Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - August 2006

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

The 2006 AGM

A total of 40 people attended a lively AGM at the Lancaster Hall Hotel, London, on Saturday 4 March 2006. The following paragraphs spotlight a few of the most important issues.

As part of our 75th anniversary celebrations, we shall be hosting the IBCA European Individual chess Championship in August 2007 in Durham. The BCA Committee had decided that £3000 should be set aside to fund five UK players in the Championship. Other UK players wishing to participate would be free to do so at their own expense. Sean O’Brien felt that any such additional players should receive part funding and he proposed that the Committee should reconsider their decision. The proposal was defeated by 14 votes to 12 but it demonstrated the power of the AGM to question Committee decisions.

There will also be a weekend anniversary event in November 2007 for the wider membership and views from members were sought on two options put forward by the Tournament Sub Committee. One of the options was a rapid play event with two rounds on Friday evening, three or four rounds on Saturday, a gala dinner on Saturday evening and a simultaneous display on Sunday. The second option was a more normal five round event but with only one hour per person per game to give more time for relaxation and celebration and with a gala dinner on Saturday evening. The second option was agreed with only one person voting against it.

The Chairman said that the three critical factors for any association or group were organisation, money and membership. In terms of organisation, he spotlighted the excellent work carried out by Stan and Jan Lovell on tournament organising and he thanked them for this on behalf of the whole BCA. As regards money, the Chairman said that we were extremely lucky to have Richard Kidals our treasurer and Julia Scott our fundraiser, both of whom carried out excellent work . He reminded members to put forward any ideas that might unlock doors to potential funding.

The Chairman added that arguably the most important of the three factors was membership. A problem that had been identified was that we often lost new members after a relatively short time. We therefore needed to think in terms of recruitment and retention rather than simply recruitment and the Committee were giving considerable thought to this point. Members were invited to suggest any ideas that might help

In her written report to the AGM, Julia Scott explained that 2005 had been a very difficult year for funding with three major natural disasters plus the London bombings, resulting in a distinct air of “donor fatigue”. However, we had made a very promising start in the new financial year, with fundraising income so far standing at £11,900 compared with £4625 in the corresponding period last year. Julia thanked members who had contacted her with possible leads for her to follow up and she invited further ideas.

Bill Armstrong invited members to get in touch with him with any achievements etc that might be newsworthy to the local press. Chris Ross explained that he had received a lot of local newspaper and radio coverage following his success in the British Championship last year and that this had led to a number of people asking him about the BCA. Chris said that Bill should be congratulated for generating this level of publicity.

Hans Cohn said that the Postal Championship was the first event organised by the BCA 74 years ago. He felt that it should be our primary tournament but it was dying from anaemia, with most of our strongest players not participating. He asked the Committee to raise the profile of the Championship and encourage more people to play in it.

A section of our website will be devoted to providing an online coaching service, making use of the Skype software. Chris Ross had asked for volunteers to help with such coaching and he had received two offers so far.

David Hodgkins said that a modification had been made to the design of the chess clocks in order to solve the problem of users stopping them inadvertently. However, it was not clear whether RNIB would make the new design available immediately or whether they would insist on selling the old batch first. David continued by saying that all their attempts to make improved chess sets available had come up against a brick wall and he asked members to contact him if there was anyone they knew who might be able to help.

The British Rapid Play Championship was scheduled to be held every two years, with the next one due this summer. The Championships in 2000 and 2002 were very poorly attended while the one scheduled for 2004 had to be cancelled because of lack of support. Members were asked to say, by a show of hands, whether they would consider attending one this summer. Only three VI members and two associate members expressed interest. It was therefore agreed that the 2006 Championship should be cancelled but that the BCA Committee should continue to market the event for the future.

The task of finding a long term replacement for Stan and Jan Lovell for tournament organising was a critical area. It had been decided that the two functions of the role, finding a suitable hotel and organising the tournament, should not be split. However, it was not necessary for one person to be responsible for every tournament. Indeed, Norman Wragg suggested that a better approach might be to have one person responsible for organising only one tournament each year, thereby making the duties far less onerous. After further discussion, Mary Cuthbert and George Plechaty said that they would like to be involved in tournament organising. The Chairman thanked them for this offer.

Peter Price announced that he was not standing for re-election as Gazette Editor and he was warmly thanked for his years of excellent work. Guy Whitehouse was elected as the new Editor. In view of this, Guy did not want to continue as Postal Tournament Director and both Mark Hague and Steve Hilton were nominated and seconded for the role, with Mark being elected in the ensuing vote.

Norman Wragg