Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cordover's Crusade

The fire of revolution is ablaze across the Middle East....

Oh scratch that!

When I began to write this post I had in mind contemporary events. But given the language used by Melbourne chess businessman David Cordover, he apparently thinks of this, his latest war against the ACF, as a sort of crusade. I thought he was merely calling for a revolution. I was wrong.

He wants a new religion.

In a series of often acrimonious emails (to which I am cc'd) between himself and the Australian Chess Federation big wigs, David Cordover ends with, what seems to me, a threat of nothing less than all out war! To split Australian chess.

All this is over his new venture called "Tornelo".

If you missed it, the first shot in this war was actually fired by the ACF. This from their most recent newsletter:

The ACF has decided that only Swiss Perfect, Swiss Master or Swiss Manager are to be used for pairing purposes for any ACF event including ACF Grand Prix events or any event that is to be FIDE rated.

The Australian Chess Federation does not endorse in any way, or have anything whatsoever to do with, David Cordover's Tornelo system and any statements or implications otherwise are false.

Then adding

In connection with the above matter, the ACF Council has recently resolved that [it will have] nothing to do with David Cordover, his chess business or his Tornelo system is to appear in the ACF newsletter until he removes to the satisfaction of the ACF Council all references, inferences or implications that his Tornelo system is in any way related to the Australian Chess Federation or ACF ratings [obviously with the exception of the above notice itself].

Please note that if you wish to write Letters to the Editor debating this decision they must do so in ways that do not breach the resolution.

For the time being, in some ways aided by Mr Cordover's carelessness, not to mention his propensity for confusing and totally irrelevant diversions, the ACF has the tactical advantage. The national body can simply sit back and drag this along until the Melburnian does what he's been told to do.

1) That on you change the wording that was "Australian Chess Federation" to "Tornelo Demonstration"
2) That on you change the title that was "Australian Chess Ratings" to "Tornelo Demonstration".
3) That you remove the link on the top left hand side of that links back to the ACF website and does not link to the ACF website from or

I looked at all that and thought, fair enough. Just make it happen and be done with it. But Mr Cordover apparently had some kind of epiphany. And, of course, being a successful entrepreneur he doesn't exactly like being told what to do - certainly not by what he considers as an aging Ancien RĂ©gime devoid of ideas.

He just had to have his own demands. And he just had to say this:

I will be quite honest with you [Bill Gletsos, ACF ratings officer, and the ACF] - if we cannot reach an amicable resolution then I will consider my other options to include actively encouraging clubs and organisers to withdraw from the ACF ratings system to use Tornelo (free) and simultaneously petition FIDE to allow an organisation OTHER than the ACF to deal with them for ratings.

Read it how you like, but that sounds like a new religion to me.

To be honest, I have some sympathies for David Cordover. Notwithstanding my unhappiness about that email, Tornelo (and yes, I've had a brief, very brief, play) looks to be quite attractive. Why wouldn't you want a fancy system that has detailed reports and fully searchable instead of this monstrosity?

I think the ACF needs to tread carefully here. They have every right to make their demands, protect their turf, and I support them. But they ought to state clearly why they have a problem with Tornelo, the technology. From a user's point of view, the tool seems to be far and ahead of what even FIDE has to offer.

The ACF's Bill Gletsos talks about David Cordover's past sins and why people don't trust him. Yet we know of at least one other ACF office-holder who was more than happy to do business with Mr. Cordover - none other than Mr Reliable, Dr Kevin Bonham!

As for our wannabe Martin Luther, he could start by doing what he was told to do in the first place: just get rid of any references to "auschess". Then he should genuflect before the ACF, say sorry to my mate Bill Gletsos, the High Priest (I gotta pay Mr Cordover for this moniker) of Aussie chess ratings, and stop talking about new religion. More importantly, he should just be out with it and tell us exactly how much Tornelo is going to cost.

Bottom line: any talk of new religion will fuck us all up. Whatever side you're on, we have to prevent that from happening.


Anonymous said...

This is not a push for a new religion, it is a push for democratic secular state. Abandon the ACF and its propaganda mouth piece Chess Chat.

Kevin Bonham said...

Yes, I do indeed run tournaments for David for pay and in this context I have found him very good to work with. Enthusiastic, innovative, provides useful feedback, cares about players and lightning fast at paying pay invoices.

But that doesn't mean I assume that I can translate that relationship to ACF level given David's cultural differences with many official voluntary bodies (and them with him). Indeed it's generally most appropriate for me to just declare conflict of interest and abstain when stuff concerning him is voted on by the ACF.

In my view Tornelo has tremendous potential but a number of things need to be addressed to realise that in the context of the ACF using it or major events using it.

The first one is that the ACF is simply not inclined to outsource its ratings to a private site, let alone one run by someone who quite a few ACF councillors don't trust. So if the ACF is to use Tornelo for ratings and projected ratings, or even supply ratings-related data like SP files to it, it should be via a copy licenced to the ACF and under its effective control on its own webspace.

Secondly the program needs to be able to do Dutch pairings - not necessarily perfectly (what program can?) but at very least no worse than SP.

Thirdly, misleading links and labels, even if unintentionally misleading, need to be removed.

I believe all these issues and other potential problems are solvable if both parties have the will to do so.

NB Based on his quoting of the same comment elsewhere, "mattyqwerty" is Matthew Sweeney, whose bilious hatred of both the ACF and Chess Chat (based largely on them not putting up with his poor behaviour) is well known. said...

David has made a few posts on OzChess regarding this issue. In fact it was first raised there.

He has so far responded to his critics with dignity and class.

The ACF has no right to tell him what he can and cannot do on his own private website.

I also point out that TCG is in no way impartial in this dispute, and he in fact fanned the flames by stating that he found David's Tornelo site to be confusing and/or misleading due to the ACF reference on it.

Shortly thereafter the ACF wrote its letter. Strange how your blog neglected to mention that Amiel.

Strange also that your story linked to David's post on Chess Chat when he first made that identical post on OzChess.

Its one thing for you to be cozy with the powers that be in the ACF, but journalistic integrity suffers when you don't put all your cards on the table from the outset.

Paul said...

"if we cannot reach an amicable resolution then I will consider my other options to include actively encouraging clubs and organisers to withdraw from the ACF ratings system to use Tornelo (free) and simultaneously petition FIDE to allow an organisation OTHER than the ACF to deal with them for ratings."

Brilliant- and you would not find support wanting David. It is time for clubs to realise they are not the hostage of the ACF. If tournaments use tornelo and are not rated it deligitimises ACF ratings. Take someone like Karl Zelesco- he's beaten West, Pyke and others in the MCC club champs. If he plays a tournament like this and it isn't rated, everything starts to become ridiculous.

It seems to me that the clubs are in control, and this is a very easy avenue to prove that.