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.

Notes on the 2022 AGM

26th March 2022

We began by sadly noting the passing of several members: Paul Brookes, Arthur Greatrex, Stanley Lightowler, Bob Rathbun, and June Warren. The key points from the rest of the meeting were as follows.

Financial matters: Sadly, Linda Innes had felt compelled to stand down from the position of Fundraiser for personal reasons. We have now appointed a new fundraiser, Carl Concannon. The arrangement is somewhat different to the one we had with Julia Scott and Linda and involves us fielding more administration, but we will review matters in six months’ time. Meanwhile the accounts have now been formally examined and approved, and by the time you read this we should have submitted our annual return to the Charity Commission.

Website and information technology issues: games from email tournaments would appear on the website. Dan also proposed that our site feature a page listing members’ chess ratings. This would be updated each month in line with the ECF ratings system. We would try to get the page to list online grades as well.

Dan has done a huge amount of work tidying up the website and bringing it into line with worldwide web’s content accessibility guidelines. He also hopes to produce an application which will enable us to process pgn chessbooks from publishers like Everyman Chess much more conveniently than is the case at the moment.

Tournament issues: While there was no shortage of friendly games being played there was no real activity on the friendly ladder competition. It was decided the ladder competition should be discontinued; if there was sufficient demand it could be restarted.

There was some discussion of issues relating to the British Championship and the Chairman’s Cup. There was now a wish to separate the two again, running a championship one year and a Chairman’s Cup the next.

However, it was noted that numbers might not always justify this approach. In previous years quite a few players would have been excluded from the Chairman’s Cup because their grade was too high but at the moment it was only two or three players affected in that way which made excluding them feel much more awkward.

We couldn’t run the championship every year; this tournament had a bearing on selection for international events, meaning that the winner of the championship might be faced with playing for a week in our event and then very quickly being away for nearly two weeks at an international tournament.

It was decided that everyone should be invited to take part in a week-long tournament each year, but that the title of British Champion would be awarded only every two years. In the year when that title was not being contested, a trophy would be awarded to the highest placed competitor rated below 1650; another prize would be awarded to any player with a higher grade who won the event. The time controls might differ when the title of British Champion was being decided.

International issues: The International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) recently debated two motions tabled as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and Belarus. One would have prevented Russian and Belarusian players from competing in IBCA events; the second merely prohibited the participation of a Russian or Belarusian team and required players from Russia and Belarus to play as neutrals under the IBCA flag. The vote on the IBCA board was six votes for each motion, with the President casting his vote in favour of the milder second motion.

Almost everyone at the AGM felt this did not go far enough. Although the IBCA’s motion mirrored actions taken by other sporting organisations and there was no hostility to Russian or Belarusian individuals on the association’s part, nevertheless there was an almost unanimous vote to the effect we should not send any BCA representative to an IBCA event until the IBCA changed its policy.

Election of officers: All committee members were re-elected to their current posts with the exception of Dan Rugman who wished to stand down as Publicity Officer. Abi Baker was elected unopposed to the post. Tony Elbourn, Steve Hilton and Gerry Walsh were elected unopposed to the posts of Congress Support Officer, representative to Chess Scotland and representative to the English Chess Federation respectively.

Next AGM: We hadn’t decided yet whether to reincorporate the AGM back into the spring congress or not, but there was strong support for trying to run a hybrid AGM next year, i.e. an approach based on some people meeting face to face in a room with others joining online. The Information and Communications Technology Sub-committee will look into the details.

Guy Whitehouse