Monday, October 22, 2012

Spite and Malice

Ha ha! Revolution!

We live in a country where over 100,000 people can march on Parliament and none of the Sunday newspapers carry it on their front pages. We live in a country where George Osborne can make an arse of himself on a train and everyone ignores the dreadful ongoing events in Cardiff. Apparently, we also live in a country where good people are consistently turned down for leading roles within the English Chess Federation. 

ECF Council watch Adam Raoof go

You can play your card, I'll hold on to mine

Peering in at the UK media, there's a discernable layer of foundation to mask the splodge underneath. A scrotum to protect the bollocks, if you will. At the ECF they hang loosely, seemingly not caring about the fragility of their position or how ridiculous they look. As I see it, for Adam Raoof to be defeated by None of the Above for a role that is absolutely necessary to fill competently, and where he has all the attributes for such a role, is due to nothing more than spite. Many of the people at that meeting got out their Tupperware and gorged on the foil-wrapped wave of vitriol documented over the past few months. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the gutter commentariat are listened to. 

Everything will blow tonight
Either friend or foe tonight

Adam's lack of manifesto or appearance at the AGM appears to have been a regular complaint. However, if votes went west for that reason, those who changed their mind on the day may wish to consider why he wasn't there. The Golders Green rapidplays Adam runs are a staple of the British chess scene, particularly at the grass roots level, which is the primary group that someone responsible for marketing and membership needs to be able to deal with. 

I think it's commendable that he committed himself to running his tournament instead of attending a vote against nobody. Chess benefited. At least, it did until the vote was cast. 

Italics are lyrics from Spite and Malice by Placebo. Copyright Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.


Anonymous said...

Adam is a dangerous radical who would insist on compulsory membership at around £ 25 even for one league game a season. Or is he? In the absence of a statement of his intentions, no-one knows.

Alternatively like his chess boxing predecessor, he is more interested in promoting his own events than the ECF. Being a director of the ECF implies a commitment to attend its annual meeting or at the very least make sure you are represented. Individuals with voting rights in the ECF have a sense, probably exaggerated, of their own importance and as shown with Malcolm Pein a couple of years ago don't like to be taken for granted.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many new members have joined as a result of Adam's tournaments and how much he has raised for the ECF through game fees?

Anonymous said...

Well anyone who has played chess at all regularly knows Adam, and there is no doubt that he has made a contribution to chess. Yet to be a director of the ECF takes considerable effort and to not even have bothered to write a manifesto seems to show that effort may be missing. This post is just to say the blame is perhaps on both sides and it is important to be objective when considering the situation.

ejh said...

I would certainly have voted for Adam if I had possessed a vote, and I think it's both a real shame and a real mistake that he was not elected. I would also be most annoyed if the CJ business had much to do with it, not least because other people, just as supportive of CJ as Adam, haven't seemed to suffer similarly for it.

I do agree, though, that electorates of all kinds are liable not to vote for people who are not present at the vote and do not produce a manifesto. I don't hold it against Adam that he did neither of these things - sometimes people have other things to do and as I say, I would have voted for him in an instant. But you can't entirely blame people who, in those circumstances, didn't vote for him.

Elections often don't go the way they should. I should know this, I think I've lost every one I ever stood in save for one. (Then again I used when young to be a dangerous radical myself, as opposed to the harmless middle-aged radical I later became.) That's the way it goes. Electorates can be wrong, and wrong-headed, and they can also at the same time, pace Jean Renoir, have their own good reasons.

(Just a note. If people are able to give names, or initials, it would be welcomed. You can post anonymously here, but if you feel able, we'd generally prefer it otherwise. Cheers.)

Anonymous said...

Manifesto for the ECF? How about "No topdown reorganisation".
Joe S

ejh said...

That sounds interesting, can you enlarge on that?

Anonymous said...

Joe S may be referring to the ECF's intention to seek charitable status. One of the issues is that charities and professional "sport" are not allowed to co-exist. It will therefore be proposed that a new body is set up to run the British Championships and the International teams. The problem, as I see it, is that it is proposed the amateur body will retain the FIDE affiliation and much of the interaction between FIDE and the ECF is likely to concern "professional" issues. Applications for titles is but one example.


Anonymous said...

