Friday, 7 December 2007

The Farce Brothers

Who said adjournments were dead? The appeals committee at the 2007 World Youth Championships has re-invented them. Read all about it at [partly in Dutch but the Belgian protest is in English]. They decided it was OK to get a 14-year-old boy out of his bed at 11pm, ask him to give evidence before them (I've got a picture of "when did you last see your father?" in my head) and then oblige him to sit down and, at midnight the same night, continue a game which he had thought had been finished several hours before he went to bed.

Read the full facts at the ChessVibes site by all means but to my mind the rest of the matter pales into insignificance besides the aforementioned bit of lunacy. How could the appeals committee even think to summon a child from his bed in the first place? Well, basically because the appeals committee consisted of 'The Farce Brothers' (like the Marx Brothers, only not as funny) - Azmo, Campo and Makro Farce (to give them their stage names - in real life they are Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Florencio Campomanes and Georgios Makropoulos... three of the most senior people in world chess administration - to our collective shame).

Beggars belief, doesn't it? There are three things these cretins should do immediately, in no particular order - resign; apologise profusely to the boy and to the Belgian Chess Federation; and (two of them) also apologise to Nigel Short. Why the latter? Because they recently caused Nigel Short to be reprimanded by FIDE for referring to them as dunderheads. Since we now have cast-iron, irrefutable evidence of the aptness of Mr Short's description, he should receive a fulsome apology.


  1. For Heaven's sake! Is there no limit to FIDE's capacity for rendering the game ridiculous? I've read the ChessVibes account, and the additional comments by Lucas Nijs (presumably Nijs père). The entire episode is outrageous.

    Of all the sound points made by others on the ChessVibes site, I'd add this. Dragging a 14 year old boy from his bed, without informing next of kin or a suitable 'locum parentis', would likely lead to criminal charges in this country. Absolutely disgraceful behaviour by the FIDE dunderheads.

    As for the final outcome (Nils Nijs lost!), that too is outrageous. His draw claim by repetition was sound, and accepted by the arbiter; it fell on a technicality. But playing the game on at 11.00pm, when one player had been asleep three hours, and the other player analysing it on an engine, is just an insult to the game.


  2. Just when you think FIDE can't get any worse, it does. I hereby dosown the whole shower. This whole episode is disgusting. Words really do fail me...

  3. Any more on the allegations of widespread cheating?

  4. Mmm, but why is it necessary to treat it as being about Nigel Short? His "dunderheads" comments were part of a typically loudmouthed interview in which he made comments he couldn't back up and which he was lucky to get away with.

    Short does damage to nearly every point he makes, even when sound, by the boorish and bullying manner in which he makes them, and hearing people chorus "dunderheads" every time there is a controversy is only likely to encourage him.

  5. Dragging a 14 year old boy from his bed, without informing next of kin or a suitable 'locum parentis', would likely lead to criminal charges in this country.

    I'm inclined to doubt this. What would be the charge?

  6. Re widespread cheating: I've heard nothing specific, merely some second-hand tittle tattle. Given the tendency for large areas of chess officialdom to behave like the three wise monkeys, I would not expect anything much to be done or said about it by any federation or official body.

    Re the question of whether knocking on a minor's hotel door in the night without reference to an adult (if this is indeed what happened) could be interpreted as a crime: like EJH, I am at a loss to know precisely which law could be invoked to deal with it. Unfortunately monumental stupidity is not yet classified as a crime.

    Re Nigel Short: EJH might feel that I am allowing him too much 'oxygen of publicity' but I agreed with Short on the matter of that ludicrous FIDE ethics committee charge. I don't like a number of other things Short has had to say for himself over the years - indeed some of them have absolutely appalled me - but his outspokenness when it comes to high-level FIDE goings-on has often been spot on. I wish a few other people had the courage of (some of) his convictions.

  7. I think it's stupid and quite likely the act of people with no experience of working with children and young people. You can't expect an Appeal Committee to have that experience, perhaps, but there ought to be somebody working at any sizeable youth event in any field who would, and would be able to say "you shouldn't be doing this".

    As far as Short is concerned, I'm very happy for him to make outspoken remarks about FIDE, if he can back them up: if he can't, then he should not. Perhaps better that he should do it his way, than a fair few chess journalists who won't say what they see - though I understand why they may not. But I also think he's a bully, which I don't like. (There's a fair few around in the chess world, several of them associated with Chessbase.) So I also don't want every dubious action by FIDE officials to be put through some Short-v-FIDE filter. There's better ways of going about it, I think.

  8. Well... that Azmaiparashvili is a dunderhead is actually common knowledge to everyone. He is a shame to the chess world. I actually have been asking for a FIDE without him since 2004...

    I feel awfully sorry for the kid.

    Ana Matnadze

  9. Whether a crime or not, it certainly would offend against Section 11 of the Children's Act (2004) which requires a duty of care in respect of minors. Imagine the scene if the boy's father had gone to check on him, only to discover him missing. Imagine too the state of the boy, summoned from his bed by strangers and unable to contact his father. Clearly this is acceptable practice in FIDE-land. It appears not to worry this blog's resident know-all, ejh. But it worried Lucas Nijs because he claimed his son's human rights had been violated. I agree; it's more serious than just a chess matter.

  10. One could almost set the history of FIDE`s various alleged actions as questions in undergraduate law exams! On these facts, the boy was possibly kidnapped, if English law were to apply. This is a common law offence which is made out where the victim was taken away by force or by fraud and without his consent. On the facts as alleged, the only real argument would be whether "force" was used. We would need to know more about the message, and perhaps the tone of the message, of the person who knocked on his door in order to determine this. (But I should think that the courts would say that "by force" includes "by the implicit threat of the use of force").

    Notwithstanding that the offence carries in theory a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, I don`t believe for a moment that the English police would bring criminal charges in a situation like this. More likely, the father would have to bellyache just in order to cajole the police into offering the offenders a caution (although they could only do that if the offenders had freely admitted their guilt!).

    Alternatively, the boy was perhaps falsely imprisoned when brought before the committee and made to continue the game. This might be more promising, in fact, because he could bring a civil suit for this (again, I am just referring to English law) and so he would not need the intervention of the police at all.