Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1761
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:03 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:I'm not sure exactly what `damage` Lara has done to next year's event
It does an event no favours to suggest there is a better option that has been rejected. I agree that we should not overstate the impact, I was not thinking of writing to the governance committee or the police. I'm posting on a relatively obscure forum.

However I think the issue arose because of an ongoing unresolved situation. Something that has to be dealt with, or similar issues will continue to occur.
One of the reasons behind my original post that seems to have started all this (I am well aware this latest bout of bloodletting may be fault) is that some people have insinuated that this particular championship has been devalued by the absence of many of the country's top players and that had we been a bit nicer to the President this would not have happened. Indeed the FIDE delegate waded onto this forum to call the North Shields event a `pale shadow` and make other insulting comments for which Carl was forced to warn him about his behaviour. If that wasn't trying to damage the championships I'm not sure what is.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18753
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:07 pm

ECF Statement wrote:Much as it may deplore insulting or false statements made by individuals about ECF officials – and regrettably this incident is far from being a unique example of this – the Federation cannot be expected to make official public responses regarding the individual comments in such cases. To respond to one would risk the ECF’s being committed to responding to every insulting or inaccurate personal remark or being accused through its silence of agreement with the view expressed.
I think this is at the heart of the matter. Alex McF was looking for an ECF statement regretting comments by a National Newspaper chess correspondent. Whilst there might be a risk that the ECF was forced to respond in other circumstances, it could retain the right of silence.

I don't think silence in a attack on one of its officials should imply the ECF agrees with the attack. However a refusal to respond when requested does tend to imply this. At the very least a desire not to antagonise a potential sponsor.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:36 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:Any 'agreement' that was made was defaulted when the true meaning of De Mooi's expression to the press came into existance.
I thought it was clear how far CJ was prepared to go when I read his statement. I find it surprising Alex believes he was misled. most people read statements carefully in such circumstances.
Alex McFarlane wrote:Again, you keep claiming there was blame on our side. Please state what you think that blame was. It shouldn't be too difficult for you. If you cannot do so then you should withdraw the allegation and withdraw from this thread.
I play enough chess to recognise a trap when I see one, and I'm not sure what good rehashing this does. But I'll respond anyway. I do not believe I said blame, I said "fault on both sides". Given Alex seems to be denying this is a reasonable view of the events, I assume he is critical of the ECF for using similar terms.

I have referred to two areas in the past where I do not think Lara's performance was not as good as it should have been:

1. I believe that the Managers of the British championship had a responsibility to avoid a misunderstand with CJ. Lara statement includes the phrase "I sincerely apologise to you if, despite my intentions, the way that I expressed my concerns led to a misunderstanding".

In the context of the issue we are now discussing, I think it is relevant that it was at least unclear that it was Lara's responsibility to approach CJ, and she would have been better advised to seek advice from those who were in authority.

2. Lara's statement to the press included the phrase "I've every sympathy with his cause, but I didn't think it was appropriate to have the sentiment on the T-shirt in every photograph with junior chess players – under-10s, under-12s and under-14s – promoting a particular sexuality.", if it was reported correctly.

The phrase "promoting a particular sexuality" was, in my opinion, poorly chosen. Particularly from a person familiar with equality issues. It is both clumsy and could be taken as a misunderstanding of Stonewall's anti-bullying campaign. I believe the use of this phrase was a major factor in the subsequent negative comment in the Gay media.

I am not alleging Lara did these things from malice, but I think they were avoidable things that she did which contributed to the escalation of the issue. But I can't stress strongly enough, it is not my opinion that matters. It is the ability of the parties involved to make an agreement and move on.

Alex McFarlane
Posts: 1497
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:52 pm

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:58 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:most people read statements carefully in such
Most people have no reason to expect the President to be economical with the truth and to take it at face value. Certainly, I now look for the hidden meaning in statements. This has led to more criticism and that I am looking for things that don't exist. I guess you would agree that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

I don't see why you should assume anytthing. I've been open about this, you only have to ask. In this case I think the difference is insignificant.

So the fault with David and I from what I can see is that we did not intervene soon enough in questioning CJ De Mooi's attire. In that case I agree with you.

With most reasonable people, a friendly word is usually better than a formal approach. As things transpired the formal approach would have been better but none of us expected the media circus which was generated. So perhaps you can add naivity to our list of faults.

It was not reported accurately in as much as it was edited. The main concern of all was the effect it could have. It is ironic that a T-shirt designed to prevent bullying was seen as a potential source of bullying by the co-managers (and the parents asked). A child getting a hard time for playing chess (not an uncommon scenario) could have been a bigger target if photographed next to someone wearing such an item. It is extremely unfortunate that the President dismissed parental concerns with the phrase 'That's their problem then' rather than examining whether his own worthy motives were more important.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1761
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:28 pm

It's worth noting that I've mentioned the controversy to several of my gay friends (presenting it in a neutral fashion each time) and I've yet to find one who doesn't think the President was out of order.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Paul Cooksey

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:37 pm

I don't think I have much more to say on this matter.

