Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 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.

Chairman’s Cup

When Stan originally asked me to write this report, obviously the plan was that it would go in the August Gazette. However, when I sat down back in June to record my reflections, I found myself a little in a Catch 22 scenario. A few members had expressed to me that they would like my report to be written in a similar quirky style to the one I had written on the Windermere Theme Break, however, at the same time I was also aware of the need to be a little more disciplined in the way of brevity. Thus sadly I failed miserably in both endeavours, but especially in the second. Thus due to my report mimicking too well the already plump nature of the August Gazette, there was unfortunately “no room in the inn” as far as the August Gazette was concerned. It was therefore decided to hold this report back until the November edition.

Before I begin, please let me thank Abi and Juliet for their much needed help with this report.

The Chairman’s Cup is a biennial event for members whose grade or estimated grade is 140 or below, and once again was held at the Whitehall Hotel in Bournemouth in the rainy month of June. This is the third time we have used the Whitehall for this event and with good reason. The warmth and friendliness of the staff of this family run hotel gives it a very homely feel, which may explain why there has been no or little turnover in staff throughout the four years the BCA have been using this venue. I have not even yet mentioned the excellence of the food, the comfort of the rooms, and being a fairly small hotel the ease of finding one’s way around, and its beautiful location by the sea. It is therefore the perfect hotel for this event. Fingers crossed that we are able to return to the Whitehall in 2014.

With 44 attendees, 22 of whom entered the tournament, this year has been the largest entry to date. It was also great to see three new faces at the event: Denis and June Warren, who stayed for the whole week, and Paul Brookes who joined us on Sunday to Tuesday. It was also lovely to see Bob and Chris Brown, who due to ill health hadn’t been able to attend any BCA events for some years. This time they were once again accompanied by Chris’s daughter, Penny Horstead and her husband Kendon, whom it was also great to welcome along.

The Chairman’s Cup is a seven round tournament, and the large entry meant that once again we were able to run a minor event. Including Paul Brookes and myself, who for different reasons were unfortunately unable to play for the whole tournament, there were fourteen participants playing in the top section, which included: Stan Lovell, David Hodgkins, John Gallagher, Phil Gordon, John Jenkins, Steve Brown, Guy Whitehouse, George Phillips, Phil Smith, Gary Wickett, Voldi Gailans, Mark Hague, Jim Cuthbert and Paul Brookes.

In addition, the following eight players competed in an all play all for the minor trophy: David Gibbs, Geoff Patching, Chris Brown, Abi Baker, Stan Lightowler, Lea Ryan, Richard Harrington and Denis Warren.

The event was organised by John and Pam Jenkins, Peter Gibbs being Chief Arbiter, ably assisted by his good lady Celia with Norman Andrews acting as Steward.

It was certainly an exciting contest, with the leader almost changing from round to round. In my attempt to try and capture the excitement of the chess and at the same time report on the various activities enjoyed by the many non chess playing attendees, I can only apologise for my failure in my struggle to keep to my promise of brevity.

Battle commenced on Saturday evening. In the first round, the strong players were obviously being put through their paces: Lovell v Whitehouse, Smith v Hodgkins, Jenkins v Hague all ending in a draw, with Gailans securing an impressive win against Gordon. At ten to eleven John Gallagher and myself were the last to finish, when my promising start lay crushed beneath John’s expertise in the end game. Needless to say, after the game we both tiredly tumbled into the bar for a well deserved drink! Gallagher joining Brown and Gailans in the leading position.

Meanwhile, there were no such draws in the minor section. One game to note was an excellent performance by Ryan, who beat Brown, of whom it must be noted six years ago won the minor section with a perfect score. Baker was also very pleased on learning that her first round opponent was to be the new kid on the block, Warren, and greatly enjoyed giving him his first game in a BCA tournament.

After all the excitement of Saturday night, players had to gather their frayed wits together for round 2 on Sunday morning. The results from round 2 in both sections presented no real shockers and as I have promised to try and avoid writing a novel, I am not able to list every result. Suffice to say that Hodgkins win against Gailans put him in joint first place which he shared with Gallagher, Lovell, Phillips and Brown all leading on 1.5; pushing Gailans into second place which he shared with Whitehouse, Smith and Gordon.

In the minor section, Gibbs’ win against Harrington and Patching’s win against Warren, made them both joint leaders on a perfect score; closely followed by Baker, whose impressive draw against Brown put her on 1.5.

