Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reply to Sweeney's Article

Our post last week on Matthew Sweeney's article in the latest issue of the Australian Chess magazine provoked some comments from a number of familiar personalities including, of course, ACF official Dr Kevin Bonham. He has since read the full article in the magazine and here is his reply (posted on Chess Chat):

While this will doubtless be seen as an attempt to provoke Matthew, my main purpose in posting it is to indicate why Matthew's contribution is of very poor quality and should not have been run as an "article". I don't object to Brian [Jones] running guff of this kind if he has nothing better (the hilarious ineptness of it is just about worth the twelve and a half cents per page) but it should be labelled as what it is - a letter to the editor - and blatant factual errors should be cleaned up.

Denis Jessop also posted a reply. Says he: "[A]lthough I generally support some reform of the ACF, Matthew's contribution to the debate is not well thought out or presented".


Matthew Sweeney said...

Firsty, let us remember that when there is a *word limit* arguments can only be summaries. Denis wants a "How To ..." in the artical. Apparently he needs one!

I challenge any ACF office holder to tell us all how the ACF is going to grow and improve the Australian Chess scene.

What are its GOALS.
How will they be MEASURED.
Who will be held ACCOUNTABLE.

The challenge will go unanswered BECAUSE the ACF is a black hole run by members of the NSWCA.

Kevin Bonham said...

The problem with Matt's claim that "arguments can only be summaries" is that for a general audience unfamiliar with the issues involved, "summarising" to the point that factual evidence for Matt's criticisms is more or less absent is useless.

They find out that someone thinks all this, but have no idea why, and after reading the gratuitous (and misleading, though they won't know that yet) self-flattery later in the piece they're not too likely to expend effort investigating further. They'll just think "ah, another legend in his own lunchbox". If summarising to meet a word limit involves cutting out the evidence to back your key claims then you are either trying to cover too much ground in one "article", or else not being concise enough.

Matt claims "the ACF is a black hole run by members of the NSWCA". In fact there are currently three members of said organisation on the 13-member ACF Council, so they certainly don't control it. The one significant control that the NSWCA does have is that delegates from NSW voting together can currently block any proposed constitutional change at the National Conference.

The ACF's Statements of Purposes can be found in item 2a of the ACF Constitution. Anyone who wishes may define what they consider to be appropriate benchmarks, and measure performance against those benchmarks . If enough people agree with those benchmarks and consider that performance inadequate, they can take action through their state associations, either by replacing their state representative or by directing their state representative to support the replacement of ACF officebearers.

If Matthew or anyone else has any evidence based on empirical studies of very similar kinds of organisations, that the effort involved in the ACF formalising goals for itself would lead to sufficient improvement in performance to justify that effort, then I would be interested to see it. In particular, to make the findings even remotely useful, they should relate to organisations with a similarly federated political structure.

442 said...

Why dont we have Don Quixote as the ACF president?

Couldnt be any worse then the current performers...hehe.

Kevin Bonham said...

442, no matter who ran for ACF President, they could still get elected without your beloved MCC bothering to show up at a CV AGM to stop it.

I'm therefore not sure how much standing you have to complain.

Matthew Sweeney said...

KB: they can take action through their state associations, either by replacing their state representative or by directing their state representative to support the replacement of ACF officebearers.

MS: ... BUT not when those state associations will not accept their Membership Application Form.

BTW, shut up Kevbot. You are not part of the solution.

Kevin Bonham said...

Matthew, it is entirely your own fault that the NSWCA rejects your membership application. Furthermore if your views had any real popular support, then the rejection of your specific voting rights would make little difference.

I am indeed not part of your "solution", and proud not to be a part of it, since your "solution" is silly!

442 said...

Kevin,one club delegate cant determine who the state picks as their ACF voting representatives.

All players have the right to criticise their "representatives"...or are we operating on a chess dictatorship?

Don Quixote would certainly be a better performer than Dennis Jessop.

Kevin Bonham said...

442, at the recent CV AGM which MCC delegates did not attend, there were, as reported by Malcolm Pyke, major issues on which the presence of MCC delegates would have altered the voting.

