The 2010 AGM of the Irish Chess Union is scheduled for a time when I am representing the ICU at the EU individual championships. I am sorry not to be able to attend the AGM and hope the meeting goes well. I would like to thank the general membership for having elected me as their Vice Chairman in 2009/10. I have not put my name forward for a role on the Executive for 2010/11.
Activities in 2009/10
In response to the AGM motion in 2009, I wrote an outline development plan and also designed an implementation plan. I also sought and recorded views from ICU members. This material has been posted to the website. I would like to thank those members who made initial comments and observations. Apart from the courtesy of all concerned, what struck me was the diversity of interesting and challenging ideas.
Of course, general "plans" take some time to develop fully and probably need a further AGM or two to set a full set of priorities before they can get to an implementation phase. Chess Administration will not differ in this respect to other bodies.
In the meantime, I decided in late 2009 to pick one small uncontroversial aspect of what was being mentioned in the contributions as a small test case. This was the task of setting up new junior chess clubs. I felt that this was a way of testing if "progress" was achievable. It would also allow us to see in a practical way if people were willing to volunteer - because substantial progress in developing Irish chess would need many of us to do so.
I think this has proved an interesting case study and therefore draw it to the attention of ICU members in this report. It is shown at the end of this document.
Attendance at ICU executive meetings
I attended at, and contributed to all Executive meetings, up to and including May 9th 2010. I resigned from the ICU executive at that meeting. I set out the reasons for that resignation in a subsequent letter to the secretary, as follows:
Letter of resignation
20 Coolmine Woods, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, 10 May 2010
Nicky Benson, Secretary, Executive Committee of the ICU
I write to confirm my resignation as Vice chair of the Irish Chess Union executive at yesterdays meeting, May 9th, 2010.
I am concerned about the proposed route ahead by the Executive Committee on Olympiad Team selection matters. I think it may expose the Irish Chess Union to possible legal challenge. I think it was reasonable to suggest, as I did, that we get legal advice. I regret that this was not accepted and so I have resigned from the executive committee.
On a personal level, I have enjoyed working with the committee, and wish you and the other committee members well as you seek to progress the important work of the ICU.
Payments received from ICU finds
I volunteered to act as coach to the Glorney/Faber, under 14 and under 12 teams at the event held in Cardiff. The general standard and approach of the junior teams was very positive and John McKenna is to be congratulated on his strong organisation work in this regard. I received a payment of 337 from ICU funds in respect of expenses in connection with this event. The breakdown of that payment was a) reimbursement of air fare cost (137) and b) expenses costs (200) in relation to the four day event.
I received no other funds at any time from, or connected, with any ICU activities in 2009/10.
Case Study: Developing Junior Chess
Action as mentioned in item 15.3 of the Irish Chess Development Plan.
- I met with the Leinster Chess Union (LCU) executive on February 6th to brief them on development plans ideas and raised a specific proposal to establish a "model" junior club in Leinster. This would essentially start from scratch and document all the steps taken to set up the club and in finding solutions to the many obstacles that exist (lack of volunteer chess coaches, insurance, child protection training, Garda clearance, premises, sponsorship etc) and then make these solutions available to other chess leaders / volunteers in other areas who might want to set up a junior club.
- LCU executive agreed to fund this model club and to help find volunteers and generally wished the project well, which was very important. An ambitious objective was set that 10 new junior clubs be established in a period of 2-4 years i.e. February 2010 to February 2014.
- The outcome, as reported to the LCU AGM in June 2010 (i.e. 4 months later) was clear steps underway to open 3 new junior clubs in 2010, with a further 6 new clubs forming or at planning stage.
- The overall LCU objective of 10 new junior clubs in a period of 2-4 years was therefore well ahead of target.
- In addition, an important new grouping of junior clubs (Dublin Junior chess club) was also forming with the objective of running leagues/events for juniors and linking junior club leaders. LCU were helping this also (i.e. Peter Scott, Rory Delaney representing the LCU since February 2010).
- As well as simply setting up junior clubs, very many unanticipated developments also followed as the chess community in Leinster responded to what was seen as an interesting and fresh challenge.
- For example, we now have:
- a new junior website was developed (Bryan Tobin);
- a junior chess rating system being designed (David Murray);
- a new informal junior league in Leinster developed for absolute beginners (Darren McCabe, Martin Molloy, Tom OFlynn; Brendan Duffy);
- a volunteer LCU league controller will run the leagues for the junior clubs (Gerry Smith);
- a new schedule of junior events is coming into existence (various junior club leaders)
- plans for chess training for those running junior clubs were progressed (Kevin OConnell; April Cronin).
- Library service in Dublin was interested in the initiative and offered funding (Fingal).
- This is progress that is due to a LCU executive investment and along with the volunteers in Blanchardstown. Niamh Bharrog, Jobstown, Tallaght, Rush, Curragh, Rathmines and Rathfarnham, Leinster Schools Chess Association. Rory Delaney deserves special mention for his ideas and attention to detail in documentation.
- Finally, the materials and documentation developed by this group are already sent to chess volunteers in Castlebar, Leitrim, Cork, Drogheda and so on.
I believe that we can all in the wider Irish Chess community take great heart from this one small case study. An aspect of our likely (future) Development plan was selected. Progress was, and is, pretty astounding. I hope you agree.