The Gazette - November 2010

Sponsored by Sean O'Brien
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.

Tournament Director’s Report and Postal Rules

Regretfully, once again my report begins with tragic news. This time I have the sad duty to inform those who have not yet heard of the sad passing away of Clive Hodgkins, the father of David. Clive has been a personal friend of mine for many years and his energy and commitment to the BCA knew no bounds, and his friendship and selfless contribution will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are very much with David and Phyllis at this difficult time.

For those of you who actually read my vain ramblings, as I bumble round the globe to seek out the mystery of this extraordinary game, affectionately known as postal chess, you will be aware that my intrigue has carried me to the kingdom of the animals. In the last issue, I suggested that the middle game was likened to the bird. However, as many games are now somewhat scaled down and entering the cool, sparse, machine-like qualities of the endgame, what else could reflect these troublesome waters than the cruel, naked, elegant, cold-blooded precision of the crocodile? Its sleek, indolent form deceptively slumbering in the sun, but woe to those who treat its recumbent grace with contempt! Long gone are the too often seen furry familiarities of openings, and put away are the fickle, flighty feathers of the middle game, and now welcome to the cold, prim elegance of the endgame. I say again, this can speak of none other than the crocodile, whose very jaws are a contradiction; so weak that they can be held together with just a mere finger and thumb, yet so strong that they can snap shut with unrelenting consequences! Does this not point us to the once humble pawn, whose lowly status was once despised and considered mere fodder for gambits, but who yet still in lowly state, now has potential grandeur equal to royalty, and whose power can be as deadly as the teeth of this cool ancient king of water and land? So watch out, for you never know when the crocodile is sleeping or simply biding his time!

Well, before I get too carried away in the very much tongue in cheek and bizarre world of fantasy, I shall curtail my rapturous ramblings on reptiles and repair at once to more reputable reporting. In this report you will be pleased to know that I will be announcing not only the scores, but the winner of the Premier. So without further ado, I shall leave the murky waters of these dearly loved carnivores and place my TD hat firmly back on my head. However, before I move on to the scores, may I say a special welcome to Steve Thacker, who is joining the postal Championship in January. If I can tempt anybody else to give postal chess a go, please let me know no later than 19th November. Although it is quite a commitment, you will be surprised how addictive and enjoyable these epic games prove to be. I consider them my medicine and daily meditation.

40th BCA Championship

Premier – Group Leader David Hodgkins

Phillips-Cohn 0.5-0.5 English 47

Cohn-McElroy 0.5-0.5 Slav 39

Bryant-Mike Hague 0-1 Greco Counter Gambit 48.

Final scores: Hans Cohn 5.5-7, Les Whittle 5.5-7, Ernie McElroy 4.5-7, David Hodgkins 4.5-7, George Phillips 4-7, Sean O’Brien 2-7, Mike Hague 2-7, Lionel Bryant 0-7.

Congratulations to Hans Cohn who, on the first tie-break, is now the current BCA postal champion! Hans doesn’t mind me publicizing the fact that at age 87, he now goes into the annals of BCA history as being the oldest person to win this prestigious award. I think all would agree that in its ruby year, it is fitting that the title should be awarded to such a great veteran of the game! May many more successes follow! Whether it is the luck of the Irish, but the Sonneborn-Berger, the first tie-break system, has also once again smiled on Ernie, as he grabbed third place by just 0.25 of a point. Unfortunately, the Sonneborn-Berger was not quite so favourable to Mike Hague, who is the only person to be relegated next season.

Sadly, Lionel Bryant, who has had an unfortunate tournament on this occasion, yet who has been a regular top player throughout, has decided to retire from competition chess after the completion of his league games. Unfortunately, zeros don’t always reflect the standard of play, and I can verify that Lionel’s last game with Mike Hague was a cracker, with a twist at the end that Roald Dahl would have been proud of! With Lionel’s permission, I hope to publish this game in the next issue.

Group A – Group Leader Gary Wickett

Patching-Pearce 0-1 Queen’s Gambit Declined 29.

