Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2002

Edited by Peter Price
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.


Perhaps no-one knows the precise date of birth of BCA, but we have come to recognise our birthday as being 1st January and on 1st January this year we celebrated our 70th birthday. Our association has expanded its field of activities greatly since those early days when postal chess was the main activity and when some even felt that special over-the-board tournaments for blind players was not a good idea. I do not know when the first over-the-board tournament took place but it was almost certainly initiated by Hans Cohn. Jack Horrocks and Frank Oliver were the initiators of the Putney Tournament which we now know as our Autumn Tournament, and I believe that the idea of a tournament over the AGM weekend came from discussions between Derek Heyes, David Milsom and myself. Certainly over-the-board tournaments are now one of the main activities of BCA. Postal chess, however, remain

Perhaps computers and the benefits which can be gained from them by blind people will play a major part in the development of BCA during the next few years: as a training tool, for access to more of the mass of material available to the sighted players and as a means of communication by e-mail etc.

From the late 1970's to the mid-1990's membership of BCA rose from around 80 to well over 200 with the number of participants at tournaments rising from about a dozen to over 40. During the past five years there has been a decline in both membership and in the number of participants at our events. We must hope that the measures being taken by our committee will bring in more new members and greater participation at our events.

When reaching a landmark such as our 70th anniversary it is a good time for us to realise and acknowledge that the progress we have made in recent years and the development we hope to continue in the future have been made possible by the efforts of our founders and many dedicated workers for BCA over the years. I hope we may find time during this year to drink a toast to those pioneers.

Stan Lovell.