The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

This item deals with an accusation of plagiarism levelled against Raymond Keene in the magazine Inside Chess: May 3rd, 1993, pages 24-25; June 14th 1993, page 19 and February 7th 1994, page 3. We are grateful to Inside Chess, now owned by Chess Café, for permission to reproduce this material and would refer the reader to the website http://www.chesscafe.com where Yasser Seirawan contributes a regular Inside Chess article.

Inside Chess, May 3 1993

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

By IM John Donaldson

Examples of plagiarism are not unknown in chess literature, but Raymond Keene has set a new standard for shamelessness in his recent work, The Complete Book of Gambits (Batsford, 1992). True, the work of completely original nature is rare in the field of opening theory. The conscientious author typically collects material from a large number of sources (in itself a time consuming but useful task) and offers some new ideas of his own. Unfortunately, Mr. Keene has done nothing less than steal another man’s work and pass it off as his own.

Blatant

A glance at pages 128-132 of his recent book, The Complete Book of Gambits, and a comparison with my two-part article on Lisitsin’s Gambit, which appeared in Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 25-26, and Issue 4, page 26, early in 1991, reveals that not only did Mr. Keene have nothing new to say about Lisitsin’s Gambit, he could hardly be bothered to change any of the wording or analysis from the articles that appeared in Inside Chess, other than to truncate them a bit. What’s more, no mention of the original source was given in the The Complete Book of Gambits, misleading the reader as to the originality of Mr. Keene’s work.

Just how blatant was the plagiarism? Virtually every word and variation in the four-and-a-half pages devoted to Lisitsin’s Gambit in Keene’s book was stolen. Take a look at the following example: In Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 26 the following note is given after the sequence 1.Nf3 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Ng5 Nf6 4.d3 e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! [For 8.Nd2 see Supplemental Games next issue] 8…d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ winning) – analysis by “King’s Pawn” in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. For the former see issue 4. After the latter White gets the edge via 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievsky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 and White is better in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.

In The Complete Book of Gambits the following note is given after 4…e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ ) – analysis by King’s Pawn in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. The former is considered in the text game whilst after the latter White gets the edge via 4…d5 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievyky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 as in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.


 

Fairness Called For

To be fair to Mr. Keene, he did some original work on Lisitsin’s Gambit – or perhaps he just miscopied. Consider the note after the moves 5.dxe4 Bc5 6.Bc4 Qe7 7.Bf7+. The Inside Chess article gives:

“The inaugural game in this variation, Lisitsin-Botvinnik, saw 7.Nc3 Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qc5+ 9.Kg3 Qxc4 10.Rf1 O-O 11.Rxf6! gxf6 12.Qh5 Rf7 13.Nxf7 Qxf7 14.Qg4+ Kh8 15.Nd5 Na6 16.Qh4 d6 17.Bh6 Be6 18.Qxf6+ with equal chances.”

 

Photocopy Would Be Better

The note in The Complete Book of Gambits is exactly the same except that “with equal chances” is changed to “with equal success.” A burst of originality in Mr. Keene’s part, or just Fingerfehler? More originality is seen as “Sergievsky” at Keene’s hands. Perhaps he would do better to just photocopy other people’s work and print that.

Mr. Keene’s behavior is absolutely inexcusable.

 

Batsford Replies

Dear Mr. Donaldson,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding The Complete Book of Gambits. I have discussed this matter with Raymond Keene who informs me that a full credit for yourself and Inside Chess was prepared with the manuscript to go into the book. However, due to an oversight on his part this became detached and failed to appear in the book. It was not his intention to publish the piece without due acknowledgement.

Mr. Keene offers his full apologies for this unfortunate oversight, which will be put right on the second edition (or the whole piece dropped if you prefer). Furthermore, he is happy to offer you, or any nominated charity of your choice, a share of the UK royalties on the book equivalent to the share that the Lisitsin section occupies in the book. We hope that such a settlement will be amenable to you.

