Council Meeting Minutes - 2013-06-16

Held at: Royal Festival Hall, London

Present: Council members: Brian Brunswick, Jonathan Chin, John Collins, Jon Diamond, Fred Holroyd, Roger Huyshe, Colin Maclennan, Toby Manning.

The meeting was opened at 10:28

[1] Apologies for absence

None.

[2] Previous Meeting

[2a] Minutes of last meeting

Approval of the minutes was delayed until next meeting.

[2b] Actions completed and outstanding

  • ACTION 12F(01): Carried forward. Deadline: January (Brian to configure and test server optimisations)
  • ACTION 12F(03): Carried forward. (Toby to identify and contact potential 2010 league prize winners)
    ~ first prize has been posted; others about to be sent
  • ACTION 12F(11): Done. (MariaJon to publicise posters to tournament organisers via Tony/Jil)
  • ACTION 12H(17): Done. (Colin to prepare proposal for Journal preparation changes)
  • ACTION 12J(02): Carried forward. (MariaFred to discuss 2013 Small Board date with Tony and tell Steve Bailey)
    ~ Milton Keynes was approached but venue not very accessible or child-friendly. Toby wondered if BGA should continue to sponsor small board.
  • ACTION 13A(01): Carried forward. (Jon and Jonathan to test bank account access)
  • ACTION 13A(04): Carried forward. (Jonathan to write item on strong player mailing list for next newsletter)
  • ACTION 13B(01): Done. (Colin to provide list of last few quarters' lapsed members for analysis)
    ~ Jon has figures from Paul
  • ACTION 13C(01): Carried forward. (PaulTobyJon to ask Natasha Regan for an introduction re publicity)
  • ACTION 13D(01): Carried forward. (Brian to automate email redirects for individual officials)
  • ACTION 13D(02): Done. (Toby to resend Martha's strong player name list to John)
  • ACTION 13D(03): Done. (Jon to circulate list of publication holdings)
  • ACTION 13D(04): Done. (Toby to prepare EYGC project plan for next meeting)
  • ACTION 13D(05): Done. (Toby to prepare European Cup proposal)
    ~ on agenda

[2c] Matters arising from the Minutes

Further to action 13A(04), Toby offered to review the initial membership.

  • ACTION 13E(01): John to give Toby admin access to strong player list

[2d] Decisions since last meeting

tbc

[3] Treasurer's Report

Toby presented his written report 13e03].

The auditor had expressed concern about the ownership of the London Open account. Toby noted that changing the account was a tedious process. Colin asked about the implications for "future LOGC organisers". Toby explained the historical background.

Toby discussed his draft budget which showed a greater than expected surplus. He suggested increasing spending on the championship back to previous levels. Fred noticed that tournament expenditure was down significantly. Jon explained this was due to the loss from the previous London Open. Toby noted that loss of sponsorship was likely to affect its future expenditure. Colin asked if any subsistence was paid to representatives at international tournaments. Toby replied that none was currently paid but in the past some sponsorship money had been used for this.

Jon noted the commitment to the Butlins expenditure for the European Youth. The Castledine Barnes Trust and Paul Smith had each offered £1000; €1000 would come from the EGF; the BGA was sponsoring by the amount of the levy; and an anonymous donor had pledged to make up any shortfall. Toby was investigating sponsorship.

  • DECISION: Council approved the budget, with any minor amendments to be made at the Treasurer's discretion

[4] 2013 Priorities

Jon suggested that someone should have been given responsibility for each priority.

[4a] Recruitment/Retention

Fred asked how this overlapped with outreach. Jon and Colin thought recruitment focussed on existing Go players, while outreach went beyond that.

Colin noted Paul Barnard's report on renewals showed that many members did not renew and those that did generally needed multiple prompts. Roger noted the danger of email ending up in junk folders. There appears to be about 20% churn but we do not have much in the way of longer term statistics. Jonathan suggested including notification slips with the journal as had been done historically.

