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.

Words from the Whitehouse

Our last committee meeting was held on 12 October; consequently, I wasn’t able to get my customary report on committee proceedings into the November gazette. Although the meeting took place a while ago, there is still plenty worth reporting on.

We decided that junior development was important enough to make it a permanent committee post. I was asked to prepare a motion on this in time for the AGM in April.

Dan has several ideas on how to raise the association’s profile, particularly online. The aim is to reach out to various forums run by and for visually impaired people and also to look into retweeting announcements made by people in the mainstream chess world in the hope that they will then retweet our news. We also intend to get the association mentioned on the British Blind Sports website, and Dan has also speculated on the possibility of starting a BCA blog and using chess teaching material aimed at beginners to raise the association’s profile.

Our thoughts on outreach are not limited to the online world. We’re hoping to approach two charities that work with visually impaired children with the idea of having a presence at one of their events next year. Voldi has visited the RNC in Hereford and is trying to generate interest in New College, Worcester.

The need for new venues continues to feature on our agenda. We are looking at a hotel in Worcester and another in Milton Keynes. Although the Windermere chess theme break will be held at Windermere Manor in 2020, from 2021 onwards we anticipate moving this to another venue, possibly the Cliffden Hotel in Teignmouth.

We’ve noted the continued interest in the magnetic sets from Italy. I’ve been told that our current supplier of non-magnetic sets, Chess Baron, are looking at producing their own magnetic set. I’ll monitor developments on this. We did think that if the next lot of traditional design sets we order from Chess Baron were not up to scratch, we might have to consider making the magnetic set the main set we supply to members and recommend to others, though the expense this would involve would make us think long and hard before doing so.

Which leads me nicely on to financial issues: those of you who were at the autumn tournament will know that we presented Julia with a retirement gift as a thank you for the splendid work she has done for the association over the years; it was a moving occasion. During the summer and autumn Norman and Gill sifted through sixty applications to be our new fundraiser and then interviewed five shortlisted candidates. We’ve now appointed a new fundraiser, Linda Innes. I’m told that she once worked as a stand-up comedian!

We are going to have to discuss our ongoing activities and key aspects of our plan to move the association forward with Linda. One example of this is that we’ve speculated on employing a dedicated recruiter, at least on a short-term basis; we agreed at the October meeting we couldn’t act on this unilaterally and that we should wait till Linda has settled into her new role. Another example is our attendance at international events. We’ve been in the habit of sending more than one player to international individual events, not just the person who has earned the right to go because they won the BCA championship. This has made sense as it has increased our chances of a good showing which in turn generates excellent publicity for us; however, if it becomes difficult to raise funds, and, for example, if hotel prices continue to rise, we’ll have to consider how to deploy our resources.

The other thing which has continued to take up a lot of time is finalising a list of members who are prepared to allow their details to be included on a membership list. We’re doing a final push on this and anticipate sending out a membership list soon, with a proviso that the list does not contain the details of everyone who has joined.

The last thing I’ll mention this time is that the issue of whether the inclusion of the word “Braille” in our name gives the wrong impression to those who hear about the association for the first time can sometimes resurface in our discussions. There is no real enthusiasm for embarking on another full-blooded consultation as to whether we should change the association’s name (whatever was decided on that front we’d insist on keeping the initials BCA). For now, our preferred approach is to highlight “BCA” on all our publicity materials and direct attention to our strapline which we might change to become “bringing chess to the visually impaired”.

And finally… if you feel you can help the committee with aspects of its work, we’d be delighted to hear from you. An example of this has been Ednun Pourtahmasbi collating and placing orders for magnetic sets for our members. Thanks Ednun!

Guy Whitehouse.