Boxing clever?

One other aspect of the Egregious Chess Federation’s AGM last Saturday has excited some comment. That was the election of Tim Woolgar as Marketing Director, to replace the outgoing Reuben Stewpot. One might have thought that, amongst any remotely rational group of human beings, anybody who replaces “the little I am”,  in any capacity at all, would be welcomed with open arms, but, alas, this is the chess world. In reality, Tim Woolgar’s election has provoked quite a shocked reaction, and even before he was elected, its mere prospect was enough to have one member of the chess blogosphere positively foaming at the mouth. From his hideout in Spain, safely beyond the reach of even the longest left hook (though not the libel laws), he has branded Mr Woolgar “a spiv” and his business “a swindle”. One might legitimately ask what Mr Woolgar has done to warrant such a reaction. As far as I can tell, his sin in the eyes of his accuser is that he is the promoter of chess-boxing.

 “He got HOW many votes??” (Photo: Chessbase)

Now, I have to admit, I personally regard chess-boxing as faintly ridiculous. On the other hand, fans thereof are not doing anybody else any harm, and if they enjoy the event, good luck to them. A number of chess-boxing meetings have been held, both in London and elsewhere in Europe, and seem to attract enthusiastic and growing audiences. Critics of the event are at enormous pains to claim that its popularity has been exaggerated. They have no real evidence for this claim, but even if it is true, I see no reason to despise the event’s promoter, or to think that he will not make an effective Marketing Director for the ECF. On the contrary, to those who argue that chess-boxing is totally worthless and discredited, I would retort that the ability to sell such a product is precisely the talent that any Marketing Director of the Egregious Chess Federation needs in abundance!

The real point about chess-boxing is that, whatever the merits or otherwise of the product, and whatever the truth about the extent of its popularity, or whether it is about to be officially recognised as a sport, etc,  it is a private enterprise. Its future will depend on whether it proves sufficiently popular with audiences, to enable it to make the financial returns its backers want and need. It does not aim to survive by levying a compulsory membership charge on every chessplayer of this country, and threatening to put an effective end to his pursuit of his hobby, unless he pays up. Would that the same could be said of the Egregious Chess Federation, which seeks to make up for the fact that nobody wishes to purchase any of the products it has to sell, by forcing people to pay money to it, regardless. If Tim Woolgar and his fellow chess-boxing promoters screw things up and forfeit the goodwill and confidence of their customers, they will go out of business. When the clowns at the Egregious Chess Federation do so, they just say “Give us your money or else”.

 

“Ah, I see a winning combination – left jab, followed by right cross and then left uppercut” (Photo: Chessbase)

I do not really know Tim Woolgar personally, although I recall that I sat next to him at last year’s Staunton Dinner, and found him perfectly pleasant. He was the only candidate for the post of ECF Marketing Director, and so the alternative to voting for him was to leave this vital post vacant, and make not even a pretence of trying to market chess in this country. Remarkably, a significant proportion of the votes at the AGM were cast for precisely this option! Providing Mr Woolgar is careful not to allow any potential conflict of interest to arise between chess-boxing and chess itself, as I am sure he will be, then I see no reason why he should not be given a chance to show what he can do. He can hardly do any worse than his various predecessors, most of whom would have struggled to sell cold beer in a desert. I have to say that, given the experience of others with any business or entrepreneurial skill, who have been foolish enough to get mixed up with the Egregious Federation, I fear his tenure will not last long, before he is driven to resign in total despair, but one never knows. Good luck to him, I say – he will certainly need it.

 

“Right, that’s Lennox out of the way. Now where’s this Horton bloke?” (Photo: Chessbase)

In conclusion, I do not know if Tim Woolgar will prove a success as ECF Marketing Director. But I do know two things. Firstly, simply by virtue of not being Reuben Stewpot, he is bound to be an improvement on his obnoxious and  egomaniac predecessor. And secondly, anything which so infuriates the Bedlam Brigade from S&B cannot be entirely without merit!

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