Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2020

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.

BCA TESSLa Tournament

Julie Leonard writes:

Readers of the August gazette will recall that the BCA Telephone Email Skype Summer Ladder tournament - TESSLa for short, got underway on the 23rd of May. Players challenged each other for rungs on the ladder while at the same time accruing points from all their games.

After six weeks Colin Fisher was reigning at the top of the ladder and Malcolm Jones, who had previously occupied the top spot was trying to win it back from him! Anthony Borg, on Rung 2, was the highest placed player in the U100 section. Malcolm Jones was leading the points table closely followed by Colin Fisher and Stan Lovell. But the tournament had another eleven weeks to run so there was still everything to play for and lots of excitement to come!

By mid July Stan Lovell had climbed to Rung 12 and was neck and neck with Malcolm Jones on the points leader board with 38 points apiece. A week later, Colin Fisher had fought off the challenge from Malcolm Jones to retain his dominating position at the top of the ladder! Meanwhile, Malcolm had focused on increasing his score and re-established an outright lead on the points table. Roger Williams had successfully challenged Anthony Borg for Rung 2, becoming the highest placed U100 player on the ladder.

Elsewhere, a husband versus wife points challenge had been completed in the Elbourn household, with Tony beating Irene twice over the board. The couple was quick to deny rumours that Tony would have extra household chores to compensate! A socially distanced rung challenge had been played on a sunny afternoon in Eleanor Tew’s garden, with fellow York resident, Norman Andrews, emerging as the victor and moving up to Rung 15. Jermaine Raymond had successfully defended Rung 9 from a challenge by Alec Crombie and Alec in turn had defended Rung 15 from Philip Doyle. Voldi Gailans had seized Rung 10 from John Osborne and Michael Flood had likewise acquired Rung 21 from Tony Elbourn.

By the end of July, Malcolm Jones had accrued 56 points and tightened his grip on first place in the points table. He was six points clear of his nearest rival, Stan Lovell. Stan had moved up to Rung 4 on the ladder by defeating Irene Elbourn. Norman Wragg had deprived Lea Ryan of Rung 6 and lost no time in challenging Colin Fisher for the top rung of the ladder! Alec Crombie had taken Rung 13 from Eleanor Tew and Dan Rugman had defended Rung 16 from Colin Chambers. Michael Keating held on to Rung 23 despite the best efforts of Graham Lilley. Tony Lawton had fought off a challenge by Steve Thacker to remain on Rung 24.

Half way through August, after twelve weeks of ferocious combat, 119 challenges had been completed (74 rung challenges, 45 points only challenges) and 246 games had been played! Malcolm Jones remained top of the points leader board with a score of 70. At this stage he was 14 points ahead of Stan Lovell in second place. On the ladder, however, Stan had snatched Rung 3 from Malcolm! Jermaine Raymond had moved up to Rung 7 by defeating Anthony Borg. Colin Chambers had taken Rung 11 from John Osborne, while Alec Crombie was successful in challenging Irene Elbourn for Rung 12. And there were still five weeks to go!

By the end of August, after an impressive reign of nearly two months on the highest rung, Colin Fisher was dislodged after being beaten in a closely fought challenge by our Chairman, Norman Wragg. Meanwhile, former Chairman, Alec Crombie, had deprived Malcolm Jones of Rung 4 and instantly challenged Norman for the top of the ladder! Malcolm was still firmly in control of the points leader board though, with a score of 85. Stan Lovell was doing his best to keep up but the gap had widened to 16 points. John Ramm, who had entered the tournament significantly later than everyone else because he had only joined the BCA in June, had earned his first point! Sadly, due to a change in personal circumstances, Roger Williams felt compelled to withdraw from the event, relinquishing his place on Rung 2 to top seed John Gallagher.

