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.

Remote Spring Tournament, 19th to 21st March 2021

Richard Murphy writes:

“Unto the place of Turneyment” E. SPENSER Second Pt. Faerie Queene IV. iv. 13; (1596)

This weekend event was arranged after the AGM congress was postponed because of the pandemic. Fifteen tournamenteers journeyed “unto the place of turneyment”; in my case, the kitchen table. Five rounds were played by telephone, Skype or other internet-based platform as agreed between the players. Each player had 90 minutes for the game, the clock being operated by White unless otherwise agreed.

As with the Alternative Autumn Tournament, ELO grades were used, but a new scoring system was employed: 8 points for a win, 4 for a draw, and 1 for a loss, so no-one emerged empty-handed. Up to two optional 4 point byes were permitted.

Here are the players, with their ELO or estimated ELO grades. Paul Benson (1930); Steve Hilton (1696); Steve Burnell (1818); Norman Wragg (1713); Stan Lovell (1615); Richard Murphy (1615), Steve Thacker (1450), Malcolm Jones (1315); Mahendra Galani (1336); Voldi Gailans (1285); Bittor Ibanez (1263); Steve Bailey (1180), Gill Smith (1083); Tony Lawton (1060); Simon Highsmith (1050). All competed in the on event, but there was a Challengers Prize for the highest-placed player graded 1450 or below.

Round 1 confirmed that lethal weapons were employed, with no draws. The victors were Paul (W), Norman (W), Steve Hilton (B), Stan (W), Richard (B), and Steve Thacker (W) against Malcolm, Voldi, Steve Bailey, Gill, Tony, and Simon, respectively. Steve Burnell and Mahendra received full (8-point) byes, while Bittor took a 4-point (requested) bye.

In Round 2 also, no mercy was shown. Paul (B), Steve Burnell (W), Steve Hilton (W), and Stan (B) maintained perfect scores (16 points) by unhorsing Richard, Tony, Mahendra, and Bittor, respectively. Steve Bailey and Simon scored their first wins against Malcolm and Voldi. There was a full bye for Gill and a requested bye for Norman. Sadly, Steve Thacker was unable to play in Round 2 and withdrew from the lists for health reasons.

Round 3 witnessed verily hard-fought draws on Board 1 ‘twixt Paul (W) and Steve Hilton, and Board 2 ‘twixt Stan (W) and Steve Burnell. Norman joined the leaders (each on 20 points) by winning with Black against Mahendra. Richard (B) had a lucky escape against Gill while Steve Bailey (B) overcame Simon, leaving both winners on 17 points and Steve also leading the Challengers. Bittor and Malcolm won with Black against Voldi and Tony, respectively. Other scores after Round 3: Bittor – 13; Mahendra, Malcolm, Gill, and Simon – 10; Tony and Voldi – 3.

In Round 4, Bittor defeated Steve Bailey with Black, and Simon beat Gill with White. The jousts between Steve Burnell and Paul, Richard and Stan, Malcolm and Mahendra, and Tony versus Voldi were drawn, while Steve Hilton and Norman requested byes. So with one round to go, five players shared the lead on 24 points: Paul, Steve Burnell, Steve Hilton, Norman, and Stan. Bittor now led the quest for the Challengers’ trophy.

In the final battles, Paul (W) edged out Stan on Board 1. Honours were even ‘twixt Richard and Norman, and ‘twixt Steve Hilton and Steve Burnell. All other games were decisive: Bittor (W) and Gill (W) defeated Simon and Tony, respectively; Steve Bailey (B) and Malcom (B) won against Mahendra and Voldi.

Here are the final standings at the end of the “ordeals by chess”.

Paul Benson: the overall winner with 32 points

Bittor Ibanez: second place and winner of the Challengers with 29.

Steve Hilton, Steve Burnell and Norman: joint third with 28.

Steve Bailey: 26

Stan and Richard: 25

Malcolm: 22

Gill and Simon: 19

Mahendra: 15

Voldi and Tony: 8; Steve Thacker also scored 8 points before reluctantly withdrawing.

Congratulations to Paul and Bittor on their fine performances.

Thanks to Julie and Gerry for their hard work running the event, sending out the results and pairings, taking calls from the players, and to Gill for collating the entries. All three demonstrated their ability to multi-task: Gerry completed his census return; Julie put some laundry on and attempted to bake bread, but had to abandon the loaf when a game needed assistance; Gill handled her set, clock, and cat together. Julie and Gerry smoothly handled the very few hiccups that arose, and all games were played in excellent spirit.

When we think of chess, tournaments, or especially chess tournaments, we think of Knights. With two sets per game and four Knights per set, 256 valiant Knights fought for the honour and glory of their liege lord or lady. I suppose most were slaughtered; but they will rise again at our next turneyment.

Note: “Turneyment” and “tournamenteers” are real words in the Oxford English Dictionary!

Editor’s note: Paul Benson is going to provide us with an annotated game from this event for the August gazette!