13th I.B.C.A. Olympiad, Heraklion 2008

The International Braille Chess Association (I.B.C.A.) 13th chess Olympiad for blind and visually impaired players took place from 18th – 29th October 2008 in the beautiful city of Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete. The tournament consisted of 9 rounds, with a rest day on Friday 24th. The final round occurred on Tuesday 28th with a wonderful closing ceremony on the evening.

32 countries participated in this Olympiad and the United Kingdom team were seeded 8th. The UK team consisted of: 1. IM Colin Crouch (2359), 2. Chris Ross (2172) [captain], 3. Graham Lilley (2115), 4. Stephen Hilton (1907) and 5. Bill Armstrong (1964) [reserve].

Grandmaster Neil McDonald and International Master Chris Beaumont accompanied the UK team and provided magnificent and salient assistance during the tournament, providing indepth constructive pre-match preparation and instructive post-mortem analysis.

Naturally, Russia played former World champions Sergey Krylov and Sergei Smirnov, as well as the current Champion Vladimir Berlinsky and were seeded number 1. Ukraine came a very close 2nd seed with the current women’s World Champion Lubov Zsiltzova-Lisenko. Other strong competitors were Poland, Germany, Spain, Serbia and Lithuania.

United Kingdom got off to a flying start with 2 excellent wins over The Netherlands in round 1 and Finland in round 2. Having bagged 2 wins out of two (the tournament was ran on match-points, not game points), we were already in the lead, joint 1st with a few other countries.

Round 3 saw us pitted against Serbia, who were seeded number 3 in the tournament. After a long and tense match, Hilton lost on board 4 and Lilley got a credible draw on board 3. It was therefore up to the top two boards to pull something out. Ross had an excellent attacking game (see below) and left it up to his top board to bring the bacon home for the team, which he duly did with some excellent positional play.

Round 4 placed us against the number 2 seed, Ukraine, who heavily outgraded us on all boards apart from 1. Lilley dropped a pawn in the opening and was slowly ground out by Zsiltzova on board 3. Hilton achieved a credible draw on board 4 and Crouch played another excellent positional game on board 1 to clinch the win.

The match therefore turned to board 2, UK team playing Russiawhere the UK’s captain was in trouble, an exchange down playing a much stronger player.

But with a tactical flourish, great piece activity and with time pressure becoming a vital factor, Chris Ross pulled out the win of the tournament for the UK and a famous victory was incredibly accomplished.

This astounding result meant the UK were in joint lead of the Olympiad with Russia, both having 8 match points. The clash was inevitable and round 5 saw the crunch tie.

Once again, the UK were seriously outgraded and although each individual put up a stubborn and hard-fought game, Russia came home with 3-1 winners.

After this, the rest day slowed the UK’s momentum and the following 2 rounds saw us pitted against Germany and Spain, who were also favourites for a top 3 place. Our loss against Germany was slightly unfortunate, as Crouch was unexpectedly outplayed, suffering his one and only loss of the tournament. His opponent, Oliver Müller, eventually won the gold medal for board 1.

In round 7 we came across Spain and again two excellent wins on the first two boards saw us secure a deserved 2-2 draw. Another 2-2 draw against Lithuania was the conclusion of round 8, although Crouch was pushing, with the exchange up for most of the game.

The final round saw us against the Czech Republic and once again, another hard-fought draw was attained.

In total, the United Kingdom got 11 match points, 4 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses.

This placed us in 6th place, two places better than our ranking and equalling our ever-best achievements at a top international event.

The top 16 teams of the tournament qualify for the I.B.C.A. World cup, which is projected to take place in Azerbaijan in 2009. The United Kingdom’s principal objective was to qualify for this prestigious event. As you can tell, we are categorically delighted to have procured such an illustrious achievement. All members of the squad, coaching staff and travelling support all aided spectacularly in making this one of the most meritorious accomplishments an UK team has acquired.

Click here to download the games from the Olympiad.


1st Russia 17.
2nd Ukraine 13.
3rd Spain 13.
4th Poland 13.
5th Germany 12.
6th UK 11.

Individual scores of the UK team: Colin Crouch being awarded silver medal

1. IM Colin Crouch 6.5/9 (silver medal)
2. Chris Ross 6/9 (7th place).
3. Graham Lilley 2.5/8 .
4. Stephen Hilton 2.5/6.
5. Bill Armstrong 1.5/4.

Many congratulations to IM Colin Crouch for obtaining 6.5/9 and winning the silver medal for board 1! With his 72% performance and Ross’ 66% performance, the UK team had an excellent pair of leaders.

Crouch’s attainment of the silver medal must be regarded in the highest esteem. Individuals have won medals before for the United Kingdom, but achieving this on board 1 is an outstanding accomplishment and rivalled by no other UK player.

UK Results

Round 1. United Kingdom 3-1 Netherlands.
Round 2. Finland 1.5 - 2.5 United Kingdom.
Round 3. Serbia 1.5 – 2.5 United Kingdom.
Round 4. United Kingdom 2.5 - 1.5 Ukraine.
Round 5. Russia 3 - 1 United Kingdom.
Round 6. Germany 2.5 - 1.5 United Kingdom.
Round 7. United Kingdom 2 - 2 Spain.
Round 8. Lithuania 2 - 2 United Kingdom.
Round 9. United Kingdom 2 - 2 Czech Republic.


