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.

Forthcoming Events

BCA TESSLa Monday 10th May to Sunday 8th August 2021

Following the unavoidable postponement of our over the board event this summer, we are holding another Telephone Email Skype Summer Ladder tournament - TESSLa for short! The 2020 TESSLa proved very popular and enabled members of all abilities to have fun playing as much chess as they wanted on any mutually convenient platform while remaining safe at home. Some people played half a dozen games, others got through over sixty!

The format will be broadly the same as last year. Players challenge each other in order to gain points or move up the ladder. However, the rules will be tweaked slightly, for example to recognise the contribution of third-party timekeepers. In single session games, players will have 75 minutes each for all moves. In games where moves are transmitted one at a time, players should make at least one move per game per day. Games will not be graded.

Last year, people played on Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp, as well as by telephone and email. This year Lichess is increasingly popular so will no doubt be used too. We anticipate that participants will be able to play on their preferred platform most of the time so don’t let the possibility of having to play a game or two on another platform deter you from entering. Hopefully, as many members as possible will join forces to prove that we won’t let coronavirus deprive us of our chess! It’s a great way to keep in touch with BCA friends and make some new ones.

The TESSLa positions and current scores will be published on our email user group at regular intervals and those without email can telephone the controller to get the latest news. The tournament will end at midnight on Sunday 8th August. There will be four TESSLa winners: The player on the top rung of the ladder, the player with the highest number of game points, the highest placed player with an ECF rating 1450 or less and the player with an ECF rating of 1450 or less who has accumulated the highest number of points.

The tournament is open to all members of the BCA, including associate and overseas members. To enter, please contact the controller, Gerry Walsh, and provide the following information:

- Your preferred platform

- Contact details for all platforms that you can use. (Please be as flexible as possible so that this event is as inclusive as we can make it! For example, it would normally be expected that people who prefer email would also be able to play by telephone and that people who prefer Skype would be able to use email or telephone as well, though this may not always be the case.)

- Your rating or estimated playing strength.

By entering this event participants are deemed to have consented for the controller to give their contact details to all other participants. The deadline for entries is Saturday 8th May. Players may join the event after it has started and anyone doing so will be placed on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Alternative BCA British Championship and Chairman’s Cup: Saturday 21st August - Saturday 2nd October

Following the cancellations of last summer’s Chairman’s Cup, and this year’s combined British Championship and Chairman’s Cup, we are following on from recent tournaments by holding this year’s combined event by telephone, Skype, or other internet based platform. Telephone will be the default method of play.

The tournament will run over six weeks, with one round per week at a mutually agreed time between both players. Players will be able to take either one or two byes if they wish in round one to five, and will be able to arrange this at fairly short notice.

The tournament will be open to all members and associate members of the BCA. The title of BCA British Champion will be awarded to the highest placed visually impaired UK player. The Chairman’s Cup will be awarded to the highest placed member or associate member whose most recent published grade is 1750 or below (equivalent to 140 or below under the old ECF grading system). Depending on the entries, we may be able to incorporate a Challengers’ section. Whether or not this is possible, the tournament will be a friendly and fairly informal event and we would urge as many members and associate members to “have a go” regardless of their playing strength. Games will not be sent for grading.

Please let Gill Smith have your entry by Saturday 7th August, giving full contact details and which playing platforms you are able to use. By entering this tournament, you are deemed to have consented to sharing your relevant contact details with all participants and the arbiters. The arbiters will be Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard.

15th to 17th October 2021: International Autumn Tournament.

This will take place at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. We are pleased to be returning to this popular hotel with its excellent facilities. The hotel is located close to the town centre, and a short taxi ride from the railway station. Naturally, we are hoping that the event can go ahead as planned but there can be no certainty and members are advised to check with a committee member before making a booking.

There will be two five round chess tournaments. The Open section is open to all visually impaired chess players both from the UK and overseas and to associate members of the BCA. The Challengers section is limited to those graded 1450 or below. The entry fee for both tournaments is £10. The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast for members and associate members is £45 per person per night for Friday and Saturday nights for those sharing a double/twin room and £47 per person per night in a single room. For members and associate members staying on the Sunday night, the cost will be £60 per person sharing a double/twin room and £69 per person in a single room. For prices for non-members, please contact the organiser. Car drivers need to note please that there is a £10 charge per day for parking.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 10th September 2021. Please send your entry fee and full payment for all accommodation to Gill Smith by this date. Organiser Voldi Gailans. Queries about the tournament should be sent to Voldi. Please see the list of BCA Officers for contact details.

Sunday 30th January to Sunday 6th February 2022: 28th Chess Theme Break.

This week-long event provides coaching, a friendly rapid-play tournament as well as a wide range of entertainment. It will be held at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth. More details to follow.

Booking Conditions and Procedures.

By entering a BCA tournament, a player is deemed to have consented for their name and any special requirements to be passed to the hotel prior to the event. Also, consent is considered to have been given for a player’s name, club, results and possibly also their gender to be sent to the ECF for grading purposes. For juniors, their date of birth is also required if they are to get the age-related grading bonus they are entitled to.

If you have any queries about the hotel or the tournament please contact the organiser.

Blind and partially sighted UK residents under the age of 25 receive free entry and free accommodation when playing in BCA events. In appropriate circumstances, free accommodation is also available to a parent or guardian accompanying a junior.

Visually impaired UK residents in their first year of membership receive their first BCA weekend event free or £100 reduction in the cost of a week-long event. They may also be accompanied by a guide or companion who will receive the same concession. For a first event we ask for payment in advance and we then make a refund at the event.

You may pay in these ways:

Cheques payable to Braille Chess Association should be sent to Gill Smith, see the front of the Gazette for her address.

Online or telephone payments may be made to:

Account name: Braille Chess Association, sort code: 40 52 40, account number: 00082456.

If you pay by direct payment then you should inform Gill when the payment has been made.

Bookings accepted after the closing date are subject to a £10 late booking penalty for each person. Late bookings and entries are accepted at the discretion of the organiser.

Bookings are confirmed when full payment has been received. Payments can only be refunded within the time limit set in the terms and conditions set by the hotels. Members are advised to take out holiday insurance to cover themselves.

When making your booking please let the organiser know if you want a single, double or twin room and if you have a preference for a bath or a shower. And remember, if emailing the tournament organiser, copy in Gill so she can look out for your payment and let you know when it has been received. Gill will always confirm receipt of any payment.

Also say if any of the following apply.

1 If you will be bringing a guide dog;

2 If you are on a special diet;

3 If you have mobility problems and would benefit from being located in a room near to a lift;

4 If you are a wheelchair user;

5 If you feel you would have any special difficulties in an emergency such as a fire evacuation;

6 Any other special requirements.

The BCA reserves the right to refuse or cancel any entry or to exclude any person from any event it runs.