Toby wondered how many non-renewals might be due to out-of-date email or postal addresses. Jonathan noted that his university alumni magazine came with a slip for submitting amendments.

  • ACTION 13E(02): Jon to investigate cost of including renewal reminder slip with journal
  • ACTION 13E(03): Jon to investigate cost of including contact amendment slip with journal

Colin thought a direct debit system would be beneficial to retention. Toby did not think it could be easily set up with the current bank account. Jon thought the admin overhead for direct debits or standing orders were currently prohibitive and gains were not obvious. Some options were available with paypal but it would take a lot of effort to set up. Jon suggested parking the idea and revisiting in two years.

Toby noted that more than 95% of membership subscription payments were now done electronically. Colin wondered if falling membership might reflect move to online play. Toby thought the web had led to an expectation that everything was free. Colin wanted to increase the sense of community. As an example, he had suggested personalising email reminders but Paul Barnard did not think it was practical.

Jon asked for ideas for retention.

Jonathan noted that there was a perception that DDK players were not supported as much as strong players (covered under encouraging DDK players (item 15a)). Fred asked if there were any "no dans allowed" events and if they would encourage DDK players to attend. The Bar-Low is such an event. Did it reduce the problem of large handicaps? Brian wondered about holding non-tournament events, such as in the Midlands or Scotland.

Fred and Jon thought membership correlated with tournament play; club-only players were often not members. Roger recalled that BGA membership had previously been done through clubs. Colin noted that Paul Barnard and Kathleen Timmins had attempted surveys of clubs and found that even club contacts were often not members. Colin had asked some club contacts why they were not members and been told they did not get enough out of it. Others had not realised they were not members. Toby noted that it was difficult for individuals to determine their membership status.

Jon noted that the membership system was disjoint from payment processing. From a member's perspective, some duplication of data entry was required. More "slickness" would be nice.

  • ACTION 13E(04): Brian to investigate bouncing membership details directly to paypal

Jon asked for comments on recruitment.

Colin spoke about University clubs. Freshers' Fair events seemed to be the most effective way to recruit people to the game. University clubs are hard to set up but they are easy to wind up and so he is attempting to keep close contacts with them to ensure smooth hand over. Oxford has asked for help and been put in contact with Harry Fearnley. St Andrews says it will do something. Cambridge, Durham and Warwick have not responded. Glasgow has strong players with a good venue and may be able to set up an official university club. Colin reminded Council to encourage club representatives if they met them at tournaments, etc. Colin reported on Alison Bexfield's chess and go club. John had set up a website for it. She had been invited to write a journal article.

Increasing the number of clubs seemed likely to be helpful in various ways - more players overall, easier for people to play face to face, opportunities for getting people to physical tournaments. Jon wondered how to convert club players into BGA members. Jonathan asked if teaching events were restricted to BGA members only. Restricting, or having a substantial surcharge for non-members, seemed as if it should be beneficial. Roger asked how early a club player should be invited to join. Fred thought when they wanted to play in a tournament. Brian noted that in the past people attended tournaments because that was the convenient way to buy books or equipment but that this was less important now. Fred thought an attraction of tournaments was to get rated. Colin thought things like the website members area could be used to keep membership in mind. Roger noted that non-members received a lot of indirect benefits from the existence of the BGA. Jon thought the focus should be on community.

Colin suggested a membership drive - offering some form of discount. Jonathan thought this was the opposite of what was needed as it devalued membership. Brian thought cost was a less a concern than whether potential members thought there was benefit to joining.

Ideas on how to foster community: Brian suggested inviting clubs to set up smaller, more local events that were not entirely tournaments and offering to arrange for teaching at events bigger than some nominal size. Roger wondered if there was scope for more two-day tournaments which could incorporate non-competitive activities. Toby thought smaller tournaments did not benefit from having many rounds but suggested there could be multiple discrete tournaments in a single event.

John asked about setting up reciprocal links with other organisations for publicity.

