12th I.B.C.A Olympiad 2004

12th I.B.C.A. Olympiad - Tarragona 2004

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From 2-13 November 2004, the B.C.A. squad went to Spain to compete in the 12th International Braille Chess Association (IB.C.A.) Olympiad. Held at the Hotel Palas Pineda, Tarragona, this is the top international event for teams of visually handicapped chess players.

Our players were:

1 Graham Lilley (St Helens)

2 Colin Chambers (Cheltenham) (Captain)

3 Bill Armstrong (Leek)

4 Les Whittle (Morpeth)

5 Norman Wragg (Sheffield)

The team was supported by trainer Julie Leonard and guides Barbara Chambers, Geoff Ward, Moira Whittle and Pauline Wragg. Besides helping with pre-match preparation and looking after team interests in many ways, they provided a great deal of encouragement.

The Olympiad consisted of 9 rounds. Four members of the squad played in each match so that players could rest once in a while. As in all IB.C.A. events the matches were played under strict tournament conditions, identical to those for sighted players apart from essential modifications to the sets and clocks. The B.C.A. team faced opponents from all over the World including teams from former Soviet republics where chess has had far more state support than in the UK.

After a 1-3 defeat to Spain (the home team) in Round 1, the B.C.A. bounced back to beat Switzerland by the same score. In Rounds 3 and 4 we lost 1-3 to strong teams from Macedonia and then Turkmenistan. In Round 5 we beat South Africa 4-0, but lost by the same margin to Kazakhstan the following day. After losing to France 1.5-2.5 in Round 7, we put on a strong finish to beat Norway 3-1 in Round 8 and Greece 3.5-0.5 in Round 9.

Overall, the team scored 18 points from 36 and this placed us joint 15th to 18th. We were seeded 22nd, so we finished above our station! Individual scores:

1 Graham 4.5 from 9

2 Colin 2 from 6

3 Bill 4 from 8

4 Les 6 from 8

5 Norman 1.5 from 5

All players made an important contribution, but special credit goes to Graham and Les. Graham played in every match and scored 50% against top-class opponents. Les won the silver medal on board 4. This means he achieved the second highest score on his board.

Pauline and Norman attended the IB.C.A. congress on our behalf - this lasted 6 hours! As a result of a presentation by the B.C.A. at this Congress, the B.C.A. was awarded the right to host the European Individual Championship for the Blind in 2007.

There was an excellent party spirit and, despite all the stresses and strains of a major chess tournament, all the squad came home good friends.

Richard Murphy
B.C.A. Publicity Officer
Monday 29th November 2004

Picture from the tournament













B.C.A. 2002 - 2005