Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - May 2012

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

The 2012 AGM

The Bedford Park Inn was the setting for our recent AGM which was held on Saturday 3rd March 2012 and attended by a total of 36 members. The following paragraphs outline some of the more important points from the meeting.

Gill Smith’s report indicated that total BCA funds at the end of our financial year on 30th September 2011 amounted to £110,875 compared with £112,409 at the corresponding stage the previous year. Following discussion at the 2011 AGM, we had invested £5000 in a common investment fund with CCLA, a body that offers specialist investment management for charities and is owned entirely by its charity, faith and local authority clients. The value would go up and down but it was a long term investment.

Julia Scott indicated in her report that she had now been fundraising for the BCA for 13 years. In the last financial year she had raised a total of £26,700 and had raised a further £13,225 so far in the new financial year. Members were in agreement that this was another impressive performance and asked the secretary to convey their thanks to Julia for all her excellent work.

Mark Kirkham reminded the meeting that the RNIB had produced two chess books in Braille last year and that another two would be available very soon. Mark urged Braille users to place their orders as soon as possible since the level of take up of these books would affect RNIB’s future strategy. Mark also reported that a new reader had been found to read the chess magazine on to tape and that the service was likely to restart in April. Members wishing to receive the magazine should get in touch with Richard Harrington but the meeting was reminded that all the recordings from the regular tape services were also put on the website.

Guy Whitehouse drew attention to the switching of the production of the Braille version of the Gazette from the RNIB to Rebecca Blaevoet’s company and observed that feedback had been positive. One of the key reasons for making the change was that it had proved impossible to work out the RNIB’s charging policy: Costs seemed to fluctuate for each issue with no obvious rationale or method of matching cost to size of issue. Guy added that the new arrangement had saved us money on each issue and had given him greater flexibility in his editorial role.

Chris Ross explained that work was in progress to establish an area of the BCA website that would enable members to pay, via Paypal, for tournaments, equipment etc. Some technical problems were currently holding things up but he was hopeful that the service would be up and running within the next 12 months.

David Hodgkins said that the 2013 BCA British Championship would go ahead in the usual format but he wanted to seek views on the timing of the event. The Championship was normally held in August but there would be certain restraints in 2013, with the ECF British Championship running from Saturday 27th July to Saturday 10th August and the potential transport difficulties associated with the Bank Holiday week starting on Saturday 24th August. David put forward three options for members to consider: an event in later August with weekday travel; the May Bank Holiday week (Saturday 25th May to Saturday 1st June); and a Wednesday to Wednesday event around the Easter weekend (27th March to 3rd April). The view from the meeting was that the May Bank Holiday was the best option, with an August event in second place.

Gary Wickett said that the grass roots scheme was now in its fourth year and had successfully served to benefit many of our members in helping to finance their attendance at both mainstream and other non-BCA chess events. He added that 27 members were eligible for a grant in the current financial year and that 16 of these had already claimed, 10 for Windermere and 6 for mainstream events. Four of the members had taken advantage of the £75 grant for a second or third event. In response to a question from Geoff Patching, Gary expressed the view that the scheme had indeed increased the participation of BCA members in mainstream events over the last 3 or 4 years.

Stan Lovell’s written report explained that, from October 2010 to July 2011, we had funded coaching to a group of VI students at Dorton College, Kent, thanks to a generous grant from The Primary Club. The sessions were conducted by Guy Baker, an ECF approved coach. The students involved had now left the college, some going on to university, but unfortunately none had so far kept in touch with us or continued to receive coaching from Guy Baker and it had not been possible to continue the project with a fresh set of students as those now at the college had shown no interest. Stan’s offers to other schools and colleges to provide similar coaching had not resulted in any more such schemes being set up.

The meeting was informed that all matters concerning the new ECF membership scheme would be subject to final decisions at the April ECF meeting. However, the ECF Chief Executive intended that grading of BCA events would continue to benefit from earlier concessions and would be free of ECF charges. However, BCA members would still be expected to become ECF Bronze members if they played in local leagues, Silver members if they also played in congresses and Gold members if they entered FIDE rated events.

There were two motions at the AGM, both proposed by the BCA Committee. Alec Crombie explained that Clause 3 of our constitution made it clear that the Committee was empowered to refuse an application for membership from a visually impaired person. However, what had become apparent was that we were not absolutely sure whether the Committee had the same power in respect of applications for associate membership or junior membership. The purpose of the first motion was to clarify this, giving the Committee the power to refuse any application for membership where necessary. The motion was carried unanimously.

The thinking behind the second motion was that the Committee did not have the power if necessary to terminate or suspend the membership of any member. The Committee felt that this was a significant oversight that needed to be corrected and had put forward a motion that would provide the necessary power. Alec observed that we would be coming into line with the arrangements in most other charitable organisations. Rebecca Blaevoet suggested a small change to the wording of the motion and, with this amendment, the motion was carried unanimously.

Alec Crombie had indicated prior to the meeting that he would be standing down from the post of Chairman. He explained that he now had a great deal on his plate and had recently not been able to attend many events. In two spells as Chairman he had served a total of 18 years and there was general agreement that he had done a tremendous job. He and his wife Caroline were presented with a small gift as a demonstration of the Association’s sincere thanks.

In a series of consequent changes, Norman Wragg was elected as the new Chairman, Guy Whitehouse as the new Secretary and Rebecca Blaevoet as the new Gazette Editor, all unopposed. David Hodgkins (Membership Secretary) and Gary Wickett (Correspondence Chess Director) were content to continue serving on the Committee but felt that they would like to exchange roles and the meeting accepted this. The following officers were re-elected unopposed to their existing posts: Gill Smith (Treasurer), Stan Lovell (Publicity Officer), Mark Kirkham (Audio Librarian) and Chris Ross (Website Coordinator).

Norman Wragg