  • ACTION 13E(05): Toby to contact ECF/EBU/etc about reciprocal website links

Roger asked what was known about the online-only player community, such as its size, and trying to find out their attitudes towards the BGA. Jon gave an overview of what had been done in regard to KGS.

During the lunch break, Jonathan asked for feedback in the KGS British Room on what the BGA should do to make it more relevant to online players. One person had joined because of Andrew Simons' online lectures. Another agreed that they were a good thing. One person thought the only reason to join the BGA was to support it like a charity and asked about paying by direct debit. One person suggested live broadcasting top three boards of tournaments. He also proposed on online way of getting a British rating for kyu players: Pay a small fee to the BGA who would arrange for them to play two or three games to play against established rated players and if they win enough, send out a nice printed certificate. Two other people supported the idea of low kyu players being able to obtain an EGF rating online to help maintain an accurate rank when it was hard to get to very many tournaments.

  • ACTION 13E(06): Colin to sample number of UK players on turn-based servers like dragon/OGS/etc
  • ACTION 13E(07): Jon to sample number of UK players on pandanet
  • ACTION 13E(08): Jonathan to sample number of players in KGS British Room

[4b] Outreach

Toby reported that he had been approached by Ben Murphy about participating at some upcoming anime conventions. The BGA would be present at one taking place in late July. Tony Atkins was helping and Toby had asked for other volunteers. Tony Atkins and Helen & Martin Harvey had taken part in an event near Liverpool, resulting in several queries about clubs. Unfortunately it currently has none.

Previously a BGA "flag" had been proposed. Toby thought a pull up banner would be useful. A design was needed. Colin thought local tourist information offices might be interested in displaying material advertising tournaments. He wondered about placing publicity in public areas outside events. John suggested some kind of "mascot" to place on tables for clubs that met in public areas. Jon thought existing material (Play Go leaflet, etc) could be placed on something like a menu stand. Publicity material needs to be targetted where it will do most good. Someone to arrange this and to coordinate with event organisers would be very useful.

  • ACTION 13E(09): Jonathan to find out pricing details for pull up banners
  • ACTION 13E(10): All to look for somone to be publicity officer

[4c] Youth

Covered under Youth committee report (item 5g).

[5] Committee Reports

[5a] Clubs and Membership

Discussion of Colin's written report 13e05 was covered under Priorities - Recruitment/Retention (item 4a).

[5b] External Relations

Toby presented his written report 13e06. Decisions were urgently needed about selection of 2014 World Amateur representative and EGF AGM delegate.

  • DECISION: invite Francis Roads to be representative to 2014 World Amateur
  • DECISION: Roger to be delegate at EGF AGM
  • ACTION 13E(11): Toby to meet with Roger to brief for EGF AGM

Roger asked about the status of the EGF-China sponsorship arrangements. Jon summarised Martin Stiassny's June 13th email which had indicated a contract had been signed. Japanese Pair Go and Nihon Kiin sounded unhappy with the situation.

[5c] Online

Jon presented his written report 13e07.

There had been some interest in reviving the Individual League. Jon was happy with restarting it as long as it had sufficient support this time. John proposed it would be free to members and £10 for non-members with a nominal prize such as lectures from Guo Juan.

There had been interest in finding a way to integrate online (ladder) and EGD ratings. Jon noted that currently only the Pandanet online teams games were eligible. It was not clear how this could be done.

John proposed a simple online membership query system but even that turned out to have complications such as how to keep it synchronised with Paul Barnard's spreadsheet and the practicalities of how members would be able to access it.

The was a lot of spam coming into BGA email aliases/lists so John proposed to implement blocks. Bytemark hosting would be renewed.

  • ACTION 13E(12): Roger to forward weblink comparing online and over-the-board ratings
  • ACTION 13E(13): John to produce working paper for online membership query system
  • ACTION 13E(14): John to block spam and notify council exactly what is being blocked

[5d] Player Development

Roger presented his written report 13e08.

Shodan Challenge should be continuing next year.