On another matter, Mr. Keene will be the organiser of the 1993 World Championship match between Kasparov and Short and will be happy to supply your excellent magazine with full accreditation if you contact him directly. His fax number is (fax number given).

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Kinsman

Chess Editor (Batsford)

 

Donaldson Replies

Dear Mr. Kinsman,

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply.

I would prefer that my work be omitted from any second edition of The Complete Book of Gambits and I suspect that if all the other victims of Mr. Keene’s “unfortunate oversights” are accorded the same privilege, it will be a slender work indeed.

(The complete lack of any bibliography for this book is typical of Keene.)

As for your generous offer of a share of the UK royalties, I would prefer a flat payment of $50 per-page ($200) be sent to me at this address.

Finally, I am afraid Inside Chess will have to cover the Kasparov-Short match without benefit of Mr. Keene’s accreditation which, no doubt, would somehow “detach” itself and “fail to appear” due to an “unfortunate oversight.”

Yours sincerely,

John Donaldson

Associate Editor, Inside Chess

 

Inside Chess, June 14 1993

Ray Keene Offers Draw in Lost Position

Readers may recall that in Issue 8 we called attention to the unauthorized appearance of a John Donaldson opening theoretical from the pages of Inside Chess in Ray Keene’s The Complete Book of Gambits. There has been more correspondence on the subject.

RAYMOND KEENE

Dear John,

Thank you for your fax of 11th May. First of all, I must personally apologise for the accidentally printing some of your material in my book on Gambits. This book was several years in preparation and, in an endeavour to be complete, I gathered together a huge amount of source material. In order to beat a last minute deadline, there was a certain amount of rush. In this process, one of the Chapters I had written, plus the planned notes, including your material, slipped past the net and appeared in print. Of course, I regret this and I am broadly receptive to the proposal you make in your fax of 11th May.

[That Mr. Keene pay for material lifted without credit or permission from Inside Chess.]

However, as an Editor yourself, you surely appreciate, when under pressure, how it is possible to inadvertently print material that is someone else’s copyright. Let me take an example from your own magazine, Inside Chess. In the issue of 4th March 1991, on page 20, Cathy Forbes writes a witty and charming report on the 1990-1991 Hastings Premier Tournament. Following on her report you published a large section of annotated games from the tournament. [The annotated games in question were part of Cathy’s article. An important point.]

As you said yourself, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and I was most flattered to see my own notes, already published in the UK, appearing more or less unchanged, over two consecutive issues of your maganize [in Forbes’ article]. Indeed, much of what appeared in Inside Chess was a word for word reprint of my notes that had already appeared in England. However, in Inside Chess I was given no credit for having written the notes, the source was not given, your certainly did not consult me and at no stage was I offered any payment.

At the time I felt somewhat annoyed to see so much of my hard work appear in your magazine with no credit given to me at all. I even considered complaining. However, I eventually decided to let the matter pass. I think Inside Chess is a fine magazine and I did not want to cause you any embarrassment by drawing public and international attention to what you had done. I thought it was just an oversight on your part and I shouldn’t bother too much about it.

Let me now give you just one example of the kind of thing I mean. I attach a photocopy of page 21 of Inside Chess of my 4th March 1991. You have reprinted my notes verbatim. To prove this, I will let you into a little private joke, which only I know about. The game Larsen-King was played at Hastings. Hastings was the scene of the great battle in 1066 between the Saxons and the Normans. The Saxon King, Harold, was killed by means of an Norman arrow through his eye. To celebrate their victory, the Normans created the Bayeux Tapestry. Indeed Cathy Forbes refers to it in her report. The text of the Bayeux Tapestry is in Latin, the Lingua Franca of the civilized Europe of the day. At that moment in the Tapestry when King Harold is killed, the Latin text reads, “Rex interfectus est.” This means, “The king has been killed.” If you look at my notes to the game which Danny King lost, you will see that I have spelt out the sentence “Rex interfectus est” (as a homage to Hastings, the Bayeux Tapestry and the fact that King was the loser of the game) by using the initial letter of the first word in each consecutive note.

