NSWCA AGM 2005

I sent an e-mail to every member of the NSWCA Council (except Bill Gletsos) on 26th October recommending that Bill Gletsos be awarded  Life Membership  of the NSWCA at the AGM in November.

I received  replies from councillors who agreed with my recommendation and the matter was duly discussed and passed at the NSWCA Council meeting and at the AGM. As explained in my original e-mail  Bill had been very active for a period of 30 years and his Life Membership was fully deserved.

Several months ago International Arbiter Jason Lyons, FIDE Master Brett Tindall, Andrew Bird(co-winner of the 2005 NSW Championship tournament) and  I had discussions on various ways the organisation of chess in NSW could be improved. Firstly and importantly the NSWCA is in a sound financial position. $80,000 in the bank - income from membership fees and bank interest - tournaments self financing - no ACF Fees, no chess centre, no venue so no overheads -only a few expenses and an excellent treasurer of long standing Norm Greenwood.

The problem areas in recent times are (a)grade matches  43 teams of 4 compared to 97 teams of 5 when I played in the mid 1970's (b)2005 NSW  Championship and supporting tournaments-total number of players in all events was 45 the lowest in modern times.(120 plus entries was regularly achieved over many years)  (c) Many vacancies on the NSWCA Council for very lengthy periods including vice-president and tournaments officer.  (d)Lengthy time-consuming disputes in 2005 which could have been solved quickly and amicably with a neutral arbiter. (e) Low entries for some weekenders.

I found it very refreshing that we had three leading organisers(all youthful) with so many new ideas who wanted to join the council. I have known Jason for over 20 years and in recent times he organised sponsorship of over $30,000 for the very successful QVB International(and weekender)next to Sydney Town Hall in the heart of the CBD and personally obtained sponsorship of $17,000 for an Olympiad. Jason is a highly qualified FIDE International Arbiter having organised and directed numerous local, national and international events. Jason has Captained two Australian Womens Olympiad Teams achieving excellent results.

Jason told me that he was interested in being the President of NSWCA at the AGM with my support and Brett Tindall, Andrew Bird, Laura Moylan and several others to fill the many current vacancies on council and retaining all the 2005 NSWCA office-bearers in their chosen positions. We had no intention of contesting any position simply filling all the vacancies by agreement with the AGM and councillors for a united friendly and better council. 

Jason wanted no conflict and arranged a private meeting with Bill Gletsos. They met amicably in my shop in the CBD  and went out for coffee. One hour later they both returned to my shop. The meeting had been very amicable. Jason had suggested that Gletsos be ratings officer(Carratt had moved to the far North and could no longer attend council meetings). Jason told Bill that of course if he wanted to contest the presidency that was no problem and Jason had a considerable number of ordinary members to support him. Gletsos agreed that he did not have the numbers and in any event  was pleased to see a new group of younger players joining the council in addition to the current councillors.

Gletsos chatted to myself and Jason on their return from their one hour meeting. Gletsos told us that he had originally Become NSWCA President only as no-one else wanted the job - he had been content as Vice President. Gletsos agreed he would not contest an election against Jason as (a)he did not have the numbers nor did he want to have a contest(b)he was pleased that there would be a full council(c) he was happy to become NSW Ratings Officer as Steve Carratt could no longer attend any council meetings as he has moved to the far north. I reminded both Gletsos and Jason that of course anyone else could turn up at the AGM and stand for Any position including of course the position of President. It was very clear to the three of us that no-one else had shown any interest so although it was possible it was most unlikely.

The agreement was a very clear one and the sole purpose of the one hour meeting. Gletsos would not stand against Jason for the position of President at the AGM.

A number of leading players were in my shop at the time after his meeting with Jason. Gletsos and Jason also both talked to these leading players playing on the internet at the other end of my shop..

Jason Lyons, still insisting on avoiding any problems, sent e-mails to every member of the NSWCA Council of 2005 giving them the details of his meeting with Bill Gletsos, the agreement that he had reached with Bill Gletsos that Bill would not run against him for President and he agreed to be NSWCA Ratings Officer under Jason's Presidency if elected, and asking them if they would be good enough to advise him if they would be standing again for re-election if he(Jason) was elected President. The response was very favourable - again with no problems.

