Food for thought-report from the Sheffield AGM

Here are my notes from the Sheffield and District Chess Association AGM which took place at the Red Lion tonight. The agenda and supporting documentation are on the Association web site so I’ll stick to pointing out items that may be of interest to our members. Please circulate as I can’t think straight any more…..
The meeting started on time at 7:30 with all clubs represented apart from the University.

Both John Fryer and Peter Willoughby announced that they were stepping down from their current posts. If anyone is interested in becoming a League Secretary, organising Saturday chess or helping run one of the rapidplay events, I’m sure the Association would love to hear from you.
All clubs were asked to think about whether they could host the Hope Valley, Gurnhill or Crabbe Shield and make offers at the Fixture Meeting. Steve Mann said he would be happy to run a tournament if a venue could be provided. Bill looked interested in providing a venue…

Rule Changes
In order to be passed, a two thirds majority was required. I’ve indicated voting as it was relayed from the chair:

1. The proposal to have a single time limit of 75 minutes per player for the whole game was passed with 20 in favour and 5 against. This will therefore take immediate effect.
2. The proposal to have a single time limit of 90 minutes per player for the whole game unless either team wanted a limit of 75 minutes was defeated with only 3 votes in favour and a forest of cards against. There was confusion in the room about the wording and impact of this so I wasn’t surprised it failed. However, with better wording, a similar proposal might stand a chance in future.
3. The proposal to move (back) to having one team promoted and one relegated failed to get the required number of votes with 16 in favour and 10 against. The main argument against seemed to be that it is more fun if you have a greater chance of being promoted and having 4 teams out of 8 swapping divison each year means you avoid seeing the same old faces across the board. More of this later…

4. A proposal (which we didn’t discuss at our AGM) to get rid of playoffs by resolving ties for championships/promotions/relegations using results of matches between the tied teams was passed with 22 in favour and 3 against. I was comfortable to vote in favour given our experience of a playoff this season and the fact that the league secretaries were keen to see it passed.
The next item of interest was the formation of teams into league divisions. As the proposal to cut promotion and relegation to 1 team had been defeated, surely this would be a formality…

Division 1

Worksop A and Rotherham A declined promotion (!). As the rest of division 2 consists of B teams, the line up for next season looks strangely familiar. With a strong looking University in Division 2 now, it is probably not going to be the best season to finish bottom:
Chesterfield A

Nomads A

SASCA/RJ A

Ecclesall A

Hillsborough A (formerly Stannington)

Woodseats A

Barnsley A

Darnall & H A

Division 2

As above, no change from the top end of the division. At the bottom, University were promoted in their absence but Worksop B declined promotion from DIvision 3 so only Barnsley B were relegated. SASCA/RJ B wanted to be relegated so a casual place was offered to anyone who wanted it (including our B team – politely declined). There were no takers and SASCA eventually relented.
Worksop A

Rotherham A

Chesterfield B

Nomads B

Hillsborough B (formerly Stannington)

Ecclesall B

SASCA/RJ B

University

Division 3

With 1 promotion and 2 relegations, Division 3 bucks the trend and looks a bit different to last year. Note that as one team (SASCA/RJ C) collapsed part way through the season, there is 1 team relegated and 2 new arrivals from Division 4 including our very own B team…
Barnsley B

Worksop B

Clay Cross

Aughton A

Nomads C

Hillsborough C (formerly Stannington)

Rotherham B

Woodseats B

Division 4
Due to having only 1 team relegated into it but 2 promoted, there was a danger of having too few teams in this division but Sheffield Deaf agreed to stay up and Darnall & H B took the final casual vacancy when Worksop again declined a promotion. Ecclesall belatedly realised they have 2 teams in this division.
Ecclesall C

Barnsley C

Chesterfield C

Aughton B

Ecclesall D

Sheffield Deaf

Ravenfield A

Darnall & H B
Division 5

This division might have struggled for numbers but a couple of clubs switched from the 400 league so there’s a decent selection of sides here…

SASCA RJ C

Worksop C

Nomads D

Woodseats B

Ravenfield B

University B (?) – this was mentioned but as they weren’t present at the AGM it was unclear to me if it is a confirmed entry
The 400 league will be finalised later.
AOB

Just when we were packing up to go home, along came a serious bit of AOB…

As you probably know, our match results, league tables and grades are managed via the Chessnuts website. This is a free service that has run for many years. However, the man behind Chessnuts is going to retire at the end of this season and is looking for someone to take over the running of the system. If nobody can be found to take on the work, we in the Sheffield and District Association along with several other leagues in Yorkshire will face having nowhere to post results and having no grading of our games. Steve Mann has written a paper on the impact which should appear on the Association website at some point.
The options discussed were:

1. Hope that someone takes over Chessnuts. Apparently a couple of people have shown an initial interest. If this interest is sustained, the Association could look at providing some sort of financial support/incentive.

2. Have all Sheffield and District games graded by the English Chess Federation (ECF). This would require every player to be at least a Bronze member of the ECF (£16 was quoted as the current annual fee).
3. Have, say, the top 2 divisions graded by the ECF and not bother for the rest. There is a concern that people on fixed incomes may struggle to pay £16 and would be lost to local chess.
4. See if anyone else could accommodate us. There is at least 1 other results/grading system which works outside the ECF.
After much debate, the chairman took an action to …do something…probably set up a sub-committee to present options to a future Extraordinary General Meeting. It was agreed that doing nothing and then having the debate next year would be disastrous.

Meeting closed and I was home at 10:30.

Dave Toft (Club Chairman)