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.

Gerry’s Chess Career: My First BCA Championship

Gerry Walsh writes:

So when Hastings finished I returned home thinking that was another chess tournament to add to my CV and I wouldn’t hear from the BCA again for some time, if ever. How wrong can you be! Before the end of the year I had a phone call from maybe Jack Horrocks or Sean O’Brien explaining a problem for the BCA. The person who had been controlling BCA championships for a number of years had suddenly resigned. He thought he should have been chief arbiter at Hastings and would not even consider being an assistant to Harry Golombek.

The next BCA Championship was booked for the Summer of 1983 in Doncaster College and an arbiter needed to be appointed rather quickly. So, I agreed to do the event.

We all seemed to arrive at lunchtime on the Saturday and were allocated our rooms in the residential blocks. After dinner we ventured to the playing room for round one of seven. As I recall, it went well. However, with just one game left I was faced with a delegation of players whose games had finished. They were protesting that the bar was not open. I stressed that, although I had a lot of sympathy with their plight, my immediate priority was the Championship. When the last game concluded I turned my attention to the bar and it was indeed shut. There was no sign of it opening any time soon as it was turned 10pm. I decided that my best option was to go in search of a pub and get some cans.

The College was very much on the outskirts of Doncaster thus there were no shops or pubs in the vicinity. So off I went driving through the dark lanes of the Doncaster countryside until, lo and behold, I come across an oasis with lots of lights and music and of course alcohol. It was nearly 10.30 pm and that was the normal time for pubs to close their doors, but I managed to park up and get to the counter to be served. “What would you like?”, asked the barman.

My reply shook him just a bit. “A hundred cans to take away, please!” He sent for the boss, who questioned my sanity. “Look,” I said to him, “I have forty blind chess players up at the college dying of thirst because some lunatic has not opened our bar.”

A call came from the end of the bar, “Don’t you call me a lunatic!” He went on to explain that he was the barman in question and told me we would get our bar on the Sunday and rest of the week. “That’s fine then but what about tonight?” The boss said he didn’t have a hundred cans, only bottles. “That will do!” I said. I loaded four crates of 24 bottles into the boot of my car then drove back down the lanes and into the college grounds, where my headlights picked out the BCA membership who were thinking maybe I had deserted them.

Then I tell the troops that there were no cans only bottles, but never mind I recall that my belt doubled up as a bottle opener and all was well. Each and every bottle was consumed and the next morning I took the empties back so I could retrieve my £80 deposit. Henceforth the bar was open and we were entertained to some rather fabulous jazz from a group of young musicians. I invite Stan to comment further.

The championship continued throughout the week and Bill Armstrong, playing in his first BCA event, came out the winner. After that, BCA Championships became a regular feature on my calendar, taking place every two years.

I have gone back to Hastings 1982 for a game, and it is by Michael Keane from Ireland. I think there were four or five people with Michael. One night I heard them in the bar having a heated discussion about the quality of cigars in Hastings. The car driver had spent some time scouring Hastings for a decent tobacconist but to no avail and Michael was not impressed. I then heard him say “There must be a supply of decent cigars because the lady who served my tea gave me an excellent cigar during the game!’’ In those days players were able to smoke at the board. The lady serving the tea was actually my mother. When she asked Michael what he wanted he requested a jug of cold water with ice, a cup of tea and a decent cigar, “if there is such a thing in this godforsaken town”. Mam was able to get the first two items and came to me for the third because in those days I was a cigar smoker. I watched as Mam delivered the water and the tea and saw Michael’s sad face, thinking there was no cigar. After a pause, Mam put the cigar into his hand and a big smile resulted. So, to calm down the discussion in the bar I handed over another cigar and told the driver where the tobacconist was on the outskirts of Hastings.

Free (New Zealand) v Keane (Ireland) French

1 e4 e6, 2 d4 d5, 3 Nc3 Bb4, 4 Bd2 dxe4, 5 Qg4 Qxd4, 6 0-0-0 Nf6, 7 Qxg7 Rg8, 8 Qh6 Rg6, 9 Qh4 Rg4,

10 Qh6 Qxf2, 11 Bg5 Bxc3, 12 bxc3 Nbd7, 13 Nh3 Qf5, 14 Be2 Rxg2, 15 Rdf1 Qe5, 16 Bxf6 Nxf6,

17 Qxf6 Qxf6, 18 Rxf6 Rxe2, 19 Ng5 e3, 20 Nxf7 Rf2, 21 Rxf2 exf2, 22 Ne5 Bd7, 23 Rf1 Ke7, 24 Rxf2 Be8,

25 Rf4 Bg6, 26 Nc4 Rf8, 27 Rh4 Rf2, 28 Nd2 e5, 29 Kd1 Ke6, 30 c4 c5, 31 c3 b6, 32 a3 Kf6, 33 Rh3 Bf5,

34 Rh6+ Kg5, 35 Rc6 Bg4+, 36 Ke1 Re2+, 37 Kd1 Rxh2+, 38 Ke1 Rh6, 39 Rd6 Rxd6, White resigns