In the weeks ahead Bill Gletsos visited my shop on a number of occasions as he has consistently for the last 30 years. In those weeks we discussed numerous improvements(with the workload between 14 councillors instead of 8).  Bill in the few months before the AGM remarked to me on at least 4 separate occasions that Jason would need to become a member of the NSWCA before becoming President. Of course this is obvious but shows once again that Bill for the full two month period on numerous occasions agreed he would not be running for President against Jason.    

I had suggested the introduction of NSWCA Membership cards for 2006, agreed by Gletsos and Lyons and Lyons was arranging with graphic designer Quentin Reitmans the production. Furthermore during those weeks before the AGM I discussed at great length my suggestion of an introductory membership fee of $10 in the first year for non members and membership to be a requirement for games to be rated. Under existing rules all players who are not members of NSWCA submit their games to the NSWCA ratings officer, the NSWCA processes their games, does some work, receives no income from non-members and provides a free service for non-members. If the NSWCA introduced this basic $10 fee the membership base would grow very substantially in the first year leading to an increase in the participation in grade matches NSWCA tournaments etc. Gletsos was more in favour of simply doubling the individual game fee from 25c per player per game to 50c per player per game for non-members.

Chess Victoria charges non-members $5 per tournament. Most administrators I spoke to supported $10 annual first time fee (including 4 newsletters) with all NSW events requiring NSWCA membership. The motion passed at the AGM was totally different. All non-members still pay nothing to NSWCA who work to rate their games.

FIDE ratings are from 1401 upwards from 1/1/2006, membership is compulsory for events to be FIDE rated yet Doeberl Cup and our clubs organising FIDE rated events are not enforcing this FIDE regulation for NSW players. The membership cards and $10 basic fee for all players would solve the problem. 

Gletsos and I also talked at length about increasing entries to grade matches. An increased membership base, contact with clubs by phone and geographical division of entries were discussed. Ten days before the AGM during our numerous discussions I made on offhand remark to Bill that I had not seen Jason for just over a week and as far as I knew he had not been in touch with Tindall for a couple of weeks. I very clearly remember Bill asking me to contact him if for any reason Jason had changed his mind as he would be available to become NSWCA President if Jason was unavailable. I told Bill I would contact Jason the next day and advise him if there was any problem. Next day I contacted Jason who had simply been very busy and had not come to my shop but he had in fact contacted Tindall who together with Bird and Moylan had a wealth of new ideas.   

Jason and I arrived at the venue for the AGM about 45 minutes early. Jason had simply not posted his membership form as it was easy to pay the treasurer on the day of the AGM. Jason went for a meal with fellow International Arbiter Dr Charles Zworestine who had no problem with Jason being President but was not in favour of me being vice-president -of course his democratic right. I repeat again that Zworestine is a great asset to the chess community in organising numerous junior and adult events. The problem with me arose in a FIDE rated event in May 2005 when a number of games were agreed to a draw without play with the full knowledge of the arbiter. More than half the players and a few spectators told me what happened all at different times when they visited my shop. Some months after reporting this to Bill Gletsos and dozens of posts on the bulletin board Bill amended the score table correctly(one player scored 6/6 with 3 unplayed games - final score 6 but the final score table sent to FIDE after several amendments remains incorrect to this day(final score 7.5 from 6 games). FIDE has threatened severe sanctions against local organisations for incorrect results. As an IA myself and having served on 4 FIDE commissions(including rules and arbiters)over a 12 year period I am sure the average member agrees with me that results to FIDE should be correct.   

On the day of the AGM I saw Bill Gletsos and Brett Tindall and chatted to them for some time before the meeting. Jason also joined in the conversation but had not yet sighted the NSWCA Treasurer to hand over his completed form.

A few minutes before the start of the AGM Jason and I were advised(not by Bill Gletsos) that Bill Gletsos was standing for President of NSWCA.

Jason and I were both devastated that after all our conversations for the last few months he had decided to stand for President. 

