Organizational Distractions

Last week my 10 year old son received the following email from the English Chess Federation, and checking with other parents it seems that several other junior members also got a copy:

Dear Sam,

If you are new to membership of the ECF, then welcome. This is the first email we have sent to members since our new membership scheme has been launched. Please be assured that we do not intend to bombard you with emails and intend to use this new facility we have to communicate with our members sparingly.

The ECF has a number of vacancies for Director and Officer positions – if you are prepared to help the ECF in this way then please find details of the vacancies on our website at and

The website contains a lot of information about the ECF, its activities and news stories about chess. There is a calendar of events, we have a Facebook page and you can also follow us on Twitter.

Best wishes
Mike Gunn
(Non-Executive Chairman, English Chess Federation)

Although I think that Sam would make an excellent director of finance (especially in the cuts department) I suspect the email was sent to the juniors in error. I certainly didn’t get one asking me if I wanted to pitch in and help, not that I would have accepted.

As a player I’ve learned that performing any kind of organizational role can be very distracting, whether or not you need to attend to your chess duties when you’re supposed to be playing. Being a playing captain of a team is clearly going to take your mind off your own game during a match, but all chess jobs are going to be dangerous. If, for example, someone was a director of junior chess, they are likely to be bombarded with questions and requests at any chess event. Club officials are likely to be approached too on matters varying from subscriptions to the constitution.

Of course people often feel obliged to fulfill these roles because someone has to do the job and they hope they’ll make a difference. If this is the case then there are things that can be done to reduce distracting approaches during your games, the main one being to stay at the board and at least look as if you are concentrating. Of course the occasional walk around may be unavoidable, but in this case it’s better to deflect questions that aren’t relevant to the moment with a polite ‘can we talk about this after the game’ response. To be even more polite it is perhaps worth stressing that you won’t be able to give the person concerned the attention they deserve whilst you are still playing a game.

I still believe the best solution is to avoid any type of chess organization whilst you are serious about being a player. And as this is especially the case for under 11s I’ve decided not to show my son the ECF’s email!

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: