Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Long time AGON

The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it.
Apocalypse Now

The thing about the Andrew Paulson Affair is, you can't tell where the deception stops and the self-deception starts. It's not even that you can't tell the story from the cover story. You can't even see for sure which is supposed to be which.

Last week, for instance, this column was about Malcolm Pein's incomprehensible claim that he had ceased to support Paulson because of information that he had already had in his possesssion when he backed him.

Similarly, what are we to make of the process by which Andrew Paulson is removed for reasons that - we are assured - are nothing to do with ECU or FIDE politics, and then the deal by which he is persuaded to resign is threatened with reversal because he would be backing the wrong candidates in ECU and FIDE politics?

Vietnam? In English chess, you couldn't keep above the bullshit if you'd fallen into a vat of Red Bull when you were a baby.

Now of course one can read the draft minutes of the 8 February meeting and see without difficulty, in a number of places, that Paulson's relationship with FIDE and his intention to stand in ECU elections were crucial to several individuals' complaints against him. Or, better still, scroll down to the Appendix headed
Additions to the minutes for clarification purposes

1. Reason for the meeting and agenda
which reads as follows:
At the Board meeting of 19th January 2014, the Board failed to deal with two important items on the agenda with their relevant motions:
23. FIDE Commissions
24. ECU presidential Election
Given recent events, a majority of the Board now believe that these two subjects and related issues need to be urgently discussed and resolutions sought. This view is further exacerbated by the recent Sunday Times article, correspondence between Andrew Paulson, Nigel Short and Malcolm Pein, the referral of the ECF’s FIDE Delegate to the FIDE Ethics Commission and references to further action at the ECF at the April Council meeting.
Therefore, this letter is to request that you convene an urgent, additional Board meeting at 6.00pm on Saturday 8th February 2014 at The Exmouth Arms, 1 Starcross St, London NW1 2HR to deal solely with the following:
1. A discussion about the issues raised in the recent print and web articles, various claims involving the recent activities of Andrew Paulson and Nigel Short concerning the imminent ECU and FIDE elections, and various threats to refer ECF members to the FIDE Ethics Committee.
2. Motion: A vote of confidence in Andrew Paulson as President of the English Chess Federation
3. Motion: A vote of confidence in Nigel Short as the FIDE Delegate of the English Chess Federation
That says what it says - and it says it a lot of times.

I do wish people wouldn't insist on my believing things that I can see aren't true. Too often they're people who I respect, and it makes me respect them less.

But since the subject comes up, what of the other issues? The conflicts between board members and Paulson strike me as being entirely real. They also strike me as being exactly the sort of thing that's likely to occur when you appoint as your president a Maverick Businessman Who Plays By His Own Rules. One with a reputation for rubbing people up the wrong way and being a monumental bullshitter.

In other words, something we were all aware of when Paulson was elected. Just as we were aware that he was close to FIDE.

So how much sympathy have I got for these complaints? Not much.

  • I don't have a lot of sympathy, on principle, for complaints which nobody can be bothered to put to me honestly, openly and believably. (For the same reason, I don't have a lot of sympathy for Paulson either.)

  • What did the board members who complained about Paulson say about him when he was running for election? What did they say when he was elected? They knew what kind of person they were getting. When they were the ones on the receiving end, it became an issue. Why not before?

  • Has the conduct in their posts of all the complainants been so unimpeachable? Did those same board members who are complaining that they were bypassed by Andrew Paulson see fit to plan and call an emergency board meeting without the knowledge of other board members?

  • Is the Sean Hewitt who is at the centre of these events the same Sean Hewitt who was rude to the Congress Manager of the British Chess Championships, with the result that she resigned from that post? (And the same Sean Hewitt who escaped censure by announcing he would not run for his post again and then reversed that decision at the last minute?)

  • If undermining other ECF officials is proper cause for an official's prompt removal, why would that apply to Andrew Paulson but not to Sean Hewitt?

  • Or, for that matter, to Nigel Short, who from the very start undermined Paulson loudly and aggressively, which he is entitled to do, but using his official position to do so, which he is not?

I said last week that the whole saga has been an insult to the intelligence. Here's John Vernon saying it better than I can.

Don't. Just don't.

[Andrew Paulson index]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The current ECF Board don't like public discussion or even disclosure of their recent decisions and activities, preferring the closed doors and agreed statements route. The news of the January/February bust-ups inevitably was leaked, so something had to be made public.

We await to see whether a justification will be presented for the ECF support of Paulson in the Euro elections, as without it, the voting membership is likely to stick with the FIDE villain image of Zurab as portrayed by British chess media.

If you are standing for election of a voluntary body, is not some caution needed before slagging off a fellow candidate that you aren't standing against? You will after all have to work with them if both are elected.