Nice 74

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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Nice 74

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:59 pm

O.G. Urcan wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:44 pm
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:05 am
I'd rather just dismiss him as a hack.
The very example that I have just given (C.N. 8298) shows that Raymond Keene cannot just be dismissed as a hack.
I'd read it. But isn't his behaviour exactly what you would expect from a hack? Publishing a column that meets his employers requirements, but with no real effort to ensure the content of it is of a high quality?

I am implying that you think Keene's mistakes are worth the time to correct because you are treating his published work as important. Whereas I am saying I do not think we should take these columns seriously. At least no more seriously than I take football transfer speculation in another part of the newspaper. It is there for light entertainment, not as part of the historical record.

No one thinks, "I need to check the spelling of Kiersritscki I'll check what Keene uses", do they? Even people like Geoff, who enjoy his style, know he is slapdash with facts.

(with you later Geoff!)

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JustinHorton
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Re: Nice 74

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:33 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:59 am
Hi Paul,

I do not think I have made any secret of the fact although I slip in a wee joke or two, I like Ray.
I'd place him higher than a hack, he as over 100 books to his credit
Because one sign of a hack is definitely not churning out lots of books.
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:05 am
O.G. Urcan wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:18 am
My interest is in serious scrutiny of Keene's writing and conduct.
We all need a hobby! But is Keene's writing really worthy of serious scrutiny?

I ask because I am reluctant to treat him as a major figure and criticise him. He seems to gain much more from being treated as a major figure than he loses from the criticism. I'd rather just dismiss him as a hack.
I have some sympathy for your view Paul since of course, judged on a purely literary basis, he's just a hack, if a particularly bad and shameless one, somebody you'd treat as a figure of fun in so far as you paid them any attention at all. However, there's also reasons for taking him seriously, for instance (in roughly ascending order, and other people may demur):

1. Although he's a hack, he wasn't always a hack and his descent into that status is worth a little bit of scrutiny, even if we only treat it as a cautionary tale. (But we wouldn't, because the gap between hid decline and the point where it cost him any further serious career was, what, more than three decades?)

2. As Geoff observes, Ray is widely read, and this means that the garbage he writes has been widely read, and this in turn means that he needs to be paid more attention than he'd merit if he were just a nobody.

3. The fact that despite being a shameless hack, not to mention many other serious failings, shall we say, of ethics and practice, he has always retained his followers and friends and supporters within English chess, means that Ray is about rather more than Ray, he's about the world that has chosen as far as possible to overlook what he did and does. I've said this a few times already on this thread and I don't particularly want to become a bore on the subject, but unfortunately he does - I think - tell us rather more about our own society than do many other, more short-lived hacks and villains (of which we have no shortage) and so as a subject of study he's quite revealing. And English chess could do with quite a lot more revealing than it is normally happy with.
Last edited by JustinHorton on Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Nice 74

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:52 pm

Something that I don't think RDK has written much about are his experiences at the Havana Olympiad in 1966.

There's a snippet in the piece linked to earlier in which he writes
Fischer declared this masterpiece to be his favourite game, and during the 1966 Havana Chess Olympiad, I witnessed Bobby demonstrating this game to none other than a somewhat bemused Fidel Castro.
The England team for that event had been Clarke, Lee, Hartston, Littlewood (N), Hindle, Keene.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Nice 74

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:59 pm

There isn't anything in the contemporary BCM, is there?
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O.G. Urcan
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Re: Nice 74

Post by O.G. Urcan » Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:28 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:59 pm
O.G. Urcan wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:44 pm
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:05 am
I'd rather just dismiss him as a hack.
The very example that I have just given (C.N. 8298) shows that Raymond Keene cannot just be dismissed as a hack.
I'd read it. But isn't his behaviour exactly what you would expect from a hack? Publishing a column that meets his employers requirements, but with no real effort to ensure the content of it is of a high quality?

I am implying that you think Keene's mistakes are worth the time to correct because you are treating his published work as important. Whereas I am saying I do not think we should take these columns seriously. At least no more seriously than I take football transfer speculation in another part of the newspaper. It is there for light entertainment, not as part of the historical record.

No one thinks, "I need to check the spelling of Kiersritscki I'll check what Keene uses", do they? Even people like Geoff, who enjoy his style, know he is slapdash with facts.

(with you later Geoff!)
My dictionary defines a hack as "a person who produces mediocre literary or journalistic work."

"Mediocre," in turn, is defined as "average or ordinary in quality." What this thread has been pointing out, among other things, is serial blundering, untruthfulness, deceit, cronyism, plagiarism and self-plagiarism.

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Re: Nice 74

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:42 pm

Mediocre has a negative context here. Hack is definitely a perjorative. But I understand you might want a stronger term anyway.

To Justin's point, part of the reason GM Keene is interesting is because of how far he has fallen from what a top 100 player with some genuine academic achievements might have achieved. Describing his output as mediocre is a much stronger criticism than it would be of someone with average talents.

