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.

Membership Secretary’s Report

This time I am delighted to welcome nine new members, which now brings our membership up to the grand total of 220. As well as the excellent work done by our Publicity Officer, Stan Lovell, the hard work of those who patiently manned our stand at Sight Village has had a lot to do with our latest influx of new members. I know everyone will therefore join me in thanking Guy Whitehouse, Tristram Cole, John Gallagher, Richard Murphy and Rebecca Blaevoet for all their hard work and dedication.

Before I introduce our new members, some of you may have noticed that in my last report I somehow managed to perform a miracle and then a wedding! I’m obviously in the wrong job! If this wasn’t enough, I went on to embellish my report with countless other peculiarities inconsistent with the role of Membership Secretary. My apologies therefore go out to Mark Finnigan, who is actually a VI member and not an associate; Pat Roberts, who is not married to John Gallagher; John Gallagher, whose name does not normally have a C anywhere to be found; Richard Harrington, whose address third time lucky I will hopefully finally get right, and Samuel Gledhill, whose address suffered a dropped H. Bring back David, I hear you cry! Amen to that! In fairness to myself, however, although I put my hands up completely to some of the errors, a few of them, especially those relating to changes of address, were simply due to me receiving the wrong information. Most of the information in this report has been sent to me second-hand, and as I had no reason to question it, I assumed it was correct. However, on the positive side, it does prevent my reports becoming dull!

You may also be wondering why you haven’t yet received a new copy of the address list. This is because the address list is a subject currently under discussion with the Committee. I will report more on this in the February edition.

New Members

First of all I am delighted to welcome three new members to our Junior BCA.

John Watle was just 10 years old when he joined us back in July, just missing the deadline for inclusion into the August edition. John apparently has really taken an interest in chess at school. John reads large print.

Harrison Keasey, who once again was just 10 years old when he joined us back in early August, is currently studying at New College Worcester and is a Braille reader. We wish these two new young prodigies a long and happy stay with the BCA.

As you may or may not be aware, the Junior BCA has been set up to try and encourage young blood into the organisation, and therefore some years ago it was agreed at an AGM to extend membership to age 25 for visually impaired members. I therefore am delighted to also welcome Lucy Jones, who has joined the Junior BCA at the tender age of 23. Lucy is also a Braille user. Despite the fact that we have had four lapsed junior members this year, Junior BCA membership currently stands at 22.

We now turn to three new members who have each taken out five year membership. Let me therefore extend a very warm welcome to Andy Lee, who after losing some sight to a genetic disorder, felt it necessary to transfer his passion for backgammon to a passion for chess. Andy may be new to chess, but after our two and a half hour game, which we played some weeks ago, I can tell you we both needed a well earned cup of tea! During a very pleasant afternoon with Andy at his home in Cambridge, I also had the pleasure of meeting his friend Ian Blackmore, who has joined as an associate member. Ian is also a keen backgammon player and I understand has fairly recently taken up chess with some excellent results. I am thrilled that both Andy and Ian are planning to play at Harrogate which is just around the corner, time wise at least.

Moving up north now, let me also offer a very warm welcome to Norman Stephenson. Norman has joined as an associate member and is no stranger to the BCA, as some will remember, Norman was a coach at the European Championship at Durham back in August 2007. It is fantastic that we are getting new members for both our minor and open sections. Norman prefers to be contacted by email.

Nipping across the pond now, I am delighted to welcome another person who is no stranger to the BCA. Michael Delaney has joined us as a life member and I am thrilled to hear that Michael and many of our other Irish friends will be joining us for the 80 year celebration tournament at Harrogate.

Let me also offer a very warm welcome to Eleanor Tew, who has joined us as a VI annual subscriber. It has always been a bit of a mystery to me why there seems to be so few female chess players, and it is therefore great to see that our female players are beginning to increase. Although as my report on the Chairman’s Cup testifies, Abi Baker came very close to winning the minor section, I think I’m right in saying that in the 80 years that the BCA has been in existence, we have not yet had a female champion. Obviously this needs to be rectified. So it is great this time to welcome two new female chess playing members. Eleanor prefers to be contacted by email.

Last but in no way least, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Alan Humphries, who has joined as a VI member and more importantly is a fellow West Midlander. I believe Alan found out about us from enquiries at our stand at Sight Village. Welcome aboard and may it be the start of a long and happy association, both on and off the chess board. Alan prefers to be contacted by email.

Deceased Members

Finally, with great sadness I end my report on a sombre note. First of all by reporting the death of Jim Lidstone, whose sad death I learned of on 1st August. Although I personally never had the pleasure of meeting Jim, many of you will remember that he chaired the BCA from 2000 to 2004. Jim apparently had a very quiet and unassuming nature and was very much loved and respected by all who knew him.

I also regret to report the tragic premature death of Phil Smith, who died in the Derby Hospital on 24th September 2012 after contracting pneumonia. Phil had been a very active associate member of the BCA for over 30 years. Phil was very much a visible presence both on and off the chess board, winning many trophies in the minor sections and organising his famous “quiz with a difference” at many of our seven day events and often graced our talent nights with his hilarious anecdotes. Phil also played at Haaksbergen each year and was always happy to assist as a guide.

Needless to say that both Phil and Jim will be very much missed.

(Editorial Note): Please also see the tribute to Lewis Jones, another long-time member of the BCA, who died on the 4th of September this year.