Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Mysterious Appearance of Ray: The ECF Responds

As you may have noticed, the guest of honour at Sheffield's opening ceremony rather caught our attention: When will they ever learn?; The man who would be mentioned. Interested readers might also wish to peruse the comments box to CJ, the ECF and Constable Savage which contains contributions from ECF Chief Executive Andrew Farthing and many other chess worthies as well as from chess unworthies such as myself and a couple of my fellow bloggers.

Andrew has been kind enough to answer some further questions on the matter. I was originally intending to write a full post on this topic for tomorrow. However, given that similar queries are now appearing on the EC Forum, I have decided to publish the ECF's response straight away, but without without any additional commentary (which I haven't had time to write).

I am hearing that Ray Keene was invited to open the British Championships by CJ who had not previously discussed the matter with anybody in the ECF. Is that true?

Yes, I believe that it is true that CJ did not discuss RDK's invitation to open the Championships with any other Board member. Speaking for myself, I did not learn of it until after the event, when I saw mentions of it online.

Do the ECF find this an acceptable way for the President to behave?

The President has traditionally been the Board member in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies at the British. As far as I know, it has not been usual for the President to consult the Board regarding the individuals invited, so what happened this year was not outside the norm.

Are we now deciding that the Ray Keene/Tony Miles issue is best forgotten as it was so long ago, or has the matter been resolved in some way?

I have no comment on this.

Why has no mention of Keene’s presence at the opening ceremony appeared on either the tournament or ECF websites?

I wasn't present that Monday - I intended to be there, but car trouble intervened - but the reports from Board members who were indicate that the opening ceremony was a relatively low-key affair. I understand that CJ gave the main opening address, after which RDK formally declared the Championships open. (Most of the feedback related to inaudibility, i.e. the lack of microphones.)

In general, the website coverage throughout the event didn't include much "colour" commentary, concentrating in the main on the results and the games. I don't believe, therefore, that there is anything particularly significant in the omission. If the opening ceremony had been "grander", perhaps there would have been some coverage.


Anonymous said...

It would have been normal for the website to note that the Congress had been opened by CJ and the 1971 champion Ray Keene. In the past there's been the ECF President, someone from the sponsors (if any), a local political person and a representative of the venue.

For example the 2007 event

Warning - features Jack Rudd as Spike.

Jonathan Rogers said...

So two follow-up questions might be

1) AF says that "As far as I know, it has not been usual for the President to consult the Board regarding the individuals invited"

So he is not expected to "consult". Would he nonetheless not normally "tell" the rest of the Board whom he has chosen?

2) Repeating myself here - what facility exists for the rest of the Board to tell the President that he has made a mistake? Who would take the initiative to do so, and in what context?

Jonathan B said...

Not sure what blogger did to that link.

Click here

I used to have a regular riff going on the theme of "Jack Rudd looks a bit like Spike from Buffy". Actually it went on for some time after he didn't.

I wonder if we could launch a campaign to persuade him to go blonde again?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that CJ De Mooi is a person who thinks that he is far more important than he actually is.

Do others think this is true or rubbish?


Jon H said...

Well said George.

Before seeing an episode I'd thought he must be the presenter of Eggheads. (Not that this would make him special anyway.) And I had presumed he had some impressive backgound before that.

Of course you all know that he's a member of the Eggheads' inhouse quiz team. Wikipedia gives his early background: "De Mooi studied English and Performing Arts at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology before embarking upon a modelling career in Germany which lasted for four and a half years."

On television I find him pompous, slightly camp and frankly pretty unbearable.

No doubt he has some good qualities but it does feel tacky that the ECF has an E-list celeb as president? It's the persistent reminders that he's "from TV's Eggheads" that grates.

Jonathan Rogers said...

Well, let's first remind ourselves that he does do some considerable good and it's not as though anyone has a better candidate in mind.

But his behaviour and statements do suggest that he has an exaggerated estimate of his own importance. The idea that he could have helped Karpov to become FIDE President during last year's Olympiad was, frankly, delusional. He also did seem to see last week's prizegiving as being about him rather than about the prizewinners. He then posted on the ECF forum that he thought he was brought in to bring English chess into the 21st century... and concluded the post with a telling

"I am happy and honoured to be ECF President but I am foremost CJ de Mooi and it's him who defines the job, not the other way around."


He did then apologise and if I remember rightly, he acknowledged that he should have consulted others before making any statement. That seems to have satisfied everyone - but does he really need advice on whether he should be indicating damaging news stories about English chess to those with contacts in the mainstream media?

I have now asked twice in these blog threads to what extent the ECF Board discusses, and where necessary, criticises, his decisions as President. Clearly the policies and activities of the various Directors are discussed among the Board as a whole; is that also true of the President? To be clear, I am pleased that the Board declined his resignation, but that does not mean that some rethinking about their working relationship might not be in order.

So again - do they ask him about his proposed activities in advance and would they tell him frankly if and when he seems to have made mistakes (and if so who would do this, and how)? We await some answers.

Jack Rudd said...

I see Steve Giddins's new blog has commented on this affair as well.

How long will this blog last? Place bets now!

Jonathan B said...

Thanks for that intelligence Jack. Welcome news indeed. I notice, however, that our humble blog has not been included amongst his select group of links. An oversight, no doubt.

Finally, at the end of March, I resigned as BCM Editor (again, don’t ask – an even longer story…) and decided to carpe the diem and withdraw from the blogosphere.
However, many of my chess friends have been lobbying me ever since to return to the fold

Thank goodness dear old Gidders has put the good of the game before himself and reluctantly graced us with a blog presence.

When I closed my old blog, I was getting 20-30 messages a day from would-be commentators, 90% of them anonymous and 95% abusive.

A shocking a reflection of today's society. How rotten for Gidds to be getting 20 abusive messages a day. Since we so rarely receive such hurtful comments ourselves, I am at a loss to explain it.

Welcome back Gidders.

ejh said...

I have to say that's a fairly poor set of answers from Andrew Farthing. Poor, because evasive, and obviously so.

Jonathan B said...

I'm not at all sure I got the answers that I would want from the ECF there. I think it's worth emphasising, though, that these are the ECF's answers and Andrew Farthing was merely the mouthpiece.

Anonymous said...

The August BCM has a page on the first three rounds of Sheffield. Any guesses on who is mentioned and who isn't?