Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 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.

2021 TESSLa – Wrap Up!

Julie Leonard writes:

In the August gazette I reported on the first two months of our 2021 Telephone, Email, Skype Summer Ladder tournament, which got underway on the 10th of May. In addition to the platforms mentioned, players also used Zoom, Lichess and SMS texts to play their games. Eight points were awarded for a win, four for a draw and one for a loss. Players could also earn points by being a third-party timekeeper. In this event, players compete to try to get as high up the ladder as they can, while accruing points. There are ladder winners and points table winners in both the Open and the U1450 sections.

By the 13th of July, Malcolm Jones had passed the 200 points mark and Roger Williams was on the top rung of the ladder (known as Rung 1 in this competition), clinging on precariously, having lost the first game in a challenge from Steve Bailey. We were in suspense waiting to hear whether the highest rung would change hands!

Over the next week, Stan Lovell tried to take Rung 2 from Malcolm but the challenge ended honours even so there was no ladder move for either of them. Likewise, Mark Hague attempted to knock Steve Burnell off Rung 14 without success. Norman Andrews on the other hand, won his challenge against Bittor Ibanez and moved up to Rung 12, which put him in range to challenge Malcolm for Rung 2. Nene Clayton, Norman Wragg and Eleanor Tew also added to their scores that week by taking part in points only challenges. With only around three weeks of the competition left players were jostling for position on the ladder and trying to accrue as many points as they could. Every challenge was crucial!

On the 20th of July, Roger’s month-long reign at the top of the ladder came to an end. He’d valiantly fought off two challengers earlier in the event, but now Steve Bailey took over the coveted Rung 1 position. Voldi Gailans, who’d defended Rung 10 from an attack by Eamonn Casey, was the first to challenge the new ladder king! Colin Fisher had also gained altitude, defeating John Osborne to move up to Rung 6. Sadly, John now had a busy time ahead of him and a few things had cropped up for Roger so they both decided to withdraw at this point. We were sorry to lose two such fine competitors, but a three-month event is a huge commitment for anyone.

With two weeks to go, Mike Flood replaced Gill Smith on Rung 8, but had no time to rest before receiving a challenge from Eamonn. Mark Hague and Bittor each won a game in Bittor’s challenge for Rung 15, so there were no ladder moves for them. Bittor decided to aim a little higher by challenging Gill for Rung 10! Tony Lawton took Rung 13 from Eleanor and Steve Burnell moved up to Rung 4 after defeating Stan. Meanwhile, at the top of the ladder, Steve Bailey had already fought off a challenge from Voldi and was now facing Colin Fisher.

As we entered the last ten days of the competition, players were fighting with all their might to hold on to their rungs! Gill defended Rung 10 against Bittor, Alec Crombie defended Rung 3 from an attack by Richard Murphy and Steve Bailey retained his place at the top of the ladder after he and Colin won a game each in their challenge. Although time was running short, new challenges were still being issued. Colin took on Richard in an attempt to knock him off Rung 5 and Alec decided to go all out and try to take the top rung from Steve Bailey!

At the start of the final week Colin overpowered Richard and took Rung 5, but Tony was unsuccessful in his challenge against Steve Burnell for Rung 4. Our Irish friends were upwardly mobile, with Philip Doyle taking Rung 7 from Nene and Eamonn toppling Mike from Rung 8.

In the closing days of the 2021 TESSLa, Norman Andrews won a challenge against Malcolm to claim Rung 2. Malcolm was still enjoying a tremendous lead on the points table! In a long battle between two Johns, Mr Fullwood was the victor of a challenge with Mr Ramm and moved up to Rung 19. Bittor won his challenge with Tony and climbed to Rung 15.

One of the last challenges to finish was the critical one for the top Rung between Steve Bailey and last year's Ladder Champion, Alec. In a nail-biting finish, Alec narrowly won the challenge with a win and a draw so, with perfect timing, Alec moved up to take Rung 1, thereby defending his title. Many congratulations to Alec on becoming our 2021 TESSLa Ladder Champion!

Commiserations to Steve Bailey, who came so close to holding on, but it's not all bad news for Steve as he only dropped to Rung 3. On Rung 2 is Norman Andrews, who is deserving of an honorable mention because he had climbed up more rungs than any other competitor in this event. Sadly, there was no prize for that and Norman's rating is too high for him to qualify as a Challenger so we had to continue down the ladder to find our 2021 TESSLa Ladder Challengers winner - and it was Steve Bailey on Rung 3. Congratulations Steve!

Now to the points table. Firstly, very well done to Alec, the two Steves, Colin, Stan, Nene and Bittor, who all achieved scores in three figures but none of them were anywhere close to the huge 241 points amassed by last year's Points Champion, Malcolm Jones! He'd been top of the points table from the very early stages of this year's event and has finished an incredible 80 points clear of his nearest rival. Many congratulations to Malcolm on defending his title and becoming our 2021 TESSLa Points Champion!

Now we just need to find our 2021 TESSLa Points Challengers winner. In second place on the points table, with 161, is Steve Bailey. Well done Steve! However, as Steve has already got a Ladder award in this event, he is not eligible to win again. In third place on 144 is Stan, but Stan's rating is too high for him to be a challenger, so we move on. In fourth place on 143, is Nene, who does qualify! So congratulations to Nene on becoming our 2021 TESSLa Points Challengers winner!

The final ladder placings and scores are as set out below, with players in the U1450 section indicated by an asterisk after their name:


1Alec Crombie104

2Norman Andrews54

3Steve Bailey*161

4Steve Burnell123

5Colin Fisher119

6Richard Murphy62

7Malcolm Jones*241

8Philip Doyle60

9Eamonn Casey69

10Stan Lovell144

11Gill Smith*99

12Voldi Gailans*99

13Nene Clayton*143

14Mike Flood*52

15Bittor Ibanez*115

16Mark Hague*65

17Tony Lawton*64

18Eleanor Tew*16

19John Fullwood*26

20John Ramm*29

21Norman Wragg25

Controllers Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard once again warmly thank all the TESSLa competitors for their kind cooperation throughout this event. The spirit of friendship was evident throughout the 214 games played during the tournament! We particularly thank everyone who acted as a third-party timekeeper. The TESSLa would not have been such a success if people hadn’t been willing to give up their spare time to help others in this way. Special mentions go to Stan, Nene, Malcolm, Bittor and Mark, who all timed five or more games.