Thus “rarely”, “extra”, “xray”, spells Rex; “interestingly”, “not”, “the”, “engaging”, “rapidly”, spells Inter, and so on until the end of the game. Thank you for printing my little joke in full. Sorry I didn’t get the credit for it, indeed, for the rest of my notes.

Anyway, let’s now talk about the $200 you would like from me. I am happy to agree, but it must be balanced against my work which you took years ago without asking my permission, or crediting me or paying me.

At the time, I was prepared to overlook it, but now it be drawn into the balance.

I propose, as the most elegant solution, that both I and Inside Chess pay $200 each to nominated charities. Alternatively, we can just call it a draw.

I leave the choice to you.

With the best wishes to yourself, your family, Yasser and all at Inside Chess.

Raymond Keene OBE

Copies of this letter and all documentation to the World’s Chess Press.

 

CATHY FORBES

Dear John,

Thanks for your fax of May 13. In writing my report on Hastings 1990-91, I made extensive use of Ray Keene’s notes from the Hastings Bulletin. I did have permission to use this material, but I neglected to acknowledge the source in the article, which was an error of omission on my part.

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Forbes

 

JOHN DONALDSON

Dear Ray,

Sorry for the delay in response. I had to attend USCF Policy Board meetings in New York.

I’m afraid we will have to refuse your “draw” offer. The two situations are hardly the same. You gave Cathy Forbes permission to use the material in question in her story and she, in turn, gave us permission to use it and we paid her for it. Case closed. We don’t owe you two cents, much less $200.

Since you admit that you owe us for the material you appropriated from our pages, we would appreciate payment as soon as possible, though we understand your reluctance to establish a financially dangerous precedent in this area.

All the best to you and your family.

Yours sincerely

John Donaldson ICE

 

 

Inside Chess, February 7 1994

Regarding Donaldson-Keene: John retained a lawyer and sought damages. A confidential settlement was reached with Keene’s American publisher, Henry Holt and Company, in which both parties may disclose only the following information:

“On July 22, 1993, John Donaldson and Henry Holt and Company entered into an agreement to settle all claims arising out of Henry Holt and Company’s distribution of The Complete Book of Gambits, which book contained material on Lisitin’s Gambit authored by Mr. Donaldson, in alleged infringement of his copyright. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Mr. Donaldson acknowledged that Henry Holt and Company had distributed the book without any knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged infringement and agreed to release Henry Holt and Company from any and all liability to him deriving out of its distribution of the book. In return, Henry Holt and Company agreed to pay Mr. Donaldson an undisclosed amount, and agreed to refrain in the future from distributing copies of the book that contained the allegedly infringing material.”

[The “undisclosed amount” was $3,000, rather more than the $200 Donaldson had originally asked for and which Keene had refused to pay! – Ed]

* * * * * * *

5 Comments

  1. seetharaman says:

    Wow. Such blatant misuse of copyright by a supposedly talented writer ! Obviously his talent lies elsewhere!

  2. Arthur says:

    This wouldn’t be so bad if Keene actually learned from his mistakes. Alas, he is still doing it. As I write (December 2013), several recent issues of Private Eye have carried yet more evidence of his blatant copying. It’s time his employers (The Times and The Spectator, probably among others) did something. I’ve cancelled my subscription to the latter magazine, but I don’t suppose one voice against a bullying, aggressive Penguin-Lookalike will be heard.

    I wish you luck on this site, trying to see that ordinary people’s hard work is not simply stolen by a man who I see as a blatant parasite.

  3. Robert Fischer says:

    Keene been has been well known roque in the chess world for years .. Sources tell me of blant copy write and producing poor books .. As well as mis appropriating funds

  4. KEITH BATE says:

    Keene has always been a brilliant self publicist too. I remember quotes he has made saying that the career of Bobby Fischer has been over publicized.
    This may be true (or not) but Keene is a hypocrite to make such a comment having written a book on Fischer ( Fischer’s chess games) and also contributed numerous articles about the American over the years (eg the section on Fischer in Pergamon’s “world champions of chess”

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