Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Great Chessboxing Swindle: chessboxing hits back

It's just not fair, apparently. Week before last we ran a piece about chessboxing, sceptical of both the activity and the media coverage it's received. This has upset British chessboxing supremo Tim Woolgar, who on Monday this week sent us the following email:
I have just noticed that you published your story a few days ago. I am surprised because it is normal to provide advance copy to the contributors - for the purpose of checking the accuracy of any quotes and indeed to provide an opportunity of rebuttal. Given the fact that my colleague Rajko and I went to some effort to provide you with the help requested I am very disappointed that you failed to extend this simple courtesy.

Your published complaint (ironically) seems to be based on envy or jealousy about the amount of coverage chessboxing receives in the media. Well, perhaps I need to point out that I don't like to be lied to or misled - and nor does any journalist. The article published bears little resemblance to the outline you supplied. If this cowardly approach reflects the general standard of your character then it is highly unsurprising that you have achieved so little in your attempts to gain publicity.


Take that, chessbloggers!

As it's clear that Mr Woolgar is complaining, but, in truth, unclear that he has anything to complain about, on Tuesday we sent him a reply:
Dear Mr Woolgar

Thank you for your email. I am afraid you seem to be under several serious misapprehensions.

One is that you were a "contributor" to our piece. You were not. Nor were you invited to be: nor did you request this. You were asked some questions by email, as indeed were other people we contacted in preparing the article.

A second is that you are entitled to see a piece of ours before publication, which you are not. Nor did you request to see it: nor would such a request have been granted. Publications do not normally submit pieces to interviewees for inspection in advance and nor should they.

A third is that you received some kind of outline of the piece, which you did not. You were informed only of the nature of the query we were making of you, which you did indeed answer - though not everything that was said in your reply was subsequently verified as accurate.

I wonder if this may perhaps be the root of the problem. Until now you have always been able to determine the content of pieces written about your events, either because you or your colleagues have written them yourselves, or more often, because you have had your claims repeated without question by journalists without specialist knowledge of the field. However, perhaps for the first time a publication with knowledge of the field of chess has taken the trouble to examine seriously claims that have been made about chessboxing events - and I am afraid not all of them were found to be convincing.

Everybody likes to have positive publicity but I am afraid nobody is obliged to give it to you. Similarly, nobody is obliged to help you sell your events. I wonder if you may have developed some perhaps unreasonable expectations? This might explain, among other things, the apparent belief that you are entitled to see our copy in advance.

Yours sincerely

Ding ding! End of Round One. Mr Woolgar's move.

[...or not. Oddly enough the email was bounced back: perhaps Mr Woolgar has blocked our address and, metaphorically at least, taken his chess set and gloves home. Sulky.]

1 comment:

Tom Chivers said...

I met a strange man once in Amsterdam, many years ago now, who dreamed up the idea of chessboxing too. However, he did so as part of a long list he was creating of incompatible hobbies. The other impossible combination he came up with and that I remember vividly was luge combined with curry. Supposedly impossible, I should say.