Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Reflections on the SCF Administrative Fee - by Junior Tay

Rather than to dispute or speak in defence of the controversial SCF adminstrative fee (which in short requires local players to pay 60 bucks or get their ratings wiped off the FIDE list, unless you are a GM, IM, FM, pre-2000 SCF NM/CM or NJS member),  I thought it might be interesting to poll titled chessfriends on Facebook on their views. After all, they are the 'exalted minority' who do not risk getting their ratings delisted. So last evening, I simply facebook messaged those who were online with the question "If SCF requires you to pay a $60 admin fee, will you pay up?"
Within 90 minutes, 8 of them (comprising 1 GM, 3 IMs and 4 FMs) responded with the result of 6 not in favour of paying and 2 willing to cough up the moolah. What's more interesting is the rationale they offer for their decisions and the queries they made.

Two of the masters stated that since they are not playing actively, they would not pay and they have no issues having their ratings wiped off. One of the two indicated that if he is still active on the circuit, and an admin fee is necessary, he will dole out the cash.

Another master was strongly against paying the fee,and asked me if this move is constitutional, as this is a decision that affects all SCF members and hence should be tabled for voting during the AGM. I am not versed in such matters and hence cannot offer him an informed answer.

One master, who would have declined to pay as a matter of principle, pointed out the irony of  Team  Kasparov (of which the SCF President belongs to) FIDE Election  Program's pledge to decrease federation fees by 50% and all other fees by 25%  and SCF's introduction of an admin fee. 
The two masters who advocate the paying of the fee (if required), felt that they should do their part for the local chess federation, since they can afford to do so. One of them reflected that SCF is saddled with a huge wage (+ utilities) bill and it is only fair for chess players to help keep it afloat. He suggested that for players who cannot pay, they can assist in tourneys at $5 an event and offset their dues (I suppose on the basis that they help out in one tourney per month). However,  he indicated the need for good communication with the chess players and stakeholders on the rationale for the fee.

One master expressed fears that this move may drive players to focus on online chess servers instead given that there are quite a number of free chess servers with strong players online.
Yet another master noted that the admin fee essentially ends up with FIDE and not SCF per se and thus the issue is more politically than financially motivated. I suppose he is referring to the FIDE License fee which FIDE previously intended to implement but subsequently put aside. Under that rule, the federations which collected the fees might get a cut after the collection. It's not clear if these two issues are related but if they are, then the local chess player must then consider the political element when they make the decision to pay or not.

Personally, I find it strange to penalise the majority of the chess players who are good enough to earn a FIDE rating but not the strong minority with FIDE titles. Kasparov's platform also indicated 'FIDE must provide benefits to the huge base of chessplayers, not just serve the elite', so there you have another paradox again. Perhaps this is not a good analogy contextually but to me, it seems that the opposite is happening here. Anyway, since the top players are excluded from paying the fee, SCF does not risk losing its best players from the FIDE rating list.

Note: My survey is not meant to represent the views of the general chess community or the sentiments of the strong local players. Of course if I were to poll the masters in the SCF committee,  the results will most likely be different. This is merely a simple straw poll among chess friends who happen to be on facebook chat last evening.

1 comment:

  1. Fine insights. Thanks for the honest effort.

    A new article in New York Times today (Kasparov and Singapore):