Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Secrets and lies

It's been, what, just a couple of months since the coup against Andrew Paulson at the English Chess Federation and I don't suppose there's been two more tawdry, disreputable, disgraceful months in the entire history of the organisation.

We've had conspiracy, we've had claims of conspiracy. We've had back-stabbing, we've had elected officials removed without elections. We've had claims, we've had counter-claims. And it all adds up to two tawdry, disreputable, disgraceful months. I could also say poisonous. I could also say a lot of other things.

My personal Disgust-O-Meter long since went into the red zone. Conspiracy and deceit tend to have that effect on me.

Anyway, the latest ridiculous event in this lamentable series, at the date of writing, is the resignation of the Non-Executive Director Sean Hewitt. What has led to Mr Hewitt resigning, when normally he is more concerned with bringing about the resignation of other people? Frankly any reader who hasn't followed this saga is suffering from a particularly happy form of ignorance. But, very very briefly - and yet in more detail than it merits - it revolves around this document, produced by Phil Ehr, so-far-surviving CEO of the ECF.

Tell you what though, I'll leave it until after the fold. And if I were you I wouldn't bother with it. The sun is shining. You're better off going for a walk instead.

It's raining, you say? You're better off going for a walk instead.

It's snowing, there's a force nine gale and there are swarms of giant vampire bats blotting out the sky? You're better off going for a walk instead.

If you're still with us after all that, you probably have followed this saga all the way, and you'll know that Sean Hewitt took issue with Phil Ehr listing him as utterly and unequivocally backing the deal that was made to persuade Andrew Paulson to resign* - a deal for which Sean Hewitt voted.

It's caused a lot of fuss, it's caused at least one resignation and it may be the cause of more.

Here's Clark Gable, explaining what I think about it.

Why do I not give a damn?

1. I do not give a damn, because if you vote for an agreement you shouldn't complain when, later on, your name is attached to that deal.

2. I do not give a damn, because I see no reason for objecting that strongly to having your name so listed, unless you were hoping to undermine the agreement you had voted for. (And who would ever trust a person who did that?)

3. I do not give a damn, because if you spend two months stabbing somebody else in the back** I am not interested when you think somebody's stabbed you in the back.

So much for Sean Hewitt. Mind you, Phil Ehr. Wasn't he the chap who was nominated for his post by Roger Edwards and then, in turn, nominated Roger Edwards' opponent?

Jesus wept. What standards we have. What integrity.

It is of course a pompous, convoluted and ludicrous document and not the first we've seen in this saga that could answer to that description. But that's the standard, isn't it? The document and the resignation are just two further turds to add to the mountain of shite.

Still - why, I wonder, might Phil Ehr want to produce a document like this? Could it be that he doesn't think all the individuals concerned can be trusted to stick to what they agreed? And why would anybody think that, eh?

That's the fruits of betrayal and conspiracy, gentlemen. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Here endeth the lesson.***

[* I have no intention of going through the details of this agreement. Life's too short and this blog piece would be too long. Read the document and weep.]
[** Not to mention a track record of making life unpleasant for other ECF officials.]
[*** No it doesn't. This is a lesson which never ever ends.]


Richard Lemming said...

I am going for a walk... off the edge of a pier!

Jonathan B said...

Evening all. Thanks for the comments. I’m leaving them for EJH to mod, but unfortunately he’s got minimal internet access at the moment.

HINT: If you’re desperate for your comment to appear, attaching a name to it will help.

David R said...

Nice! ejh doesn't always get it right. But here, he's bang on the money

Jonathan B said...


Sir Humphrey Appleton said...
I will think about this matter while I am eating my lentil soup with naan bread.

Okay I have finished thinking about this matter. I think the ECF offices should be torched and all elected ECF officials should be severely birched.

The ECF will then be reformed with the S&B boys leading the way. Chess would become the national sport of England in 20 years time.

Jonathan B said...


It is clear to me that a new entity needs to be created to oversee English chess. This would be similar to what happened in darts back in the early 90s. The PDC was created as an alternative to the failing BDO.

I would suggest that
this new entity be named the English Chess Corporation (ECC). The ECC would be run by full time professionals including business leaders and chess masters.

The ECC would fall under the umbrella of Barry Hearn, who oversees snooker and darts. The image of chess would be improved, with theme music for top players, and sponsorship logos on shirts. Chess would be broadcast on Sky Sports and the general public would get to know many of the personalities.

Jonathan B said...


How can Nigel Short represent the interests of English Chess when he resides in Greece? Does he pay taxes in England? I don't want an exile representing me!

Jonathan B said...


The damage that has been done to the reputation of the ECF in recent months is huge. It has been there for all the world to see. The ECF has become a laughing stock in the wider chess world. The constant bickering, lies, accusations, infighting, distrust, cynicism, and paranoia is a disease that will spell the death of chess in this country.

These individuals that purport to run chess in England should take a long hard look at themselves. They have disgraced themselves and all the chess players in the land whom they supposedly represent. If they have any conscience they will feel great guilt and shame. They should beg for forgiveness from the rank and file of English chess, such is the enormity of how they have let them down.

Jonathan B said...


Well I don't know about anyone else but I have been listening to Robson and Jermome lately. It's the only thing that helps me get through the pain of what is happening to the ECF.

I've been in a terrible state. Every time I look at the ECF forum I wince with pain. My GP prescribed me some sleeping pills to get through the nights but I keep waking up with nightmares.

When will this torture end? I can't take much more of it. Things were better when that nice boy CJ was in charge.

Jonathan B said...

Apologies for losing a few amusing names along the way.

ejh said...

I would suggest that this new entity be named the English Chess Corporation (ECC). The ECC would be run by full time professionals including business leaders and chess masters.

If such a thing were to happe there would be less democratic input into the ECF and the sort of ethics which have been the subject of today's column would probably loom even larger and be harder to combat.

The solution to a democratic deficit isn't less democracy.

(By the way, I wouldn't grieve if I never heard the term "business leaders" again.)

How can Nigel Short represent the interests of English Chess when he resides in Greece? Does he pay taxes in England? I don't want an exile representing me!

I also live and pay my taxes abroad (in Spain) and hence your complaint eludes me.

(Apologies to all for the moderating cock-up: I was in a Madrid bar watching Atl├ętico play Barca on the telly. After the football Jonathan and I must have passed awaiting comments instantaneously: hence Jonathan, not knowing that I had done so deliberately, thought he'd done so accidentally.....)

ejh said...

Amusing names watch: the "new entity" posting was by "Dr. Henry Kensington Wiggins Rathbone III" while Robson and Jerome were providing solace to "Ethel Boddlington".

Anonymous said...

There was and is one obvious conflict at Board level and that's between Andrew Paulson and Nigel Short. That manifested itself both in the FIDE President issue and the ECU President issue. There may however be another one that has been simmering slightly below the surface between Phil Ehr and Sean Hewitt. I would hesitate to say that there was a particular issue, but last October there was a curious piece of brinkmanship. I forget the order, but both Phil and Seam were late declarers, Phil for the CEO post and Sean for NED. Sean previously having indicated an intention to stand down from being an ECF Board member.


Anonymous said...

It would seem Mr. Sean Hewitt has not only resigned from the ECF, he has also given up running his excellent e2e4 chess tournaments, in further protest at the ECF, who knows, we can only guess - but the two incidents appear to be connected! While I could not give a damn about the ECF, I did enjoy attending e2e4 events.