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  1. #1
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    CV AGM: Motion about Article 8.2

    MOTION ABOUT ARTICLE 8.2

    I have submitted a motion to the Chess Victoria executive to be voted upon at the upcoming 2012 Chess Victoria AGM. The motion has been submitted by me (Grant Szuveges) in my role as a CV executive member. It has not been submitted by Melbourne Chess Club (the club of which I am the president) and does not necessarily reflect the views of the MCC or the CV executive.

    The motion regards Article 8.2 of the Chess Victoria constitution and reads as follows:

    “That in the Constitution, Section 8 (Meetings), Rule 8 (2) be changed to read:

    8 (2) The right to vote at a General Meeting shall be limited to:-

    (a) Delegates; and

    (b) Honorary life members

    who are present at the meeting.”


    Rule 8 (2) previously read:

    8 (2) The right to vote at a General Meeting shall be limited to members of the Association as defined in rule 3 who are present at the meeting.

    (Rule 3 specifies that members of the executive, as well as delegates and honorary life members are ‘Members of the Association’.)

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

    The purpose of the motion is to remove the AGM votes of the 6 person CV executive. Currently, at an AGM, the right to vote is limited to delegates from CV affiliated clubs, honorary life members and the members of the CV executive – of which I am a member.

    WHY HAS THIS MOTION BEEN PROPOSED?

    This problem with the CV constitution is not the fault of any current CV executive member and the motion is not directed against any individual on the CV executive. It is directed against what I believe to be a problem with the voting system itself. I believe that voting at AGMs should be the right of CV member clubs – not those people elected to run CV – myself included.

    WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

    CV is the umbrella body of Victorian chess clubs. It is an organisation which is supposed to represent the interests of its affiliated member clubs. Under the current constitution however, the CV executive have the right to 6 votes (one per executive member). However while the executive are allowed 6 votes, affiliated clubs have the right to 5 votes at the most. Currently, clubs have the following number of votes, depending on their membership numbers;

    10-25 members: 1 vote

    26-40 members: 2 votes

    41-60 members: 3 votes

    61-80 members: 4 votes

    81 or more members: 5 votes

    Therefore, the CV executive has more votes than even the largest clubs – thus holding disproportionate levels of power. The CV executive have DOUBLE the amount of votes (and thus double the amount of say in CV matters) as an average sized club!!! For example, in an AGM consisting of 30 voters (numbers at AGMs differ annually depending on the size of clubs, numbers at meetings etc), the CV executive’s 6 votes represent 20% of the entire vote (1 fifth). A club with 3 votes only has 10% (1 tenth). Without the votes of the executive, only 24 votes would be allowed and thus the club with 3 votes would increase its voice to 12.5% (1 eighth) of the vote.

    HOW DOES THIS WORK IN REAL TERMS?

    As well as being on the CV executive, I am also the president of the Melbourne Chess Club (MCC). It could be argued therefore, that I may vote in the interests of the MCC at CV AGMs. This would give MCC a 6th vote at these AGMs and thus a very powerful position. It could also be argued that other CV executive members who represent other clubs or coaching companies could vote in the interests of those organisations. The main problem is that clubs without their own members on the CV executive risk having less representation at CV AGMs.

    While the current CV executive is extremely diverse, with multiple clubs and coaching bodies represented, this may not always remain the case: For example, should the CV executive be dominated by MCC members, this could in theory give MCC 11 votes at CV AGMs! (6 executive votes and 5 ‘proper’ MCC votes). 11 votes in a meeting of 30 voters amounts to over 33% of the vote and thus no constitutional change is ever possible without part of this bloc providing votes (a 2 thirds majority is needed for constitutional change). Even an average sized club dominating the CV executive would mean that that club would effectively have 9 votes! A CV executive dominated by one club would also be extremely difficult to vote out of power! While CV has a diverse executive, the opportunity is now available to correct this serious problem with the CV constitution.

    WHO STANDS TO GAIN FROM THIS CHANGE?

    CV affiliated clubs all stand to gain from this change. As mentioned earlier, by eliminating the votes of the CV executive, clubs increase their percentage of the vote, thus giving each and every club more power over their own destiny. Small clubs in particular stand to gain the most from this change.

