Fear & Loathing in Sheffield

By now all of British chess is pretty much up to date with T-shirt-gate or Stonewallgate depending on your preferance, so I will try not to belabour the point. Chaos reigned supreme at the time as so often but it does seem quite extraordinary that we still appear to be stalled in an era where dress code or the lack thereof could cause so much consternation. It has been written elsewhere that CJ deMooi’s T-Shirt was ‘overtly political’ and also that it promotes a particular lifestye. It is not and it does not. It is a nationally known slogan that is the focus of a campain by a registered charity to bring attention to prejudice. I also saw it written that spectators had been disturbed by this message. Perhaps they should have read it more carefully. And followed its advice.

Gawain Jones sums this up very well on his website.

(…) that implies that the slogan is a debatable one. Actually I thought that these days such a statement was self-evident but (…) this evidently isn’t the case and therefore more reason for CJ to wear it.

Quite possibly the situation could have been handled more sensitively on both sides, but I was standing with CJ during most of the playoffs and there is no question that he was personally upset, as anyone would be, I don’t doubt that this was NOT the intention of the official who raised the issue but it was the inevitable outcome.

In the aftermath of this, as the situation burst out of control, this website recieved a vitriolic email (also sent to many others involved in English chess) riddled with biased and nasty inflamatory language regarding CJ personally, thus proving that if nothing else the ‘offending’ item of clothing IS capable of smoking out prejudice from the crevices in which it hides. One of chess’s greatest boasts is that it brings people together over the board where the only difference that matters is relative playing strength! It is supposed to promote tolerance and inclusiveness and I believe CJ was trying to do the same. It would have been a triumph for both if this T-Shirt had been worn causing no more than minor passing comment in the same way that one with a charity message raising awareness for cancer would have.

Tara MacGowran Written by:


  1. December 7

    Why should people focus on the dress code when playing chess matches? I believe that we should let the player’s skills speak for themselves. If the clothes the player is wearing is not overly offensive, there really shouldn’t be a big issue about it. It is a shame to see something like this happening.

  2. Philip Lochhead
    September 14

    I could not believe it when I heard that CJ de Mooi had been prevented from handing out the prizes at the British Chess Championship simply because some people did not like the T-shirt that he was wearing. As ECF President, CJ de Mooi has an absolute right to give out the prizes at any tournaments that he has helped to organise. I can assure you that such a thing would never happen at my local chess club. Nobody there cares about what people wear, and nobody would ever question the club president’s right to award the prizes at the end of the season. I sincerely hope that CJ de Mooi will remain as ECF President for the foreseeable future, and that he will continue to award all the prizes whilst wearing the same T-shirt that has annoyed so many people.

  3. September 12

    Dear GM Adams,

    I enjoyed your blog and am beginning to enjoy and appreciate your games as I improve in chess (positionally) not that I claim to fully understand all the nuances.

    I would like wish to registered my thanks for this particular blog and writing the way you did. I am a firm believer in the old saying”To whom much has been given much is required”. Thanks for taking the stand as England’s leading GM.

    A request: more games and analysis, perhaps? My favourite game of yours in recent years is that game (with White) from a few years back where you park your h-pawn on h6(?) for most of the game but it eventually proved to the key to the win.

  4. Alan Burke
    September 12

    continued from above …..

    I would also have thought it inappropriate had the presenter of the awards worn the shirt of his favourite football team – because would a Sheffield Wednesday supporter want the photo of his moment of glory shared with someone in a Sheffield United shirt ???

    No, I think that on this occasion a more neutral choice of clothing would have been more appropriate.

  5. Alan Burke
    September 12

    In my opinion CJ should mostly wear whatever he wishes – and I have no problem with him showing his support for a certain cause by displaying it on a t-shirt – but as with many ocasions at various events throughout our lives, there are times when “appropriate dress” needs to be worn – and I believe the Championship presentation was one of those occasions.

    I would also have thought it inappropria

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