Gletsos told Jason that he never had an agreement with him. Gletsos told me also that he never had an agreement with Jason. He was now saying that the only agreement he ever made was that if Jason stood for President and was elected he agreed to stand for Ratings Officer.

The meeting was starting. Jason and I decided that the best course of action was not to attend the meeting. We left.

Jason had done everything possible for two months in the most democratic way.

Eight days have passed since the NSWCA AGM. 

Gletsos and Jason met for 1 hour in private to discuss 1 topic. Jason says they reached an agreement. Gletsos 2 months later denies the agreement.   

Both visited my shop after their meeting. It was clear not only from our conversations that there was full co-operation, everyone was agreed in the friendly atmosphere.

Jason sent e-mails to all NSWCA councillors advising them of the agreement and seeking their support for 2006. The NSWCA councillors all met at their regular council meetings. They naturally talked with Gletsos about Jason's email to each of them. If the agreement had not been made( as claimed two months later by Gletsos)Gletsos would have pointed out that Jason was sending false information in his e-mails but Gletsos made no such claim.   

After their private meeting Gletsos visited my shop on many occasions - the last time being 9 days before the AGM. It was clear from each and every visit that he had no intention for standing against Jason for President.

In the half hour before the AGM Jason and I both were talking to Gletsos about various matters - but no mention of the fact that he was standing for President and we had no knowledge of it.

If there had been no agreement two months before the AGM or if Gletsos had changed his mind at any time after the meeting and advised Jason there would of course be no problem. As with any democracy each side would gather supporters (one member one vote) to attend the AGM and  the winner is the new President. I would estimate up to 40 extra members would have attended to cast their vote.

The fact is of course that there was no contest due to the agreement. Is it possible that there was to be an election between Gletsos and Jason but  Jason forgot to bring any supporters at all and Peter Parr also forgot.

The 30+ members had attended the meeting with little or no knowledge of all of the above. They come in support of the game they love. The entire NSWCA membership will now have to decide on the correct course of action. 

Why did it happen?

I draw the following conclusions after my preliminary enquiries and discussions with only about 35 players (including a number of 2006 councillors) since the AGM. I do not believe Gletsos acted alone based on a number of conversations which will remain confidential. (My word is my bond). Further enquiries would be necessary to establish what happened. My belief is that Gletsos was acting on the very strong advice of one other councillor and his club-mate.

Gletsos should name them or others involved. The members of the NSWCA have a right to know and take action as appropriate.

My belief now is that Gletsos never did have any intention of standing against Jason for President until a few days before the AGM. I have known Gletsos for over 30 years and have never had any problems with him meeting him on a regular basis for all that time - and I recommended him for a fully deserved life-membership at the 2005 AGM. I have often explained how I think the Glicko rating system is a bad system but nothing has ever led to conflict. In a large chess community such as the NSWCA there are always going to be one or more bad apples. My belief is that Gletsos was heavily pressured into taking the action that he did. The decision was kept secret knowing Jason would not bring any supporters.  

We live in a very troubled world but Australia is a great country based on its democratic principles by its leaders.

Did the perpetrators of 'Billygate' really think they could get away with breaking all the principles of democracy.

The perpetrators were clearly of the opinion that Bill Gletsos should be re-elected President unopposed. They no doubt formed the opinion that their candidate may well lose or maybe not an open election. They did not want the members to know as Jason would turn up with votes.  They would do everything possible by any devious means to prevent a democratic election. We are not living in a third world dictatorship, office-bearers and officials do not own the NSWCA they are elected in a democratic process against any-one who stands.

I ask each and every member of the council and each and every member of the NSWCA to support our democracy.

The election of the President of the NSWCA must be made in a fair and democratic manner and it was not. I know of 4 players who turned up for the AGM intending to stand for a council position. Jason and I left, the other 2 attended the meeting but in the unfair circumstances decided not to stand for election. There may have been others in a similar position.

Jason and I did everything to avoid conflict but it is our duty to tell the members and the chess community what happened.  

FIDE IA Peter Parr (OAM)

Life member ACF and NSWCA (6 times Australian Olympiad Captain).