Yes, we've had it before, but it's 2:43 that interests us today
T-shirts, eh? Who knew that seven words on one could generate so many words about one?
There’s so much to choose from, but of everything I’ve read over the last couple of days - and I’ve read a good deal, not to mention written a fair bit - one small section of CJ’s first statement caught my attention above everything else:-
The other 2 arbiters said "no problem with it" and "I hadn't actually noticed” but after a discussion returned and ....
Hold on a second. Let’s back up a moment and run that middle bit past ourselves a second time.
Somebody hadn’t noticed? The bright red t-shirt with the MESSAGE WRITTEN IN WHITE BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS? They hadn’t noticed?? That’s right up there with Constable Savage not spotting that Mr Winston Codogo was a 'coloured gentleman'.
"I hadn't actually noticed"? For real? It would be hard to believe that such a thing could possibly have been said outside the realms of parody if we didn't have CJ's assertion right at the beginning of his post that, "everything in inverted commas is an actual quote given this morning from an interested party" to reassure us that it was.
Anyhoo, whether the quote is true in detail or merely true in substance doesn't really matter. Either way it rather neatly illustrates how the ECF have (not) been responding to some of the things that CJ has been up to over the last year or so. It isn't just the arbiter cited above; the whole federation has been Savage-esque in its ability not to notice for quite some time now.
The ECF President: hard to notice
I ended last Thursday's post by acknowledging that to a very large extent (I save some praise for the players being willing to slug it out and everybody behind the scenes whose work allowed me to watch the games live/download the pgns) the credit for Sheffield 2011 being a great tournament goes to CJ. I wrote those words with the intention of following up with something this week on the theme of, "however that doesn't give him a free pass for everything else" although, I must confess, I hadn't exactly expected that it would turn out quite like this.
When we look, if we choose to look, there's a back story to the last couple of days' argy-bargy and focusing only on the actions of the one particular arbiter who did notice the t-shirt* will leave us missing a much bigger picture. Sooner or later we'll take a peek at CJ's penchant for private initiatives and the ECF's taste for managing not to notice how they create conflicts of interest, be they actual or potential, for him. For now, let's quickly review what happened at the beginning of Sheffield 2011 and start to wonder whether all the unpleasantness, not to mention the negative portrayals of the game that appeared in the press yesterday, could have been avoided had our national body opened their eyes just a little bit sooner.
Guess Who breaks the news on Twitter
I was going to write something about CJ wearing a t-shirt and jeans at the opening ceremony first, but let's cut to the chase. It's the fact our old friend Raymond Dennis Keene was present that's really interesting.
Raymondo popping-up raised a few eyebrows, not least our own. The ECF, however, seem not to have noticed Keene's presence at all. In fact they failed to notice to such an extent that his name does not appear in official programme nor, as EJH pointed out at the time, could any mention of him be found on either the tournament or ECF websites. Even today, although room has been found to thank Ray for "over thirty articles" that mention the championships, I still don't see anything to say that he opened the tournament with CJ. Not that's all very odd, isn't it?
It is important, I think, that we keep a sense of proportion about all this. It was twenty years ago that RDK left what was then the BCF [Keene's Gambit; Keene's Move; Checked Again] after all. To put that in perspective, that's sufficiently long enough ago that even if he’d murdered Tony Miles back in Tunis, he would have been released from prison by now.
Nevertheless, as fond as I am of RDK - and I am genuinely fond of him - the fact remains that there is a difference between allowing somebody who has ‘paid their debt’ to get on with their lives and simply pretending that murky events from days gone by never happened. I have, therefore, some questions for the ECF:-
- Have the matters relating to Ray Keene's departure from the (then) BCF now been resolved?
- If so, how?
- Who decided that Ray Keene should be at the Opening Ceremony?
- When was this decision made?
- Why was the decision not made public?
- Why has no mention of Keene’s presence at the opening ceremony appeared on either the tournament or ECF websites?
I'm not saying that it's necessarily wrong that Ray be brought back into the fold, but it might be as well that we clear that lot up before we - including CJ - go any further.
Dated reference ahoy:
CJ didn't get where he is today by being noticed
CJ didn't get where he is today by being noticed
It's been quite a weekend, but fortunately it ends with everybody loving everybody else once more. That is to be welcomed, although it is also to be hoped that the matter does not end here. Many pages before the end of that EC Forum thread I wrote,
A good discussion of the nature of CJs relationship with the ECF is overdue
and that's as true after the kiss-and-make-up messages as it was before.
The ECF's ability not to notice - including but not limited to clothing and blossoming relationships with former British Champions - paved the road that led us to Saturday morning. If there's one thing I know about the last few days it's that, regardless of what I feel about the issue, I'd rather hear "Um, CJ, about what you're wearing. Perhaps ..." over "I see no t-shirts" every time.
Or are we - meaning the ECF and the English chess world in general - going to decide that the only thing that we're going to notice is the amount of cash a person, CJ, RDK or anybody else, can bring to the table? We could, I suppose. We could reduce our relationships to "Show me the money" and "We love you long time" if we want. It would be a rather savage existence, though, don't you think?
* which is unfair anyway since CJ's account makes clear that a number of people were involved in making the decision. However, I shall take advantage of this footnote to say that while I do not know the particular arbiter concerned, Jack Rudd does and if he is willing to write publicly that "I'm happy to accept that she wasn't being homophobic and that she was trying to act in the best interests of the tournament" I am equally happy to accept that he what he writes is true.