The Final Stab in the Back

Late last night, I received the following e-mail from Alex McFarlane:

Just to inform you that the ECF Board have not reappointed me as Congress Manager for the British.
It would appear that my suggestion that they either ‘back me of sack me’ over my request that they condemn Keene’s comments of brutality and bigotry has resulted in the latter.
I have had to wait until Saturday for a decision made on Wednesday evening.  Indeed, I have still heard nothing from the Chief Executive.
No-one has been appointed to the post and therefore the organisation of the British will, at least pro temp, be the responsibility of Adam Raoof as Home Director.

This disgraceful news would seem to bring down the curtain on the appalling way in which Alex, Lara Barnes and David Welch have been treated by the Egregious Chess Federation, ever since the T-shirt-gate affair at this year’s British (“see blogs passim“, as Private Eye would put it). It was Lara who, quite rightly, raised the issue of the utter inappropriateness of CJ’s dress at the prize-giving. Since then, she has been vilified and her professional livelihood imperilled, while she, Alex and David have pleaded in vain for the Board of the Egregious Federation to support them. Not a single member of that spineless, unprincipled shower has done so. Instead, they now meet behind closed doors, vote to sack the “whistleblowers”, and don’t even have the decency to inform them for a further three days.

“Of course, if Brutus and Cassius had consulted me earlier, we could have stabbed Caesar in the back long before the Ides of March.” 

The 2012 British Championships are being held in Northumbria, close to Lara’s home, and she and Alex had been instrumental in locating the venue and getting the event staged there, the first time it has visited the North East since Sunderland in 1966. Now the whole event will be held without their participation, with the bulk of the responsibility falling on the ambitious shoulders of “Odious” Adam Raoof. No doubt the Board will soon announce that Reuben Stewpot has “kindly” volunteered to come out of retirement and step into the breach, “to save the event once again”. He will lap it up, as always. I, on the other hand, will have to ensure I lay in a generous stock of sick-bags.

“We’re not leaving until they abolish Game Fee!” 

In the wider world, this seems to be a time of popular action. Everywhere one looks just now, there are armies of protesters, “occupying the City”, in protest against the economic crisis, and the bankers wrongly alleged to have caused it. We need something similar in the chess world. Something needs to be done to put an end to the poison that is now dominating  the Egregious Chess Federation. Pitching an army of tents outside the Egregious lot’s white elephant of an office in Battle may be going a bit far, but there is one, highly effective measure that every chess organiser and many players can take: DO NOT PAY A PENNY TO THE ECF. If organisers withhold Game Fee, Rating Fees, and Direct Membership fees, this will quickly bring the odious rabble at Battle to their knees. Given the shambolic accounting systems revealed at the last AGM, the chances are that your tournament will still be graded/rated anyway, as the incompetents don’t seem ever to know who has paid them and who has not. But be that as it may, a few games not getting graded is a very small price to pay, for the removal of these appalling people.

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