But the extent we should be warning people not to read GM Keene's books a bit complex for me at least. I would not buy one of his books myself because as far as I know he has never apologised for some of his more egregious acts we have discussed. The plagiarism, the betrayal of Kortchnoi for example. But that isn't a judgement on the books themselves. You could argue he has done his time, having suffered the consequences of those actions. I think that is how Geoff sees it.

The point I wanted to make to Geoff is that I don't see anything wrong in enjoying a hacks book. I like tartan noir novels myself, and most of them don't come close to John Rebus. But I still enjoy them. For that matter I enjoyed some of Keene's instant World Championship books in the 80s. I doubt he put much effort in, I expect there was lots of recycled content. I imagine there were mistakes in the history sections. But I bought them for notes on important games, and got what I paid for. I would rather have read them than a worse book by someone who tried harder.

I understand Justin's point that if you consider Keene an irredeemably bad character the willingness of the establishment to work with him is problematic. But he is not a criminal and I think it engenders sympathy for him if he is treated as such. I agree self plagiarism is bad, but I see it more on the scale of pushing into the queue at the post office bad, rather than murdering people bad.

(nb for the non-English present, you might think I am saying self plagiarism is trivial. I can assure you people who push into queues in England are cast out by civilised society.)

NickFaulks
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Re: Nice 74

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:08 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:42 pm
You could argue he has done his time, having suffered the consequences of those actions.
Just because I don't know, what have those consequences been?
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Re: Nice 74

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:11 pm

I don't think I can overstress the point that while any given single instance of Ray's misdeeds might be trivial (and when I say "might", you can assume "or might not") you can't say the same for the pile he's accumnulated over forty-plus years. And I reckon if somebody spent forty years pushing in at your local post office, people might be queuing up to do something other than defend them.

(I do agree to some point that it's a pathetic fate: he had the world at his feet and threw it away in order to write shoddy books and operate cheap scams.)
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Nice 74

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:48 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:11 pm
I reckon if somebody spent forty years pushing in at your local post office, people might be queuing up to do something other than defend them.
That is true, it is the sort of behaviour that might inspire tiny incremental increases of anger in some people. My personality tends more towards tutting and thinking I have seen this so many times before I can no longer be bothered engaging with it. We might get a few people who even thought, "Ray, what a character!".

Slightly more seriously, I don't want to say the things we have discussed should be forgiven and forgotten. Maybe some people would, but the disagreement more usually on what a proportionate response is, I think.

NickFaulks
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Re: Nice 74

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:11 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:08 pm
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:42 pm
You could argue he has done his time, having suffered the consequences of those actions.
Just because I don't know, what have those consequences been?
Honestly, I'm just asking. Has RDK served a prison term that everyone here but me knows about? I have been out of the country.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Nice 74

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:31 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:11 pm
Honestly, I'm just asking.
The BCF was going to have an enquiry into the allegations by Tony Miles. This was abandoned when RDK resigned his posts. He hasn't had a post with the BCF or ECF since then. The nearest perhaps was being invited by de Mooi to open the Sheffield British in 2011.

There was also the settlement with Inside Chess. This was where a book contained material taken from an article in that publication. The exact details are probably somewhere in the Winter archives, but I believe it involved some financial compensation to the original author.

Despite extensive use of the material, the publishers of Kasparov's books have not publicly taken any action.

I looked up when the first "Chess Notes" was published. This was January 1982, so too late for live coverage of Nice 1974 or Baguio 1978. A spat about the authors of the first version of Batsford Chess Openings followed soon after. Nominally these were Kasparov and Keene, however Tisdall and Schiller were credited as researchers and were believed to have done most of the practical work.

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Re: Nice 74

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:01 pm

Of course it's alao true that he eventually lost all his newspaper columns. But at the same time it's also true that there's never been any official statement as to why he was let go. So there's no proper accounting, no taking of responsibility, not on his part, not on anybody else's, and everybody can just pretend and carry on.
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NickFaulks
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Re: Nice 74

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:43 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:31 pm
He hasn't had a post with the BCF or ECF since then.
Not everyone would regard that as a great punishment, particularly if they were financially motivated..
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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Nice 74

Post by Paul Cooksey » Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:41 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:01 pm
Of course it's alao true that he eventually lost all his newspaper columns. But at the same time it's also true that there's never been any official statement as to why he was let go. So there's no proper accounting, no taking of responsibility, not on his part, not on anybody else's, and everybody can just pretend and carry on.
Maybe this is the thing I see fundamentally differently. I don't think GM Keene's reputation is intact or that the the chess world pretends it is. As Nick says, maybe only a fool takes a role at the ECF. But any other GM has the option if the mood takes them.

In some sense I am saying to Olimpiu that when he tells us the details of the mistakes in the latest mediocre book my lack of shocked reaction is not because I think the book is good. It is because I knew it would be poor even before I found out it was published from the back room of his mate's local photocopy shop. One of Tony Miles' two word reviews would be adequate.

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Re: Nice 74

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:10 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:41 am
As Nick says, maybe only a fool takes a role at the ECF.
I feel bound to point out that I didn't quite say that ( though others may have done ).
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