    HOW DOES THIS AFFECT HONORARY LIFE MEMBERS?

    CV currently has 4 honorary life members. Regardless of the outcome of this vote, honorary life members will all retain their right to a vote at CV AGMs.

    HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY/YOUR CLUB?

    Regardless of which club you belong to, this change will affect your club in a positive way – by giving it more say and a larger voice at CV AGMs. It will also safeguard its future voice by ensuring that no club can dominate CV by dominating the executive.

    SEE YOU AT THE CV AGM!

    If this vote is to succeed, 2 thirds of the voters at the AGM must vote for it. I do not know whether it will be passed, but to give it the best chance of succeeding, make sure that your club sends the maximum number of delegates allowed to the CV AGM. If you care about your clubs future voice at the state level, supporting this motion is the way forward for a more democratic, more representative and more just CV.

    I am a member of the CV executive, and at the CV AGM, I am sincerely hoping that I am able to vote my own vote out of existence! Please support me to do so!

    FM Grant Szuveges, CV executive member.
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  2. #2
    CC International Master Carl Gorka's Avatar
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    Cool plan

    Pity I won't be there to cast my vote in favour of your proposal
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  3. #3
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    The washup from the meeting!

    Today at the CV AGM, article 8.2 was discussed and voted upon. Of the 24(?) voters at the meeting, 12 voted for my motion, 9 against and 3 abstained. However the motion was not passed as it needed a 75% majority in order to be passed... Today was one of the most surprising days to me in my whole 20+ year involvement in chess... Here is how things all happened:

    THE LEADUP

    When I first made it public knowledge that I would propose this motion, I had expected it to cause a lot of controversy! I had no idea which way most people would vote, but I seriously thought that a lot of people (particularly on the chess forums) would have their online fists and baseball bats out and I was ready for a serious online fight! As it turned out, there was very very very little discussion (publically anyway) about the motion. Im not sure why this was the case, but Id like to think that people just saw it as a motion and that there was no ulterior motive behind it. If this was the case, then I think that it is a really good sign for Victorian chess - as it shows that people are starting to look at ideas on their merits rather than politically (ie based on who suggests them etc). Anyway, of course I knew that MCC would vote 5-0 in favour of the motion, but I really didnt know who else would vote which way - and nothing wouldve surprised me really...

    THE MEETING

    The motion was voted on towards the end of the meeting. The meeting went reasonably smoothly and wasnt really that interesting. However the discussion about the motion revealed some very interesting facts (as will be revealed when CV releases the minutes of the meeting).

    Of course I spoke for the motion and a few other people also spoke for it - mostly (but not only) MCC delegates who I had discussed the motion with at length. What was more interesting however was who spoke against the motion and their reasons for doing so (as will be revealed in the minutes).

    The very first person to speak against the motion was CV president Leonid Sandler. I thought that his argument was actually very weak and I can not remember it well enough to state it completely accurately. What I can remember though is Pano Skiotis' refutation of it - basically that the equivelent in Australian politics would be PM Julia Gillard having the same number of votes as a bloc of 100s of thousands of Australians. (at this stage a CV exec member gets the same number of votes as 20 chess club members).

    NY Wong also spoke against the motion. His argument was reasonable. While he agreed with the spirit in which the motion was based, he said that CV executives should be rewarded with a vote for the work that they put in to CV. I respect NY a lot, and his point is valid, however I don't agree with it. Votes are a valuable commodity and shouldnt be given to people just because of their service... The mention of their executive position on a resume should be enough reward...

    Pearl Yung also spoke against the motion giving a valid reason also. She suggested that while the motion will take away power from the executive, it would increase the percentage of power for the larger clubs. Technically, she is right - lets use MCC as an example. There were 24(?) voters at the AGM and MCC had 5 votes - meaning that MCC had 21% of the vote. If the 5 executive members present (1 was absent) did not have their votes, then MCC would have 26% of the vote. HOWEVER, while Pearl's point is correct, it fails to mention that average sized clubs also increase their percentage. Croydon (Pearl's club) had 3 votes and thus had 12% of the vote, however after taking away the 5 executive votes, Croydon's percentage increases to 16% - which takes a lot of fire out of that argument in my opinion...