Alex seems to be acknowledging that "fault on both sides" is a reasonable way to describe the 2011 prize giving. I think he is attributing faults on one side to "pure" motives and faults on the other to "impure" one. But that feeling might be mutual.

I certainly don't want to challenge his view that CJ was also at fault. It seems to me that CJ was the one who shot Archduke Ferdinand. But I do not think that means he is solely responsible for the subsequence millions of deaths in the trenches.

I do think it relevant we are discussing t-shirtgate again. It reinforces my view that we have not moved on. My belief remains we are past the point where a friendly, or even a formal resolution is possible, and the ECF needs to reorganise appropriately.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:40 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:It's worth noting that I've mentioned the controversy to several of my gay friends (presenting it in a neutral fashion each time) and I've yet to find one who doesn't think the President was out of order.
If Andrew summarised his neutral view of events, we could discuss whether it is indeed truly neutral. But I suspect we'd be wasting our time. Partly because we wouldn't agree. Mostly because it is no longer really the point. We are discussing if people can work together, not who was right, or who was 63.2% right.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 7624
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:07 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote: My belief remains we are past the point where a friendly, or even a formal resolution is possible, and the ECF needs to reorganise appropriately.
Quite likely this is true.

Andrew Zigmond wrote: One of the reasons behind my original post that seems to have started all this (I am well aware this latest bout of bloodletting may be fault) is that some people have insinuated that this particular championship has been devalued by the absence of many of the country's top players and that had we been a bit nicer to the President this would not have happened. Indeed the FIDE delegate waded onto this forum to call the North Shields event a `pale shadow` and make other insulting comments for which Carl was forced to warn him about his behaviour. If that wasn't trying to damage the championships I'm not sure what is.
This is the point.

See, if somebody has to go, why is it not, obviously, somebody who refuses to do anything in his post? I mean it must be obvious to everybody that in normal circumstances, somebody who clearly doesn't do anything, and clearly does not want to do anything, is somebody who needs to be replaced. Yes?

In the specific case, the only reason I can think of, why they're not being asked to leave, is some belief that they will somehow bring forth sponsorship money and therefore need to be kept hold of. If people do believe that then I think it's a specious idea (as well as a not entirely honourable one, given how dismally he's failed in his post) but at very least, I'd like to see that stated openly. Because I'm damned if I see another reason why he's still here. To the extent that he is still here, of course.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

User avatar
Carl Hibbard
Posts: 5838
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:05 pm
Location: Evesham

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:19 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:The ECF Board has no control over me. Any control it had ended when I was not reappointed as Manager.
I have the control

We are reaching the point at which going over the same discussion is starting to drag and I may feel it is time to draw a halt to the proceedings :!:
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

PaulJackson
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 8:27 pm

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by PaulJackson » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:32 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:I have the control

We are reaching the point at which going over the same discussion is starting to drag and I may feel it is time to draw a halt to the proceedings :!:
free speech not always allowed here sadly :(

User avatar
Carl Hibbard
Posts: 5838
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:05 pm
Location: Evesham

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:42 pm

PaulJackson wrote:
Carl Hibbard wrote:I have the control

We are reaching the point at which going over the same discussion is starting to drag and I may feel it is time to draw a halt to the proceedings :!:
Free speech not always allowed here sadly :(
Nonsense, you don't feel the same issue is being gone over again then :?:
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

PaulJackson
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 8:27 pm

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by PaulJackson » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:00 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:Nonsense, you don't feel the same issue is being gone over again then :?:
This particular thread lasted 4 hours before you threatened to pull the plug. People are still posting and want to discuss it. I'm sure there are a lot of people who aren't interested in this discussion but I'm also sure there are some that are. If you have control over this forum then its up to you what you do but it seems odd to me that if people want to continue disccussing a chess related topic on a chess forum they can't because somebody else decides they're bored with it.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Paul Cooksey » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:57 pm

So, just one more and I’ll walk away...

There was a bit more discussion of this subject in this thread after I left it. I’m not going to respond to everything directly, but somehow I got into a pointless argument. So I do want to say what happened from my point of view.

I knew criticising Lara would be controversial. But the facts seemed pretty clear. A decision had been made to hold the 2013 Championship in Torquay. Lara knew this and knew she had no authority to change the decision. But she acted as if she did. I thought it was worth saying something, because teams fail when they have no unity of purpose. In my experience, when people start to ignore the wishes of the person they report to, it is usually because personal relationships have broken down. So I saw this issue as part of a pattern that started with t-shirtgate, and felt something needed to be done about it.