A manifesto means nothing (even if you are David Cameron). The ECF should go by what people have done not what they promise to do. Adam's record of supporting chess goes back a long way. There are others whose CVs have been ignored. A topdown reorganisation wouldn't be a bad thing - starting with David Cameron !
Joe S

Anonymous said...

If you want to talk about what people have done, be aware that AR was instrumental in the policy described. If you lived abroad, had an ENG rating, never played chess in the UK, but wanted to play where you lived, you had to pay the ECF a membership fee of currently £ 27 a year. If you didn't, FIDE would be asked to suspend your rating, making you look like a cheat.

Adam Raoof ( said...

With respect, Roger, I had literally nothing to do with the creation of the policy - I inherited the policy. You would be surprised at how many of your posts I find myself agreeing with.

I hope even you can see that a comparison with the previous Marketing Director is a little unjust - to both of us. (He would not have been a 'predecessor', and I have always been able make decisions which I believe are for the good of chess, even when they affected me negatively)

After the government pulled ECF funding not only did I push for and support the implementation of a membership scheme I then proposed the creation of a membership officer to make sure that members would get some value for their money. I also think we need a Junior Membership Officer. I hope all members get someone who puts their interests first. I am probably not the best candidate for any role with the ECF, but you do need someone to step up and do these jobs. What is the alternative?

I have always treated people with respect and been honest with them. What I have experienced in two years as an ECF Director has made that a little harder at times. Over the last year at least two Directors thought it appropriate to leak confidential board discussions, emails and papers, which made proper business impossible to conduct. I can't guess their motives for doing this. It's not only illegal, but it also unfair.

I decided not to submit a CV for several reasons but principally because a) I thought we had lost an ideal CEO who I thought I could support for many years, and b) I didn't know whether, if those individuals who treated their office so casually were re-elected, I really wanted to be on that Board any more.

So I span a coin, and left it to the wise heads at Council to make a decision, and they have done so. I think they did me a favour.

Anonymous said...

Belgium went for 541 days without a government until last December. I'm sure we'll all manage to play chess without a CEO at the ECF.

Anonymous said...

"Over the last year at least two Directors thought it appropriate to leak confidential board discussions, emails and papers, which made proper business impossible to conduct. I can't guess their motives for doing this. It's not only illegal, but it also unfair."
As an ECF member, I find it deeply disturbing that this illegal behaviour is occurring. What is the current Board doing to bring these people to account?

Anonymous said...

ECF Directors are able to raise motions for discussion at the ECF meetings of voting members. Individuals cannot. Therefore, if ECF Directors disagree with aspects of ECF policy, they are in a position to bring proposals to the table to change them. Replacement of annual grading lists with half-yearly ones was a case in point. The exclusion of non-members from the FIDE list wasn't a policy that had been applied in practice and wasn't necessary as FIDE would accept a weak definition of "membership".

As suggested above, most amateur chess will continue to run, in the UK at least, without involvement from the national or international bodies. Lack of a CEO is far from critical, lack of low level management of the grading system would be.


ejh said...

Over the last year at least two Directors thought it appropriate to leak confidential board discussions, emails and papers, which made proper business impossible to conduct

Of course another view is that some of the business that had been conducted was not, in truth, entirely proper, and that because material was leaked, this came to the attention of ECF members who should have known about it in the first place.

Or put it another way: if the CEO really had been "ideal", there wouldn't actually have been anything to leak. But there was, because he wasn't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe so Justin - I don't know.

However, I believe what Adam Raoof was referring to were not simply leaks targeted at particular items of business, but wholesale leaking of Board information and discussions, some of which has been used in a smear campaign against him.

How else do you think non-Board members were able to post details of board decisions a very short time after they had been discussed, and before they were publicly announced? You just have to check the timing of posts with inside information to the ECF forum and the SG blog to realise what was happening.


ejh said...

Sure. You have to judge leaks on their individual merits, and they're not to be thought of as a good thing per se. It's just that often they are, individually, a good thing, because they lead to the public knowing things which the public should have been told, and in some specific instances I think this.

But, writing about chess as I do, I've no business being against leaks per se. Because I can't pretend I won't use them.

Of course some disgraceful things have been said about Adam. Some of them, by disgraceful people.

Anonymous said...

We are in agreement then, Justin.


Jonathan B said...

"Everything will blow tonight
Either friend or foe tonight"

That's Placebo is it?

I assumed it must be the lyrics that followed

"Everybody have fun tonight, everybody wang chung tonight."