This is literally hot in my inbox. International master Alex Wohl sends in his response to the Chess South Africa (CHESSA) report on the so-called "African Nightmare". For easier reading, I simply paste the whole of Alex's response below. (Text in bold are direct quotes from the CHESSA report).
I apologise for taking so long to respond but a baby and chess commitments have kept me from delivering a considered response. My happiness that CHESSA decided to investigate the event has been tempered by the conclusions drawn and measures taken. Specifically:
The Ethics Committee would however like to note that both Mr Ngubeni and GM Kogan are to be blamed for the lack of a proper written contract governing the services that GM Kogan was expected to provide and an agreement regarding remuneration.
I have been playing chess semi-professionally for more than 25 years now and have never even seen a contract. Before email most agreements were purely verbal and in all that time only once did I not get paid the agreed amount. That was by a German chess club called Starnberg and despite the lack of any written agreement I was paid when I sued based on a verbal agreement. Promises made by email are legally binding. I assume that applies to South Africa as well. The only question is whether the service was delivered.
GM Kogan also neglected to advise CHESSA of his intended visit and only approached CHESSA after the difficulties between him and Mr Ngubeni arose.
Never have I or any of my colleagues advised a chess federation of an intended visit to a chess event in any country. This statement like the previous one implies that we were at fault for what happened. Would CHESSA have advised us not to come?
It rather seems that Mr Ngubeni was over-optimistic about the prospects of raising money and, as a result of bad planning, landed in a situation where the income raised hardly covered the costs incurred.
I would like to know how you came to this conclusion. Has Mr Ngubeni provided you with a financial statement? How much income was generated and what were the costs incurred?
It is not surprising that a Grandmaster of GM Kogan's stature would resist Mr Ngubeni's efforts to dominate him.
Does this mean that since Watu Kobese and I are mere International masters we were unable to resist Mr Ngubeni´s efforts to dominate us?
Your decision to ban Mr Ngubeni for 3 years does punish him but also does nothing to compensate Arthur, Watu or myself. It also robs South Africa of a dedicated and extremely energetic organiser. This venture was not a roaring success but destroying Mr Ngubeni will also not serve any purpose. Another solution must be found or chess in South Africa will be the biggest loser.
South Africa impressed the world with the "truth and reconciliation commission". Exactly the same attitude is needed here. All party´s must participate for a successful outcome. CHESSA might try to engage Mr Ngubeni in a constructive way to provide a report on the event and compensate Arthur for his travel expenses as a start. He has stated on numerous occasions that he is prepared to do so still. Watu Kobese, of whom little mention is made, should be compensated for his work. He did the lions share of the coaching.
and was the "Ghandi" amongst us trying to keep the peace.
I personally forego any further claim as the experience of visiting South Africa has been enriching enough.
Finally I hope this response is seen as constructive and not as a personal attack on CHESSA. The office holders I know personally I hold in high regard and trust that they can handle this challenge in the interests of chess in South Africa.
Gens una sumus,