Saturday, 8 September 2007

Dunderheads vs Nigel Short (Part 2)

So the official verdict is that Nigel Short shouldn't have called Makro and Azmai 'dunderheads'. On reflection that seems to be quite correct. Makro may well be a dunderhead (e.g. his preference for the FIDE time limit) but I see Azmai more as a thug than a dunderhead. In future Nigel should choose his insults with more precision.


  1. I can't help feeling that FIDE has been infiltrated by members of the former Rules and Ethics Subcommittee of Surrey. The FIDE report on Azmai vs Nigel is worthy of some of their efforts.

  2. Can editors be hauled up before the FIDE ethics committee? "Thug" is a more serious insult than "dunderhead." The only violence I recall associated with Azmi is when he was assaulted by the police; the photos were gruesome, but hey, he was at the receiving end, right? Does Raymond Keene also qualify as a "thug," or does he reside too close to home for comfort? Perhaps "fixer" works better than "thug" here?

  3. Its an interesting judgement becuase of course you'd expect "dunderhead" to count as fair comment (there's some talk in the judgement itself about this) whereas some of Short's other comments were, in fact, rather more serious in content (and rather less defensible).

    My guess is, therefore, that they took the view that:

    (a) because the other accusations were more serious, if they were to be acted on there would have to be penalties imposed ;

    (b) Short would not accept this and we would be on our way to the courts ;

    (c) Azmai et al don't fancy that if they can avoid it (not because they're guilty of these particular actions, but because reputations don't always survive court appearances).

    Hence the selection of the trivial offence, slap on wrist, no penalty, everybody happy.

    You reckon?

  4. Ray could be described as a lot of things, but "thug" is not one of them. As to whether editors can be hauled up before the FIDE Ethics Committee: I vaguely recall a few years ago that FIDE were thinking of appointing what they called a 'press commissar' in each of their affiliated bodies whose job would presumably have been to lean on chess editors and journalists when they appeared to be 'off message'. However, the sound of laughter coming from western countries probably caused them to drop the idea.

    I wasn't being entirely serious when I used the word "thug" here although first-hand witnesses recall Azmai initiating the physicality in the case referred to.

    EJH - your analysis seems correct. The decision runs counter to what might be expected under English law but decisions of sports bodies in such cases often seem to be more about image rather than anything substantive One recalls sports people such as Ian Botham and Will Carling receiving similar wrist-slaps after accusing sports federation heads of being "gin-swilling dodderers" etc.

    On reflection, I suppose if FIDE wanted to penalise me for using the word "thug" in the same sentence as "Azmai", they could consider banning me from playing or take away my rating. The way I play these days they would be doing me a favour.

  5. It's also true that a lot of chess journalists (present company very much excepted) know who they can and cannot offend anyway. There are some chess journalists, for instance, who will never say anything against powerful people in federations, or less powerful people who might be their friends: there are others who will very happily offend all the officials in the world, but would never say a word against a sponsor or a chess entrepreneur.

    It's not so much leaning on journalists that worries me - it's the ones who don't need leaning on that we should worry about!

    (Incidentally, I wouldn't want anybody to think I believe the job of a chess writer is to offend. No it isn't. If I thought that, I wouldn't despise shock-jocks and "controversial" columinists. But I do think that any writer who seeks to be honest will find fault in various parties at various times and must say so if their integrity is to remain intact.)