This article has been written by David Green (Stowmarket)
It appears that nominating teams using player’s names and grades no longer commits those nominated players to play a single game for the team for which they were nominated.
We are half way through the season and, according to the grading database, a total of nine players across the three Suffolk league divisions have not made an appearance for the team for which they were nominated.
I feel that this is not right. Am I right? I hope to show in this article that the rules are being breached but there is some doubt because the rules lack the required clarity.
Let us now look at the Rule Book for guidance. I have added words in italics where I feel the rules need to be amended.
Rule 20. "Each club will provide a list of nominated players with grades for each team entered in the League. A player may be nominated for different clubs, provided these nominations are for teams that play in different divisions. If a club plays a match without having nominated any players then for the purposes of these rules that club shall be deemed to have nominated the four players who took part in the match and in the same board order."
Rule 21a. "Nominations for a team can be changed at any time of the season by notifying the Competitions Secretary (at least) a day before the match. Details of nominated players will be published by the Competitions Secretary." (timescale?)
Rule 21b. "Nominated players should play (for the team for which they are nominated) during the season. If this is unlikely then a different player should be nominated."
This is a very wishy washy rule; for a start the question of where in the SCCA competitions the player has to play to be compliant arises. Specifying this as the team for which they are nominated would make this rule clearer.
1) “Should” implies an aspiration not a compulsion. So what happens if the rule is ignored as widely as it is at the moment?
2) Is one appearance during each half of the season enough to meet this “should” aspiration?
3) If more than one appearance is needed to meet the aspirations in rule 21 then who decides what number of games a nominated player “should” play to avoid the need for either renomination or the risk of being sanctioned for a breach of the rules.
The rule also expresses the aspiration that a team is expected to nominate someone else to replace a nominated player who is for any reason unable to play during the season.
How is this to be enforced or does it not matter that the rule is being ignored?
What sanctions are to be applied for failing to meet the aspiration expressed in this rule?
On these issues the rule book is silent. So do we:
a) Need rule 21b at all if we are going to ignore its aspirations?
b) Accept that we need the control this rule aspires to produce and then come to an agreement as to how many games are required to meet the expectation expressed here?
c) How is the rule to be enforced? We need to decide, if enforcement action is required, then who does the enforcement and what sanctions need to be made available to ensure compliance with any enforcement instructions?
Rule 22. "Players must be bona fide club members. No player may be nominated by a club for more than one team at the same time."
This must follow from Rule 10 where substitutes must be bona fide members of the club for which they are to play and Rule 20 where nominated players must be club members. Thus there are only two classes of player: nominated and substitute, so that means Rule 22 part 1 adds nothing to our rules that is not covered elsewhere.
Rule 22 could then include the following to make the action required by the competitions secretary and the clubs crystal clear: if a player is nominated for more than one team for the same club in the Suffolk leagues then the competitions secretary will reject this incorrect nomination and ask for a nomination that meets this rule.
Rule 10 states that substitutes in the event of “unavoidable absences” have to be bona fide (NOT F.I.D.E.) (Just replace the Latin with "genuine or authentic") members of the club".
“Unavoidable absences”. This phrase restricts the ability of clubs to rest players or to play other members who wish to play in the league as these “absences” of the nominated players are voluntary and clearly are not “unavoidable” so here the rule is too prescriptive.
Rule 27 deals with the idea of ineligibility. It appears logical that a contravention of the aspirations of any rule relating to nominations should be those associated with ineligibility.
However all the time that we seek to make these rules more formal and binding we must not lose sight of the need to play for and win the league title over the chess board and not in the “stewards room”.
Maybe we can discuss this all at the Suffolk AGM or at a committee meeting so that the new competitions secretary, who will have to be found to replace Mike McNaughton when he relinquishes his post at the end of this season, has a set of non-wishy washy rules we have all agreed and agree to obey.