If there was a contentious candidate for ACF President it is quite possible that MCC's involvement or otherwise with its state association could affect who the CV delegates to the ACF National Conference were, which could in turn affect who was elected ACF President.

It's amazing how often I criticise someone's standing to effectively make a certain claim and they in turn suggest I am denying their right to criticise, and come out with melodramatic nonsense about "dictatorship". I am not denying anyone's legal right to make criticisms - simply pointing out why they will not be taken seriously.

As of yesterday, Denis is no longer ACF President, as his term expired and he did not seek re-election, but perhaps if you had exceptions to his performance you could spell them out. I would be surprised if your exceptions extend much further than trivial peeves with his posting style on chesschat.

442 said...

Kevin,you are suggesting I have no right to complain because MCC didnt send a delegate to the CV AGM.

Thats like saying I have no right to complain about state govt policies if my local candidate abstains from a parliamentary vote. lol

In a small state like Tasmania one club delegate might be able to affect the outcome of who is chosen to represent their state to the ACF.
In a state the size of Victoria that isnt the case.

Secondly I have no say as to if or whom the MCC committe chooses to represent them at the CV AGM...seeing as Im not a committee member.

Kevin Bonham said...

442, you have done nothing that I am aware of to encourage MCC to send delegates. As such your position is probably more comparable to that of a voter whose MP persistently absteins from voting but who does not vote against that MP - and such a position is one of implied approval of whatever happens. It may be that do you take action to encourage the MCC to send delegates, but if so I'm not aware of it. Even if you are not a committee member that doesn't prevent you taking action at your club's AGM to try to make them send delegates.

Your comment about the relative power of "one club delegate" is also incorrect as the MCC is entitled to multiple CV delegates. Indeed, Malcolm Pyke notes that one AGM motion, carried 10-6, may have been lost had the MCC fielded its allowed *five* delegates. This suggests that the potential voting power of the MCC at CV is comparable to that of a club delegate to the TCA Exec (currently one vote in six, although the latter number fluctuates depending on the extent to which individuals serve dual roles).

Anonymous said...

You just dont get it do you Kevin?

The club[committee] has the right to nominate who their CV delegates are. If they choose not to send one what can I possibly do if I am not a committe member?

The vote you are mentioning is in relation to a motion on CV's agenda. It was not in relation to who CV sends as a delegate to the ACF. Club delegates dont get to vote on who CV sends as a delegate to the ACF. Thats an internal CV matter.

Kevin Bonham said...

No, *you* don't get it. In my previous post I wrote "Even if you are not a committee member that doesn't prevent you taking action at your club's AGM to try to make them send delegates." For example you could refuse to vote for (or even run against) any candidate for the MCC committee who did not promise they would support sending delegates to the CV AGM.

Similarly the club delegates to CV could exercise the same sort of control (rather more actually, because there would be five of them) over who CV sends to the National Conference and who those people voted for, if they wanted to. Those elected at the CV AGM are accountable to those who elected them. If the CV AGM clearly expressed support for a particular candidate for ACF President it is more or less certain those appointed as delegates would follow this.

There are democratic structures that permit any individual chessplayer who wants to try to make a difference to the leadership of the ACF to attempt to do so. If you have the numbers at each level then you can influence your club's decisions, your club can influence your state's decisions, and your state can influence the overall outcome. It may not sound like much chance given how many steps in the ladder there are, but (i) if there were national direct elections then the chance of your one vote making a difference would be, at best, no greater (ii) if you don't make an effort you are complicit by apathy in whatever happens. You effectively voted for whoever gets elected by doing nothing to oppose them when the mechanisms for you to try to make a difference were there.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, why did the Melbourne Chess Club not send a delegate to the Chess Victoria AGM?

Was it complacency or a deliberate move?

Secondly, how many votes would the MCC have been entitled to if its delegate had shown up?


442 said...

The CV agm was held at outer eastern suburb which is over 30 kms away from MCC.

My understanding is that MCC had the right to send a number of delegates,each of whom would have had 1 vote.