    Life member Gary Wastell also spoke against the motion. He began by saying that he agreed with the motion in principle and that he had advocated that type of thing in the past. He then said that by voting for this motion, the CV constitution would become much more confusing etc and therefore this motion shouldnt be voted for...

    Gary Wastell: If you are reading this, I am publically asking you how this motion would change the CV constitution to make it more confusing. I am also asking you publically to work on an alternative motion (or set of motions) based on the spirit of this motion which would allow it to succeed and at the same time prevent the constitution becoming too confusing...

    To my mind, Gary's statement against the motion is putting bureaucracy ahead of common sense and ahead of the will of the majority of Victorian chess clubs.

    The most interesting and most revealing comments against the motion however were from CV treasurer Trevor Stanning. Trevor acknowledged that the motion would give more power to clubs, however he argued that individuals and coaching companies are also major stakeholders in Victorian chess and that they should also be represented by CV. I applaud Trevor for his honesty, though I am totally opposed to his view on this.

    Trevors comments were the most interesting of the meeting in my opinion, because this now marks a turning point in the history of Victorian chess: The age old view that the chess club is the most important institution in chess is now being challenged - obviously there are now people who believe that the interests of coaching companies are equal to that of the interests of clubs. To my knowledge, Trevor is the first person to publically and honestly give this view. I absolutely respect his honesty on this - it needed to be said.

    Well, who did vote for the motion?

    I honestly didnt think that this motion would get 12 votes - let alone get a majority of votes! Yet of the 6 clubs represented at the meeting (MCC, BHCC, CJCC, NPCC, Frankston, Croydon), at least 1 person from 5 of the 6 clubs voted for this motion!

    When I saw BHCC and CJCC delegates voting for my motion, (despite some of my and other MCC people's arguments with BHCC over the years) I knew that proposing the motion was the right thing to do and that it has the popular support of the vast majority of Victorian chess.

    On a side note (but related), this also indicates to me that any "war" between MCC and BHCC is clearly and absolutely well and truly over! Im really really happy about this!

    THE BREAKDOWN

    In the meeting, 12 people voted for the motion, 9 against the motion and 3 or 4 abstained (one player was out of the room at the time - and Im not sure if his abstention was included - it is irrelevent to the results anyway though).

    The votes of the executive were the most telling though. Of the 5 executive members present, only one (myself) voted for the motion and one (Kerry Stead) abstained. The other 3 all voted against the motion (and spoke against it).

    The motion "won" with 12-9 which looks like a slight majority.

    However if the executive members were not allowed to vote (the idea that the motion was aiming for) the result wouldve been 11-6 in favour of the motion. This is looking like a very clear majority.

    Lets take it one step further though: Both CV life members present voted against the motion. What this indicates, is that if voting was restricted to club delegates, then the motion wouldve won 11-4. This looks like a landslide!!!

    WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

    What this means, is that clubs clearly want this motion to succeed! It indicates that clubs are sick of the executive having the power to keep themselves in power! The choice to vote them in or out should be left to the clubs (and arguably the life members).

    COULD THE MOTION HAVE SERIOUSLY SUCCEEDED?

    To succeed, the motion needed a 75% majority - meaning that 17 people needed to vote for it for it to succeed. That means that 5 executive members and 2 life members (the numbers of both at the meeting) can effectively shut down this motion even if EVERY SINGLE DELEGATE of EVERY SINGLE CLUB voted in favour of the motion!!! This is the exact problem which my motion was proposed to get rid of!!!

    CAN THIS MOTION EVER SUCCEED?

    Yes!!! Absolutely!!! But it will be difficult. 75% is a huge majority - and a completely unfair one at that - but that is the rule and it needs to be abided by. For this motion to succeed, clubs need to take more responsibility. The following needs to happen:

    1. Clubs need to send the delegates to CV AGMs that they are entitled to send. For example, Frankston is entitled to 4 delegates - only 1 turned up. Other clubs were also underrepresented and some were not represented at all....

    2. Clubs which have let their CV membership lapse need to rejoin and then take note of point 1.

    3. Clubs need to work together on this - and make sure that they are represented by 100% of what they are entitled to represented by!

