The Gazette - February 2020

Sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation
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.


The Chinese Year of the Rat began on the 25th of January. Often thought of in the west as plague carrying vermin to be duly eradicated using poison or a Pied Piper, in China these animals are a sign of wealth and surplus. Those born in the Year of the Rat are well-liked and thought to be clever, optimistic, energetic and successful.

The Rat is the first creature in the Chinese zodiac cycle. According to one myth, the Emperor declared that the sequence would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride on his back, then, just as they reached the finish line, the Rat jumped down and entered first. Does this put a fresh slant on the term “rat race”? Certainly, it indicates a degree of underhandedness which tallies with insults like “You dirty rat”, as heard in the movies. Thankfully, conduct of this nature is extremely rare at BCA events. This issue contains an article with a fine example of good sportsmanship on both sides of an email game!

People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be frugal and good at making decisions about money so perhaps it is fitting that there is a recurring financial thread running through this quarter’s issue. You can read about how we said farewell to our retiring fundraiser and who has replaced her. Meanwhile our treasurer has suggestions for how all members can help raise funds and, by purchasing BCA branded items, raise awareness of our charity too!

Rats are believed to be content with living a peaceful life. Alas, Stan Lovell, judge of the 2019 best game competition, has had no such luxury lately. He has been busy playing through the dozens of games that were entered. However, now that Stan has selected the winner, we hope that things have calmed down for him. You’ll have to read Stan’s article to find out who won!

Traps are sometimes deployed to deal with rat infestations. As we all know, there are plenty of traps in chess as well and you don’t have to be a rat to get caught! Hugo Roman from Belgium has sent in a captivating example. Hugo is a regular attendee at the friendly Haaksbergen tournament in the Netherlands. There is still just time to book for the 2020 event but you’ll have to be quicker than a rat up a drainpipe!

One member, who shall remain nameless, found that Chris’s November puzzle was gnawing at his or her mind so keenly that they had to contact me for the solution! Naturally this option is open to any members who risk being driven to distraction by Chris’s conundrums. We absolutely cannot have members experiencing mental anguish as a result of these brainteasers so please do not suffer in silence. Anonymity is guaranteed. I won’t rat on you!

Finally, with great sadness, we pay tribute to arbiter David Welch, who passed away in November. His achievements were many and we were fortunate to have him as a controller at our tournaments in recent years.

I will leave you with a rodent related quotation attributed to Viktor Korchnoi: “Skeletons of mice are often to be found in coconuts, for it is easier to get in, slim and greedy, than to get out, appeased but fat.” I sincerely hope that no members find themselves in such a predicament after over indulging during the midwinter festivities!

Please send me your contributions for the May issue by the end of March.

Julie Leonard