Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trust is not the word

Following on from yesterday's post, Nette Robinson's event later this month is advertised on the website of the English Chess Federation.


Nothing strange about that. There is, however, something extremely strange about the second part of the item.


This is - amazingly - an advert for a Ray Keene event, in support of his personal charity-cum-dining society*. On the website of the English Chess Federation.

As readers probably don't need reminding, Ray Keene is not a member of the Federation. He has not been a member of the organisation for two decades. This is because he was obliged to leave the Federation when he was accused of defrauding that organisation of a sizeable sum of money.

Ray Keene has never made any proper explanation of his actions. Nor has he returned the money.

So tell me - what other organisation would be dozy enough to offer free advertising to an individual who had left them in such murky and discreditable circumstances?

None that I can think of.

Is Phil Ehr able to offer us an explanation?

[* See for instance parts 8-9 of this piece]

[Ray Keene index]

9 comments:

Rodney said...

There may not be anything particular behind the reference on the ECF website. The source material for the post seems to be the Exhibitions page on Nette Robinson's website at http://netterobinson-art.co.uk/exhibitions/4547202342. This lists a number of events and the Ray Keene simul is just one them. It appears on the ECF home page, with the other events in the more detailed linked article, but that may be just coincidence.

It would be more of a story if the ECF had airbrushed the Ray Keene advert out of the list of events in Nette Robinson's show.

It's interesting to see the liaison between one of the blog's favourite chess artists, and its Public Enemy Number 1. Ray Keene's charity may benefit from the inclusion of his simul in Nette Robinson's show. Nette Robinson's art may benefit from being advertised in Ray Keene's chess column in The Times (see the News page on her website).

Artists may be doing something beautiful but they also have to survive. Nette's exhibition is brought to you in association with Purling London, whose niche appears to be chess sets that are functional to use, beautiful to behold, and expensive to buy. Nette has hand-painted an Art Chess set for Purling and it will be unveiled during the exhibition. Purling's Art Chess set prices start at £1,495.

Andrew Gelman said...

You ask: "What other organisation would be dozy enough to offer free advertising to an individual who had left them in such murky and discreditable circumstances?"

I suspect this happens all the time, partly because the sort of people who are in charge seem to have a lot of sympathy for the discredited people (same social class, it's lonely at the top, "there but for the grace of God go I," etc.) and partly because the kind of people who get discredited are typically seen as dangerous in some way (after all, they may have already demonstrated the willingness to lie, cheat, and steal) and, when dealing with such people, appeasement often seems to be the easiest choice.

Finally, suppose the person who leaves in murky and discreditable circumstances is well-connected and rich. It's pleasant to maintain the friendship of a rich, well-connected person, no? You might even buy him free meals etc., in the vague hope that he might drop some of that wealth and those connections into your lap.

As to examples, I'm sure there are a lot. One I can think of offhand is Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. A pardon isn't quite free advertising (indeed, I doubt Clinton wanted the pardon to get the attention it did), but it's something.

ejh said...

It would be more of a story if the ECF had airbrushed the Ray Keene advert out of the list of events in Nette Robinson's show.

It would indeed, if only because doing the right thing is not, to put it mildly, an ECF speciality.

Ray Keene's charity may benefit from the inclusion of his simul in Nette Robinson's show. Nette Robinson's art may benefit from being advertised in Ray Keene's chess column in The Times

I'm sure this is the case. And this is exactly how Ray works.

Purling's Art Chess set prices start at £1,495.

Phew. That's even more than Ray took the Federation for at Tunis, isn't it?

James McCarthy said...

I am surprised that a blog that is obviously run by members of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club should go in for smear and smear by association.

I am a longstanding member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club and Nette Robinson is a member and our social secretary. She is also a great artist, fantastic jazz singer and I count her as a friend. I have been one of many people who have helped her to achieve her goal of having a week at a gallery in London to showcase her new work and in the process to add some colour to the chess world by hosting a Basque Chess tournament; she has also invited the chess community to a party at the end of the week when her jazz band will perform free of charge.

I have no brief to defend Ray Keene but I do know for a fact that he admires Nette's work and yes, he has used her work in his articles in The Times. He neither asked for nor has he been given any quid pro quo for doing so as the comments in the blog imply. He was invited to give a simultaneous on Friday evening next week and I suggested that chess players participating should make a small donation to a registered charity of his choice. There is nothing unusual in this or that he should choose a registered charity close to his heart. If you believe the charity is merely " his personal charity-cum-dining society*" then I suggest you take this up with the Charity Commission.