Unfortunately I seemed to have lost most people by that point.

Some people said it was unfair to criticise a person who is both nice and competent, and had just completed a successful event. Particularly if they thought her actions were justified by the situation, or the mistake was of minor importance. I suppose this is a question of perspective, since I wasn’t addressing those things. My perspective is that when teams start in-fighting things are bad, and if people don’t respect the wishes of their superior, the organisation is deep trouble.

Perhaps my perspective is wrong. I formed it professional organisations, and felt it was appropriate to apply it to the ECF. The inability of the ECF to get things done frustrates me, reshaping it to be more professional seemed the obvious answer. But I’m starting to doubt if people want that. Maybe the organisers are more valuable than the elected officials. The problem for me is, if there is no structure, anything that gets done at all, gets done incredibly inefficiently. The ECF stays the kind of dysfunctional organisation it is today.

Still, either way, it seemed I was talking to a whole group of people that it was pointless to try to convince. Those people who just don’t have my perspective on the issue. For example, anyone who thinks that it is relevant whether Plymouth was a better bid, or that investigating postponing Torquay was a good idea, is at cross purposes with me. Interesting points to debate maybe, but not relevant to whether the team had become dysfunctional.

Then there is Alex. It was particularly pointless to try to persuade him that criticising Lara was justified by an attempt to sort out some of the ECF’s problems. If I’m honest, I knew that from the start. I’ve now had several slow painful conversations with him where I’ve justified my view there was fault on both sides of t-shirtgate, and with a few hours he has again posted that Lara suffered through no fault of her own. I’d let this pass if I didn’t think it was doing harm. But, by insisting that everyone who does not agree with an irrational version of events is against him, Alex eventually ends up in dispute with anyone who tries to be fair and reasonable, as well as anyone who is actually against him. The ECF loses talent, one way or another.

I wouldn’t expect Alex to agree, and he will get the last word. But I’m being a bit tricky. I’d be happy for him to prove me wrong that he is a divisive figure, but I think he’d have to reconcile with at least some people to do it.

So that just leaves Andrew Zigmond. I think he is tilting at windmills. My problem is that if I mock him to within an inch of his life, I’d be a bully. But if I ignore him, people might think I can’t counter his arguments. So that just leaves the option of trying to persuade him. Unfortunately, and here is the shocking bit, I can’t be bothered. Ultimately I’d rather leave the possibility people think Andrew is right and I am wrong.

This isn’t the sort of opinion a forumite should have, and this isn’t the first time I’ve had it. This is a home for discussion of the English chess scene. If you tire of discussion, and just want to state your opinion and not worry if everyone in a mixed ability group has understood it, you’d be better off writing the occasional mail to an ECF Director. Or setting up a blog. Probably one with comments turned off. I might give that a try. I’d hope to do it without resorting to gratuitous insults. But still, while I only suspect I lost this argument, I’m sure I lost the one with Steve Giddins about whether the hassle of posting here was worth it.

I might look in occasionally. But so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:14 am

Paul, you won the argument. Only those who lost the argument didn't want to concede that. You also draw attention to a factor that is increasingly plaguing this forum, that of one eyed support for friends or allies and damnation to those seen as their opponents, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of an issue. That estranged termite whom you name, Giddins, is in that respect no different, of course.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18753
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Disputes between the ECF Board and Alex McFarlane

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:28 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:The is a substantial difference between elected and appointed. I seems to me Alex and Lara do not accept the board have authority over them.
In the case of the ECF and some of its more important posts, the difference is arbitrary. The ECF received (irrelevant) advice that a small board was needed to seek charitable status. Similar advice presumably insisted that membership had to mean Guarantor membership, a requirement now dropped.

The tradition of the Congress Manager/Director as established over many years by Stewart is that they are almost autonomous and success or failure is determined by the events that they actually run. That's not to say that their plans aren't subject to oversight.

So it's arbitrary that Congress Manager isn't a Board level appointment. Personally I think it's sufficiently important that it should be. If it were, the legitimacy of the Congress Manager to make autonomous decisions would be derived from the Council meetings and elections.

An alternative structure would be that the concept of a "Congress Committee" be re-established. This would be a Council subset not unlike Governance and Finance. This would be a continuity body which handled the issue that at any time there are several future Congresses for which decisions needed to be made. It's almost unique in the chess world to the ECF, but arises because the Congress is permanently on tour, so new or revisited venues have to be sought.

It's a structure of sorts to appoint the Congress manager purely on an annual basis to run the next Congress. Alongside that, you need the forward planning element. This is particularly highlighted elsewhere on the forum by the need to find a solution to the Tromso issue for 2014.

Post Reply