    Today meant something - it showed what clubs really want. The motion didnt get through, but it was a win anyway! It showed that this motion has majority support in Victorian chess.

    I will propose the same motion (or something very similar) again next year. If clubs want it enough (and I hope they do), it will eventually succeed - maybe not next year - but eventually.

    WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT TO ME?

    One thing a lot of people don't know about me is my personal history in chess. Quite rightly, people see me as an MCC person - however MCC was not my first club - or even my second club!!!

    When I first took up chess, I went to Essendon Chess Club - a small club which eventually died - yet was very strong at its peak! I then went to Kew Chess Club - another small club, albeit one with a great atmosphere! Even after joining MCC, I still went along to Kew CC. Kew CC also died.

    I dont want to see clubs die. Im sick of seeing clubs die. Elwood CC, Yarra CC, Mentone CC, Waverly CC, Whitehorse CC... the list goes on. Dandenong CC were once a huge club - at todays meeting they were represented by one delegate (Jamie Kenmure).

    WHY CLUBS?

    I firmly believe that the institution of the chess club is the most important institution in chess. People love their clubs, represent their clubs and form life long friendships at their clubs - they even spend countless hours standing up for their clubs on internet chess forums! Its a tribal thing and so it should be!

    The vast majority of people who work for clubs on committees etc are volunteers (arbiters are an exception to this rule). I could not calculate the amount of money in lost wages that I couldve earned if I wasnt doing MCC committee work - and Im not the only one in this boat by any means. People do this for their clubs because they have the energy and passion to do so. For the most part, there is no financial benefit for them to do so. They do it to help their club(s)...

    CLUBS VS COACHING COMPANIES

    Trevor Stannings comments when speaking against the motion bring to light a very serious problem which threatens to shift the centre of gravity in chess circles permenantly: Coaching companies are now seeing themselves as or being seen as stake holders in the game just as much as chess clubs are! This is a serious problem in my opinion.

    I have no issue with the existance of coaching companies - in fact I think its great that people are making money out of chess! I also think that it is great that they are teaching more people how to play chess and that chess is now being exposed to more people in the 'real world' than ever before! All of this is wonderful - chess is bigger than it has ever been before.

    BUT

    While coaching companies do a lot for chess, the plain reality is that they exist purely to make money for their owners - and so they should - thats what business should do. They may do a lot of good things for chess, but at the end of the day, they are first and foremost SELF SERVING!

    Im not saying that the individuals who run them are unethical people or that they do anything wrong or that they break the law or anything like that - they are often good people who love chess. But the most important thing to a coaching company (as it is to any business) is to make money for itself.

    While I have no real issue with this, I have a huge problem with coaching companies being seen as stakeholders in CV to the same extent as clubs are - or to any extent at all in fact. They have a huge unfair advantage over clubs in that the people advocating for their interests are paid. The people advocating for clubs are unpaid. Therefore the paid people (owners, managers, workers) of coaching companies have much more personal incentive to be involved in running organisations such as CV.

    The single biggest danger to chess clubs is if/when chess is dominated by or actually run by coaching companies.

    In CV's case, I have talked extensively about the problem of CV being dominated by one single club. Yet, there is an even worse scenario which is clearly possible - that CV may one day be run by coaching companies!!! This is a huge threat to chess clubs and should be taken extremely seriously by them.

    QUESTIONS TO PONDER OVER

    Chess is absolutely booming - more people are playing chess than ever before. Yet why are so many chess clubs dying? Why are chess clubs getting smaller and smaller?

    Thousands of school children are playing chess through events organised by coaching companies - yet how many of these children are actually joining chess clubs?

    Whose responsibility is it to ensure that these kids take the next step and transition from school chess to club chess? If coaching companies want to claim to be stakeholders in CV, then to my mind they need to actually contibute more to helping grow chess clubs. I have even heard talk that some coaching companies are even sheltering kids and not letting them know about chess clubs as they are afraid of losing business...

