Minutes of Telepost Chess Club AGM
Held on Monday 23rd August 2021, 7.30pm at the Clubhouse
Present: Martin Ayres, John Bashall, Fred Bench, Paul Billington, Dennis Bonner, John Casewell (via Zoom), Matthew Clark, Oliver Elphick, David Hodge, Nick Holmes, James Holyhead, Graham Shepherd, Shane Sweeney, Keith Tabner, Kate Walker, Steve Wilson
Apologies: John Westhead, Phil Zabrocki
1. Acceptance of the Minutes of the AGM on 29/7/19 – accepted
2. “A” Team Summary – Matthew reported on a very successful, possibly the most successful ever, season for the A team, winning the Shropshire Online League and the Rapid Play League and runners up in the Cox Trophy and the Summer Cup. The team secured the top two targeted trophies for the season and came very close to a Treble. The whole club can be proud of these achievements. We have a very strong pyramid. Matthew thanked Nat Paul for his superb play throughout the season and his remarkable recruitment work for the rapidplay, enlisting Grandmaster and current British Champion Keith Arkell. The team also won the 2nd Division in our first season in the 5 Counties League and came a respectable 6th (only 3 points behind 2nd) in the top Division of the Five Counties League.
It was fantastic to have Nat Paul and Richard Archer as regular players for the First team. Their performances together with Phil Zabrocki have been outstanding. Will Bates also scored very well and Matthew was delighted to play alongside such talented team mates. Nigel Ferrington did very well in the Rapid Play League. Matthew really enjoyed playing alongside his old school friend Mark Nightall. Many thanks to all other players who played for the A team in any competition, such as John Westhead, Rob Nield, Kate Walker and Steve Rooney. Many Thanks as well to everyone who played in the 5 Counties.
Matthew is delighted to welcome back Nigel and John Bashall for OTB Chess. His plan is to nominate Nigel, Phil, Matthew and John for the OTB A team.
Graham questioned whether the Telepost Club requirement that people be members of the club to represent it had any bearing on last year’s team. Dennis pointed out that since there was effectively no club to be a member of during lockdown the issue had not been raised.
3. “B” Team Summary- Division 2 / Minor KO – Dennis read John W’s report. The nominated players were JW and Kate Walker, supported by Paul Officer, Steve Rooney, James Holyhead and Keith Tabner, amounting to a reasonably strong team. The team started well and briefly topped the division before dropping down – the opposition had much higher grades than in previous years. But it was an enjoyable season and John cured his phobia of online play. He is happy to remain as B team captain or stand down if someone else fancies it.
(NH noted that we had glossed over the B team’s Minor experience to save Kate reliving a tortuous episode in which the B team was effectively deprived of the trophy by a Lichess server fail.)
4. “C” Team Summary- Division 2/ 5 Counties (B) – Dennis reported that the only players used for the 3-person online team were Rob Nield, Nick Holmes and Dennis Bonner. Although we had some very exciting and close games the majority of opponents were much higher graded and the team finished with one win and the wooden spoon. In the 5 Counties Division 2 we played against teams in Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Surrey and Oswestry. It was definitely advantageous playing online and no travelling! The team of six had good support from KW, JH, RN, JW, NH, MA, JW and DB and finished joint 3rd out of 10 teams, just missing promotion by one point.
5. “D” Team Summary – Division 3 – John Casewell reported that the stable team of three players ended up in second place behind Shrewsbury C, who were of second division strength – their team for the first match included Peter Kitchen, a first division strength player. James Holyhead scored 60%, John 55% and Shane Sweeney 35% out of 10 games each. In the Minor, the team was hammered in the first round by Wellington. John is happy to be an online captain next season but not OTB, for fairly obvious reasons.
6. “E” Team Summary – Division 3 – Martin reported that the team started the season with Bill Clarke, based in Paris, on board 1, Martin on 2 and Mark Randell, based in Crewe, on 3. Bill is a founder member of Telepost. He played until February but had to retire owing to ill health and Martin was grateful that Nick was able to take over as board 1 for the rest of the season. He is also grateful to Peter Crean and Paul Billington for stepping in as reserves. The team won one match, with the team for the win comprising Peter, Nick and Paul. In the Minor, the team had a bye in round 1 and then lost to Telepost B in round 2. Notable successes included Martin’s win against the much higher graded Jim Wilkinson of Shrewsbury C and Mark Randell securing his first draw in a competitive team event.
