Wednesday 25 July 2018

Old tricks

It does?

Tell me more.

There's a lot to tell, but to cut a longish story short, it turns out that Mark Horton (no relation) who is a long-time bridge professional and journalist, has been padding out his articles for years by borrowing other people's material - some of it from Wikipedia, some of it not - without permission.

Or to cut a shortish story shorter, Mark Horton is a plagiarist. Not, quite, a plagiarist of Ray Keene proportions, but a pretty busy plagiarist nonetheless. Michael Clark, the author of the piece linked to above, has done quite a lot of work collating quite a number of examples, and when you have the time - and you'll want quite a bit of it - I'd recommend checking them out.

But what's this got to do with chess?

Our man used to be a chess player. And a chess author.

There's a fair bit of overlap between the bridge word and the chess one. It doesn't include me - I've never played the game - but I had seen Horton's name before. A long time ago, as it happens. I don't have his book, but I do remember seeing it mentioned on the back

of another book (one of my favourites, in fact) from 1972

and wondering who he was, given our coincidence of surname.

Turns out he basically gave up our game at the end of the Sixties, after four appearances in the British Championships and although he would produce two editions of his French Defence book (EDIT: and one on the Petroff) he turned to playing and writing about bridge, which he's done so ever since. That's a lot of writing he's produced, not all of which, it transpires, has been his own.

It's not just Wikipedia he plagiarises. For instance, there's a nice example given in a comment here where he lifts a passage from the Washington Post. (You can find Horton's lift on page six here. Scroll up to page five and you can find a lift from Wikipedia too.)

But just to do a little bit of original work myself, if you check out the introduction he wrote to the 2011 edition of The Hog Takes To Precision

by the late Victor Mollo, you find that the text

is basically the same as what is to be found in Wikipedia.

As it is here

and here.

Or to take (as Mr Horton has done) some material from somewhere other than Wikipedia, try for instance the February issue of his magazine where on page five the passage appearing here

previously appeared here, in the Daily Bulletin of the North American Bridge Championships.

And so on and so on, because no doubt there is more to be discovered, as there always is.

Meanwhile Horton, who has a little bit of form for using material that isn't his to use, was making a big joke of plagiarism only in January (see page five).

He's not laughing quite so much now (see pages 1-2) preferring to lash out and invoke his "magazine's solicitors". As his case consists of claiming (after a lifetime of journalistic activity) that he didn't know he had either to provide links to material he was reusing, or give its source, or seek permission to use it, I doubt those solicitors are likely to give him very much to work with.

Perhaps it would be a good idea if nobody, ever again, gave him very much to work with.

[Thanks to Richard James for the information about the British Championships and Jonathan for the Petroff tip.]
[Apologies to anyone who saw this posting yesterday - I accidentally posted it early - and then wondered where it had gone! ]

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Nice piece of detective work.