Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2021

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 Alternative Autumn Tournament

Gary Wickett writes:

I’ve played chess in some grand hotels in the past, but none quite so big as the one used for the BCA Autumn Tournament 2020! Indeed, this hotel was so large it boasted more than 17 chess rooms, and the hotel rooms were so far apart we had to speak to each other via phone or Skype! Alas, for some at least, the bar was somewhat limited; but on the upside, the drinks were free!

This was very much a tournament of firsts. It was the first remote BCA weekend tournament. It was the first BCA event where I barely knew half of the contesters (and may I say how great it is to have so many new faces). It was the first time where the grades were listed in the ELO format. We also had a new trendy scoring system: 10 points for a win and 4 for a draw, with two optional 4 point byes. Finally, it was no doubt the first time at one of our events that the Halloween Gambit was actually played on Halloween! Spooky stuff; it certainly scared me! I shall leave that little treat, or should I say trick, to the end of my report.

I’ll kick off by listing the players with ELO or estimated ELO grades in brackets.

David Mabbs (1998); Paul Benson (1930); Steve Hilton (1865); Olivier Deville (1823); Steve Burnell (1818); Norman Wragg (1713); Stan Lovell (1615); Malcolm Jones (1405); Mahendra Galani (1336); Gary Wickett (1323); Mark Hague (1323); Voldi Gailans (1285); Bittor Ibanez (1263); Neda Koohnavard (1143); Gill Smith (1083); Tony Lawton (1060); Nene Clayton (828).

We all played in one section but there was a second trophy for the highest scoring player whose ELO grade was 1450 or below (I’m told that is grade 100 in old money).

As usual, it was a five round tournament with 90 minutes each on the clock; the difference being all the games were played by phone, Skype or any mutually agreed social media platform which could be used in real time. White was in charge of the clock in all games unless agreed otherwise.

After spending well over an hour in gridlock traffic, I just about got home in time to play my first game which began at 7 o’clock. My opponent was reigning BCA Champion, Paul Benson, and the result was no great surprise. However, there were a few results in that first round that even Newton the parrot would have struggled to predict. Mahendra Galani beat top seed, David Mabbs; and Tony Lawton beat Stan Lovell.

The end of round 2 saw Paul Benson, Steve Hilton and Malcolm Jones leading the fray on a perfect score. There were no remarkable results to report in that round, so let us leap forward to round 3 and take a look at the leading scores at this pivotal juncture. The game that stands out in round 3 is Malcolm’s draw with Paul. Steve Hilton beat Mark, which meant his perfect score now put him in outright first place.

Leading scores after round 3: Steve Hilton 30; Paul Benson and Malcolm Jones 24; Olivier Deville, Steve Burnell and Norman Wragg 18.

In round 4 Paul’s win against Mark pushed him back up to joint leader with Steve Hilton, who had taken a 4 point bye. Malcolm drew with Mahendra and now shared second place with Olivier, who had outplayed Steve Burnell.

Leading scores after round 4. Steve Hilton and Paul Benson 34; Olivier Deville and Malcolm Jones 28; David Mabbs, Stan Lovell and Mahendra Galani 24; Norman Wragg 22; Mark Hague and Tony Lawton 20.

The final round was a nail biter. The games of chief importance were Paul Benson’s game with Steve Hilton and Malcolm’s game with Olivier. Mahendra, Mark and Tony would have taken a particular interest in Malcolm’s game, as depending on Malcolm’s result, Mahendra, Mark and Tony were still in with a chance of winning the U1450 section. Mark was due to play Tony, and Mahendra was due to play Stan. Although Stan had no hopes now of winning the tournament, there was still a good chance of coming third or possibly even joint second. Nothing yet was set in stone and notable positions and trophies were still up for grabs.

Mark beat Tony and Mahendra lost to Stan. Both games on the top boards ended with two draws.

Final scores: Steve Hilton and Paul Benson 38; Stan Lovell 34; Olivier Deville and Malcolm Jones 32; Mark Hague 30; David Mabbs and Steve Burnell 28; Norman Wragg 26; Mahendra Galani 24; Bittor Ibanez, Neda Koohnavard, Gill Smith and Tony Lawton 20; Voldi Gailans and Gary Wickett 14; Nene Clayton 0.

Congratulations go to Steve Hilton who beat Paul Benson by 6 points on tie-break. Stan Lovell also put in an excellent performance in coming third. Congratulations also go to Malcolm Jones who won the U1450 section with an incredible performance.

From the emails seen on the user group, it is clear everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event. May I take this opportunity therefore to thank Gill for coming up with the idea and organising it, and may I also thank our two arbiters, Julie and Gerry for all their incredible hard work and Julie for keeping us up to speed with all the results and pairings etc.

Before I close, I promised you a treat.

Malcolm Jones – Gary Wickett (Round 2)

31st October - Halloween Gambit (Trick or Treat?)

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 Nxe5 Nxe5 5 d4 Nc6 6 e5 Qe7 7 Bg5 h6 8 Nd5 Qd8 9 Nxf6+ Ke7 10 Nd5+

Black resigns.

Editor’s Note: In case any readers are as mystified by Gary’s reference to “Newton the parrot” as I was, Gary kindly explained that Newton correctly predicted that France would win the 2018 Football World Cup!