Many other thrilling ladder challenges were concluded in the latter part of August as players realised that the end of the event was only about a month away! Stan Lovell was still clinging on to Rung 3 having fended off Anthony Borg. Eamonn Casey had snatched Rung 8 from Ed Pourtahmasbi and then defended it from Malcolm Jones. Norman Andrews had forced Voldi Gailans to give up Rung 10. Philip Doyle won his challenge against Irene Elbourn for Rung 13, while Randy Kruzeniski climbed to Rung 14 by defeating Lea Ryan. Mark Hague had beaten Ed Pourtahmasbi and advanced to Rung 18. Steve Thacker saw off Michael Flood to take control of Rung 21, then promptly won his next challenge as well to ascend to Rung 19. Tony Elbourn was upwardly mobile at the expense of Eleanor Tew, who had to hand over Rung 20. Meanwhile, Tony had beaten his wife Irene in a points challenge for a second time. Opinion was divided over whether this was a courageous move or a reckless one!

The start of September saw a technological advance when Voldi Gailans and Stan Lovell played a game on a new platform, namely Zoom! Thank goodness we didn’t know at the start of the event that platforms like WhatsApp and Zoom would be used. Imagine how tricky it would have been to incorporate letters like ‘W’ and ‘Z’ into the tournament name!

One week into September, it was all change at the top when Alec Crombie narrowly defeated Norman Wragg and took his place on the highest rung of the ladder! Whether by good fortune or superb planning, Stan Lovell was perfectly placed to challenge Alec for the top spot straight away! Stan had also moved up to just 10 points behind Malcolm Jones on the points leader board. Malcolm’s score had reached 90 and it seemed only a matter of time before he would reach a three figure total! Results were coming in thick and fast as players rushed to complete challenges in the final fortnight of the event. Randy Kruzeniski beat Anthony Borg, forcing him to surrender Rung 8. Many other rung challenges were successfully defended at this time and it began to feel as if the majority of players had found roughly their right level on the ladder. That didn’t stop people arranging hasty new challenges and doing their best to make further progress though!

The penultimate week of the competition saw Colin Chambers win Rung 6 from Jermaine Raymond and Michael Keating take Rung 19 from Tony Elbourn. Malcolm Jones made Randy Kruzeniski relinquish Rung 8.

During the final week, John Gallagher justified his place on Rung 2 by fending off challenges from both Colin Fisher and Malcolm Jones. Norman Andrews seized Rung 7 from Eamonn Casey and Graham Lilley climbed to Rung 15 by beating Dan Rugman. Further down the ladder Michael Flood took Rung 20 from Lea Ryan, Gill Smith snatched Rung 23 from Ed Pourtahmasbi and Richard Murphy defended his place on Rung 27 from a challenge by John Ramm.

With just a few days left to go, Malcolm Jones achieved his goal of getting a three-digit score! The tournament closed at midnight on Sunday 20th September. Fellow controller Gerry Walsh and I were delighted that every single result had been agreed so there were no games to adjudicate. Sadly, my computer was suffering from extreme fatigue after such a marathon event, but a couple of days later power was restored and the winners were announced!

In the final hours of the event, Alec Crombie secured a draw and a win against Stan Lovell in the final ladder challenge for the highest rung so Alec remained at the top and became our TESSLa Ladder Champion! Malcolm Jones, who had been in the lead on the points table for most of the tournament, finished on 110 points and is our TESSLa Points Champion! On the ladder, the highest placed U100 player who had not already won a prize was Jermaine Raymond on Rung 10. On the points table the U100 player who had not already won a prize was Mark Hague, with a score of 56 (4th place overall). Suitably engraved medals have been sent out to the four champions and we warmly congratulate them all!

In total during the event there were 119 Rung Challenges and 77 Points Only Challenges. 392 games were played. Some players only had a few challenges whereas others took on more than twenty. Some aimed to finish as high up on the ladder as they could and others preferred to focus on winning as many points as possible. It was fascinating to see how the different strategies played out!

Many competitors have thanked Gerry and me for running the event and said how much you enjoyed it. We're very grateful indeed for that feedback. We also enjoyed the TESSLa competition! However, it is the players themselves who really determine whether or not a tournament is successful and so we in turn thank each and every one of you for taking part in a spirit of friendly competition and embracing the concept of the TESSLa event even though it was a bit rough around the edges and at the outset we had no idea whether it was going to work at all! Your positive approach and kind cooperation made it an absolute pleasure to control the event.

