In a previous article on The English Chess Implosion I presented a case for the UK’s reduction in titled players being largely driven by financial considerations. I do have a practical suggestion for how money can be brought into chess, though I doubt there’s much chance of it happening.
It’s really very simple, you need people with a proven track record of raising capital in key positions within English Chess. Who are they? Well first and foremost there’s GM Raymond Keene who has been involved with the vast majority of UK sponsorship deals for more than 30 years. And secondly there is IM Malcolm Pein, founder and Chief Executive of the UK’s Chess in Schools charity which is now funding chess teachers and events all over the country. There are other very capable people around too, such as GM David Norwood, IM Nigel Povah and IM Paul Littlewood, all of whom have had heavy involvement in the corporate and financial Worlds besides their long standing and distinguished involvement with competitive chess. It should be obvious that these are the individuals you want running things rather than a rag bag of chess amateurs who think they should be important but lack the knowledge and skill.
Would those with talent be willing to help? Well someone would need to ask them. Malcolm Pein is clearly interested and was elected as the International Director at the ECF Annual General Meeting last Saturday. Certainly this is good news, English chess desperately needs people with his abilities and track record. But more are needed and in key positions.
Moving down to an individual level, how do people finance their own attempts to improve? With little or no help from federations most have to do this off their own bat, which means either massive support from family (usually parents) or enough disposable income to get to tournaments and afford coaching. In this respect kids with strong chess players as parents have a distinct advantage, especially if the parent concerned has some notion about how to become a strong player and is willing to play lots of games against their chess playing child.
Sometimes you can find a mentor or coach at a local chess club who will hopefully know what they are doing. And these days people can also become members of my Tiger Chess site which explains exactly what you must do. Of course the message of dedicated study of strategy, tactics and endgames over a period of years isn’t as attractive as the promise of transformation using a 1,000 page openings book or four. I went for years in a semi confused state about what I was doing wrong with my chess until I mixed with enough well schooled Russian players (especially Lev Psakhis) to understand the difference in what we were doing.
I have a lot more to say about these matters but frankly I think I’d just be wasting my time. Let’s just say that I’m still congratulating myself on recently changing my international representation from England to Wales and cancelling my membership of the ECF. This has been especially the case since the news broke that one of the ECF’s recent Presidents was a former rent boy and might have killed someone.
English chess is not what it was and without radical change will just drift to the end of the Fischer boomers when tournaments and clubs will have been decimated through a lack of players. But with enough of the right people in the right places there’s certainly some hope that things might get rebuilt.