Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Readers will, one hopes, remember my piece of only last week - yes, yes, you do, this one - recording my horror that a chess personality as distinguished as Grandmaster Raymond Keene could be accused of copying.

I was so mortified by the accusation that I spent some time discussing it on Grandmaster Keene's Chessgames page - although my postings now seem to have slipped down the memory hole. (Fortunately, I recorded them, just in case such an accident might occur.)

Refresh your memories, if you will. Grandmaster Keene's explanation for using precisely the same words as Edward Winter - a writer who he never reads - was that he must have copied down the passages in question from another source, in which Winter's words must have appeared unattributed.

Regrettably, he could not remember exactly what this source was. Nor could the search engines, which located no such document online. Nor was he able to explain why, even if he did not realise that the words were Winter's in the first place, he failed to mention that he had, nevertheless, taken them from another source. Even if he could not remember where.

It's all right, though. I think I can supply the explanation. Surely he forgot.

He forgot to record the details of this mystery source, when he originally saw it. And he forgot, when writing the Chessville piece*, to say that the work was not, entirely, originally his own.

However, that's not all that Grandmaster Keene's failing memory appears to have forgotten. He forgot, when providing his explanation, to say that, in fact, prior to the Chessville piece....

......he had already written the same piece for the Spectator.

Almost precisely the same piece, give or take the title.

How extraordinary, you may think. How extraordinary to forget to mention this. But he must have forgotten, because in his explanation on Chessgames, Grandmaster Keene made mention, more than once, of the fact that he writes for Chessville for nothing. Is it possible that he is paid for his column for the Spectator? If so, he appears to have forgotten to mention that the work - in part, somebody else's work - was not, in fact, performed for free.

One wonders what else Grandmaster Keene may have been unfortunate enough to forget.

Did he, for instance, forget to tell the Spectator that he proposed to reuse their article in another publication? (One imagines so, because otherwise the Chessville piece would surely say "this article originally appeared in the Spectator".) Did he tell them that part of his article had already appeared elsewhere, even if he could not remember precisely where? And did he forget to tell Chessville that the piece he supplied them with, pro bono, had already been supplied to another publication?

Or did he, when sending Chessville their article, just forget that he had already produced precisely the same article, word-for-word, for another publication just a few months previously?

Who can tell?

Not, I think, Grandmaster Keene. He's gone. Well, he hasn't, not as such. But his memory surely has.

[*note: anyone clicking on this link will probably find that the piece has been amended, with the passage that originally appeared in Mr Winter's piece now absent. Other problems - and other questions - remain. I hope to add more on the subject on Friday. ejh ]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I really appreciate this clarification. I was unaware just how tongue-in-cheek the last article actually was (having no knowledge of the situation). A post retracting my previous article will be online tomorrow. I appreciate your input and waychdoggedness ... keep up the good work.

I love the Streatham & Brixton blog!