Search Keverel Chess
Monthly Archive

UK Chess Challenge Swansong?

The world’s largest chess tournament, the Delancy UK Chess Challenge, which annually attracts between 40 – 70 thousand children, came to a thrilling finale in Loughborough recently, with prizewinners at all age groups, and not always the expected ones.

However, it may be a finale in more ways than one, as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have declared bankrupt the event’s organiser for the last 21 years, Mike Basman, with a VAT bill of c. £⅓ million for an unpaid 20% tax on the children’s entry fees. Even now, the authorities are assessing his assets to see whether being forced to sell his house in Chessington would cover the bill.

Last January the law was changed to allow not-for-profit sports organisations to benefit from tax breaks. One hundred different sports were so advantaged, including Boccia, Tchoukball, Octopush and Arm-wrestling, to name but four (don’t ask what they are, but the other 96 may be found on the HMRC website), but “mind sports” like chess and bridge were excluded. The English Bridge Union appealed against the ruling but was unsuccessful.

Basman’s case is that he works tirelessly in his own time for the benefit of children, happily pays up to £12,000 VAT per annum on badges, trophies etc. but to become VAT-registered himself in order to process the entry fees would involve the nightmare of accountants, rigorous book-keeping, tax inspections etc. after which the schools would claim back their VAT payments anyway, making the whole exhausting rigmarole pointless.

Many of the children involved are among the country’s very brightest and best, and will be competing in their age-group at world level, as have previous winners. Compare this treatment by the Government to that of our recently returned Olympic heroes and heroines who have had about £⅓ billion of Lottery money spent on them.

Mike Basman deserves a gold medal himself, yet for all his efforts, freely given over two decades, faces being turned out onto the street.

It is also in stark contrast to the way HMRC deals with global businesses like Amazon, Starbucks et al, tentatively asking whether they could possibly spare a few crumbs from their massive profits by way of tax. It’s another example of the old saying about the law being “good at catching sparrows while the eagle soars free”.

The event website, delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com contains details of all prizewinners, photographs, games, etc. and a petition page where anyone can register their wish to have chess de-registered from VAT like all physical sports. Basman also encourages anyone concerned over the issue to write to their MP, requesting a credible explanation and some effort to get things changed.

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Bg6! and whatever Black tries White has 2.Bh5 and 3.Qe2 mate.

In this position, Black can survive for 2 moves but will be powerless against White’s 3rd move.

White to play and win

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Posts