Six youth training sessions had been held on KGS. A similar service could be offered to DDK players. Roger advised that the teaching account could be used more widely.

Regarding activities for DDK players, following a suggestion from Graham Blackmore, Shropshire would have formal, multi-level, reviewing of games. There was not enough input from DDK players; most respondents to last year's consultation had been SDK or above. Roger wants to hear more from the DDK players themselves.

Council discussed various ways that an online game review service could be provided. Volunteers to provide analysis would need to be found. A way for people to conveniently locate a reviewer would be needed. Use of the KGS teaching account was mooted, as audio seemed more convenient for reviewers as well as being easier to follow than text. Roger commented that he had been involved in a three-way using skype for audio.

[5e] Publications

Jon presented his written report and list of stock items 13e16 13e15.

Toby asked about obtaining copies of the Learn to Play Go booklet or reprinting. There appeared to be a few more than the stock list indicated but stock was still low. Colin would send some to Toby.

[5f] Tournaments

Fred presented his written report 13e09.

Fred was unsure how the tournament committee could to provide support to tournament organisers. He suggested the committee might look into the local events proposal.

He stressed that thought needed to be given to planning for next year's and future London Open tournaments as new organisers might need to be found.

Toby noted that the British Championship title match needed to be arranged: identifying venue; choosing dates; broadcasting on KGS; someone to provide commentary.

Council recognised Tony Atkins' and Jenny Radcliffe's contributions.

[5g] Youth

Toby presented his written report 13e04. The outreach section was covered in Priorities - Outreach (item 4b).

He noted some contraction in introductory activities, possibly due to loss of funding. The future of the Youth Go Challenge needed to be considered. There had been increased participation at the British Youth. Toby thanked Roger for his youth teaching.

Jon thought there should be emphasis on youth activities in the autumn, preceding the EYGC next year. It was not obvious what as possible. Close contacts with Peter Wendes needed to be maintained. Getting more schools involved was hard. Jon noted that the US had been much more successful.

Roger reported that he had started a local "u3a" group. Colin noted that he had previously received Go enquiries from a u3a group although ultimately nothing had come of it.

[6] European Youth Go Championship 2014

Toby presented his written report 13e10. The room had been booked. It had been refurbished, addressing previous concerns about its suitability. Butlins are to quote accommodation prices. BGA can add a markup. Accommodation was aimed at families. Sue Paterson and Toby had visited the site. Main limitation seemed to be the insistence on taking accommodation for three days. Prices are not expected to be too expensive.

A website was in the process of being set up. Information needed to be ready for the EGC.

Sponsorship was being sought. Any ideas were welcomed.

Toby was not sure if the budget allowed for having professinal teaching. He was considering a separate charge to attend an optional session the day after the event.

Thought still needed to be given to organisational manpower requirements and to deciding and arranging any side events and other activities.

[7] Data Protection

Colin presented his paper on data protection policy 13e11. There were inconsistencies between various texts and with practice. He proposed some re-wording to tidy this up.

  • DECISION: The Data Protection Policy para 4 is changed to read:
    The BGA may divulge your contact details to other members for the purpose of enabling members to play go and to encourage the formation of new go clubs. Members may opt out of allowing their contact details to be shared by notifying the membership secretary accordingly.
  • ACTION 13E(15): follow-on actions from DP policy change to be completed

Toby proposed sending a individual letter to each member detailing data protection policy and asking them to verify the information held. This would give a opportunity to raise other points. He would prepare a draft.

[8] BGJ Development

Colin presented his paper 13e12, that asked if the enhanced electronic version of the Journal that was being developed should be made available to all or if access should be restricted (such as by recent editions only being available to members).

Roger ask why access to all except a few samples should not be restricted in order to maximise value of membership. Jonathan thought restricting access was the "old" approach and that a "newer" way was to make items freely available and expect people to contribute back. He cited USENIX as an example of an organisation taking this latter approach.

The decision is covered in Website members area (item 9).

