Rapidplay Correspondence

Background:
The Galway Rapidplay, which took place on 6 June 2015, was registered with FIDE by the ICU, at our request, as a FIDE-rated tournament on 7 March. (Note: tournaments can only normally be registered and rated through a Federation.) A player (whose name has been redacted here) applied to enter the tournament by email on 24 April. This particular player had been persistently disruptive at previous tournaments in Galway (and elsewhere), and so we decided that, for the well-being of the tournament and those who were playing in it, we should not accept his entry. We informed [redacted] of this decision on 28 April. On 29 April, [redacted] sent a very long email to us, complaining about our rejection of him, which he also copied to the ICU Chairperson. (We have not included that email here, as it would be impossible to redact in a way that hid the player’s identity without blocking out whole paragraphs.) Although the ICU Chairperson received that email on 29 April, neither he nor any other member of the ICU Executive made any attempt to contact us until the ICU Chairperson sent the email below on 29 May. Note that the Galway Rapidplay took place on 6 June, so the whole correspondence below took place between eight days and two days before the tournament, despite the ostensible problem having emerged a month previously.

Here follows correspondence between Galway Chess Club and the ICU pertaining to the Galway Rapidplay.

From: Pat Fitzsimons
00:10

29 May
to Galway Chess Club

Dear Galway Chess Club

It has been brought to the attention of the ICU Executive that an ICU member, [redacted] has been refused entry to the Galway rapid play event scheduled for 6th June 2015.

It is understood that [redacted] has appealed the decision to refuse his entry seeking specific reasons for it and that he has not yet been given a response. As the event is almost upon us, it is essential that you address his appeal immediately.

Please note that where tournament organisers refuse entries from ICU members without giving very specific reasons for such refusals the ICU Executive may decide to take action in relation to the event involved where the executive is not satisfied that the organisers have acted reasonably.

Yours sincerely

From: Pat Fitzsimons
21:04

31 May
to Galway Chess Club

Dear Galway Chess Club

Further to my email below, I have not been given any valid reasons as to [redacted] has been refused entry to the Galway Rapid Play Event. Accordingly, I wish to advise you that if I do not receive a response outlining those reasons by 6 pm tomorrow (Monday 1st June), the Galway Rapid play event will not be submitted for FIDE rating.

Yours sincerely

Pat Fitzsimons
Chairperson
Irish Chess Union

From: Galway Chess Club
To: ICU Chairperson (and others)
16:55 
1 Jun

Dear Pat,
We have received your emails about the Galway Rapidplay. You have demanded a reply over a bank holiday weekend, when some of our committee members are, not surprisingly, away and cannot be contacted. The response below is therefore provisional and has not been agreed by the full committee. If – on their return – they wish it to be modified we will let you know.

We think you should bear in mind that we, as the tournament organizers, bear sole responsibility for the smooth running of the tournament, and the enjoyment – and, indeed, safety – of the participants. The ICU has no such responsibility, and therefore is not in a position to overrule tournament organizers’ considered decisions on such matters. We have refused [redacted]’s entry, as we have told him, because of his disruptive behaviour in past events – in Galway and elsewhere – which we have personally witnessed on numerous occasions. We do not reject entries, and turn away money, lightly, but we feel that, in order to respect the best interests of the other participants, in this case we have no other choice.

Regarding your threat, in your second email, that the ICU will not allow this tournament to be FIDE-rated. If we do not receive a clear undertaking within 48 hours that the Galway Rapidplay will be FIDE rated, as previously agreed, the tournament will be cancelled. Galway Chess Club has advertized this tournament as FIDE-rated in good faith and with the knowledge of the ICU. We will not take money from people if we cannot guarantee that we can provide the service for which we are taking the money. Hence, as you have raised doubts about whether our promise of FIDE rating will be fulfilled, we will have no alternative but to cancel the tournament unless these doubts are unambiguously removed. Of course, cancelling the tournament will disappoint the 60 to 100 players who would have participated in it, the vast majority of whom are ICU members and certainly in good standing; other entrants are coming from abroad specifically for this tournament, and have already booked flights and accommodation in Galway, and the image abroad of Irish chess will certainly be damaged if this FIDE-rated tournament does not go ahead. We will have no hesitation in publicizing the reasons for the cancellation, should that prove necessary.

Yours,

(Some of the) Galway Organizing Committee

From: Pat Fitzsimons
18:20

1 Jun
To Galway Chess Club (and others)

Dear Galway Organising Committee

Thank you for your response.

It would be helpful for us if you could please clarify the nature of the disruptive behaviour you refer to so that we can put this to [redacted] in the interest of following fair procedures.

Yours sincerely

Pat Fitzsimons
Chairperson
Irish Chess Union

From: Galway Chess Club
19:26
1 Jun
To: ICU Chairperson (and others)

As we have said, there are too many instances of disruptive behaviour​ to list, and we have not been keeping a detailed inventory of them. We can recall that [redacted] was involved in disruptive disputes in the last three Galway Congresses in which he played; the last time, the arbiter who was dealing with his section said he would refuse to act again if [redacted] played, since he did not give up his weekend to have to deal with people who deliberately provoked disorder. But, in any case, the issue remains that the responsibility of maintaining harmony and order at a tournament is the responsibility of the tournament organizers, and not the ICU, and we consider that this step is advisable to that end, and that should be the end of the matter.

