ECF Gradings – January 2020

The “December 2019” gradings are out!

Gradings wef 2019-12-31
  Andrew Emily Isobel
Standard Play 95E
Rapid Play 98E 35D 7A
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FIDE Ranking – September 2019

With the publication of the September 2019 gradings, I’m pleased to gain my debut FIDE rating.

As estimated following the August Richmond Rapid Play, this has been confirmed as 1,009 – which I will endeavour to improve.

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Richmond Rapid-Play #125

Sunday 11th August saw my return to competitive rapid-play, for the first time since the summer of 2007!

Both Emily and Isobel were entered for the U80 (grade) section, and I entered the U120… notably, the majority of players in both sections were juniors.


The first match saw me entering the end-game with a material and time advantage… but carelessness allowed my opponent (who subsequently came 3rd overall) to dismantle my pawn structure, leading to my resignation. A quick win in the second, and an early agreed draw was a satisfying morning’s work.

The afternoon began with a long (in rapid-play terms) match against one of the few other adults… with both players under two minutes left on the clock, my opponent had a bishop for two pawn advantage – his additional mobility paid dividends. In the fifth, a tactical game resulted in an agreed draw. The final round saw me enter the end game two pawns down, with my King defending against a passed pawn. Thankfully my opponent blundered, allowing me to block his King’s path through my pawn structure… a third draw.

Overall, one win and three draws (with a grading performance estimated at 78.8) was a reasonable result. Equally important, gaining two draws from the three games against FIDE graded players means (for the first time) I have a FIDE grade (estimated at 1009).


Both Emily and Isobel struggled, registering one win (against the same opponent) in their first five games… leading to the inevitable match-up – with Emily winning the family bragging rights in the sixth round.

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Chess Gradings – July 2019


Our latest gradings are as follows:

Gradings wef 2019-08-01
Andrew 107F
Emily 25F
Isobel 0E
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Five Minutes With…

Recently, I took part in a Five Minutes With… interview with Richard Nass (of Embedded Computing Design) discussing MISRA C.

The interview can be heard on the ECD website.

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Budget 2018 – Smoke and Mirrors

I don’t normally “do” politics on this blog, but claims in Budget 2018 have irritated.  Particularly the assertion that someone warning £50,000 “will be £860 a year better off from next April.”

An analysis of the numbers shows that this is not even an exaggeration, it is simply a lie!

For the purpose of this analysis, I have assumed a salary of £50,000 – simply as this aligns with the increased Higher rate threshold.

Income Tax

At first glance, the numbers stack up…

Income Tax Changes for 2019/20
Rate 2018/19 2019/20 Delta
Band Tax Band Tax
Nil Rate 0% £11,850 £0.00 £12,500 £0.00 £0.00
Basic Rate 20% £34,000 £6,900.00 £37,500 £7,500.00 £600.00
Higher Rate 40% £3,650 £1,460.00 £0 £0.00 -£1,460.00
Total £50,000 £8,360.00 £50,000 £7,500.00 -£860.00

National Insurance

But hidden in the small-print of the budget was the (expected) statement that the NI Upper Earnings Limit would increase in line with the Higher Rate threshold; the lower thresholds are also increased…

National Insurance Changes for 2019/20
Rate 2018/19 2019/20 Delta
Band Tax Band Tax
Below PT 0% £8,434 £0.00 £8,632 £0.00 £0.00
Below UEL 12% £37,916 £4,549.92 £41,368 £4,549.92 £414.24
Above UEL 2% £3,650 £73.00 £0 £0.00 -£73.00
Total £50,000 £4,622.92 £50,000 £4,964.16 £341.24

NEST Pension

The changes to the National Insurance thresholds also affect the NEST pension  contributions… while this is optional, it is opt-out, and probably not a bad idea…

Together the NI and NEST changes swallow up half of the claimed saving.

