Friday, January 09, 2009

Chessvibes on Dunnygate

You know that it's a slow news day in one of the world's leading chess news sites when the editors publish something that, well, they really didn't want to publish. ChessVibes today has a follow-up post to what I have dubbed "Dunnygate". In case you're not sure of why you're reading a little story in CV's exalted pages about an Aussie event, doubtless far removed from most of their intelligent readers, Peter Doggers, editor, carefully reminds us that it's all for the sake of "human interest". Talk about excuses!

It's a strange but also interesting post by Peter, one filled with apparent dilemma.

When in November 2007 a Dutch player was banned for two and a half years after after he got caught with a PDA during a game, in an official national league, it was not a question: we had to publish the story. But in a column by Arne, published two years ago, we’ve already expressed our doubts surrounding the subject of cheating in chess - the article’s title was “Moral decay or exaggerated hype?”

Normally we would never write about some local under-1600 tournament and one could argue that the case can be compared to petty theft; a small violation that’s simply… not interesting. Besides, shouldn’t we protect the kid, who made a silly mistake - something we’ve all done at that age?

But wait, isn’t using external electronical (sic) assistance enough reason to publish such a story? Isn’t it against our complete set of beliefs, against the essence of the game, to give yourself the opportunity to find the strongest move in a position with (almost) absolute certainty?

In my case, the conscience is clear (Chessexpress and Lousy can speak for themselves): it was worth publishing. As I said in the comments section of the ChessVibes post, the incident occured in an Australian national chess event. Why wouldn't we, all three local bloggers with a mention of Dunnygate, post about it? As far as I'm concerned, it is a matter of public record that somebody from the U1600 section was removed from the crosstable (creating a bye). It wouldn't take long for anyone to ask why.

Furthermore, cheating in a chess tournament is a serious offence in my book and, I presume, for most of our readers. Notwithstanding that this offender is a mere 14-year old, his transgression has potentially serious ramifications on the event as a whole. It's no wonder, then, that at least one of Shaun Press' readers has offered the inevitable speculation (press "cancel" if you're prompted to log in).

Whatever their discomfort about the matter, ChessVibes published the news anyway. Except, of course, that it was accompanied by an unnecessary qualification. The story, Peter wrote, "should be categorized as a human interest" because "it appeals to emotion". Looking at the comments that he's provoked, some of Peter's readers are clearly highly emotionally strung.

In his post, Peter also refers to this 2-year old article written by his co-editor, Arne Moll. That, too, strikes me as odd. Other than Chessvibes, I don't see anyone else talking about cheating in chess as a sign of "moral decay". Do you?

While we're still on this topic, our friends over at ChessDom also have a mention of Dunnygate. But are they paraphrasing or quoting yours truly? It's hard to tell. Anyhoo, thanks for the inbound traffic boys!


Polly said...

I'm glad they picked up on the story. It may not be as earth shattering as the incident with the Indian player two years ago, but it bears repeating. Cheating is cheating. Although I suspect this was more the dumbass prank of a foolish teenager, I think it needs to be brought out appropriate action should be taken. It doe not need to be harsh as what occurred two years ago, but something beyond the humilation of being caught is necessary.

Ted Teodoro said...

I am reminded of that bully in the schoolyard, " I don't mean any harm, but I am going to punch you in the face anyway. " Work both sides of the streets if you can get away with it, obviously a very appealing strategy. CV should not have made any mention of the incident if it was such an affront to their lofty ideals. Actually, it wasn't even a human interest story. It was a crime scene worth reporting on. Bathroom chess is still chess.