Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GM Davies Threatens Lawsuit At S&BCC

I've been a reader of the blog Streatham & Brixton Chess Club for many months now. The blog gives me a good update on chess events happening in the UK.

However, what shocked me over the last few days was the heavy-handed response to a review of the book, The Dynamic Reti from GM Nigel Davies.

This led to a flurry of exchanges where GM Davies threatened legal action against a blog post and it was followed up with the supposed offending poster issuing an apology under that same post. GM Davies subsequently put out a somewhat-sniping retort under the header Nigel Davies emails (see below).

GM Davies also described what he feels in his blog at here and here.

If anyone is wondering about the original content, I'll give a quick break down.

In a reply (since removed) to the blog post on Echo Echo, the OP opined that Davies's work is comparable to Keene's work which might suggest some form of impropriety (ie. mildly alluding that Davies might be using Keene's analysis in his book since he lists Keene's book in his bibliography).

However, I wonder what possessed him to write the following to S&B CC:

"Thanks for removing those comments, I was left no choice but to defend myself. I see that a lot of the negative stuff is still up there and I do have something to say about this.

I’ve probably bought more chess books than your entire club put together, including some by the most damned authors out there. And it’s never occurred to me to try and do any kind of nitpicking hatchet job on them.

Why? The way I see it, books are just about the best value out there, you can gain insights into just about anything for the price of a few pints. And even the supposedly ‘worst’ authors (which ain’t me or Glenn Flear btw) usually have something interesting to say.

As an example, I started playing the Kan Sicilian after using a book on this opening that got really slated by the reviewers. It gave me an idea about the lines after which I started playing around with the thing with a board and pieces. It never occurred to me that I should be spoonfed or that this book should be perfect in every way. It saved me heaps of time in getting to grips with the thing and provided a starting point for my own thoughts.

Maybe the question you should be asking is why people are so negative about books. I believe the that the answer may be the key to why they’re not better players."

I thought this was way over-the-top.

Chess materials get reviewed all the time and reviewers by and large tend to be subjective because each reviewer's bias, perception and knowledge is different. Anyone reading Chesscafe's Checkpoint articles and John Watson's chess reviews would know what I mean. Some chess books gets ripped to absolute shreds.

Me? I find this whole event to be a storm in a teacup considering the original offending post was over a year old.

A close friend once told me,"Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one."


  1. Personally, i feel Davies is a turd. And he should get off of that high horse of his. Welcome to the Internet Davies...

    L@C: If you feel he might sue you over this one feel free to remove it.

  2. Apparently, he's not taking comments. My reply was deleted within 12 hrs.

  3. To be fair it's possible he didn't notice that the post was over a year old.

  4. The Chess Player: getting sued for an opinion that he's a turd? i believe it's covered under freedom of expression, no? :)

    likesforests: now you've done it. you've upset him. hehehe.

    ejh: possibly but i doubt it. considering how picky and insulting he was of other posters' "Engrish", it's kind of hard for him to miss the date and time stamp of each post.

  5. the chess player, don't worry about getting sued for posting "i feel Davies is a turd". He seems like the kind of a guy that welcomes original and substantitive criticism from mature players.

    Baseless allegations of plagiarism do seem to get his goat, though. Anybody here ever written a book like The Dynamic Reti? Or even a term paper? Did the prof ever accuse you of plagiarism? How did it feel?