Thursday, December 01, 2005

Power and Dishonour

There was a time when men honoured their words.

Last Sunday, I walked into the NSW annual general meeting (AGM) with the expectations of a new a day in our chess leadership. The ancien regime has, for a long time now, been a dying geriatric, barely able to stand. Starved of new ideas and beset with controversy and crisis, the NSWCA, under the leadership of one Bill Gletsos, was a marked body.

More than a month before the AGM, the first whispers of revolt began. I was in the Philippines in '86 and, I tell you, I know a revolution when I see one. Led by two ex-Olympiad captains, Jason Lyons and Peter Parr, we can now reveal the main players of that rebel faction. They are: Andrew Bird, Laura Moylan, Nicholas Kordahi, Brett Tindall and the gentleman player, Max Fuller.

But seeing the need for long-term harmony, Jason sought no blood - figuratively speaking, that is. Instead, he approached the incumbent president, Bill Gletsos, to see if a more amicable plan could be adopted to ensure a smoother transition. Says Jason, "My motivation for being upfront with Bill was to create harmony and continuity in what is a very fractured and political landscape".

On 13 October this year, Jason made the following public announcement:

For the record, there's no ambush. I had a coffee with Bill last week to discuss my nomination at the November AGM. I outlined my intentions and we had a good chat. Bill said that he would support my nomination.

I updated him on others who are joining me in seeking election to Council, at least one of which (sic) he was already aware of, and I expressed the wish that he remain on Council. Bill said he'd like to take up the Ratings portfolio again (the current holder of this position has recently moved to far north NSW).

This was the first sign that the AGM will see a bloodless coup. With that, we allowed ourselves a big sigh of relief. After all, at the end of the day, we are all friends.

Yet what transpired last Sunday is something that will either kill you with laughter or make you weep. It all depends on your politics.

As we now know, Mr Gletsos delivered a surprising bombshell by declaring, last Sunday, that he was standing for the presidency. For Mr Lyons, a FIDE international arbiter and organiser of the prestigious QVB Chess Festival in 1999 - it was a shot well below the belt. By all accounts, it appears that there was some kind of agreement between Mr Lyons and Mr Gletsos and which the latter had reneged on.

Mr Lyons:

It is absolutely unequivocal that Bill agreed to not run for President. I did not ask him for this - I simply stated my intentions, to which he explained he was only in the position in a de facto sense, having acquired a vacant Presidency when he was VP. He welcomed my candidacy, in conjuction with the other team members I had assembled, and offered his full support.

Of course, this is bluntly disputed by Bill. The well-informed Canberra chess personality, and himself an Olympiad player as well as publisher of the highly regarded (but now defunct) Australian Chess Forum, Mr Shaun Press had this to say on an Australian chess bulletin board: "[W]hat I heard was promised was that BG (Bill Gletsos) would be happy to continue as Ratings Officer if Jason became President. This was 'interperated' (sic) as Bill was not standing [for the presidential post], when it seems that no such statement was actually made."

Mr Press' statement is consistent with what Mr Gletsos informed me last Sunday when I queried, "Where is Jason's mob?" It is also corroborated by Jason himself.

Some 10-15 minutes before the scheduled commencement, word filters outside the meeting room that Bill is running. No-one is certain. Suddenly everyone's talking. Parr approaches Bill, some sort of argument ensues, I enter the conversation, and Bill offers this gem: "I never said I wouldn't run for President, I only said that if you were President, I would be the Ratings Officer."

It's all a bit confusing. While I am not familiar with Mr Gletsos on a closer personal basis, he has always struck me as honourable and trustworthy. Thus, it's important that he make a public statement sooner than later. It is rather odd that several days have passed and despite all the shots fired his way from various angles - so far, there has been no formal communication from our president. He seems content to leave us all guessing. This cannot be a good start to his 2006 tenure.

Mr Gletsos must make a statement now to tell his side of the story. Or else, we the chess public can feel no confidence whatsoever in his leadership.

I will leave the last word to Jason Lyons: "I'll continue to support ACF initiatives, the GP if I can help in some way, Olympiad Appeals and the like, and Junior Chess. But these blokes have lost me."

