Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - May 2022

Sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation
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.

28th Chess Theme Break 2022

The 28th Chess Theme Break in memory of Antoine Reeves was held from 30th January to 8th February 2022. The previous Theme Break was held at the Windermere Manor Hotel just prior to the Covid 19 restrictions coming into force. The new venue was the very comfortable hotel, Marsham Court, Bournemouth.

Julie Leonard and Gerry Walsh intended to run the event but sadly Gerry found he was unable to attend in person. However, he was able to give Julie support online. Nevertheless, Julie was in the circumstances kept very busy both with preparations for the event and organising chess and social events during the week.

There were five chess trainees and Colin Chambers and Gerry were coaches. Gerry gave his training via video link. Eight other members completed the group and Gill Smith, Freya Smith and Tanvi Muir joined us mid-week.

All our activities took place in a large room called the “Bit on the Side”, where, on the first evening, we enjoyed a Bucks Fizz reception prior to the welcome meeting.

Chess training took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Well done to Colin and Gerry, and also the trainees for all the hard work that was put into those sessions!

Later in the week a mini tournament was held. An all-play-all handicap competition was prepared by Peter Gibbs. After hard-fought games George Phillips was the victor. On looking at my records I discovered that George has now won the event on nine occasions, once sharing the honour with Steve Thacker.

The final chess activity of the week was a simultaneous display given by local player Christian Westrap, who defeated all the opposition.

One afternoon Antoine's tea party was held where we all enjoyed a slice of cake and a cup of tea. This was paid out of the money that Antoine's family had kindly donated. Several of our group shared memories of Antoine which was very moving. This was followed by music Antoine had played and loved, provided by the wonderful team of musicians in our group. Beatles songs were sung and ‘Twonnie’ was remembered with love.

After dinner one evening Julie posed a very challenging quiz based on Twonnie’s interests and I organised a general knowledge quiz on another evening. A Sax and Piano Jazz Duo entertained us too.

During the week we were able to visit the Russell-Cotes Museum which was directly opposite our hotel, where some were able to go on a Tactile Tour of some of the artefacts, and also to enjoy a light lunch in the museum's cafe. On the day free of chess our group visited by minibus, Monkey World where they were able to see the animals at close quarters through glass screens and later visit the gift shop and cafe.

On Friday evening we enjoyed our usual soirée compered by Joan Shorrock. Many people offered contributions and our musicians were much in evidence. We also found a new star - Richard Harrington - who sang an Elvis Presley number - Can't Help Falling in Love with You. A completely brilliant evening!

Prize giving took place on the last evening. George received the Peter and Celia Gibbs trophy for the 28th Theme Break chess competition. Peter received his trophy for winning the last BCA Email Event and also the trophy for the Best Game Prize played in 2021, which had been judged by David Mabbs.

A thoroughly enjoyable week! The friendliness amongst the group was apparent and all pulled together to make the event a success. Julie in particular deserves our great thanks for all her hard work. The staff at Marsham Court were all so kind and helpful too.

Celia Gibbs