Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

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.

11th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

Our 11th Email Tournament has reached its conclusion. The final results are in, and the picture is complete.

Our numbers are increasing, and this has been a record entry. We had an initial entry of 24, later reduced to 22 with two defections from Division 5.

Apart from a few early problems in Division 1, the tournament ran very smoothly, and this is due in large degree to the co-operation of all the players. We may have to consider increasing the number of divisions in future tournaments, as some players, particularly in the lower divisions found it difficult to keep four games running at the same time. Nonetheless, the event finished with three weeks to spare.

According to the grading, the entries in Division 1 were the strongest to date, but in the end, it came down to the head to head between those two old adversaries, Peter Gibbs and Rod Macdonald, and on this occasion, Peter was the slightly fortuitous victor, or so he tells me. Division 2 was the most tightly contested, with Colin Chambers coming out on top. In Division 3 one of our new boys, Mark Kirkham, prevailed, and in Division 4, yet another new entrant, Mike Flood, succeeded in achieving a clean sweep of victories. Unfortunately, Division 5 was reduced down to two entries, because of the two late withdrawals, and they played out a draw. Once again, we wish to thank all those who took part, and to encourage others to have a go next March.

See below for the results since the previous gazette and the final placings in each division

Division 1:

Prasath lost to Armstrong

MacDonald lost to Gibbs

Burnell lost to Gibbs

Final Scores: Gibbs 4/4, MacDonald 3/4, Armstrong 1.5/4, Prasath 1/4, Burnell 0.5/4

Division 2:

McElroy drew with Lovell

Lovell drew with Casey

Final Scores: Chambers 3/4, Doyle 2.5/4, Casey, Lovell and McElroy 1.5/ 4

Division 3:

Gailans beat Smith

Gailans drew with Kirkham

Smith lost to Thacker

Elbourn lost to Kirkham

Thacker lost to Elbourn

Smith lost to Elbourn

Elbourn Lost to Gailans

Final Scores: Kirkham 3.5/4, Gailans 3/4, Elbourn 2/4, Thacker 1.5/4, Smith 0/4

Division 4:

Warren lost to Pourtahmasbi

Lawton beat Pourtahmasbi

Final Scores: Flood 4/4, Lawton, Warren and Pourtahmasbi 2/4, Borg 0/4

Division 5:

Jodhan drew with Graham

Final Scores: Graham and Jodhan 0.5/1

Here is a game from Division 1, with comments by Bill Armstrong.

Malola Prasath v Bill Armstrong

Eamonn Casey, joint organiser of the email tournament, noted this as an interesting game so I thought in the gazette a few notes might be worth adding.

I am becoming a fan of email chess when chess engines are excluded. But after scoring only half a point from three games in the previous tournament I thought a fresh approach was needed. I returned to an opening that served me very well in my first BCA tournament in 1983, Alekhine’s defence.

1. e4 Nf6 Peter Gibbs (the tournament winner) complimented me on a very cunning choice of opening but then demolished my position in less than 20 moves. Malola meanwhile was taking me into a line I had never played against.

2. e5 Nd5

3. c4 Nb6

4. c5 Nd5

5. Bc4 e6

6. d4 b6 Black must undermine White’s central dominance

7. Bxd5 exd5

8. cxb6 axb6

Here Malola sent 9 Kc3 which is illegal but surely a slip of a typing finger. I corrected it to 9. Nc3.

Play continued.

9..... c6 10. f4 d6

How has the opening gone? My only developed piece has disappeared and White seems to have a great space advantage. Compensation lies in the Rook on an open a-file and Black’s queen’s bishop giving him hope for greater control of the light squares.

11. Be3 dxe5

12. fxe5 Bb4

13. Nf3 Ba6 Black needs to prevent White from castling, bringing the Rook to f1 and launching attacks towards the undefended Black king. With Queen, Knight, Bishop, and a pawn on e5 all looking very menacing the defence has to be inventive to avoid disasters.

14. Qc2 h6 A white piece settled on g5 would be unwelcome.

15. Qf5 Qc8 An exchange of queens should take the sting from White’s attack.

16. Qh5 Bd3

17. g4 Bg6 Bringing the bishop from a6 to protect f7 was somewhat unorthodox but useful.

18. Qh3 h5

19. Rg1 Rh7 Another unusual move that turns out to be effective

20. Nh4 hxg4

21. Qxg4 Qxg4

22. Rxg4 Be4

23. Kf2 Here I sent Malola 23..... Bxc3 with the continuation 24. bxc3 then Ra6 and after 25. Bd2 Nd7.

Malola spotted that Ra6 was a slip and I intended to write 24. .... Ra3 to force Bd2. He generously took what was the obvious intention rather than the literal move. He was repaying my earlier gesture very handsomely.

Now we enter an ending where White has a lack of targets for the dark squared bishop and too many pieces committed to defensive duties. But can Black exploit this?

26. Ng2 Rxh2 27. Rxg7 Rxg2+ 28. Rxg2 Bxg2 29. Kxg2 b5 preventing White from playing c4 and creating a route for the black Knight to become active.

30. Kf2 Nb6 31. Ke2 Na4 32. Kd3 b4 33. Rh1 Nxc3 34. Rh8+ Kd7

35. Bc1 Rxa2 36. Rf8 Rf2 37. Rb8 Nb5 A move that Malola had overlooked in his analysis.

38. Be3 Rf3 39. Kd2 b3 (against 39. Ke2 Rh3 keeps Black’s advantage)

Over the board in a time scramble White could try 40. Bg5 b2 41. e6+ fxe6 42. Rb7+ Kd6?? 43. Be7 mate but in correspondence it’s more likely to go 40. Bg5 Rf2+ 41. Kc1 b2+ 42. Kb1 Nc3 mate

40. Bg1 b2 and if Kc2 Black plays Rb3 leading to rapid mates. White resigned. Black won but it was far from easy and the tempo I could have lost on move 24 was potentially game-changing. My thanks to Malola for not leaving me annoyed at my own carelessness and at the old fashioned notation system where you counted the ranks from your side of the board and White’s a3 was on Black’s 6th rank! Perhaps I was reliving 1983.

Bill Armstrong.