Scores: Frank Atherton 3-3, Gary Wickett 2.5-4, Geoff Patching 1.5-3, Jason Pearce 1.5-4, Derek Spink 0.5-4.

For the observant, who think that they are suffering from an acute case of deja vu, you are right, this is the third time that Geoff and Jason’s game has appeared in my reports. Above is the original result that I published in May, however, this was then mistakenly queried by Geoff. I then published Geoff’s version for the August gazette, which in turn was queried by Jason. However, I am now assured by both players that Jason is the rightful winner. In fairness to Geoff, it’s an easy mistake to make when on top of all your tournament games, you also have a mountain of friendlies to contend with! Although Frank has rightfully claimed his place back in the Premier next season, sadly, he has decided to retire from tournament chess on the completion of his league games. Therefore, there will be no promotions from Group A next season. Unfortunately, we also lose another faithful veteran of this great game, as Derek Spink also wishes to retire and has decided to withdraw from both tournaments with immediate effect.

Group B – Group Leader Mark Hague

Scores: Alec Crombie 4.5-5, Steve Brown 3.5-5, Mike McGuigan 2-3, Mark Hague 1.5-5, Eric Gallagher 1-4, David Rees 0.5-4.

Still no developments, however, as previously stated, Alec has his feet firmly placed back in Premier soil. We still await the results of Mike McGuigan’s games with Eric and David Rees, so the race for second place is still on. The latter game will go for adjudication, as sadly, David is also leaving us and has felt it necessary to withdraw from both tournaments with immediate effect. Our thoughts are with David and Mary and may Mary have a speedy recovery.

BCA League

Division 1 – Group Leader David Hodgkins

Mark Hague-Mike Hague 1-0 Queen's Pawn 42

Hodgkins-Crombie 0.5-0.5 King’s Indian 27

Mike Hague-Hodgkins 0-1 Queen’s Gambit Declined 36.

Scores: Mark Hague 1.5-2, David Hodgkins 1.5-2, Ernie McElroy 1-1, Alec Crombie 1-2, Lionel Bryant 0-1, Mike Hague 0-2.

Mark and David now currently lead the parade, both having completed their games with Alec and Mike Hague with identical results.

Division 2 – Group Leader Sean O’Brien

Patching-Phillips 0-1 Albin Counter Gambit 18

McGuigan-Phillips 0-1 Queen's Pawn 23

Patching-Gallacher 0-1 Queen’s Gambit Declined

Gallacher-O’Brien 0.5-0.5 Irregular 26

McGuigan-Patching 0-1 Reti

Patching-Brown 0-1 Queen's Pawn.

Scores: George Phillips 3-3, Steve Brown 3-3, Eric Gallacher 1.5-4, Geoff Patching 1-4, Sean O’Brien 0.5-1, Mike McGuigan 0-3.

George and Steve, so far both on perfect scores, displaying their muscles with identical results, but still too early for predictions. Please note that Sean O’Brien has now taken over the role of Group Leader for Division 2. The reason for this is Sean is currently playing in Division 2 and I thought it would make it easier for people to pass on results. However, Mark Hague will remain the Group Leader for Group B of the Championship next year.

Division 3 – Group Leader Gary Wickett

Wickett-Couchman 1-0 Giuoco Piano 35

Pearce-Richardson 1-0 Petrov Defence 16

Pearce-Cuthbert 1-0 French Defense 16

Cuthbert-Richardson 1-0 Bishop’s Opening 29.

Scores: Jason Pearce 2-2, Jim Cuthbert 2-3, Gary Wickett 2-3, Derek Couchman 0-1, Allen Richardson 0-3.

All wins for white this time, with Jason displaying his strong aggressive style with two wins in 16 moves and Jim once again making good use of the Bishop’s Opening.

Friendly Email Tournament

Chambers-Hilton 0-1 Queen's Pawn irregular 31.

Final scores: Steve Hilton 2.5-4, Colin Chambers 2.5-4, Steve Thacker 1-4.

