use of the BCF Legacy assets as:

‘1) To build the reserves to an amount specified by the Finance Committee, likely £100,000’ and allege that I intend to, and I quote the Silver Members’ rep here:

“If you feel you want to blow the pif funds and spend money on development officers till the money is gone and it’s will vote (sic) for Malcolm but if you want the chess trust to kept (sic) hold of the money and used calculated and logic risk (sic), then vote for Mike”

Perhaps John couldn’t work out that I was referring to the ECF reserves which had shrunk to a dangerously low level of 33K last time the Board were updated. I am proposing allocating about 20% of the legacy assets (circa £200K) to reserves and then about 20% into engaging Development Officers with a well-defined role that includes fund raising.

As for his:

“Malcolm wants to transfer circa £200K into the ECF from the BCF/PIF according to his Election Address, how much of that would be needlessly lost to tax?”

Obviously I have considered this. I will shortly publish a road map of how these assets can be deployed to the benefit of the ECF while minimising any tax liability. We are fortunate to have an ECF NED who is a tax lawyer and I have been consulting him on this matter.
Silver Members really deserve better representation.

I would also like to set the record straight about a number of misleading statements sent out by Mike Truran in a ‘message to Council members’ on Sunday 19th September which do not stand up to basic fact-checking.

FACT-CHECK #1: Mike Truran claims that funds transferred to charitable funds outside ECF control are subject to more oversight.
NOT TRUE – It’s different oversight. ECF nominees to the Chess Trust & the John Robinson Youth Chess Trust are not accountable for how they spend funds to the ECF Board & Council. I will be proposing safeguards for any future transfers of BCF legacy assets to the Chess Trust.

In contrast, the spending of funds held directly by the ECF is democratically controlled by the ECF Board, ECF Council & the ECF Finance Committee.

FACT-CHECK #2: Mike Truran claims that I plan to use the Permanent Invested Funds transferred from the trust funds back to ECF control on “uncosted tactical adventures.”
NOT TRUE – All of my proposals to develop & grow English chess will be carefully costed out & put to the Board & PIF Trustees and run alongside a fund-raising campaign to generate income from private sponsors and government – a desperately-needed campaign that has been noticeable by its absence under this CEO.

FACT-CHECK #3: Mike Truran claims that the existence of three employees of the non-profit educational charity Chess in Schools and Communities on the 12-member ECF Board would represent a threat to good governance.
NOT TRUE: Firstly, only 2 CSC candidates are standing for voting Director positions, the other stands for Chair of Governance. Mike seems to be a little forgetful if not hypocritical here. If it is a governance problem having ECF directors from the same organisation, why was this not raised at any time in the three years prior to October 2020, when three 4NCL Directors (Mike Truran, Alex Holowczak and David Thomas) sat simultaneously on the ECF Board?
Also, as an educational charity, CSC is mainly focused on teaching chess in primary schools, it rarely interfaces with the ECF, while 4NCL is a for-profit private limited company, whose leagues and congresses compete to an extent with ECF events and already give it lots of votes at ECF Council.

FACT-CHECK #4: Mike Truran claims that I recently stated I would hand over to a new CEO after a ‘time-limited period,’ rather than serve a full term in office.
NOT TRUE: Of course, if elected I intend to serve the full term. This may refer to an email exchange from July 28, nearly two months ago, at a very early stage of negotiations between me, Mike and the Non-Executive Directors, when I thought it was still possible to reach a compromise on the way forward without a contested election. I made strenuous efforts to reach agreement with Mike, but his rejection of every offer to meet him halfway has left me no option but to stand for CEO to achieve the objectives that I believe are in the best interest of English chess.

There are, however, two circumstances in which I would consider leaving the post early:

1) Arkady Dvorkovich decides it was all a mistake, he wants to jack it in and he asks me to replace him as FIDE President.
2) Everton win the Premier League.

Place your bets.


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