Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2002

Sponsored by the employees of the John Lewis Partnership including Waitrose
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.


It is with great regret that I have to report the death of another of our members. Oliver Sproson passed away in hospital on 6th July at the age of 73. He suffered two massive heart attacks within the space of 24 hours. Oliver was well known to many of our members through the medium of chess correspondence: but only a few had met him once when he attended a North-v-South match in Birmingham in the early 1980s. He was making a tape to a chess correspondent when his first heart attack occurred. Only five days prior to his death he had made a very eloquent and positive contribution to the round robin tape of which he had been a member for several years. He was the winner of the 8th British BCA Chess Correspondence Championship.

He had a subtle sense of humour, and his postal chess moves were often enlivened with puns or other witticisms which made it a delight to be his adversary. When playing opponents abroad he would go to some length to learn enough of the appropriate language! Oliver was evidently a bright pupil at school. He went on to become an industrial designer. Although he was a victim of poliomyelitis and largely confined to a wheelchair, in his working days he devised a method of walking which enabled him to travel to work. He was also deaf and had limited vision. When his sight completely failed he taught himself to use a Braille micrometer which allowed him to continue with inspection work at the factory and so prolong a working life for several years. When he retired twenty years ago, he broadened his interests for reading, gardening - he had a fine vegetable garden - and of course correspondence chess. He was a shrewd player, and consistently maintained a respectable BCF grading.

Oliver's wife, Margaret, and their son, Frank, and daughter, Sandra, gave this most determined of men their devotion and support: we send them our sincere condolences.

A donation has been sent from BCA to the British Polio Fellowship, in grateful memory of Oliver's life.