On Sunday evening, Martin Simons, grade 193, kindly volunteered to challenge Chris Ross and eight other keen chess stalwarts to a simultaneous display, winning eight of his games and securing a draw against Chris. With regards to the latter game, as my lawyer is currently on vacation, I hesitate to say that the draw was agreed, as the phrase has more meanings than it implies! Suffice to say, the game was unfinished! Thanks go to Martin Simons for taking time out to give all our enthusiasts an enjoyable evening. For those who are interested, Chris Ross’s game with Martin Simons should hopefully still be on the BCA website.

On Monday morning Paul Brookes, who arrived the day before, joined the top section and played his one and only game in which he drew with Jim Cuthbert. I myself managed a win against Mark Hague in an entertaining battle where I had spent most of the game a pawn down but somehow managed to make good of my end game, which with my half point bye put me on 1.5, where circumstance decreed I would remain. In the same section, Lovell’s win against Brown put him in first place on 2.5. Second place was shared by Gailans, Whitehouse, Gallagher, Hodgkins and Gordon all on 2 points. Gailans and Whitehouse continuing to show their excellent ability, with Gailans taking the white pieces and getting a win against Phillips, and Whitehouse getting a win with the black pieces against Jenkins.

In the minor section, Gibbs had begun to forge his lead, retaining his perfect score with a win against Patching, now pushing Patching into third place. However, Gibbs was now hotly pursued by Baker, who had jumped into second position with her win against Lightowler, just half a point separating the three leaders. However, with still four rounds to go, there was everything to play for.

On Monday evening Phil Smith hosted what he regularly calls “A Quiz with a Difference”. On this particular occasion, the quiz was based on the television show Pointless. It was a great night, with Richard Harrington’s team, the Orienteers, proving to be the sharpest with their compass being far from pointless but pointing straight to victory! However, whether they all had a bite of the prized chocolate bar or whether this was considered the captain’s bounty is knowledge I do not possess!

Unfortunately, due to acute insomnia which began before attending the tournament, I felt so rough by Tuesday morning that I felt it necessary to withdraw from the tournament. Needless to say after pulling out of the chess, I slept like a baby - crying all night and keeping everybody awake! No, seriously, I slept really well.

In round 4 Hodgkins stole back the lead with his win against Lovell, putting him on 3 points, being hotly pursued by Lovell, Gallagher, Gailans, Whitehouse and Gordon with just half a point in the difference. Gailans and Whitehouse continuing to make their presence known with Gailans drawing with Brown, and Whitehouse drawing with Phillips.

In the minor section, Baker’s victory over Harrington put her on 3.5 where she now shared first place with Gibbs; Patching still trailing in third place by half a point. New boy, Warren, forged an impressive draw with the top seed, Gibbs, which with his draw in his previous game against Brown, now put him on 1 point.

Coaching was very kindly provided on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon by Ian Clark and Eric Sachs respectively.

On Tuesday evening it was Kipling and coconut shells! Not the exceedingly good cakes this time, but exceedingly good poetry. We were all spellbound and enchanted by a talk given by John Jenkins on Rudyard Kipling, where he also recited from memory some of the writer’s best poems. To add a bit of fun and frivolity to the evening and to help conjure the effect of horses in a particular poem, sets of coconut shells were strategically placed with various members of the audience.

As Wednesday was set aside for the customary trip out, round 5 was played in the evening.

Although I didn’t personally go on the trip due to not feeling quite up to it, those who did attend enjoyed a trip out to Corfe Castle from whence they went by steam train to the old Victorian seaside town of Swanage, which is adorned with an ancient church and town hall which were built from local Purbeck marble. Even the sun broke its current custom and made a very much welcomed appearance.

On Wednesday evening after dinner, battle resumed for round 5. In the top section Hodgkins’ loss against Gordon threw him back into second place. However, Gailans continued to shine with another victory, this time against Cuthbert. Whitehouse and Jenkins both took a half point bye.

Leading the race now on 3.5 were Gailans, Gallagher and Gordon; with Whitehouse, Hodgkins and Philips coming up the rear with 3 points.

In the minor section, Gibbs, not wanting to break the trend of having a G in first place, maintained first position on 4.5 with his win against Ryan. Patching clipped Baker’s sprouting wings and stole a well needed point, reclaiming second place on 4, Baker now tumbling into third place on 3.5. We’ll never know whether Geoff was playing particularly well that night, or if his lucky chair, which he had insisted on using beforehand, had been instrumental in assisting him with his win! Warren began his winning streak with his victory against Lightowler, putting them both on 2, and Harrington achieved an impressive draw with Brown, impressive as apparently no pieces were moved at all!

