Monday 3 October 2016

Short memories

Funny old week, last week. A commentor on last Wednesday's piece drew our attention to this remarkable statement by Susan Polgar.
Using the biggest sexist in the world of chess who has nothing to do with this issue to mouth off this sensitive topic on Twitter is not the way to resolve anything. Some are clearly using this to advance their own personal and political agenda.
Why "remarkable"? Well, remarkable because it's true, which is not necessarily Susan Polgar's style. So we had the simultaneous spectacle of the biggest sexist in the world of chess posing as a defender of women's rights and the biggest fibber in the world of chess calling him out for it. Calling him out for it, when practically nobody else would do so.

Especially not our mainstream journalists, who seemed to have a collective attack of memory loss1 where Nigel's past statements and conduct are concerned.

Short, wrote Julian Barnes in 1994, "has a history of graceless behaviour". So he does, but it's not as if you have to remember back to 1994, or even to have been alive in 1994, to know about that.

You don't even have to go back to 2012 and his piece delighting in sex tourism and the "totty" you could find.

You only have to go back to last year.

So when you have the Times, for instance, reporting that Nigel "led calls for a change of venue"

is it really too much to ask that the question - "hang on, Nigel Short is leading this? That Nigel Short?" - finds its way into the mind of the reporter, and that the answer finds its way into the story?

Apparently it is.

Or when a Telegraph writer files a story including this passage

is it too much to ask that they remember this story in the same newspaper only last year? It includes passages like this

about a "feminist lobby" who are "shrill" and "tyrannical".

Not too hard to remember, you'd think. Especially as both pieces were by the same journalist.

To get back to Susan Polgar, heroic speaker of truths:
Some are clearly using this to advance their own personal and political agenda.
So they are, and so are the newspapers concerned, which is OK so long as everybody understands that. Still, that being so, a bit less humbug and outrage all round might be appreciated.

Also - you know, it was only three months ago that Nigel went to Iran to take part in a tournament. I doubt he did this without being paid. He took the trouble when commenting on the tournament to talk (among his numerous complaints) about the hijab and it will not have escaped his notice that it had to be worn. This didn't, however, stop him playing, and I don't suppose it stopped him getting paid.

Shortly after this he went to Baku for the Olympiad where, as we know, there was a big, big ruck over Nigel being searched during a game and which led him to refer to the arbiter concerned as
  • "an idiot"
  • "a jumped up little prick" ; and
  •  "a worthless individual who is not fit to lick my boots"
and, in another interview, produce further commentary of the same kind.

You can actually see why journalists are so keen on Nigel because he doesn't half give a good interview, but he's also something of a bully, isn't he? More than something. He'll dish it out when it's one of the little people on the receiving end, because that's the kind of guy he is.

But at the end of that interview he says, of the chess world, "we're living in a dictatorship" and refers to his "little protest". So I just wondered - when he was playing, profesionally, in Bandar Anzali, in what some people describe, with reason, as a theocratic dictatorship, did he make any little protests against the hijab there?

I'm sure he did. I look forward to reading all about it in New In Chess.

[1paywall I'm afraid]


Anonymous said...

Link error on "fibber", needs html, not htm.

Proofreader said...

1. The link gives the Barnes quotation as being from 1994, not 1984 (three occurrences).
2. "led calls for a change of venue"

Actually it says "led calls for a change of venue change", which shows approximately how much the Times cared to proofread it. (Moreover, if he would offer an alternative WWC venue (Minsk and Astana have been mentioned previously), FIDE might actually consider it! Other than his stories about Kirsan's Iranian oil deals, I can't imagine FIDE would be disinclined to holding the WWC in a different locale.)


Is the term "headgear" in this context commonplace in UK? Personally, I find it on the derogatory side in word choice.

Or to pick his argument apart a bit more: if there were comparable "Islamic headgear" which men were required to wear in Iran, would it then be OK for FIDE to make the award?

Anyway, he's more interested in complaining about FIDE than about the Iranian government, though the latter is the ultimate source of the compulsion to wear this "symbol of Islamic repression" [of women].

ejh said...

Thanks to both for corrections.

Ilkley Chess said...

Is this the same Nigel Short who was paid good money to be the coach to the Iranian chess team in 2007?

sooroo said...

By Short's logic, should FIDE even allow Iranian Chess Federation as a member, because they force women to wear hijab?

Heath said...

Actually, "Islamic headgear" is a lot more polite than some of what is on Sutovsky's FB page (why does everyone call it "Sutovsky blog", is it something historical?).

David Smerdon has (perhaps unwisely) entered the fray:

Laar said...

Not sure why Sutovsky hasn't cut off the loose-hinged Colm Chess by now (his profile says CIA propaganda analyst BTW). Certainly if it were a different religion, Emil's patience would be significantly less.

Danailov has joined Short in championing women's rights as a side effect of anti-FIDE protest.

Po said...

Smerdon: At two world junior championships in India in which I competed, both foreign boys and girls felt some cultural pressure to dress to cover our legs; in fact, refusal to do so actually led to the male and female events being segregated into different rooms!

A nice point. In fact, looking at the Chengdu Women's GP closing ceremony, you can see that Harika and Humpy have their legs covered (Harika with a floor-length skirt).

Theoretically (and perhaps only very much so), Iran could have a separate room for women who don't want to wear the hijab during play, with only female arbiters. This wouldn't be more ridiculous than the Lviv 30-minute delay in a private room in the match this last March for instance. I doubt that would solve Ms. Paikidze-Barnes's difficulties, which are more philosophical, and conflict with Iranian tourism in the first place.

A. said...

The prickly language about the subject seems unbounded: the Washington Post's article on Paikidze just referred to Iran's "hijab fetish" (usually a phrase one only finds in the porn industry) in its headline.

Anonymous said...

Nigel himself had an almost decently-phrased tweet (for once):

Nigel Short ‏@nigelshortchess

#AskYifan @ChessBase Does persisting with a [Women's] World Ch. system that has been tried, tested and rejected in the men's game constitute sexism?

Unfortunately, there is no "men's game" in FIDE, by which I guess he means the open division. Which might be his point in the first place.