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AGM 2011 - Chairperson's Report
The ecology of Irish Chess is a mixture of players, clubs, organizers and coaches. Without the players there would be no need for clubs or organisers. Without the clubs, where would the players meet regularly? Without the organisers, what events would the players participate in? Without the coaches, how would our juniors get so good, so quickly? Let me add to this list, the small group of titled players. Without them, who would we aspire to beat?
Irish chess needs all these groups and the ICU try to support all of them.
We held 6 committee meetings this year. To minimise travel for the executive committee, I introduced the use of Skype to hold our meetings. A large majority of the committee found these to be preferable to driving for half the day. At physical meetings, committee members who can't attend in person can also take part over a skype connection.
As to the payment of travelling expenses, article 15 specifically forbids the payment of travelling expenses to the committee members. I think all of us, having seen how much our TDs have claimed for travel, we can all agree that the ICU constitution was wisely drawn up.
We introduced a budget at the start of the year. Our treasurer will let you know how accurate we were in keeping within our budget.
Almost from the very start, it became clear that Bernard Palmer could not perform the onerous duties of secretary. By mid-october he was not answering emails or phone calls. Una O'Boyle did see him around the Ranelagh area in early November. Since then, no one in the chess community has seen him, and we can only hope that he is alive and well.
We were lucky to entice Rory Delaney to take over as acting secretary. Not only did he handle innumerable emails, and the production of meeting minutes, he organised the Club Instructor course given by Kevin O'Connell in June, he was deputy arbiter at the Irish Championships, and he was main arbiter at the Glorney Cup competition.
Our membership officer, Rory Quinn, resigned from the committee in December. Shane Lee took over his role.
We decided to have an open tendering process for organising the Irish Championships. We only had one tender from Sean Hewitt. Due to the delay in getting the process going, I rushed the announcement and let Sean organise it in Dundalk. In hindsite, we should have given him more input as to the location of the competition. In the end, Sean changed the venue to Dublin, ran all the events without a hitch, had the top 4 boards broadcasting the moves live on the internet to 300 viewers. Stephen Brady deservedly won the trophy for a sixth time. He also wins a place on the men's olympiad team playing in Istanbul in 2012.
For the 2012 championships, I would like to see it held outside of Dublin. My preference would be for Cork, as there is a large chess playing population, and the 2010 champion, Alex Lopez, also lives there. Anyone interested in running the championship in 2012 should contact the committee. We hope to have an announcement of venue before Christmas.
The Glorney cup is a junior team competition between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each country takes it in turn to organise it. This year it was once again in Ireland. It would not have run so smoothly without the huge effort by Pat Fitzsimons. He sorted out the playing venue, the accommodation for the teams, arranged for local politicians to open and close the event, arranged for the trophies, got sponsorship from Britvik Ireland for the water for the participants, and a myriad other things.
Darko Polimac organised the coaching of the teams, and we were lucky to have so many coaches (Mark Quinn, David Fitzsimons, during the event who gave their chess services for free.
Rory Delaney and Herbert Scarry controlled the event and typed in the moves for all the games.
Una O'Boyle organised posters, goodie bags and name tags for all the participants , as well as the live music to entertain our guests on one of the evenings.
Colm Daly registered a website glorneycup.com for us, and got the server going whenever it fell over.
National Club Championships
Due to a motion at last year's AGM, the winner's of the Armstrong league in Leinster, have a right to the second ECC qualification spot. This is obvously unfair, and I hope the meeting will pass the motion to remove this right. The committee after much discussion came up with appropriate wording for the new NCC rules.
Gerry Graham organised the National Club Championships this year, won by Adare with Gonzaga coming second. Both clubs are now sending teams to the European Club Cup.
Although Gerry is leaving after decades of service on the executive, he has stated that he would be happy to run the NCC in 2012.
Thanks go to John McKenna who organised the Irish Junior Championship's in Ballinasloe. Thanks also to Gerry Graham who controlled the event.
As preparation for the Glorney, our junior officer, Darko Polimac, organised one-to-one coaching for 25 of our juniors. You can see the level of improvement in some of them if you look at the September rating list. Congratulations to Diana Mirza for a terrific result in EU Youth championship's in Austria this summer. Not only did she come 3rd, her rating has shot up 800 points.
We have introduced three levels of coaching titles: School Instructor, Club Instructor and Academy Instructor. Thanks to Kevin O'Connell, who is on the FIDE Chess in Schools board, for writing and presenting the course. Thanks also go to acting secretary, Rory Delaney for doing the organisation in Dublin. All participants passed the exam at the end of the course, and they will be receiving certificates designed by our graphic designer and women's officer, Una O'Boyle, in due course.
Kevin has said he would be happy to give a training course for school instructors next February or March.
Child Protection Issues
I spent a considerable amount of time looking at child protection issues. All coaches should avail of the free courses in Child Protection Issues run by all county councils on a regular basis. Getting Garda clearance is a nightmare for our many coaches who have to apply for every school and club they teach in. We are looking at ways to make this easier.
I spoke to David McAllister, who at the time was chairman of the UCU, about if and how we could get the UCU to reaffiliate with the ICU. In the short and medium term this is not going to happen. However, as an olive branch, we have offered to get UCU events FIDE rated if they so wish.
The UCU is a 6-county body, and thus, Cavan, Moneghan and Donegal have no provincial body to support them. Two possibilities spring to mind: create a border counties provincial union for the 3 counties, or add the counties to Leinster or Connaught. Please contact me if you have any suggestions.
The new selection committee, under the chairmanship of Shannon Clements, produced the best selection report I have ever read. I'd like to thank the committee for their excellent work.
The Invitation System is now up and running. This should improve the management of tournament invitations.
Recognition of Chess as a Sport. We spent a good bit of time on this subject this year. This recognition is unlikely to happen soon, but we try to grab the mainly political opportunities in this area, when they arise.
In the coming year, we will be introducing Arbiter's titles.
Thanks go to Eamon Keogh and Shane Lee, who organised Nigel Short's simul in Dublin in February.
Look to the Future