    In conversations with chess administrators (not just CV) and between chess administrators, a huge amount of what I hear them speaking about are interschool competitions. I hear very little talk about clubs... Does this seem right to you? It is right that the people running chess (who began playing chess in chess clubs) are more interested in interschool competitions (run by coaching companies) than they are in chess clubs? It doesnt sit well with me at all...

    A few days ago, there was an interschool competition run with approx 190 children playing. How many of the kids playing are actually members of chess clubs? How many even know about chess clubs? How much money was made from that interschool competition? Who made this money? How much of that money will EVER be invested into clubs?????

    The institution of the chess club is sacred to chess. Without chess clubs, chess is absolutely doomed and will be run by self interested, self seriving parties whose primary motivation is to preserve their own power in order to continue to make money for themselves.

    Chess clubs can stop this, by banding together and preventing it from happening - but they dont have much time left.

    If you care about your chess club, cut and paste this and give a copy of it to your clubs committee. Circulate it to as many clubs as you can.

    It is amazing what voting for or against one little motion at a CV AGM can actually do...
    Last edited by Grant Szuveges; 11-11-2012 at 11:15 PM.
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  4. #4
    CC Grandmaster Adamski's Avatar
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    Tough luck, Grant, as it strikes me as a sensible motion. Thanks for posting all the discussion around it.
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  5. #5
    CC International Master Paul Cavezza's Avatar
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    I think some people simply saw it as giving the big clubs more power. Next year you should write a % of the vote each club has before and after.

    I think 2 points were important

    - It's the equivalent of Julia Gillard getting a vote worth 50,000 votes.
    - Why do they get a vote? It would only make them more accountable to the clubs if they didn't.

    Good luck next year Grant.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adamski
    Tough luck, Grant, as it strikes me as a sensible motion. Thanks for posting all the discussion around it.
    Thanks for the support Adamski! But Im not upset about the result - in fact Im actually really pleased with the result. I didnt think that this motion would have any hope of actually getting as much support as it did - let alone majority support!

    This may take 10 years, but as I said, if enough people want it enough, it will succeed! Im excited by that!
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  7. #7
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    Big thank you to Grant for such a comprehensive and balanced report!
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  8. #8
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Interesting report, thanks for posting.
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  9. #9
    CC International Master WhiteElephant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelBaron
    Big thank you to Grant for such a comprehensive and balanced report!
    Yes thank you to Grant. Not sure how balanced it is though.
    Last edited by WhiteElephant; 12-11-2012 at 01:00 AM.

  10. #10
    CC International Master WhiteElephant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges

    QUESTIONS TO PONDER OVER

    Chess is absolutely booming - more people are playing chess than ever before. Yet why are so many chess clubs dying? Why are chess clubs getting smaller and smaller?
    I presume you are blaming chess businesses for this - shouldn't the clubs take some responsibility?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges
    Thousands of school children are playing chess through events organised by coaching companies - yet how many of these children are actually joining chess clubs?
    I don't know about other coaching companies but I always recommend that my stronger students join chess clubs and play in longer time control tournaments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges
    Whose responsibility is it to ensure that these kids take the next step and transition from school chess to club chess? If coaching companies want to claim to be stakeholders in CV, then to my mind they need to actually contibute more to helping grow chess clubs. I have even heard talk that some coaching companies are even sheltering kids and not letting them know about chess clubs as they are afraid of losing business...
    Can you please be more specific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges
    In conversations with chess administrators (not just CV) and between chess administrators, a huge amount of what I hear them speaking about are interschool competitions. I hear very little talk about clubs... Does this seem right to you? It is right that the people running chess (who began playing chess in chess clubs) are more interested in interschool competitions (run by coaching companies) than they are in chess clubs? It doesnt sit well with me at all...
    I don't understand - are you saying there is a problem with Interschool Competitions flourishing? Surely more kids playing chess will equal more adults playing chess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges
    A few days ago, there was an interschool competition run with approx 190 children playing. How many of the kids playing are actually members of chess clubs? How many even know about chess clubs? How much money was made from that interschool competition? Who made this money? How much of that money will EVER be invested into clubs?????
    Prior to the Victorian Semi Finals and Final (the competition Grant is referring to) CV President Leonid Sandler sent an email to all clubs inviting them to attend those tournaments and promote their events. As far as I know, no one took that opportunity, except Grant (who asked me at 10pm the night before to print out some of his MCC leaflets and distribute them the next day). I was happy to do so despite...yes....being a representative of one of the self-serving profit seeking private enterprises.