From: Pat Fitzsimons
19:45
2 Jun
To: Galway Chess Club (and others)

Dear Galway Organising Committee

Further to your most recent email concerning the refusal of an entry from [redacted] to the above event, I note that you have not provided specific details of the disrputive behaviour referred to previously.

However, in order to meet any concerns that you may have, I attach a copy of an undertaking that [redacted] could be asked to sign for your consideration as a means of resolving this issue.

[Redacted] willingly signed a similar pledge to enable him to be admitted to the recent [redacted] Chess Congress which passed off without any incidents.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely

Pat Fitzsimons
Chairperson
Irish Chess Union

From: Galway Chess Club
01:22
3 Jun
To: ICU Chairperson (and others)

Dear Pat,

We have received your latest email. We are replying quickly, since time is very short; again, in the few hours allowed to us, we have been unable to contact everybody on the Committee.

That said, we are willing to accept [redacted] into the Galway Rapidplay if he signs the form you have drafted and returns it to us, so signed, before entries close at midday this Friday (5 June).

However, we require him to agree that this form can be made public, to go some way towards allaying the concerns of participants (and potential participants) who have expressed disquiet at his presence at our tournaments. We propose placing it on our website, in the Rapidplay 2015 slot (not on the main page) and will remove it after the tournament is over. The same procedure would be adopted for the Galway Congress in four months time, should [redacted] wish to enter it, and for all future tournaments in Galway until we have become convinced that [redacted] poses no more of a threat of disruption than any other entrant. We have no interest in being part of any secret deal with [redacted] which we cannot disclose to those who wish to play in our tournaments.

As this form is worded, this gives [redacted] a very last chance to show that he can behave normally, a chance which he does not deserve, but we are agreeing to it in the hope that this will solve this issue once and for all and it will never be raised again, by either [redacted] or the ICU. For that reason, any attempt by [redacted] to attempt to renegotiate the agreement, or get round it, or comment about it in hostile or derogatory ways on public media or by email, will be taken by us as a breach of the agreement, and he will then be subject to exclusion from tournaments in Galway without any further reason needing to be given, until we might become satisfied that he should be readmitted. We expect the ICU to explicitly agree to that.

In the meantime, there is no mention in this email of your threat not to rate the tournament. We require a clear and unambiguous assurance from you withdrawing this threat, and stating unequivocally that the tournament will be submitted for FIDE rating; this assurance to be received by us by midnight Wednesday/Thursday. This is irrespective of whether [redacted] agrees to sign this form or not. If this is not received we will cancel the tournament, and publish this correspondence (suitably redacted). We can wait no longer than this, as several people are travelling from England for this tournament, and we obviously need to tell them before they leave whether there is a FIDE-rated tournament for them to travel to.

We would finally say that we are very dissatisfied with the way the ICU has handled this matter. You received the complaint from [redacted] on 29 April, and yet you waited four weeks before contacting us, until just one week before the tournament is due to take place. During that period the ICU Development Officer posted numerous messages in social media spreading scurrilous rumours about this tournament, and doing all that he could to sabotage it. It is your business – and particularly that of the ICU Development Officer – to support tournaments in Ireland, not to do all you can to destroy them.

Yours,

(Some of the) Galway Organizing Committee

From: Pat Fitzsimons
00:18
4 Jun
To: Galway Chess Club (and others)


Dear Galway Organising Committee

Further to your recent email I wish to advise you that the discriminatory behaviour towards an ICU member, who has been refused entry to the Galway Rapid Play event without specific valid reasons being given, is completely unacceptable to the ICU.

In the circumstances, the event will not be sent forward for FIDE rating unless the relevant fees are paid by the Galway Organising Committee. If confirmation that these fees will be paid is not received by 12 noon on Thursday 4th June 2015, the event will not be FIDE rated. The relevant fee for your event is €300 and must be paid to the ICU by 12 noon on Friday 5th June 2015.

Yours sincerely

Pat Fitzsimons
Chairperson
Irish Chess Union.

The “defamatory and dishonest statement” referred to on our home page was put on the ICU website on 4 June and removed on 5 June. A screenshot of it is below. Click image for full-size view.

icuscreenshot

A replacement statement was put up on the ICU website on 5 June.

icuscreenshot2

Here is a response on behalf of Galway Chess Club:

There is mention in the most recent ICU post of a second person who has been refused entry to the tournament. This particular person has a long history of aggressive behaviour in Irish chess, including towards the person who will be the sole arbiter at this event. He has made threats against (at least) two people who will play in this event; threats which they take very seriously. The venue for this tournament provides no security – which has always been fine, as the vast majority of chess players in Ireland are wonderful people, and even thinking of security for them is inappropriate and insulting to them.
Given these facts about the particular person under consideration, it would have been grossly irresponsible for the Galway tournament organizers to have accepted his entry.  We would never risk the enjoyment and safety of participants in such a way.

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