In a seminal ECA AGM, the most significant feature of the meeting was the end of the tenure of David Millward as League Secretary.
In his League Secretary’s report, David reported that at its recent meeting, the LMC (League Management Committee) had reached a decision to complete the 2019-20 League commpetition which was brought to a halt by the Covid-19 pandemic, with as yet no indication when OTB chess might be resumed. This decision, which in practical terms was lacking in a means to accomplish its completition, let alone what might follow it, was not accepted by the meeting and a contrary proposal to draw a line under the 2019-20 League competition and award trophies to the teams leading each Division at its cessation. Though David’s vote against this motion was supported by two other members of the Executive, the majority vote was in favour of the alternative proposal. When it came to Election of Officers, David declined to accept nomination for re-election, bringing to an end 25 years in Office, a period matched among current Officers only by Steve Abbott’s tenure as Correspondence (now “Webserver”) Match Captain. Full recognition and thanks to David for his magnificent contribution to the Association’s activities was paid by the meeting. There cannot be many of the “current” League players who remember a time when David Millward was not League Secretary.
How to follow this act? Jeff Goldberg proposed Tom Barton of Ilford as League Secretary. Tom was initially reluctant to accept, having due regard to the enormity of the task to get the League up and running again when conditions allow and when there is sufficient support from Clubs to form a League competition once more. Fortunately, Tom decided, albeit reluctantly, to accept the challenge and will have the support of the League Management Committee and of the outgoing LS as David agreed – in the Executive meeting which followed the AGM – to remain on the League Management Committee for another year to assist Tom with taking up the reins. With the ECF’s transition to 4-digit Elo-style ratings and automated sumission of results, the likelihood is that in future the League results and submission for rating, will make use of the ECF LMS system, which we understand was already in David Millwards thinking. Make no mistake: the League competition is going to need rebuilding, with the first task being to ascertain if and when Essex clubs are going to re-open and when they will be able to hold League matches, which will largely depend on the degree to which they have managed to hold on to their membership. When in due course this first task has established which Clubs will enter and how many teams they can field, the League competition will most likely look very different to the 2019-20 competition when play ceased in March 2020.
In other decisions, a proposal from the Executive to extend 2020-21 affiliations and memberships to expire at the end of August 2022 to encourage more Clubs to return (in line with a similar gesture by the ECF with their membership fees) was withdrawn as this was not viable in the light of the audited accounts that were now available. Instead the meeting voted to freeze fees for 2021-22.
The Association still does not have a Treasurer. In the subsequent Eecutive meeting, in an effort to assist, Malcolm Crane offered to do what he could, explaining that while he is happy to collect income, he does not have bookkeeping skills. Steve Abbott (Auditor) said he was happy to draw up the Accounts if the records of income and expenditure are kept. The Executive appointed Malcolm Crane as Acting Treasurer, with thanks.
The Association has also been unable to fill the position of Assistant Match Captain, but Mark Murrell (Match Captain) said this is of lesser importance given that as a matter of course he covers most of the duties of the Asst M/C, so that he thought we could manage; this of course has not been material in the last 16 months, though OTB County chess is set to resume later this year.
There were a few changes of titles: “Grader” becomes “Rating Officer”, (David Millward re-elected) “Correspondence M/C” becomes “Webserver M/C” all games now taking place online (Steve Abbott re-elected), and the posts of “Publicity Officer” and “Webmaster” were combined under those names, i.e. “Publicity Officer and Webmaster” (Ian Hunnable re-elected).