The Gazette - May 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.

Notes on the 2016 AGM

This year’s AGM took place at the Hallmark Hotel, Derby on Saturday 19th March.

After the opening formalities the meeting got on to the issue of the recording of moves in a game. There has been some controversy about the use of braille notetakers to keep a score of a game because of suspicion in some mainstream circles that they can be connected in some way to a chess engine.

Strongly held opinions were expressed on both sides of the debate. Some felt that it was vital to do anything we could to eradicate any suspicion as to the good sportsmanship of VI players, while others felt equally strongly that the capacity of notetakers to interact with chess engines, even by connecting with devices such as iPhones, was so limited as to be irrelevant and stressed that it was the association’s role to stand up for VI players’ interests and preferred way of doing things. Others pointed out that even if we reverted to using recorders, the way technology was going meant that in the not too distant future it would be possible to connect recorders to the internet which raised the question of what we did if that happened.

This debate went on for some time until a non-binding vote on whether to ban the use of any device which could be connected to a chess engine either now or in the future was taken. The vote was fairly decisively in favour, but any ban won’t be brought into effect in our own tournaments till the autumn and there was a strong feeling that we should be on the look out for alternative devices our players could use.

The suggestion that we keep the British a week-long event was not opposed at the AGM itself, and, in accordance with the results of the membership survey run by the Tournament Sub-committee, the event will be open and held in May/June though not necessarily at a seaside resort. Steve and Hazel Burnell have kindly volunteered to take on the organisation of next year’s championship which will be held at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate over the half-term week in May.

Two motions have been passed. The cost of annual membership will rise to £10. There has also been a small change to the selection policy for international events, meaning that it will now be the two highest-finishing VI players in the championship and two other panel members who will select the team. I can now confirm that the first European IBCA team championship will be held in Poland at the end of July, and Norman has asked me to chair the selection panel.

We were particularly pleased with the financial year we had had from October 2014 to September 2015. Julia Scott had done her usual outstanding job and got her by now customary round of applause! The company that David Hodgkins used to work for, Apex Credit Management, had also decided to make our association their charity of the year again. Their fundraising activities on our behalf since David’s untimely death had netted £19,000, an amazing amount. We formally recorded our thanks at the meeting. Julie reported that pictures of her receiving the £19,000 cheque from Apex Credit Management had gone down well on Facebook.

A positive development has been making contact with some enthusiastic chessplayers at the RNC in Hereford. The level is fairly basic at the moment, but it does seem that some students there are very keen and we’ve decided to get five large sets and a couple of braille clocks to them. We’re looking at the possibility of obtaining some funding for regular coaching from the John Robinson Trust. If handled right this could be a hugely positive development; it has been very hard to contact VI juniors in the mainstream, and attempts to get things going at Worcester have not really been successful. At this writing I believe some of the RNC students have become members and I’m pleased to report that Muzz Lakhani, who took over from me as Company Secretary of the British Computer Association of the Blind, has joined the BCA as a life member.

After reports from officers, sub-committees and representatives on outside bodies, elections to committee and non-committee posts were held. Most people were re-elected, though the post of Correspondence Chess Director will soon be passing from Norman to Gary, and Gary did indicate he would be standing down as membership secretary next year. Bill Armstrong also felt he had done more than his fair share of attending some often difficult ECF meetings, and so Owen Phillips bravely stepped into the breach. We didn’t elect a junior representative this time because we weren’t sure whether Dave Jones, who had held the post, was prepared to stand.

By the time you read this the minutes will have been completed and authorised, and members wishing to obtain a copy should contact me.

Guy Whitehouse