Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2008

Sponsored by The Steel Charitable Trust
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.

75th Anniversary Tournament 2007

There were two highlights of the BCA’s year in 2007, the European Individual Championships in Durham where our elite players had a chance to shine, and the Autumn International Tournament in Solihull held from 9th to 11th November 2008, which was intended as the main celebration event for everyone. Although some experienced significant travelling difficulties because of traffic jams and railway signalling problems (nothing new there), the celebratory atmosphere was in no way dampened and everyone arrived in time to get some dinner, though the first round did start half an hour late.

There was an unusually large turn out with Rob van Aurich joining us from Holland and many of our friends in the Republic of Ireland putting in an appearance as well. Quinn Stenson, Thomas Kenealy and Ian Clugston were all playing in their first tournament. Both the open and minor sections of the chess event had more players in them than any other event I had attended (26 in the open and 22 in the minor).

The chess was essentially light-hearted. The time limit was all moves in an hour for each player and games were not graded. One player told me that he had offered his opponent a draw even though he was winning both on the board and on the clock “because it had been such a good game and it was a shame for someone to lose it”.

Because Tyson was helping out behind the scenes rather than playing, most people expected Colin Crouch to emerge the clear winner after his outstanding performance at the British Championships, but because Colin had a surprise draw in round 2 it was Chris Ross who was half a point ahead of everyone after three rounds; Chris had had three straight wins. However Chris faltered in round 4 while Graham won his game to join him in first place on 3.5 points; Colin was still half a point behind on 3. In the final round Graham and Chris had a fairly rapid draw while Colin won which meant that Chris, Graham and Colin all shared first place with 4 points.

In the minor section, it was Richard Kidals and Orlando Sobers who set the pace early on with three straight wins each. Richard won their game in round 4 and cemented his win with a fifth round draw, although had he faltered Mark Kirkham, George Phillips, Jim Cuthbert and Orlando could all have caught him.

On the Saturday night we had a celebration dinner with a free glass of wine. Alec made a speech in which he highlighted qualities which he regarded as key to the association’s success, study which had enabled some of our players to defeat grandmasters and service which ensured that the association kept running and was able to put on events. Stan received a bottle of port and Jan a pendant for organising the European Championship and for their exceptional service to the BCA.

Thanks are due to Stan and Jan for organising yet another successful tournament, Sheila who organised another raffle, to Les and Moira who were selling tickets for an external raffle as another fundraising effort (see the letter from Les further on in the gazette), and to Julie, Peter and Gerry for being our tournament arbiters. The hotel seemed a successful venue as well, with helpful staff and, for some lucky people, executive standard rooms (at least one person had a small fridge with all sorts of drinks and complimentary chocolate in it!) I for one would be happy to go back there, and not just because I happened to have a small fridge in my room with all sorts of drinks and complimentary chocolate in it --

Those not on the BCA’s email user group might not know that the tournament was mentioned in the English Chess Federation’s official magazine Chess Moves in an article entitled ’75 and still growing’. Peter Gibbs mentioned that pictures of Colin Crouch, Graham Lilley, Steve Thacker and Orlando Sobers appeared on the front page, and John Wall has the full text of the article.

Scores. Open section: Crouch, Ross and Lilley 4, Armstrong and Hilton 3.5, Cole, Chambers, Burnell, Loftus and McElroy 3, Gallagher, Whittle, Keating, Hodgkins, Thacker and van Aurich 2.5, Crombie, Lovell, Murphy, Whitehouse and Plechaty 2, Wragg and Gordon 1.5, Waters, Casey and Smith 1. Chris won on the tie-break. The grading prize for group A was shared by Ernie McElroy and Sean Loftus, while the prize for group B was shared between Steve Thacker and Rob van Aurich.

Minor section: R. Kidals 4.5, Phillips, Sobers and Kirkham 4, Perham and Wickett 3.5, Cuthbert, Osborne, Green and Patching 3, Gailans, Hall and Hall 2.5, C. Brown, R. Brown and S. Saunders 2, Harrington, Clugston and Stenson 1.5, Kenealy and A. Saunders 1, Talbot 0. John Osborne, Edward Green and Geoff Patching shared the grading prize for group A; Dorothy Hodges was sole winner of the grading prize for group B.

Guy Whitehouse.