Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - August 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

This article contains a brief selection from the reports prepared for our cancelled AGM congress weekend with a few additions from the minutes of a meeting the committee held via Skype on 2nd May.

Finance: We’ve appointed a new firm of accountants to check and produce the final version of our accounts which are normally presented for approval at the AGM. The new firm, Dunkleys, is based in Bristol which makes things a lot easier for Gill.

We took advice on how to proceed in view of the fact we could not run our AGM and congress due to Covid-19 concerns. Based on that advice the trustees examined and approved the accounts and these were returned to Dunkleys together with a signed copy of our annual trustees’ report. This will form the basis of our submission to the Charity Commission, but any member who wishes to see the accounts only needs to contact Gill and ask for a copy.

The other significant development in this area of our activities is the appointment of a new fundraiser, Linda Innes. She takes over from Julia, who in her final year raised an amazing £34,000. Linda has already shown herself to have interesting fundraising ideas and has written an article introducing herself which appears in this gazette; if you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to read it.

Personnel changes: The Skype meeting ratified an earlier decision that Dan Rugman should take over from Chris Ross and stand in as Website Coordinator. Mark Kirkham had indicated that he wished to hand over his responsibilities as Congress Support Officer to someone else and it was agreed at the Skype meeting that we should offer the role to Tony Elbourn. Gerry Walsh has also replaced Owen Phillips as our representative to the ECF.

Constitutional matters: I had planned to propose a change to the constitution at the 2020 AGM; the change would make the position of Junior Development Officer a full committee post, the intention being to show the importance we attach to junior development. Unfortunately, this change will have to wait another year for proposal and ratification at an AGM. Nevertheless, Voldi Gailans did manage to visit RNC last year and spoke about the association to some enthusiastic students.

Tournaments: It may well be that by the time you read this we will have announced the cancellation of our autumn tournament. We have been aware for some time that because of the pandemic it was very unlikely we could run the event safely. We are still hoping to run the chess theme break next year, this time at the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth. We also decided that the British Championships and the Chairman’s Cup should be run next year as a joint event. The combined tournaments would be dedicated to the memory of Sheila and David Milsom. If a visually impaired member brings their own sighted guide to one of our events, the guide will receive the same subsidy for accommodation as the visually impaired member, regardless of whether the guide is a member of the association or not.

The international scene: 2021 promises to be a bit of a hectic year. Two postponed events, the Six Nations and the European Individual Championships have been rescheduled for next year and there is also the small matter(!) of the Olympiad which was already scheduled for 2021. Attending all of those events could prove difficult, not least for financial reasons. Watch this space!

Accessible chess material: at the Skype meeting there was some discussion as to whether we could do more to make chess puzzles accessible. We’ve made an initial approach on this matter to the British Chess Problem Society. This is an area where we could risk spending a lot of effort which was not ultimately justified by the level of interest amongst members, so please do let us know if this is an area of chess you are interested in. I was wondering whether a brief series on composing problems might be of interest.

I’m contacting New in Chess to find out what formats they publish their magazine in and whether there was any way we could get more accessible material from them. We’ve also renewed our subscription to Chess Magazine.

Mark Kirkham has found a website where members can sign up for some fairly accessible courses (there are accessible diagrams outlining positions). We don’t know exactly how accessible these courses are; it’ll probably be a case of finding out by trial and error.

Facebook: Julie continues to update our Facebook page with a variety of posts (videos, photographs and snippets of news). Her AGM report says that the number of people liking our page is 176; it would help if you asked your friends and family members to like our page as well.

Chess sets: at the Skype meeting we decided to approach Chess Baron for another batch of sets with a warning that if the sets were not of an acceptable quality this would be the last time we ordered sets from them. However, Ednun Pourtahmasbi has sent Stan Lovell and myself a traditional pin set from Italy which is of an excellent quality. We’re aware that quite a few of our active members have developed a preference for magnetic sets and the cost implications of ordering the more traditional style of set from Italy are not yet clear, but there may be a case for using Italy as our main source of adapted chess sets going forward.

Guy Whitehouse