The Gazette - August 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.

Recording Chess Moves during a Game

There has been an increasing tendency over recent years for blind and partially sighted players to use electronic Braille devices including notetakers to write down their chess moves during games. Unfortunately this has led to allegations that such devices could be used unfairly during a game by having them connected to some sort of chess engine. These allegations are being made at a time when the question of possible cheating is a major issue throughout the chess world and, for example, the restrictions on the presence of mobile phones in chess rooms in mainstream tournaments are getting tighter and tighter. Indeed, the world chess organising body (FIDE) has set up an anti-cheating programme.

At our AGM in March this year a significant majority of members voted to ban the use of electronic Braille devices by blind and partially sighted players during BCA games. The idea is that players should instead use voice recorders or simple Braille devices without any possible internet, wireless or bluetooth connectivity, and that are not capable of running a chess engine. The ban will come into effect with our International Autumn Tournament at Solihull in October. Naturally, we cannot dictate to members what equipment they can use in mainstream tournaments but we would urge members to stop using electronic Braille devices for the good name of blind and partially sighted players and for the BCA as a whole. The English Chess Federation is aware of our decision and so gradually the mainstream arbiters will take careful note of equipment used.

If any member feels that they would have extreme difficulty in managing without an electronic Braille device during a game they should get in touch with a committee member. We will arrange for each case to be considered on its merits as, naturally, the last thing we wish to do is to stop anyone playing and enjoying the beautiful game. The indications are that if a person genuinely cannot manage without an electronic Braille device they could be registered as a special case with the authorities although the onus would be on that person to prove that such a device was the only feasible way forward.

Norman Wragg