Round 6 was played on Thursday morning and Gallagher’s win against Gailans allowed him to forge ahead in first place on 4.5. Whitehouse’s win against Gordon, and Hodgkins’ win against Phillips now put them both in second place on 4. However, with Gordon’s aforementioned loss and Gailans loss to Gallagher and Lovell’s win against Smith, this threw Gailans and Gordon into third place and pushed Lovell forward to join them on 3.5.

Meanwhile in the minor section, Gibbs confirmed his dominance on an unassailable 5.5, Patching clutching tightly to second place on 4, with Baker still trailing in third place on 3.5.

On the eve of the final round, we all once again formed teams for Sheila’s well loved and famous quiz. Once again the scores were close, but this time Norman Andrews’ team, the Whitehall Whiz Kids, weren’t quite good enough and had to settle for second place, as the chocolates were won by the Whitehall Wizards, a team captained by Celia. Whether the excellence was in their wizardry or their quizardry, we will never know! However, as Celia was quiz mistress at Windermere, this may suggest the latter!

In the top section the final round was nail biting stuff. Gallagher had an uncomfortable draw with Whitehouse, Hodgkins accepted a generous draw from Jenkins, Hague secured an impressive draw with Phillips, Lovell beat Gailans, Gordon beat Brown, and Smith beat Cuthbert.

Final scores for the top section: Congratulations go to John Gallagher, who is now the proud possessor of the Chairman’s Cup 2012, finishing on 5 points. Second place was shared by Stan Lovell, David Hodgkins, Phil Gordon, and Guy Whitehouse on 4.5. George Phillips finished on 3.5 (grading prize A), Voldi Gailans 3.5 (grading prize B), John Jenkins 3.5, Steve Brown and Phil Smith both finished on 3, Jim Cuthbert and myself both settling for 1.5, Mark Hague 1 and Paul Brookes 0.5.

In round 7 of the minor section, Warren now getting a real taste for Victory beat Harrington, Patching drew with Lightowler and Gibbs drew with Brown. Unfortunately, Ryan had to withdraw before the last round due to not feeling well, giving Baker the full point bye. Although Baker managed to secure this win without moving a single piece, at the same time, one could argue that all the pieces were moved, as they both took their chess set for a gentle stroll for the cameras!

Final scores in the minor section: Congratulations go to David Gibbs, who won the Chairman’s Cup Minor on 6 points. Second place was shared by Geoff Patching and Abi Baker on 4.5, Denis Warren with his debut finished on an impressive 4 (grading prize), Stan Lightowler 3.5, Chris Brown 3, Lea Ryan 1.5 and Richard Harrington finished on 1.

On Friday afternoon, our Chairman presented the cups and prizes, after which Sheila conducted the raffle in which she raised an impressive £150.

During the last night, we all let our hair down and gathered for Joan and Juliette’s famous soiree, where members could showcase their various talents. The evening was top class entertainment, with music being sung and played with an array of instruments, including Guy’s mysterious magic flute, which the dark horse (or black knight) had kept a well guarded secret for years. We were also graced by poems, both famous and self penned, including another hilarious summary of the week by Joan Shorrock, and another performance of Kipling by John Jenkins and the Coconut Kids. Even the ancient art of story telling fell into the frame with a wonderful account of Titan the guide dog and the blind car driver! The entertainment was topped and tailed magnificently by Stan’s excellent stride piano, after which the merriment continued with Abi on violin, Tanvi on piano, Denis on guitar and Guy on flute and myself trying to keep up with the real musicians on ukulele. It was a great night and a fitting finish to a great event. Sadly, Shane Hall, a huge personality at such events, was greatly missed. However, I like to think he was looking down and joining in the fun.

I close this article by saying a big thank you to John and Pam Jenkins for organising such a great week. If I was to thank everyone who had put themselves out to make this event the success it was, then I would need to add at least another five pages to this article. However, I trust by mentioning all the various events, that each person responsible will see this as my way of saying thank you. The only person that I haven’t mentioned is Chris Ross, who very kindly came along not only as John Gallagher’s second, but more importantly to put all the results as they happened on the website. Chris has also uploaded all of John Gallagher’s games, so you can follow his battle to victory first hand.

Post Script. Since writing this report, we have learned of the sad premature death of Phil Smith, who died on 24th September 2012. As you will see from this report, Phil was a huge personality at BCA events, both on and off the chessboard, and it is therefore stating the obvious to say that Phil will be very much missed.

Gary Wickett