Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - May 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.

Let the Bashing Commence!

Hello BCA members. My name is John Ramm and I joined the BCA in spring 2020. I have lots to learn, but my style is to dive in and that’s what I’ve been doing, taking part in the email tournaments and looking forward to the time when we can play together over actual boards.

I’ve been in the BCA for less than a year and already I’m amazed at the creativity of the people who arrange tournaments, especially in these strange times. After all, at the end of the day, we’re playing chess, but they just can’t stop themselves!

For the BCA Big Bash in February 2021, the organisers came up with the best approximation of over the board chess they could with the addition of the creation of very plush virtual surroundings in the form of a hotel seemingly formed solely of suites named after famous chess masters. Games were to take place in real time over the phone, via Skype, or via any other suitable platform agreed between the two players.

Over three weeks, groups of three players would move into one of the beautiful suites and play everyone in the group by the end of the week gaining 8 points for a win, 4 for a draw, 1 for a loss and 2 points for acting as a third-party time keeper, (with a maximum of 4 time keeping points per week).

To add a little spice to the play, each group of three was made up of players from the top third, the middle third and the bottom third of the seedings (estimated or otherwise). With 21 players we occupied 7 suites and bashing seemed to be the order of the tournament with few draws in evidence.

By the end of week one, Stan Lovell had taken the lead on 18 points, just two points off the maximum, but the bashers were learning about the difficulties of poor connections, accessible or semi accessible programs and using whatever work arounds got the job done.

By the end of week two Stan had been bashed off the top spot by Steve Burnell who had amassed 32 points to Stan’s 28. Further down the table the scores were close, but there will be no need to talk about mine. Two winners were to be declared; an open winner and a challenger winner for those rated 1450 or below.

And so the final week commenced with the groups of players moving into the penthouse suites and readying themselves for the final Big Bash games. Steve Burnell held onto the lead to become the open winner and, after a tense tie break, Steve Bailey won the challengers section. Thus both sections of the tournament were won by Steve Bs to prove once again that life is indeed stranger than fiction.

This sort of tournament can be difficult and time consuming as people try to arrange games, time keepers, methods of communication and so on, but everyone seemed to get on with it in a typically British “stiff upper lip” fashion, and huge credit goes to the organisers, Julie Leonard and Gerry Walsh for keeping us focused and running the tournament with kindness and efficiency.

While I’m sure we’re all looking forward to being able to get together and play over real boards, I for one thought that this format of time limited tournament was useful in showing me something about the pressures associated with playing chess in real time and could perhaps be employed usefully in the future.

Final scores:

44 Steve Burnell, winning the Open section

42 Malcolm Jones

40 Steve Hilton

37 Stan Lovell

35 Norman Wragg

34 Norman Andrews, Colin Fisher, Stephen Thacker, Steve Bailey and Gill Smith.

Stephen, Steve and Gill were the joint highest Challengers (1450 or below) and Steve Bailey won on tie-break.

32 Mark Hague

28 Lea Ryan

27 Gary Wickett and Voldi Gailans

20 John Osborne and John Ramm

19 Anthony Borg and Tony Lawton

16 Tony Elbourn

13 Simon Highsmith

Congratulations to Steve Burnell and Steve Bailey, who have both received medals! When asked to choose a game for the gazette, Steve Burnell replied, “I think my favourite and most exciting game was my game against Steve Bailey, the other prize winner. Steve played excellently and outplayed me for much of the game. He really deserved to win, and it was only my extra experience of endings that enabled me to pull off a bit of a swindle! I was also getting short of time, down to my last few minutes, while Steve had an hour left, I think. It was the first competitive game I have played on”

Steve Burnell v Steve Bailey 16-02-2021 ECO A52

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Ng4 4. Bf4 Bb4+ 5. Nd2 Nc6 6. Ngf3 Qe7 7. e3 Ngxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. Be2 d6

10. a3 Ba5 11. b4 Bb6 12. Nf3 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 a5 14. O-O g5 15. Bg3 h5 16. h3 g4 17. hxg4 hxg4 18. Bxg4 Bxg4

19. Qxg4 Qe6 20. Qxe6+ fxe6 21. Rfd1 Rh5 22. Kf1 axb4 23. Ke2 bxa3 24. f3 Rg5 25. Rh1 Kd7 26. Rh3 a2

27. f4 Rgg8 28. Kf3 Ra3 29. Bf2 Ba5 30. Rh7+ Kc6 31. Rhh1 Bc3 32. g4 Rf8 33. Rhc1 Bb2 34. Rd1 Bxa1

35. Rxa1 Rfa8 36. Bh4 Rb3 37. Bf6 Rb1 38. Bd4 Rxa1 39. Bxa1 Ra4 40. g5 Ra8 41. g6 Rg8 42. g7 Kc5

43. Ke2 Kxc4 44. Kd2 Kb3 45. Kc1 c5 46. e4 c4 47. f5 exf5 48. exf5 c3 49. f6 Re8 50. Kd1 c2+ 51. Kd2 Kc4

52. f7 Rd8 53. g8=Q Rxg8 54. fxg8=Q+ and White goes on to win quickly.