Jon outlined some of the development plans for the Journal. The aim would be to have more active online content (eg. smartgo) and not just to make PDF files of text. He thought that in five year it would be unlikely that the Journal would still be printed. Colin noted that much of the complications of journal production were down to the physical printing.

Physical printing is a substantial cost (£4400 out of BGA's total operating expenditure of £9400).

[9] Website members area

Jon noted that the only reason any journal access was currently restricted was historical but this was not binding on future decisions. After a straw poll, Council decided:

  • DECISION: a rolling year of the most recent BGJ to be kept in the members area; access to older editions to be unrestricted

It was proposed that these items should be in the members area:

  • BGJ for last year
  • problems and solutions
  • club organiser's handbook
  • minutes / accounts / etc
  • policies
  • archive index
  • current rating list

Jon had asked the EGD maintainer to redirect its UK country listing page to the BGA rating page. There was an item about the rating list on the EGF AGM agenda.

Jon had written an article for the Journal and proposed to turn on the members area on 1st August.

[10] EGF AGM (review and appointment of representative)

Jon outlined the proposals he had seen:

  • France - moving EGD ratings limit down to 30k from 20k (agree)
  • Germany - tighten up on payments (agree)
  • Romania
    • voting weight proportional to members (agree)
    • limiting power of executive
    • organisational rules for European Congress (against)
  • Ireland - youth team championship (no objection)
  • rules commission - pandanet competition changes (not affected)
  • two changes to championship rules (against both)

[11] Rogel Daniels letter

Jon presented a letter from Roger Daniels 13e13. It proposed a tournament at Alexandra Palace. Council had no objection but were unsure of financial viability. It also outlined a novel rating system.

  • ACTION 13E(16): Jon to ask Roger Daniels to provide a more concrete tournament proposal
  • ACTION 13E(17): Colin to discuss Roger Daniels ideas with him in person
  • ACTION 13E(18): Jon to pass Roger Daniels rating suggestions to EGF/EGD

[12] British Championship changes

Jon's paper 13e14 to be discussed at next meeting.

[13] Tournament rules change: Referees and Appeals

EGF rules require a protocol for appeals. Parked until Geoff Kaniuk supplies report.

[14] Dan recognitions

None.

[15] Any other business

[15a] encouraging DDK players

Jonathan had received a letter from a member who was very upset because she thought the BGA was subsidising strong players and not supporting DDK players. She had previously sent email to Toby but he did not seem to have received it. The publicity for the recent strong player weekend in Cambridge could be interpreted as the BGA and Castledine Barnes trust providing a substantial subsidy for the event, although this was not the case. (The entry charge had covered the teaching venue and refreshments only; participants still had to pay for their own accommodation.)

The letter highlighted a communication problem - the belief that DDK players were being ignored even though a focus on DDK players had been one of the 2012 priorities, and DDK events had been arranged in various places around the country. Brian wondered about announcing upcoming tournaments on gotalk. Jonathan noted that the website listed tournaments but that it would be convenient to be able to view them directly in a calendar. For example, facebook events can be easily exported to google calendar.

Roger offered to handle the DDK support role until someone more permanent could be found.

  • ACTION 13E(19): Jonathan to invite the member to write "view from below" journal article
  • ACTION 13E(20): otherwise Roger to write DDK article for the Journal
  • ACTION 13E(21): John to investigate website ics feeds and linking events to facebook

[15b] Go sets for blind players

Jonathan had received an enquiry about a Go set for blind players. It was not clear where one could be obtained. Information on the BGA website was not up to date. Brian suggested Japanese ebay and Het Paard. 3D printing might be possible.

[15c] box of books

Roger proposed to contact Tim Dixon at Pentangle, which was based near his home, as he might be able to take a box of books to some tournaments.

[16] Date and time of next meeting

  • October in Leicester
    Provisionally to meet at Toby's house even if no tournament. Subsequently changed to 2nd November in Welwyn Garden City
  • March is very close to AGM
    Meeting in February preferable. Milton Keynes suggested.

The meeting closed at 16:21



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