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Cleveland Chess EGM - Ivory Chess Set - 23/03/07
@ Middlesbrough Chess Club Cypress Road Marton

The meeting opened with the President, Gerry Walsh, paying a tribute to Tony Kiddle and the massive contributions made by him to chess in Cleveland over many years. Gerry said that Tony's death came as a massive shock. He sent his condolences to Anne, Tony's fiancee, Tony's family, and the Middlesbrough Club. This was followed by a minute's silence. The warden and the chairperson of Marton Community Centre were present and Gerry gave thanks to them.

* Ernie Lazenby had recently volunteered to be League Organiser until the next AGM. He had sorted out outstanding problems and disputes and arranged the date and venue for the next round of the Cup and Plate( semi-finals). It was reported that he was volunteering to chair this meeting and to remain in post, as Chairperson of CCA, until the AGM. The meeting accepted both offers.

Ernie took the chair and apologised for his previous lack of interpersonal skills and the way he had upset a number of people in attempting to rectify issues affecting the CCA, but did no apologise for embarking on measures needed to improve certain procedures. Ray Pallister accepted the apology and requested that any future CCA matters be not floated on the forum of the website by Ernie. Ernie agreed to this.

* An edited version of Ernie's History of the Ivory Chess Set was circulated to the meeting. Ernie outlined the views and controversies surrounding the fate of the set over a number of years; how he came to have it valued accurately, and indicated that there was now a need to resolve this once and for all.
The CCA Secretary, Phil Semp, outlined the background to the meeting and why, given that the ECF have all the members' addresses and we only have a proportion of them, it proved not possible to circulate each member by post, despite giving notice on the website a month prior to the meeting date. Nevertheless, efforts were made to circulate as many people as possible. The Chairperson indicated that the possession of a full and up to date address list held locally will have to be dealt with at the next AGM. He then opened discussion on the future of the Set.


For Keeping

The Set is a magnificent part of Cleveland chess players' heritage: it should be available to view any time during the year both by chess players and members of the public, and be presented to the winners of the "A" division annually (RS, SK)

- Problems with having it available for general viewing

1. Too risky to keep on someone's mantle piece and wouldn't be available for public viewing;
2. Local museums rotate exhibits and so would only display it sporadically (then it would go into their store) - and only if it was donated to them as their property - which could then be sold by them at some future date (thus CCA would have lost a valuable asset for nothing)...
3. General public not interested in chess memorabilia (BW)

- Storage problems

Could be stored in a bank, but insurance costs would be large. We'd have to decide whether or not to insure and risk a bank raid! If stored in same branch at which we have CCA account, could store for nothing. The question would then be whether there would be a small withdrawal fee when it came round to the annual presentation (PM)

For Selling

Not worth stashing it away; should sell and the money could be used by the association to support its activities and promote chess in the area (KB)
As above, but should sell to someone in the area, thus maintaining a local interest in the set (RP)

*After some discussion of both sides of the argument, a straw poll was taken as to whether or not to sell the Set.


*At this point the Chairperson ruled that a decision to dispose of the Set could not be taken at this meeting. Although this was a properly constituted EGM, not every CCA member had been personally notified. The Secretary also pointed out that certain members would be particularly aggrieved should such a key decision be decided by such small numbers.

*Phil Semp outlined a proposal to hold an individual ballot of all members to vote simply For or Against selling the Ivory Chess Set. He had spoken with Cynthia Gurney at ECF head office, who said that it would be possible for the ECF to send out ballot papers to all CCA members, whatever their ECF membership status, including those who are registered under the Durham MO scheme. The votes would be posted back to a local address at which there would be independent tellers who had no direct connection with the ECF or Cleveland Chess.

*A proposal to call a further meeting, notifying all members by post beforehand, at which a final decision on the future of the Ivory Chess Set would be taken, was defeated.

*A proposal to call a secret, individual ballot of all CCA members, as outlined by the CCA Secretary,was overwhelmingly endorsed.
Agreed that the Secretary prepare ballot papers to be sent from ECF Head Office; explain the voting system, and enclose a copy of the Key Points document for each member. Furthermore,that a stamped addressed envelope be enclosed with each ballot paper; that CCA foot the bill for this exercise.

At this point Gerald Shotton, who said he'd been trying to speak for ages, declared that he was the person who had already tabled an offer for the Set (see Key Points Exec Meeting 17 01 07) and that it was very close to the current maximum valuation.

*Agreed that the officers decide the timescale for the organisation of the ballot, but that there should be a minimum of 3 weeks between receipt of the ballot papers and the deadline return date.

Enclosed is an email from Phil Mitcheson to Phil Semp giving the latest on invigilation of the ballot.

I am pleased to report that the ballot of members of
the Cleveland Chess Association may be conducted under
the auspices of Tilly Bailey & Irvine LLP of Newport
House, Teesdale South, Thornaby Place, Thornaby,
Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6SE. I would suggest that each
envelope, preferably of a distinctive appearance to
assist the staff unless this would add to the cost
significantly, be clearly marked, "CHESS POLL". I
have persuaded my colleague, Mr A.C.Winfield to
invigilate, for a fee (ie a bottle of scotch!). As
one of Her Majesty's Deputy District Judges, he is
beyond reproach. For economy, I strongly recommend
that only second class postage from the ECF to our
members and thence to TBI be utilised. The time saved
is not going to be of the essence. Mr Winfield
advises that he will be on holiday between 7th and
24th May.
Regards, Philip.


Tel: 01642 342247
Email: P.Semp [at]