10 comments:

dr sleepycat said...

Bill's probably been busy with the ratings. If some goose honks loud enough on the bulletin board he'll doubtless come running eventually.

Anonymous said...

Bill Gletsos played a brilliant tactical game in which Lyons and Parr were completely outplayed.

If Jason Lyons is so concerned about the NSWCA, why is he not a member and why did he wait until the AGM to decide to become a member? It would be a joke if someone who is not a NSWCA member until day of AGM became NSWCA President. Has Jason ever been a NSWCA member?

Bill Gletsos is doing a fantastic job as NSWCA President. He has worked hard for NSWCA for many years and it is great that he is now a life member of NSWCA. The NSWCA is going well under the astute leadership of Bill Gletsos.

Matthew Sweeney said...

Quote, "Bill Gletsos is doing a fantastic job as NSWCA President."

The number of tornament entries has dropped in nearly every NSWCA event every year that Mr Gletsos has been president.

Matthew Sweeney said...

Quote,"Bill Gletsos played a brilliant tactical game in which Lyons and Parr were completely outplayed."

A tactical game? That is no way to run our Association. Being a leader is more than pulling polical dirty tricks.

Anonymous said...

With Mr Parr's chess business interests, was it underhand of him to get a front man to stand as president? He wouldn't be trying to get support to prepare a NSW chess centre bid at a location convenient to CDS (net result NSWCA funds decrease CDS turnover increases). Jason Lyons has shown his commitment to NSW chess by not joining the association for many years (if at all) and his incompetence by not joining in time.

Is Matthew jealous that he didn't get the rebel role of Baldrick?

Anon puppy

Anonymous said...

Quote "The number of tornament entries has dropped in nearly every NSWCA event every year that Mr Gletsos has been president."

Err, excuse me Matthew. Didn't tournaments like the June Weekender (Queens Birthday) and Australia Day Weekender increase their numbers this year? Lets not forget about the Grade Matches which had an increased number of teams this year?

Anonymous said...

Quote "A tactical game? That is no way to run our Association. Being a leader is more than pulling polical dirty tricks."

Its not our association, Matthew. You have been banned until 2007, remember? Maybe in 2007 it will be our association, but not now.

What on earth do you mean by polical? I've never heard of the word.

As for dirty tricks, Bill was just following the rules. Why should Jason Lyons be President? According to Peter Cassettari, Jason has never been a NSWCA member since he became NSWCA Registrar in 1991. Jason Lyons has probably never been a NSWCA member. Yet you want someone who cares so little about the NSWCA that he cannot be bothered being even a member to be the NSWCA President? Bill Gletsos did the right thing by preventing Jason from becoming President. Bill Gletsos is the best NSWCA President we have ever had and it is great that NSW chess has someone of Bill's ability and intelligence calling the shots.

Anonymous said...

Quote from Matthew Sweeney "The number of tornament entries has dropped in nearly every NSWCA event every year that Mr Gletsos has been president."

The number of tournament entries for NSWCA events has increased from last year. Number of players in 2005 Australia Day Weekender and 2005 June (Queens Birthday) Weekender are up on 2004. Also number of teams playing in the prestigious NSWCA Grade Matches competition were higher in 2005 than in 2004.

Anonymous said...

Quote from Matthew Sweeney "The number of tornament entries has dropped in nearly every NSWCA event every year that Mr Gletsos has been president."

The number of tournament entries for NSWCA events has increased from last year. Number of players in 2005 Australia Day Weekender and 2005 June (Queens Birthday) Weekender are up on 2004. Also number of teams playing in the prestigious NSWCA Grade Matches competition were higher in 2005 than in 2004.

Matthew Sweeney said...

Now qoute the 6 or so others, like Rose Bay, that are now like cementry.

As for the "prestigious grade matches" The NSWCA presided over a fiasco that saw the top team withdraw over shady deals.

Furthermore, the NSWCA spat in the face of the great C.J. Purdy when they junked his Memorial Tournament because they were too cheap to hire a hall. Shame.

BTW anonymous, your anonimity speaks louder than your words.