B&DCL/DCCA & Parents' statements on the withdrawal of a League Player

Chess League advice and information
This Joint Statement was issued on 2 March '20


With considerable regret we advise that, following Social Media speculation and some extremely unpleasant comments, the parents of a local 15 year old player have chosen to withdraw their son from playing all forms of competitive chess for the foreseeable future, to focus on his exams without any distractions or further abuse. 

The parents have asked for the following public statement to be made …

“It is with regret that we feel the need to inform the chess community of the following in relation to our son Declan Lovelock. In light of Declan’s strong performance over the last year and his recently published grade, he has faced a significant amount of accusations and online abuse from other members of the national chess community. This is especially concerning to us as Declan is only 15 years old and we believe many of these claims have come from adults who have both never met nor played against Declan but the effect their words have had has been significant. 

In order to protect both Declan’s mental wellbeing and his reputation we have made the decision to withdraw Declan from competitive chess for the time being. It is unfortunate to be placed in such a position but we are in agreement with those concerned that if Declan were to start playing competitively again, he will first play a 6 round match against a strong local or national player in front of adjudicators and with certain parameters in place in order to lay to rest any accusations of cheating. However, whilst he is already in a pressurised time of his life studying in his last year at school and figuring out his options for the future we believe that it is not in Declan’s best interests at this time to lay on him such pressure to perform. 

What began as a simple hobby that Declan enjoyed once weekly has turned into a situation that has been disheartening and stressful to manage. That being said we are incredibly grateful to those who have encouraged Declan over the last year or so and this certainly has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. We would like to extend our thanks especially to Martin, Richard, Brian and Nikki who have worked tirelessly to support Declan to improve his game play, get involved in local chess leagues and, in respect to accusations against Declan, have advocated for him and fought his corner. 

It is our hope that Declan will return to chess within the next couple of years once he has completed his studies and that he will continue to be able to enjoy what has been, up to recent times, a positive activity and great social opportunity for him”

 The ECF has written to the B&DCL and DCCA confirming it has not accused the player of being a cheat and accepts that its Director of Junior Chess & Education did make a misjudgement with respect to some of his behaviour over this matter. The ECF has apologised for this and the Director of Junior Chess & Education has subsequently apologised on the EC Forum.

We have brought the matter to the attention of the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and they have confirmed that our actions to date have been entirely correct in both their construction and implementation. The B&DCL and DCCA will be responding to the ECF’s letter in due course.

The B&DCL and DCCA understand the parents’ decision and wish him success in his exams and in his future activities. We also welcome a potential return to chess, subject to the conditions referred to above.

Given everything that the family has been through, we would politely ask for respect and privacy to be given to them.