Gerry and I send special thanks to all those who have kept time for other players in Skype matches, thereby aiding the smooth running of the tournament. Lea Ryan deserves a most particular mention because out of around 52 games that required timekeepers, she volunteered for at least 25 of them, which I’m sure everyone will agree is going above and beyond the call of duty! Thank you Lea! Rest assured that if we ever attempt an event that requires timekeepers in the future, measures will be put in place to ensure that this burden is shared more fairly.

Some players have commented that they’d met new people through TESSLa and were hoping to play more friendly games in future to keep the TESSLa spirit going! Please do consider including any such games in the Friendly Games Ladder by agreeing beforehand to notify Paul Benson of the result. See Paul’s Correspondence Chess Director’s report for more details. Also, don’t forget that any member who would like a friendly correspondence game but doesn’t have contact details for potential opponents can ask Paul to put them in touch with someone else who’s looking for a game!

Final Standings, in Ladder order, with U100 players indicated and scores given:

1Alec Crombie44

2John Gallagher43

3Stan Lovell97

4Norman Wragg32

5Colin Fisher54

6Colin Chambers32

7Norman Andrews38

8Malcolm JonesU100110

9Eamonn Casey 30

10Jermaine RaymondU10041

11Randy Kruzeniski46

12Philip Doyle41

13Anthony BorgU10048

14Voldi GailansU10052

15Graham Lilley19

16John OsborneU10028

17Mark HagueU10056

18Stephen Thacker68

19Michael KeatingU10037

20Michael FloodU10040

21Irene ElbournU10030

22Tony ElbournU10030

23Gill SmithU10042

24Dan RugmanU1007

25Eleanor Tew U10012

26Lea RyanU10019

27Richard Murphy8

28Ed PourtahmasbiU10016

29Tony LawtonU10037

30John RammU1003

Now we have a couple of key games from the TESSLa event to enjoy.

First up is the second game of the deciding Rung Challenge in the TESSLa tournament. Alec Crombie and Stan Lovell played each other by email. Alec was on the top rung with Stan challenging. The first game had been drawn. This second game only concluded in the final days of the event, keeping us all on tenterhooks to see whether Stan would snatch the highest rung of the ladder or Alec would hold on to top spot.

Alec Crombie vs Stan Lovell

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Bc4 h6 6. h3 c6 7. Bb3 Qc7 8. 0-0 Be7 9. Qd3 Nf8

10. Bd2 Ne6 11. Rf-e1 0-0 12. Ra-d1 exd4 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 Rd8 15. Bf4 Ne8 16. Qe3 Bf6

17. Qg3 Kh8 18. e4-e5 dxe5 19. Bxe5 Rxd1 20. Nxd1 Qe7 21. Bc3 Qf8 22 Bxf6 Nxf6 23. Qc7 Kg8

24. Re7 Nd5 25. Bxd5 cxd5 26. Qe5 Be6 27. Rxb7 Qd8 28. Nc3 d4 29. Nb5 d3 30. cxd3 Qxd3

31. Nc7 Rd8 32. Nxe6 1-0 Black resigns

Stan congratulated Alec on the game and on not being afraid of the Black Lion!

Finally, this is the favourite TESSLa game of our Points Champion, Malcolm Jones. It was against Randy Kruzeniski and was played by Skype in the last ten days of the TESSLa event, when Malcolm was getting close to reaching a three figure score. Malcolm says, “Randy played really well! I wanted to play the Black Lion but was forced to change my plan. I got there in the end!”

Randy Kruzeniski vs Malcolm Jones

1. d4 d6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Nbd7 4. Bd3 e5 5. dxe5 dxe5 6. e4 Be7 7. O-O h6 8. b3 g5 9. h3 c6 10. Bb2 Qc7

11. Nbd2 Bd6 12. Nc4 b5 13. Nxd6+ Qxd6 14. a3 g4 15. hxg4 Nxg4 16. Be2 Qxd1 17. Raxd1 f6 18. Rd6 Nf8

19. Nh4 h5 20. Rxc6 Bd7 21. Rc5 a6 22. Rd1 Rh7 23. Nf5 Ne6 24. Nd6+ Kf8 25. Rc3 Nd4 26. Bxg4 hxg4

27. Rd2 Ke7 28. Nb7 Rah8 29. f3 g3 White resigns 0-1