Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2016

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


Belated Happy New Year greetings to all readers! Did any of you make a chess related New Year’s Resolution? Perhaps you want to improve your endgame or learn a new opening? I doubt whether anyone wishing to try a new opening will have sought inspiration from the animal kingdom in the way that Tartakower supposedly did in 1924! For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, the story goes that during a tournament in New York, Tartakower visited the zoo and showed his chessboard to an orangutan. The ape was said to point to the b4 square, which inspired Tartakower to open with b4 in his next game. The opening was not new, but from that point on it acquired the nickname ‘Orangutan’.

Sadly, destruction of the tropical forests in Borneo and Sumatra has contributed to the decline of the orangutan to the point where the only two species of Asia’s only great ape are both endangered. However, conservation groups are working to boost numbers by reintroducing orphaned infants to the wild. The ‘Orangutan’ opening has never been widely played so in a sense it is as scarce as the creature after which it was named. Perhaps we could give it a helping hand to become more widespread? If you’ve played a 1. b4 game in the past or if you feel motivated to try the Orangutan, perhaps in a friendly game, why not send it in for the next gazette?

Readers who recall the woolly yarn about the Chinese Year of the Sheep in the February 2015 gazette, might have been expecting some monkey business in this issue’s editorial to mark the Year of the Monkey, which starts on the 8th of February 2016. British children are sometimes called ‘little monkeys’ if they are mischievous, however in Chinese culture this would be taken as a great compliment because those born in the Year of the Monkey are thought to be highly intelligent. Alas, not being a ‘Monkey’ myself, I was not ingenious enough to write a monkey themed editorial for this gazette. I’m aware of the opening named after part of a monkey’s anatomy, but have chosen to disregard it so as not to lower the tone! Therefore, the orangutan was as close as I could get and of course, it is an ape, not a monkey. But what’s a suborder between friends? We’re all primates after all!

As well as all the regular items, this issue contains feedback on the questionnaire about the future of the BCA British Championship, lots of correspondence chess news, an opportunity to bid for items donated by the family of David Hodgkins, a write up on the Lucy Walsh and Mary Cuthbert Memorial Tournament and an obituary for our much missed associate member, Juliet Reeve. Kindly pay special attention to the Booking Conditions and Procedures, which have been reworded. Finally, don’t miss the article on the Colin Crouch Celebration Chess Congress. The BCA is offering some funding to UK resident visually impaired members who wish to take part!

Please send your articles for the May gazette to the editor by the end of March.

Julie Leonard

By the way, if you haven’t heard of the Monkey’s *** chess opening, work it out by rearranging the letters MUB!