Congratulations to Steve Hilton, who wins on the first tie-break. Because of other commitments, Steve Hilton agreed a draw for both his outstanding games with Steve Thacker. Due to the low uptake, unless I get inundated with requests, I am not planning to start another email tournament in the immediate future.

Friendly Ladder Table

Bryant-Patching 0-1 Queen's Pawn 32.

Leading scores: David Hodgkins 17, Gary Wickett 15, Orlando Sobers 14, Ernie McElroy 11, Frank Atherton 10.

I am on the heels of David, and two of my games which could go either way, I hope to complete before the end of the year. Exciting stuff, but too early to start dusting my shelf!

Braille Chess Association Postal Tournament Rules

1. All postal tournaments will normally start on 1st January. All games must be completed by 31st October of the following year.

2. Moves may be transmitted in Braille or, where one or both of the players are non-Braillists, on cassette; preferably using both the algebraic and English notations. Where both players are Braillists, they may play on cassette provided that both players are in agreement.

3. Whichever form of communication is used, it is essential that both players keep a record of the game. Should there be a dispute over the position of a game, and only one player’s score is available, that record of the game will be taken to be the correct position.

If during the game a player makes an illegal move, they will have to move the piece involved. However, if this is not possible, it will be up to the two players involved to rectify the error. If this still causes a dispute between both players, then clarification should be sought from the Group Leader, who may refer the problem to the Postal Tournament Director.

4. All moves must be preceded by the date of receipt and dispatch. Players should note that the date of dispatch is the date the move will be collected. 10 moves must be made in 20 days, not counting days in the post. Time saved can be counted in lieu.

5. The onus is on the player with the white pieces to start the game and provide either the plastic envelope or cassette and wallet. On the completion of the game, these should be returned to their rightful owner.

Should the plastic envelope or cassette wallet/cassette be lost or damaged, the player who did not provide them in the first place will be expected to provide the replacements.

6. Where a player beyond the British Isles is involved, all games involving that player shall start on 1st January of the year concerned. In all such cases, airmail must be used for both Braille and cassettes.

7. Where games are unfinished by the closing date of the tournament, and the players concerned have not reached agreement as to the result, the game will be sent for adjudication provided that at least 35 moves have been made. The Postal Tournament Director, however, in exceptional circumstances, is empowered to send games for adjudication after 30 moves.

Each player will be required to send his/her score of the game, together with their claim to the result, to their Group Leader who will send it on to the Postal Tournament Director who will pass it on to the BCA Adjudicator whose decision shall be final.

8. If a player does not hear from his/her opponent within 14 days, a reminder should be sent by recorded delivery repeating the move. If no response is received within a week of that reminder, the matter should be referred to the Group Leader who will endeavour to establish contact between the players. Should this fail, the Postal Tournament Director should be informed and he/she will take appropriate action.

9. Ties – ties for first place or in any position involving promotion or relegation will be resolved by the tie-break system as follows:

(a) Sonneborn-Berger – sum of scores of those beaten and half the score of those with whom drawn.

(b) Kashdan - 4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw and 1 point for a loss.

(c) Result of the game between the players involved.

(d) Examination of results from top downwards.

(e) Number of games with black pieces.

10. All players involved in a particular tournament will be asked by the Group Leader whether they wish to enter the next tournament. However, the Postal Tournament Director has the right to refuse a member’s entry if in his/her opinion that member has shown reluctance in observing the postal rules. In such cases, the Postal Tournament Director will notify the player or players concerned. In such cases the player or players shall have the right of appeal to the Committee.

11. The Postal Tournament Director may appoint Group Leaders, whose responsibility it will be to:

(a) Send out fixture lists together with addresses and media for all players within the group, rules etc.

(b) Receive results and send them on to the Postal Tournament Director. At the end of the competition, if a group leader has received claims for a result or results, these also must be sent to the Postal Tournament Director for adjudication.

(c) Re-establish contact between players where necessary.

(d) Refer major problems to the Postal Tournament Director.

12. Members are asked to adhere to the spirit of these postal rules in order to ensure the smooth running of BCA postal tournaments.

Gary Wickett.