Wednesday 4 July 2018

No woman no try

Well, I seem to have missed most of June - sorry about that. So what's been happening? Mostly this, which story - not so much the Telegraph piece as the story it reports - is causing quite a lot of fuss, and rightly so.

Not everybody is happy about this, as the Telegraph piece makes plain, and why should they be? On the face of it it's exactly the sort of thing that the ECF should be seeking not to do.

Especially when the face of it is Chris Fegan.

Chris Fegan may well have "over 40 years' experience playing and organising chess" but some other people's experience of him is that far from being "welcoming and inclusive" he's a thoroughly unpleasant bully. He's also, quite importantly, an employee of another board member, Malcolm Pein.

So we don't just get two women passed over, for a post you'd expect a woman to head the queue for, in favour of a man, but a man who's beholden to another board member. This is called "jobs for the boys" in more ways that one, and it's the sort of thing which shouldn't be happening.

Now I might get back to the cronyism a bit later - suffice to say, for the moment, that I wouldn't trust Chris Fegan with a job running water into a bucket - but for the moment, let's talk about the appointment of a man per se, rather than the particular man, and what it might tell us about the English Chess Federation and the community that supports it.

Rather than go, at length, into our rather undistinguished history on this subject, I'm going to do this briefly, by making two points. The first is that the president of the English Chess Federation is Dominic Lawson.

Dominic Lawson is a notorious and incorrigible misogynist.

The second is that the English Chess Federation's nominee for FIDE president is Nigel Short.

Nigel Short is a notorious and incorrigible misogynist.

They're also old chums, of course, which would bring us back to jobs for the boys if we wanted to go there, but right now, tell me this:

  • would a Federation, or a community, that was genuinely interested in promoting the equality of women, be headed by a man like Dominic Lawson?
  • would a Federation, or a community, that was genuinely interested in promoting the equality of women, be supporting a man like Nigel Short?

You know they wouldn't.

And you know that the truth is this, that women are shunted out of the picture in English chess whenever something deemed to be more important comes up, and "something deemed to be more important" is just about everything.

That's a truth that ought to hurt, and if you can't see why, perhaps that explains why you can't see that Chris Fegan's appointment is also perceived as an injury.


Anonymous said...

It is a very good point that NS and DL have made some terrible, or inept, remarks in the past. Shouldn't they find the time to say sorry for those? Still, I am a bit depressed at the lack of detail in the original Telegraph article. For instance - is it known which 2 women were passed over for the job in question? Did anyone other than Lorin volunteer to be Captain of the women's team?

On the face of it, having 2/11 women on the board is probably a positive point. I imagine that the fraction of the ecf membership which is female is smaller than 2/11.


Anonymous said...

It's quite usual for an Olympiad team to have a strong player as non-playing captain. It benefits the team by supplying a built in trainer. Any female player strong enough to be useful in a training role would be playing already, if not for England, then someone else. That's something of a non-story.

There's certainly a case for female trainers for female junior players, but if you play for England at a Senior level you should be tough enough to cope with having a male trainer.


ejh said...

I've no idea what that means, Rog, though I seem to recall one leading English player having screaming fits when presented with an Olympiad captain he didn't like. I wonder what happened to him?

I should state the obvious by the way, that this piece is not about the Telegraph article, a point explicitly made in the opening paragraph.