EJF asks " So tell me - what other organisation would be dozy enough to offer free advertising to an individual who had left them in such murky and discreditable circumstances? " Yet another example of not letting the facts get in the way of a cheap shot but one that is way off target. It is not free advertising for Ray Keene it is merely a statement of the events going on. What next, is the ECF supposed to do an audit of all events and have a bonfire of the vanities deleting all references to people that The Streatham & Brixton Chess blog feels should not be mentioned because of unfounded allegations. Just as well Bobby Fischer is no longer alive then.

So what's in the title to the blog "Trust is not the word" ? Perhaps the author would explain?

Rather than welcome a fantastic week of art, chess and jazz put on for the chess community I think it is despicable and small minded that the blog should take the opportunity to take a pot shot at Ray Keene and in the process attempt to smear the organisers of the week and Nette Robinson by associations with its references to unproven allegations of theft and personal benefit from a registered charity by Ray Keene. Smear is the word!

ejh said...

Dear James

Thanks for your rather intemperate and inaccurate comment. I have no idea what "smear by association", or indeed "smear" is supposed to mean. However, in your rage you appear to have overlooked that so far from being opposed to it, in fact this blog took the opportunity to recommend Ms Robinson's event in its entry for last Saturday. Indeed it has plugged Ms Robinson's work before.

However, it is not obliged to simply plug chess events - free advertising, if you will - regardless of who is involved, and if somebody is unwise enough to involve Mr Keene, then I am afraid that is liable to attract adverse comment. However, in this piece that comment was, of course, directed at the ECF rather than at Ms Robinson, something else you seem to have been too angry to notice.

Rather than complaining that this blog raised its eyebrows in the first place, it might have been wiser to reflect on the wisdom of involving Mr Keene. The association was not ours in the making.

As far as Mr Keene's charity is concerned, it's perhaps closer to his heart than you imagine, since unless I am mistaken its registered address is his own house.

When Mr Keene provides an adequate account of the Tunis events, something he has occasionally promised to do but never actually done, then it might be appropriate for the organisation involved to have something to do with him (albeit there are many, many other instances of misconduct that remain unexplained). Until then, my view is that the ECF should plainly keep its distance from this wholly disreputable figure. If you do not like my saying so, then I'm afraid I can live with that.

Jonathan B said...

I am surprised that a blog that is obviously run by members of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club ....


James, your opponent comment is incorrect.

The bog is not run by Streatham and Brixton Chess Club nor is it run by 'members' of Streatham & Brixton Chess Club.

It is true that Martin and myself are current members. It is also true that EJH was a member in the past. However, it is also true that various other contributors - one of whom has never posted to my recollection - are not members.

mccarthyjames19 said...

If you swim with a duck and quack with a duck I think the ordinary punter would believe you are a duck. Add to that the title of the blog and a lot of its content is about the club then it is pretty close to "passing off". Of course, you could just say whether or not you and Martin Smith share the views expressed by EJH in his " Trust is not the word" blog.

Jonathan B said...

James,

It’s called the Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog. It used to be called the S&B Chess Club Blog. We dropped the 'Club' from the title several years ago for various reasons. We kept S&BC Blog because the name was already established by then.

I suspect you’re right that many people reading us assume it’s a club blog. That doesn’t make them right, but anyway, there’s not much I can do about it other than correct people when they state that we are. Which I’ve done here.

I think you’re wrong to say a lot of the material is about the club. Martin’s done a couple of things that are club related recently, but there’s not much else. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I wrote something about the club.

I didn’t do a piece on me winning the club championship this year for example - although thank you for the opportunity to shoe-horn in a mention of it.

So the blog is not a club blog. End of story. If you have any further issue with Streatham & Brixton Chess Club take it up with the club. I’m not going to debate the matter with you here because you’re just wrong.


Neither am I going to get into any discussion on a post I didn’t write.

As for Martin, I’ve no idea if he shares EJH’s views as expressed in this post. Being a grown up he’s perfectly capable of expressing his own opinion if he wants. I doubt he will in this case - he tends to restrict himself to art and historical maters - but you never know.

For myself, you can read what I’ve got to say about Ray Keene in various places on the blog.

One of the key principles of how we operate is that we take responsibility for our own writing. The piece is Justin’s. I accept neither blame nor credit for it. If I wanted to express my opinion on the same subject I’d write an article of my own.

Comment Moderator said...

Hello Anonymous Author of Comment which has just been binned.

How about you butch it up and resubmit your comment with your named attached?