    Grant, you are saying that private companies are not doing enough to help clubs, what else should they be doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Szuveges
    The institution of the chess club is sacred to chess. Without chess clubs, chess is absolutely doomed and will be run by self interested, self seriving parties whose primary motivation is to preserve their own power in order to continue to make money for themselves.
    Wow....
    Last edited by WhiteElephant; 12-11-2012 at 01:01 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteElephant
    I presume you are blaming chess businesses for this - shouldn't the clubs take some responsibility?
    You presume wrong. It is not the fault of chess businesses that clubs are dying. Yes - clubs should take some responsibility. The point I was making there is that while chess is booming, club attendence is comparatively tiny.

    Im not against chess businesses making money - I am against them being represented by CV.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteElephant
    I don't know about other coaching companies but I always recommend that my stronger students join chess clubs and play in longer time control tournaments.
    George, dont take my comments as an attack on you or your company.

    I can understand that you feel protective of your industry.

    I know that you are an ethical person and I would never ever suggest otherwise.

    I know that you recommend that your stronger students join clubs.

    I believe that you run your business in an ethical manner.

    I believe that you try to do what is best for chess in all your business dealings in chess.

    BUT

    I do not believe that your company should be represented by CV.

    I do not believe that any coaching company should be represented by CV.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteElephant
    Can you please be more specific?
    Can I be more specific about which companies are allegedly sheltering kids from club chess?

    No chance that I will say publically exactly what Ive heard.

    Nothing can be proven in this regard and it is all heresay and rumours. But when you hear rumours enough you start wondering if there is perhaps a bit of truth in some of them.

    What I am prepared to say is that I have NEVER ONCE heard that your company does this.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteElephant
    I don't understand - are you saying there is a problem with Interschool Competitions flourishing? Surely more kids playing chess will equal more adults playing chess.
    Reasonable assumption, and yes - surely more kids playing chess SHOULD mean more adults playing chess....

    But why arent more adults playing chess???

    I have no issue with interschool comps flourishing - but I believe that CV has a duty to find out why these adults are not playing chess and to relay this information on to its member clubs.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteElephant
    Prior to the Victorian Semi Finals and Final (the competition Grant is referring to) CV President Leonid Sandler sent an email to all clubs inviting them to attend those tournaments and promote their events. As far as I know, no one took that opportunity, except Grant (who asked me at 10pm the night before to print out some of his MCC leaflets and distribute them the next day). I was happy to do so despite...yes....being a representative of one of the self-serving profit seeking private enterprises.
    As you have said, I asked you to do me that favour at 10pm the night before - and I publically thank you for doing so!

    I had planned to do it myself but something (I cant recall what - probably work or kids issues) came up on the day and I wasnt able to do it myself.

    George perhaps you are taking this a little personally, and perhaps Ive written it all in a way which seems to be painting all chess business owners with the same brush.

    As Ive said, you seem to run your company in a particularly ethical way. Im not saying that every single person who runs a coaching company is doing anything wrong - Im trying to demonstrate a shift in the chess scenes way of thinking about itself as a whole.

    The question that comes out of this to me, is "Why didnt any other club respond to Sandler's email and come along and distribute flyers?"

    I honestly don't know why they didn't. My first guess is that clubs feel a sense of helplessness with this sort of thing - a feeling of "why bother? we are not going to get any extra players from these events anyway"...

    This is one of the questions though that needs to be raised and looked at serously, openly and responsibly - by everyone including clubs.

    3 or 4 years ago, I actually went to an interschool comp at the German Club on Dandenong Road (the only time Ive ever been to one) and personally handed MCC flyers to every parent in the building. We got very few responses - and that suggests that this is possibly not the best sort of advertising.

    Its being recommended/suggested/offered by the CV President that clubs do this yet its possibly not the sort of advertising that gets results anyway.

    Whatever the solution or answer is, at the moment, there are not enough kids making that transition from interschool chess to club chess.
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