The English Chess Federation – Chess in England

The English Chess Federation or ECF is the foremost chess governing body in England. It is a member of the FIDE or the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, which is also known as the World Chess Federation.

The origins of the ECF can be traced to as far back as 1904, when it was founded as the British Chess Federation. This original name was the subject of a fair bit of controversy, particularly since Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and the Channel Islands had their own chess federations for many years. Many of the staunchest critics of the name felt that “English Chess Federation” did not accurately reflect the existence of these federations, and that it implied that the ECF was the main chess governing body all over the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, the supporters of the name felt that since the BCF was primarily responsible for administering the British Chess Championship, no name change was necessary. In any case the name was changed to the English Chess Federation at the start of the 2005 -2006 chess season. After the name change, the ECF inherited all of the assets and personnel of the former BCF, which currently exists solely for legacy purposes. Interestingly enough, the ECF’s web site can still be found at

On a side note: before the BCF was renamed to the English Chess Federation, they were involved in a campaign to attain a “company limited by guarantee” status. This was in line with its goal to receive more sponsorship funding, as well as to limit member liability and increase membership.

Today, the British Chess Championship is still held under the auspices of the ECF. The event has been held every year since 1904, barring the years of the two world wars. The ECF is also responsible for the selection and financing of the English team for the Chess Olympiad, which is held every two years.

For players that wish to compete in affiliated competitions in England, the English Chess Federation publishes grades that will make them eligible for the competitions. Players who wish to qualify for an ECF grade have two options available to them. They may become a member of the ECF directly by paying a flat annual fee, and beginning in 2005, they may also apply for membership through a local Membership Organization. In areas of the country where there are no Membership Organizations–or where they are not required, such as in many parts of the South–non-members are required to pay a Game Fee for each competitive chess match that they play in.

All of the English Chess Federation’s officials are elected yearly and each of them is allowed to serve unlimited terms. The current CEO of the ECF is Martin Regan, who was elected to the post in 2006. Regan’s appointment was the subject of some opposition, as opposed to the previous year’s appointments, which were generally unopposed.