The English Chess Federation (ECF) is the governing chess organisation in England and is affiliated to FIDE. The ECF was formed in 2004 and was effectively a re-constitution of the extant governing body, the British Chess Federation (BCF), an organisation founded in 1904. The BCF had been set up to replace the non-functioning British Chess Association (BCA) and initially, not only governed chess in England, but also included Wales and Northern Ireland in its region of activities. Nowadays however, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands are all governed by their own chess federations and English chess administrators agreed in 2004 that it would be appropriate to replace the BCF with the ECF, the change to be effective from the start of the 2005/6 season.
The British Chess Championship is run under the auspices of the ECF, and has been held annually since 1904, apart from during world wars. In recognition of the change from BCF to ECF, the Championship now awards the additional titles of English Champion and English Ladies Champion.
The ECF publishes grades for those players that compete in affiliated competitions in England (see ECF grading system). There are currently two ways to qualify for an ECF grade. For a yearly flat fee players may become a member of the ECF either directly or, since 2005, through a local Membership Organisation (MO). In areas of England where MOs do not exist or are not mandatory (much of the South) non-members must pay a Game Fee for each competitive game they play and are not considered ECF members. This three-pronged system of affiliation has been the subject of much debate in recent years.
All officials of the ECF are elected annually and may serve unlimited terms. The position of CEO is currently vacant. The current President is the journalist and keen chess player Dominic Lawson.
It is the role of the Federation to select and finance the English teams for international team competitions such as the Chess Olympiad and European Team Chess Championship. By invitation, individuals may also receive support when competing overseas in events of national importance, such as the World Junior Chess Championship.
The ECF publishes a newsletter Chess Moves, which is free to members. As of the May/June 2010 issue, this is an electronic publication (PDF) accessed online.
The British Chess Federation (BCF) was the governing body of chess in England from 1904 until 2005. It had long been argued in some quarters that the BCF should change its name to reflect the fact that only England came under its jurisdiction. The main counter-argument was that the BCF did in fact have a British dimension, since it administered the British Chess Championship. From the 1990s there had also been a campaign for the BCF to acquire the status of a company limited by guarantee, as part of a drive towards generating more sponsorship money, increasing membership and limiting the liability of its members.
It was decided to 'kill two birds with one stone', and at the start of the 2005/6 season the English Chess Federation was created, inheriting the BCF's assets and personnel. The former BCF still exists for legacy purposes, and their website remained for a time at www.bcf.org.uk (now defunct) when it was inherited by the ECF.