Cleveland Chess Association

Cleveland Chess Association


Annual General Meeting held in St Mary’s Church Hall, (corner of) Green Lane/St Mary’s Walk, Middlesbrough at 7.15 p.m. on Wednesday, 13th July 2016


(Middlesbrough) R Stather, P Ridsdale, R Pallister, M Gouda, N Bhandari; (Great Ayton) M Hardman; (Redcar) D Baillie, S Henderson, J Allinson; (Darlington) W Metcalfe, G Hewitt; (Thornaby) B Whitaker, B Ellis, E Lazenby; (Westgarth) D Richardson; and (no club) P Mitcheson.

Apologies: D Edmunds, M Creaney, P Semp, J Pallister.


1. MINUTES of the: (1) AGM held on 15/7/15 (published 5/9/15 on website) to the extent not approved at the general meeting below); and (2) EGM held on 20/11/15 (published as amended on website 11/1/16) were accepted as accurate. R Stather queried the reference to the office of Webmaster being described as ‘Vacant’ in the former. The Secretary replied that when R Stather had first questioned this at the beginning of the season, he had raised the matter with the other members of the Executive Committee. The consensus was that there had been a discussion at the AGM and it appeared that the then incumbent was unwilling to continue in post. No one could remember a vote having taken place thereafter. The Secretary indicated that he could add a note to the minutes to the effect that there was a difference in opinion on the point, if that would settle matters. E Lazenby said he had been at that AGM and there certainly had not been a vote taken: the draft minutes should be left as they were. The meeting was content with this approach.

2. OFFICERS’ REPORTS: The Chairman informed the meeting that his report and that of the Match Organiser had been published on the website and enquired if there was any need for him to read them out, in the interests of time? There was declared to be no such need. The Secretary read out his report that had been prepared for the meeting.


Prizes were awarded to the following: -

A Division champions: Redcar A

B Division champions: Darlington C

C Division champions: Middlesbrough C

Tom Wise K/O Cup winners: Redcar A

Jeremy Burnett Plate winners: Middlesbrough Rooks

Individual open joint champions: N Tavoularis, J Allinson & R Hall (£50/3 each)

Individual minor (u145) champion: P Ridsdale (£50)

Grading prizes: (u165) R Stather and (u120) M Hardy (£25 each)



4.1 J Allinson, M Hardman, R Moore, P Ridsdale and R Stather:
That the Association makes provision for the creation of a fund for the promotion of the objects of the Association, and comprised of certain cash donated (if any) by Members and/or third parties from time to time to the Association for this purpose.

P Mitcheson stated that this proposal was unnecessary under the Constitution. The Association could accept donations under Clause 10.6 and they would, necessarily, be applied to the objects of the Association (as opposed to any other, such as the well-being of cats). The question was whether trusts were to be declared and trustees appointed under Clause 10.8. Since it had been clarified that this approach was not desired, the meeting should proceed to consider the next proposal. J Allinson disputed that donations to the Association would necessarily be applied to its objects. Indeed, in the most recent precedent, funds available to the Association were simply handed out to Members on an equal share basis, rather than applied to the objects of the Association. Passed (12 for, 1 abstention)

4.2 J Allinson, M Hardman, R Moore, P Ridsdale and R Stather:
That the draft amendments to the Constitution shown in agenda paper ‘CCA Constitution 2016’, under which provision is made for the creation of an 'Association Fund' for the promotion of the objects of the Association, be passed.

[NOTE from Secretary: the agenda paper referred to was submitted in a different format from that used for this document and will be added as an addendum. Any colouring of the text or underlining thereof may not be reproduced successfully.] Passed by the required majority under clause 9.2 of the Constitution (12 votes for, 1 against and 2 abstentions)
E Lazenby proposed that the proposal be put immediately to a vote. He was happy to rely on the fact that several of the proposers had a legal background and must have thought things through thoroughly. J Allinson did not think this was appropriate. There had been correspondence by email between himself and P Mitcheson prior to the meeting about a number of legal issues. He knew he had reservations about the wisdom of the proposal and the meeting should consider them. Accordingly, the Secretary continued and conceded that one of his concerns, namely that the Executive Committee had more than enough work to do running the Association as it was, had been fully addressed. The ‘donkey work’ in operating the ‘Association Fund’ properly was clearly to be the responsibility of the ‘Fund Manager’ and the draft wording seemed to him to meet that need. However, P Mitcheson was not persuaded that the responsibilities of administering money were so readily to be assumed. Having been professionally engaged in such matters before retirement, the distribution of money, or not as the case may be, had been routinely contentious. Often the worst characteristics of people came to the fore. Potential conflicts of interest between members could readily arise. The Association had functioned for about 130 years without its officers being burdened in this way. He queried whether members would step forward to become officers in future to assume such responsibilities; there had already been an example this season of the Match Organiser being upset by a challenge over his choice of venue for a match! Not every member could fairly be expected to possess a ‘thick skin’. R Pallister questioned whether all responsibilities for operating the proposed fund could be vested in a sub-committee and kept away from the Executive Committee in the circumstances? P Mitcheson advised that this was not possible legally; the cheques to distribute money from the Fund would need to be signed by two Officers, who were necessarily members of the Executive Committee. That meant that the signatories on the cheques would need to vet the payments and, accordingly, be responsible for them at law. That was the inherent problem in the opinion of the Secretary and the current Officers did not want this burden.