7. 4NCL Online/ Shropshire Minor Individual – Dennis reported that in 4NCL online across 7 divisions our players were against higher graded players. Nat Paul and Phil Zabrocki in the first division finished 8th, playing against teams including IMs. Matthew and Steve Rooney’s team finished 7th out of 8 in division 3; Kate’s team 5th out of 8 in division 5; Rob Nield and Nick 3rd out of 8 in division 6; John C, James and Dennis 37th out of 72 (!) in division 7. A new 4NCL season is starting with Matthew as vice captain and Charles Higgie of Oswestry as captain.
The County Minor Individual had 15 players and 7 rounds. The winner was Nick Holmes (6/7) – all rested on the last round which Nick won and previous leader Richard Thompson of Telford lost to Phil Love of Newport. James was 3rd (5/7), Dennis 5th (4/7) and John C scored 2.5/7 and Martin 2/7.
8. Club and Shropshire websites – Nick reported that he had taken over the website from Keith after a remarkable stint of 17 years. He redesigned it as a bit of a lockdown project, aiming to update the look, make it mobile friendly, keep it up-to-date and provide info/attract new members. The new members present confirmed that they had used the site to find out about the club. Nick aimed to keep the News/Diary sections updated roughly every two weeks and the majority of members present said they were regular readers. The site proved useful for running Telepost Dark Knights competitions and Nick was grateful for contributions including Bill’s report from Paris, Kate reporting on the national online championships, a number of radio interviews, Rob’s Game of the Week, season reports from Matthew and a match report from Martin. He welcomes further contributions, especially match reports as we return to OTB.
The follow-on project was redesigning the Shropshire site, with similar aims plus a move to WordPress software which allows more people to contribute easily and is simpler to update. The major headache was getting the existing results database to marry with WordPress and Nick is very grateful to Vinnie Crean and Graham Ives for all their work on the site. Again, contributions are welcomed. DB thanked Nick for his work on the sites.
9. New Member’s report – Paul Billington reported that 11 people had made enquiries during the lockdown. We have three confirmed new members – Fred, Oliver and Ben, plus Mark Randell and Foley Stocks playing online, and a number of others who may join. His assessment of the new players was that C and B team players should watch their backs! Steve W noted that we had also lost Paul Officer, who has moved away with his work, Charles Micallef and Dean Pinnington. Dennis thanked Paul for his work in welcoming new members. We have 27 current signed up members and three online members.
10. Treasurer’s Report – John Westhead sent a written report with the accounts:
Please accept my apologies for not being able to present my report in person. I have included the accounts for the last 2 years as we did not have an AGM last year due to Covid 19.
At the last AGM in 2019 we had a total of £105.50 in the club funds, which was lower than in previous years, so we agreed to increase the club subscriptions to £8 per year. This led to a substantial profit for the 2019-20 as we did not buy any trophies for that year mainly because we did not have an AGM in 2020 to present them. This gave us £243.60 in club funds. Normally we buy trophies for any league or cup winners, so Telepost C members would have been eligible for a trophy that year as division 2 champions.
Due to the surplus and the lack of over the board chess, we reduced the fees for 2020-21 back to £5. However, we still made a profit of £63.02 because again so far, we have bought any trophies, though Telepost A won the Division 1 championship and would be eligible for trophies. This now gives us £306.62 in club funds, though if we bought the outstanding trophies this would be reduced considerably. The last time we bought trophies which were engraved glass tumblers we paid £6.10 + VAT per glass. As that was a couple of years ago, I suspect we would need to pay at least £80 for 10 engraved glasses. However, even so this would still leave us with over £200 in club funds. I’m not sure if we won any other online competitions that would require trophy purchases.
Given that the club’s finances remain healthy even, if we purchased the outstanding trophies, I would recommend that we keep the club fees at £5 per annum.
This year, I moved the club finances online and this has proved to make them easier to manage and to keep a record of who has paid. I would ask that members continue to pay their subs online, though of course I will still accept cash. For information the sort code is 55-50-05 and the account number is 78572185. Subscriptions for 2021-22 are due now.
Subscriptions were discussed further in AOB below. Keith explained that the whisky glasses that we used to present were obtained by him at a very favourable rate from contacts at Powys Trophies. The firm has since been taken over by Welshpool Printing Group and it may not now be economical to provide the same trophies. Keith and Dennis will explore this further.
11. Election of Officers and Captains for 2021/22 : The following were all agreed:
Secretary – Dennis Bonner
Treasurer – John Westhead
Website Editor – Nick Holmes
New Member’s/EQ Officer – Paul Billington
A Team Captain – Matthew Clark
B “ “ – John Westhead
C “ “ – Dennis Bonner
D “ “ – Steve Wilson
E “ “ – Martin Ayres
12. Any Other Business
1. Telepost Dark Knights – John C reported that the various events had run smoothly and he had enjoyed co-ordinating. He thanked Nick for help in setting things up. John had planned to start a new competition in September, a two-league format with promotion and relegation, but had decided to wait and see the volume of games arising from the possible Shropshire online league, 4NCL and Five Counties. Matthew noted that the TDK spring league had produced the game between Will Bates and Nat Paul which won the Colin Roberts memorial brilliancy prize. Nick commented that John was being modest as it was the efforts and enthusiasm of people like him that had kept the club thriving rather than collapsing during the lockdown. The meeting thanked John for all his work.
2. National Grading System – Nick reported that although the ECF had now moved to monthly ratings and the four-digit system, the Shropshire League had decided to continue with their system of using the summer grades to determine board orders. (There will be an opportunity in January for clubs to ask the league controller to move players whose grade is clearly inaccurate.) Dennis reminded members that everyone needed to join the ECF in order to play in the league, at a minimum of bronze level. Graham noted that grades were now referred to as ratings and that the grades referred to in the league rules needed to be updated to reflect this. Dennis agreed to follow this up with the general secretary.
3. Summer Simultaneous with Nat Paul – Dennis reported that this will take place at the clubhouse on 6th September. It is a fun free event in which Nat Paul will take on all comers. It is also a chance for us to thank Nat for all he has contributed to the club in the last 18 months before he takes a chess sabbatical. Please let Dennis know if you intend to play so he can ensure we have enough sets etc.
4. OTB/Online Members’ fees – Dennis proposed that the fees should be raised from £8 to £10 for the season to cover both OTB and online. This was in part to ensure we have cover for the cost of electronic clocks. Matthew seconded the proposal and it was unanimously carried. Matthew proposed and Shane seconded a proposal that the fees for online only should be £5 and this was also unanimously carried,
5. Steve Wilson’s new book – Steve showed the proof of his new book which is soon to be printed. It has 33 games, a number of puzzles and profiles of players from 1851 to the present day. Paul commented that the book was particularly good for someone wanting to know what club chess was like. The book, which costs £8.99, can be ordered directly from Steve.
6. OTB/Online availability – Dennis had collated a survey of which members were available for the new season ,OTB, online or both, and this was circulated. Matthew reported that the Shropshire AGM had agreed that Blue Badge holders would be able to play their matches online, with the agreement of both captains. David Hodge pointed out that this might have to involve some flexibility over grade order and that arrangements would be needed for the OTB players to be aware of the situation in the online match. Matthew suggested that we should reciprocate any requests from other clubs since the new ruling would affect John C in particular.
Matthew submitted a proposal:
“Captains should be free to nominate and select whichever members of the club they choose with the approval of the club secretary”.
He explained that the rationale for this was that there were now many sources of grade/rating information and that some ECF OTB ratings would not be the most accurate representation of a player’s strength. Nick noted that this had been discussed at the last AGM and there had been strong arguments in favour of deciding teams by strict grade order. James suggested that players could nominate their own grades based on available evidence. There was discussion of whether members of a promoted team should play in the higher league if other higher graded players were available. Martin asked why the promoted players would not play in the promoted team; Steve W said some people wouldn’t want to play in a higher division. Keith explained the system that had been used at the club up until now, with teams selected on grade order and then allowances made for travel arrangements etc. John C said he played as a member of a club and would expect the club to put out the strongest possible teams.
The proposal, seconded by Kate, was amended to read:
“Captains should be free to nominate whichever members of the club they choose with the approval of the club secretary and the player concerned.”(Nominate here refers to the official nominations required by Shropshire League.).
The proposal was carried with 11 for, 1 against and 4 abstentions. Team selections would be further discussed by the captains.
7. Shropshire 4NCL – Matthew explained that Shropshire and Oswestry/Malpas had combined into Shropshire and Friends. We have seven teams in the new 4NCL online league which starts this week. Anyone wishing to play should contact Matthew. Players need to be ECF members and to have completed the 4NCL Fair Play form. (Last season’s forms carry over, no need to redo.)
8. AOB – John C asked about Five Counties – Matthew said he had contacted organisers but it was unclear at present what this season’s arrangements would be. He thought we could probably field two teams. David Hodge asked about the club championships and whether this would be online or OTB or both. A show of hands suggested support for both formats. Nick suggested we could have both formats and then a “Charity Shield” playoff between the respective winners.
As is traditional, Keith suggested it was time to go to the bar, and the meeting closed at 9pm.