Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nothing to see here

What, you may not have been wondering, does Ray do with his Spectator columns at the moment?

Since he seems to have been ordered to pack in both the plagiarism and the recycling, where does that leave a columnist whose whole career has depended on those two staples?

It leaves him with George Osborne.

There's always been a third pillar to Ray's career, which you can call networking, if you prefer it, as a term, to brown-nosing. I suppose they're not actually the same thing, though both are all about connections: the connections Ray has, and the connections he would like to have.

His Spectator column now appears to be devoted to both.

This sequence kicked off in January when Britain's leading chess columnist decided that his readers would like nothing more than seeing a game played by some bloke on the internet.

Spectator January 11

Congdon, Lawson, Johnson. Who are these people that we should be mindful of them? Congdon is a rightwing economist - very rightwing, as it happens, not unusually for Ray's circle. Still, Ray's friends are his own affair - though when he reckons that their internet games are attractive enough to be his weekly column's subject, wouldn't you prefer the Spectator had an editor knowledgeable enough to ask "why are you sending us this rubbish?"

The Spectator did use to have such an editor. At least in so far as he knew about chess, though not so much where telling Ray to up his game was concerned. Then again, Dominic Lawson - subject of the column two weeks later - is an old mate of Ray's. And what is the Spectator for, if not to defend the principle of people getting on by their connections?

January 25

Dominic's played an interesting role in Ray's career, as it happens

but that need not concern us now, except to establish them as old collaborators. Hence Ray's backscratching above. (No doubt the regard is mutual. Anyone who's read the column itself may be entertained to see that Lawson selects Ray's favourite Modern Defence.)

Oh yes, Lawson is chess correspondent of Standpoint. (I noticed that this column, perhaps unfairly, omitted his old friend's name, preferring "other chess players" instead). The magazine's economics correspondent is one Tim Congdon.

Ray next treated us to Gates v Carlsen.

February 1

I think Gates might be a bit out of Ray's networking reach these days. Carlsen too, come to that. Still, he tries his best.

The following week, it was Daniel Johnson, whose 1997 game against Steve Davis had somehow previously escaped the attention of the chess world.

February 8

There's Congdon and Lawson again, along with the editor of the magazine for which they write. What's this about then? Is Ray angling for a job at Standpoint? A review? A dinner invitation?

Who knows. Maybe it's just that nobody reads the Spectator chess column any more, except the readers of this blog. So it really doesn't matter what goes in it any more. One week, it's devoted to Ray's friends. The next, to people he wants to be his friends.

Like George. George, Ray, the Spectator. What a combination.

February 15

As I was saying:
No doubt in Ray's imagination it is always Baguio in 1978, exchanging barbs and presents with Baturinsky. Or London, in 1986, with Prime Minsters past and present queuing to share his company. Or 1985, Buckingham Palace and his OBE.
No thanks for the memories, Ray. Isn't it time you, too, were consigned to the past?

[Thanks to Pablo Byrne]

[Ray Keene index]


Anonymous said...

And so it goes on...
The endless time spent persecuting an old man...
The neglect of loved ones due to a fanatical obsession with this old man...
The addiction of digging up information about this old man...
Every waking moment thinking about this old man...
Even dreaming about this old man...
The ever growing dossier of evidence against this old man... Volumes of paperwork to be used to bring this old man to justice...
Only when this old man is hung drawn and quartered can they be at peace, such is their torment...
Grown men weep.....

Anonymous said...

This one's very weak.

You've been doing noble, if tedious, work documenting Keene's plagiarism and copyright theft and so on. Reading all about it isn't exactly entertaining; but I guess I'm glad that someone's showing that stuff for what it is.

This blog entry, though, is quite different: your complaint seems to be simply that the man's recent columns aren't good.

Assuming your extracts are representative, you're not wrong. But golly, this series is going to reach new peaks of dullness - and look ever more unpleasantly personal - if it starts bashing columns that simply aren't very good...


ejh said...

your complaint seems to be simply that the man's recent columns aren't good.

I'm not sure why this is a problem for you. "Chess column is incredibly poor" strikes me as a perfectly legitimate subject for a blog piece.

Anonymous said...

Power to your elbow ejh. Shite journalism in the country's "leading" paper should absolutely be ruthlessly exposed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, If you must.

But it's not very interesting, dilutes your more important message regarding plagiarism etc., and - since Keene is hardly the only one out there writing columns that are merely bad - takes on a disagreeably personal edge.

You'll write about what you want - of course! But as a reader, I suspect I'm not alone in feeling that the Keene series is something to be tolerated for its righteousness, rather than enjoyed. This one didn't have that redeeming feature.


Anonymous said...

There can be something of an interest in figures better known in other activities who are known to play chess as to what standard they play at. The "Addicts" books by Fox and James devoted whole chapters to finding notorious or famous figures with chess connections and gave games as illustrative of their styles where possible.

Both Lawson and Johnson are or were at the top 5% to 10% end of competitive players, I think I played alongside both of them in teams back in the 1970s.


ejh said...

However, Roger, I don't recall any chapter in their books devoted to "people who are included because they're our mates".

since Keene is hardly the only one out there writing columns that are merely bad

But by some distance the longest-standing and most egregious, no?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with those who say this piece was not worth posting.

As mentioned by Justin at its start, it does seem that Raymondo has finally - AT LONG, LONG LAST - been told by his employers to desist from the blatant recycling and plagiarism previously documented here.

Given that, I expect many might be interested to see how he fills his columns in the absence of it. This piece makes it evident that the gap is occupied by pisspoor, fawning drivel.

One of the things - by no means the only one, far from it, but indispensable nonetheless - that needs to happen (re the first poster here) before English chess can be restored to something vaguely resembling health, is R D Keene Esq finally being exposed for what he really is. Once and for all.

Rant over ;)

Anonymous said...

I was watching the 1979 movie 'Alien' last night and it reminded me of this blog.

In my mind I have an image of a rather small Justin Horton bursting out of the belly of Raymond Keene and then scooting off down the hall.

The ECF board members present then proceed to chase baby Horton using chess books authored by Keene as makeshift weapons.

Robert Bobson said...

I remember the time when Stewart Reuben regaled Raymond Keene and I with stories about the many cruises he had been on. It was the best night I ever had. Those were the days.