J Allinson acknowledged that the Secretary’s view accorded with his own legal analysis. However, J Allinson acknowledged that whilst a number of risks had been identified, the potential benefits for chess at large of an Association Fund far outweighed them, in the opinion of the proposers,

4.3 R Moore and R Stather:

That, in the event of resolution 4.2 being passed, a 'Fund
Manager' be elected. Nomination is Julian Allinson. Passed unanimously

4.4 B Whitaker:

That the secretary shall publish details of proposals on the Association’s website, pertaining to any general meeting of the Association, within 48 hours of being received by him from any member of the Association. Withdrawn. The proposer explained that, on reflection, he realised that his idea was flawed and unworkable—members would simply delay submitting their proposals until the last minute.

4.5 B Ellis:

That the email addresses of all members be available to all club secretaries within the CCA unless individual members opt out. The list should identify members having no email address. Not passed (1 for, 13 against, 1 abstention).

The proposer explained that this was to enhance democracy and maximise publicity for matters of concern. E Lazenby did not accept that this was the real objective; rather it would be used to facilitate the disruption of the legitimate procedures of the Association. He considered that it would be the NE Forum once again, but by more direct means. The consensus of the meeting was that unsolicited emails were unwanted and particularly those from members who always appeared to have an axe to grind. There was no impediment to individual members of clubs sharing their email addresses as they saw fit. The issues raised in the proposal ought not to be linked to membership of the Association.

4.6 B Ellis:

That any decision taken at AGM will be rescinded if 75% of the membership wishes it. The notice to rescind will be proposed at an EGM. Club secretaries may submit votes on behalf of members who are not in attendance at the EGM. Not passed (1 for, 11 against, 3 abstentions).

The proposer explained that he had carried out some research and found that the constitutions of many unincorporated associations included such provisions. P Mitcheson enquired if it was being suggested that the views of the membership were to be ascertained by postal ballot? In his opinion, the suggestion being put forward would, in fact, ‘drive a coach and horses’ through the perfectly sound democratic principles that currently applied within the Association. The consensus of the meeting was that members had either to attend general meetings to vote on proposals or, alternatively, accept the consequences of not doing so. J Allinson remarked that the real problem was that some resolutions passed at general meeting by their specific nature and consequences could not be set aside for a number of legal reasons. P Mitcheson explained that there had been much correspondence between the members having a legal background following the EGM. Resolution 4.1 passed at the AGM 2015 fell squarely within that particular category, in his opinion.

4.7 B Ellis:

That the CCA AGM be held during the “chess year”. A separate presentation night can be held for prize giving. Withdrawn by the proposer in the light of contrary views expressed.

B Ellis believed that once the playing season had finished, most members lost interest or had other pursuits. It was the Secretary’s opinion that the combination of prize-giving and conducting the general business of the Association gave the best chance of achieving a quorum. It was also appropriate to deal with Rule changes etc. following a playing season and establishing the playing regime for the next season.

4.8 P Mitcheson:

That the Constitution be amended to remove all references to the remittance of grading fees etc. or the like to the E.C.F. Passed unanimously. The Secretary reminded the meeting that the C.C.A.’s Membership Agreement with the E.C.F. would terminate on 31st August 2016. Thereafter, it would be the responsibility of individual members of the Association to register themselves with the E.C.F. for grading purposes etc. It was open to any club to make collective submissions of registrations online if this step were seen as helpful.


4.9 P Mitcheson:

4.9.1 That the Association substitute cash for the usual plastic trophies etc. and that such prizes be awarded to the clubs represented by the teams winning each division of the league and both K/O Cup competitions (the appropriate engraving of the permanent trophies being continued); and (if so passed),

4.9.2 That the winners’ prize money be set at £75 for the A Division; £50 for the B Division; £25 for the C Division; £50 for the K/O Cup; and £25 for the J.B. Plate.

