Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - August 2005

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 was an amazing weekend to choose for the chess tournament with so many important events taking place. As I set off from London, many people were talking about the postponement of the big wedding and acknowledging the death of Pope John Paul II. It was also a remarkably cold day when we all arrived in the North East having experienced snow showers en route.

On entering the Sleep Inn Hotel, very friendly staff assisted us to our rooms which were of a very modern style with curved walls. Some members, including myself, were attempting for several minutes to access light, not realising that the key card controlled this. What a very sensible method of saving electricity and creating an amusing initiation test to all visitors unfamiliar with this modern system.

Many familiar faces gathered together in the bar before the evening meal to catch up on news. There were a number of regulars missing as a result of ill-health and other reasons, slightly reducing the numbers present. At 7.45 p.m. the tournament began with Gerry and Julie organising both the Minor Tournament and the Open with their usual professionalism. On that first evening, there were some really good games taking place with Chris Ross and Shirley Watkins (the eventual winners) asserting their impressive skills. There were other moments when clocks needed to be stopped to clarify positions on the board and sort out some board confusion. It would be fair to say that the BCA expect all players to record moves to enable such confusions to be easily resolved. There were times when recording had not taken place creating real difficulties for the Arbiters.

On Saturday we had the BCA AGM (a copy of the minutes can be obtained by contacting the secretary). It was fascinating to see most of the ladies disappearing during this meeting as a result of a certain Royal Wedding. I heard one lady say that it was the first time she had ever missed the AGM. It was also very discerning of Alec Crombie to announce at the beginning of the meeting that he would allow members who enjoy the Grand national to watch it by stopping the meeting for a short period if required. Fortunately this was not necessary as the meeting finished at 3.20, followed by birthday cake to celebrate our Treasurer’s birthday.

As the tournament developed, more and more conversations could be heard in the bar either rejoicing or despairing over their respective games. I heard many post mortems taking place creating plenty of discussion and personal reflection.

During a previous tournament a local Lions group offered some support. It was wonderful to experience their daily involvement again with them collecting members from the station, providing walks for those with guide dogs and generally lending a great helping hand to many of us. I am sure that many members would like to express their sincere thanks for this assistance.

There were a few guide dogs present that, most of the time, sat under the table and fell asleep. On Saturday evening they decided to rebel with an incredibly loud barking session taking place just outside the chess room. Julie entered the scene to address this crisis and the dogs eventually calmed down. I heard the staff saying how much they were enjoying having the dogs in the hotel (I am not sure whether they enjoyed having the BCA members present but from their supportive response in providing whatever help was required, I think we can assume that we brought something very different to their hotel). Several of us struggled to find our rooms because the numbers on the doors were not tactile and creative methods were needed to resolve this difficulty (rubber bands on the handles and other symbols were noted by the cleaners and fortunately not removed).

We enjoyed a very pleasant tournament, perhaps the highlights of which were Les Whittle drawing against three higher graded players and Shirley proving that her play is still as sharp as ever.

BCA funds were added to by a raffle organised by Pauline Wragg, and a sweep on the National conducted by Juliet Reeve. Our thanks to you both. Our thanks also to the committee for all their hard work during the year, and particular gratitude to Stan and Jan who spend hours looking for suitable hotels and arranging these tournaments. It was good to be there enjoying this occasion with you all. Thanks again to everybody who contributes to this event.



Ross; 4.5 – 5

Mordue; 4

Loftus (Ireland), Whittle, Delaney (Ireland), Wragg, Crombie; 3.5

Hilton, Chambers, Lovell, Thacker; 3

Sharing the grading prize on 2 points; Murphy, Waters, Plechaty, McQuillan, Chan, Price.

Phillips; 1.5

Meaney, Perham, Kidals, Irving; 1


4.5 Watkins

4 Sobers

3 Murray (Ireland)

2.5 Cuthbert, Hodgson

2 Osborne

1 Hague

0.5 Hodges.

John Osborne