Covid Blues

Birthday Celebrations - Post Covid Blues

The Lancashire Chess Association is 125 years old this year, originally founded in 1897, we celebrate over 125 years of chess in Lancashire.

Yes, the association is 125 years old this year, and the association is on the brink of collapse without new fresh blood to help out. The current President, Bill O’Rourke has indicated he is stepping down after over 30+ years of service to Lancashire Chess Association. The post of Secretary remains vacant, and the post of Treasurer is currently being covered in an “acting up” basis due to the last Treasurer resigning from the post.

Whilst reaching the ripe age of 125, Lancashire Chess Association is facing some of it’s toughest challenges yet.

Accounts Closed due to Inactivity During COVID

COVID has not been kind to Lancashire Chess Association. The resignation of the Treasurer, and missing correspondence during COVID has led to the association bank accounts being closed and funds frozen. This has resulted in significant disruption to the usual business of the association. Not only can we not collect any subscriptions from clubs, we cannot make payments to organisations such as NCCU and ECF.

One aspect of the ongoing challenges is that for the first time in living memory, Lancashire is unable to field any teams in the ECF County Championships.

Discussions are still ongoing with the bank (Barclays) to get the closed accounts reinstated and the funds made available to Lancashire Chess Association. However, our attempts are being thwarted by paperwork and the slow ponderous approach by the bank. We have spent over 6 months trying to get the accounts reinstated.

It beggars belief that the bank during COVID when all events were suspended and no chess activities were taking place, decided it was right and proper to shut down the accounts for lack of activity. The reason there was no activity was due to COVID lockdown!

The bank in it’s wisdom also sent ONE single letter to the Treasurer advising of this, no follow up letters sent and at no time attempts made to contact other co-signatories of the accounts. The bank simply closed the accounts, and now the funds in them are frozen until they release them back to Lancashire Chess Association.

All of this due to banking regulations designed to stop money laundering. If it is not sorted soon, it will cripple Lancashire Chess Association and we may be left with no option but to fold.

Clubs Bite The Dust

As most clubs have restarted post-COVID, there still exist some challenges for some clubs across Lancashire. Whilst a few clubs disappeared pre-COVID, we have seen a few more clubs disappear and some on the brink. A look through the archives show that over the last 10 years, we have seen 13 chess clubs in Lancashire disappear.

Whilst is it is good to see the return of many clubs to full competitive chess, and nice to see the three chess leagues in Lancashire restart; the demise of so many clubs over the past decade is cause for concern.

Hopefully, the resurgent interest in chess during the COVID lockdown will lead to many of those new interested “online” chess players into the world of over the board chess.

The pinch is also felt by our Local Chess Congresses. Whilst Blackpool is up and sucessfully running again, the same cannot be said for Heywood and Preston. Preston running into problems with venue access. Hopefully, both of these popular chess congresses will be back up and running soon.