NEST Pension Changes for 2019/20
Rate 2018/19 2019/20 Delta
Band Tax Band Tax
Below LEL 0.0% £6,032 £0.00 £6,136 £0.00 £0.00
Below UEL 2.5% £40,318 £1,007.95 £43,864 £1,096.60 £88.65
Above UEL 0.0% £3,650 £0.00 £0 £0.00 £0
Total £50,000 £1,007.95 £50,000 £1,096.60 £88.65

The Sting In The Tale

Unannounced in this Budget, not even in the small print – because it relates to implementation of a long-announced change – is that for 2019/20 the contribution rate for NEST increases from 3% (2.5% nett) to 5% (4.17% nett).

NEST Pension Changes for 2019/20
Rate 2018/19 2019/20 Delta
Band Rate Tax Band Rate Tax
Below LEL £6,032 0.0% £0.00 £6,136 0.0% £0.00 £0.00
Below UEL £40,318 2.50% £1,007.95 £43,864 4.17% £1,827.67 £731.07
Above UEL £3,650 0.0% £0.00 £0 0.0% £0.00 £0
Total £50,000 £1,007.95 £50,000 £1,827.67 £731.07


In conclusion, while the headline Income Tax saving of £860 is welcomed, all other things being equal, workers earning £50,000 will be worse off by £212 a year.

Summary of Changes for 2019/20
Tax Delta
Income Tax -£860.00
National Insurance £341.24
NEST Pension £731.07
Total £212.31


Other than providing an opportunity for stealth taxes, now that the contributory basis of NI is no longer relevant, there is no justification for maintaining separate employment income tax and NI. Rather than raining the basic rate threshold, future budgets should raise the NI lower earnings limit to harmonise it with the tax threshold – at which point, employment income tax and NI should be merged (with their current combined rates of 0%, 32%, 42% and 47%).

Pensions, interest and dividend income can retain their existing rates.

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10th International Annual ISO26262 Conference

ISO 26262 Conference logo

ISO 26262 Conference logo

I’m pleased to be confirmed as a Speaker at the 10th International Annual ISO26262 Conference, to be help in Stuttgart in October.

I will be speaking on “Use MISRA C:2012 as your language subset – write safe and secure application code”

This is a topic, especially in light of the imminent publication of the 2nd Edition of ISO26262, that needs reinforcing…


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ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 Plenary 2018

ISO-IEC JTC1-SC7 2018 Plenary

Team Photo
ISO-IEC JTC1-SC7 2018 Plenary

I am pleased to have been invited to form part of the UK delegation to the ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 2018 Plenary, held at the Indian Habitat Centre, in New Delhi, between 6th and 11th May.

As well as attending the Plenary sessions (to start and finish the week) I was an active participant in two Working Groups:

  • WG20 – Book of Knowledge & Professionalization
  • WG26 – Software Testing

A busy, but enjoyable week!

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MACH2018 – a review

Manufacturing in Motion Event 2018

Manufacturing in Motion 2018

Back in January, I announced that I had been invited to participate as part of the British Standards Institution led panel session “How robotics and automation are transforming manufacturing systems” at the Manufacturing In Motion (MACH 2018) event at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

The Panel

MACH2018 Agenda

MACH2018 Agenda

The panel consists of:

  • Dan Palmer – Moderator
  • Professor Stephen Cameron – Robot Ethics
  • Robert Garbett – Drones & UAS
  • Ruptesh Pattanayak – AI transforming manufacturing
  • plus me ….


A number of questions were asked – in light of the event, these were with a manufacturing slant

  • How do you think robots, drones, autonomous systems and AI will change the manufacturing industry in the future?
  • What do manufacturers need to do to take advantage? What are the challenges and how to overcome them?
  • What is the role of standards in supporting these technologies?
  • What will the impact be on jobs? What skills will employers need to recruit for?
  • How can we make systems secure?


I even got headline billing in an article by Joseph Flaig for the IMechE… which was syndicated

My thanks to my fellow panelists for a good discussion, and my thanks especially to BSI for inviting me to be part of their session.

MACH 2018 BSI panel

MACH 2018 BSI panel
(photo: Joseph Flaig)

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So long, FNR… hello LDRA

On Friday 9th March, after nigh on six years, I bid farewell to Mychett Place and Frazer-Nash Research. I wish my former colleagues well for their future.


With effect of Monday 12th March, I have joined LDRA working out of their new Silchester office…

I’m looking forward to the new challenges.

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