E Lazenby commented that this proposal had been put forward ten years ago and had not been accepted. However, he had to accept that times had changed. The costs of running chess were rising and numbers playing were falling. Economies now had to be made where possible and he was in favour. R Pallister added that this approach would keep money in the hands of clubs, which was sensible. S Henderson queried to whom the money would be paid. P Mitcheson confirmed that the proposal was to pay the prize-money to the club concerned. P Ridsdale thought that juniors might still welcome a trophy. Accordingly, he proposed an amendment to the effect that if a winning Team Captain requested a trophy(ies) for any junior(s) that he considered had played a significant part in the team’s success, that the Match Organiser would purchase one (or more) of the usual plastic trophies out of the prize-money that had been won by the team as a whole. 4.9.1Passed unanimously with that amendment.

Concerning 4.9.2, B Whitaker queried why there was a differential in prize-money? P Mitcheson explained that he thought the hardest challenge merited more money i.e. victory achieved over 14 matches as opposed to 4 or 5 in the Cup, for example. The differential in prize-money proposed for the divisional winners was questioned generally. P Mitcheson indicated that he did not hold firm views on this and would be content if equal prize-money were to be offered. 4.9.2 Passed unanimously with the amendment that £50 be awarded to each winner of a division.

4.10 P Mitcheson: That the Association terminate its membership of the N.C.C.U. (costing £75 per annum). Not passed.

The Secretary explained that he was raising this issue once again as he could still find no value for the Association in expending about 20% of its subscription income in membership of the NCCU. That organisation had passed its sell-by date. In 2015 its AGM had failed to reach a quorum and it had reported a loss of over £300 on its own club tournament. That had dictated that only a digital clock would be offered as a first prize this year. W Metcalfe responded and considered that the NCCU had done all it could. Membership offered the Association a voice in decision-making circles. Juniors could compete for significant awards. He would gladly present any suggestions from the membership as to how the NCCU could improve its service.

4.11 E Lazenby:

4.11.1 That any member of the associationwho, through any form ofsocial media, is insulting, offensive ordemeaning of an officer(s)of the CCA should beformally warned about his/her behaviour and if such behaviour continues will bedealt with in accordance with the Constitution.

4.11.2 That sanctions should also apply to a club that allows its name to be used onsocial mediaas an outlet for one or moreof its memberstoexpress insulting, offensive or deeming comments about officers of the Association.

E Lazenby had been prompted to put forward his proposals having viewed certain postings on the Great Ayton website. It was unacceptable for the Match Organiser to be obliged to record incidents of abuse aimed at him in his annual report. It placed the Association in a very bad light. M Hardman, as a member of Great Ayton Chess Club, informed the meeting that the author of the material appearing on the website, by and large, thought he was being amusing. He had personally been the subject of some ridicule and stated that the author often poked fun at himself. M Hardman, emphasised that he was not present to defend what had appeared in any way. P Mitcheson expressed the view that the Constitution provided a remedy for misconduct by a member and read out clause 4.8. It was not legitimate to sanction a club since the Association was comprised of individuals. A proposal to terminate the membership of a member could be put to a general meeting. However, a standard of behaviour was not prescribed. J Allinson stated that legislating for particular conduct posed many problems and dangers. The Association could not, properly, attempt to police dialogue or communication, whether it be through social media or otherwise, between members at large. They could fall out over matters not involving chess.

Withdrawn on the premise that the Secretary would add a clause to the Constitution to set out the standard of behaviour to be expected of a member of the Association. Passed (13 for, 1 against, 1 abstention).

League Rules

4.12 R Pallister: That when a division comprises 7 teams, the number of matches played should be increased from 12 to 18 by playing an extra round of matches.

The proposer explained that for one month during the last season one of Middlesbrough C.C.’s teams did not have a match. G Hewitt stated that Darlington C.C. could not meet additional fixtures since it also fielded teams in the Durham League. The Chairman informed the meeting that this proposal had been considered by the Match Organiser and discussed at a recent Executive Committee meeting. It was unworkable given the length of the playing season. However, if an amendment were tabled to read, “That when a division comprises 5 or 6 teams [as opposed to 7], teams should play an extra round of matches”, this would be workable. R Pallister accepted this suggestion and the substituted resolution was Passed (13 for, 2 abstentions)

4.13 D Baillie: (on behalf D Edmunds) That rule 7.4.7 be amended by removing the words,"if their grade is 10 points or less above the lowest graded player eligible for that team."Passed unanimously. Darlington C.C. had proposed this change last year and W Metcalfe accepted that the wording made no sense and had somehow become ‘lost in translation’.


Chairman: D Baillie elected

Treasurer: Vacant

Secretary: P Mitcheson elected

Match Organiser: D Edmunds elected

President: R Stather elected

Vice-Chairman: B Whitaker elected [with the understanding that he was not thereby obliged to stand as Chairman next year, which would depend on the other offices being filled satisfactorily.]