The Braille Chess Association would like to extend their grateful thanks to Winton Capital Management and to The Geoff and Fiona Squire Foundation, who gave the UK team generous support. Without such generosity from our sponsors, the team would have not have been so well prepared and assisted during the event.

 "Winton" is spelt out in Braille on the shirt.

"Winton" is spelt out in Braille on the shirt.

For any further information, to view individual results and for game downloads, please visit the B.C.A. website.

[Event "13th IBCA Olympiad 2008"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Ross, Chris"]
[Black "Avram, Sretko"]
[WhiteElo "2172"]
[BlackElo "2320"]
[Annotator "Chris Ross"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[WhiteTeam "United Kingdom"]
[BlackTeam "Serbia"]
{D11: Slav Defence}
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3 Nbd7 6. O-O dxc4
{Black concedes the centre very quickly. He is trying to transpose into variations of the Queen's Gambit, but there is a subtle difference in that the white queen's knight is still at home and has the option of hopping into d2 and not c3, where it is likely to be kicked with b7-b5-b4 ideas.
This is actually quite an important difference, that will come back to haunt black.
he should continue in true Slav fashion and play Bd6, o-o and attempt to get e6-e5 in as soon as possible.}
7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. a4 Bb7 10. Qe2 Be7
{Black is now starting to realise that his position is actually very passive. Unless he can break with c6-c5, the black set-up is completely pointless.
Since the white knight has remained at home for the moment, tempo-gaining b5-b4 moves aren't on. The b5 pawn is therefore left en prise and black can't equalise with c6-c5 without dropping an important pawn on b5.}
11. Nbd2 b4
{an ugly positional move, but what else is black meant to do if he is to get developed and make that bishop on b7 have any purpose at all?
Taking on a4 is another ugly option but if black is to get c5 in, then the state of the b5 pawn must be resolved.
Pushing it though frees up the c4 square (another additional asset to the knight's development on d2) and the light-squares become even weaker.}
12. e4
{In true classical style, white reacts in the centre to a flank advance. The white attack now begins in earnest as the bishops become open and the white pieces are headed dangerously towards the black king-side.}
12... c5
{Black must react. If there is no counter-play, then he will simply get squished and murdered on the king-side in short shrift.}
13. e5 Nd5 14. Nc4
{Deciding that the critical line of 14. Ne4 cxd4 15. Neg5 was a bit risky, but in fact, it's probably white's best try. Naturally, taking back on d4 is an option, but white is not pushing black as he ought to be doing so.
The idea of bringing the knight into c4, was to pressure e5 and over protect it, and have an eye out on the queen-side, trying to play on all sides of the board. White's set-up is aimed at the king-side and for that reason alone, 14. Ne4 must be the strategically correct move.
14. Ne4 cxd4 15. Neg5 Nc5 16. Nxh7 Nb3 17. Bd2 Nxa1 18. Rxa1 Qb6 19. Nfg5 Bxg5 20. Nxg5 Rc8 21. Qg4 Qc6 22.
h4 Ne7 23. Nf3 Qd5 24. Re1 Qb3 25. Be4 Bxe4 26. Rxe4 Qxb2 27. Rxd4 Qa1+ 28. Kh2
b3 Dzhakaev,D (2415)-Gorkavij,V (2290)/Krasnodar 1998/EXT 2000/1-0 (34)}
14... cxd4 15. Nxd4 Nc5 16. Bc2 O-O
{castling into the attack, but where else is the black king meant to hide?
White now gathers forces and lashes out with an attack which black will find difficult to hold off.}
17. Rd1 Qc7 18. Qg4
{Bringing the queen into the attack.
The pawn on e5 carves the black defense in two and the pawn structure in front of the black king must be breeched soon. Threats of Bh6 or Qh3 and attacks on h7 must force a pawn weakness in the next few moves.}
18... g6
{A passive breech of the pawn barrier. If black feels it necessary to weaken himself and is unable to maintain complete pawn coverage, he should break it actively.
18... f5 19. exf6 Nxf6 and black may have something along the open D and F files.}
19. Bh6 Rfc8 20. Rac1
{Mobilising the last white piece. Now, all of the white pieces are beautifully centralised, active and on their best squares. The a4 pawn is of no consequence and the bishop and knight on the C file are no longer left hanging (due to Bxg6 tactics).
Black is now struggling for any active plan. The black queen is finding it difficult to find a secure square and the king-side is poised to erupt. Perhaps black is already in a critical position?}
20... Qd7 21. Na5
{Demonstrating that white has control across the board.
The immediate tactics prevent black from stealing the A4 pawn, as the bishop on b7 would be left hanging.
Also, the positional idea of Nxb7 is on and b4-b3 pawn sacks just simply allow white to recapture with the knight now, thereby not deflecting the bishop on c2.}
21... Rab8 22. h4
{Now the attack comes. White clears the back rank and threatens to loosen the king's pawn chain shelter with h4-h5.
it's very hard now to find an adequate defence. The attack is simply coming too quick.}
22... Bf8 23. Bxf8 Kxf8 24. h5 Ba8
{Black hasn't got time for luxuries such as this. Yes, he wants to keep the bishop pair and that wonderful bishop, but he just hasn't got the time.
24... b3 had to be played, even if it does give up a pawn. Rb4 could be annoying for white then at some point.}
25. Qg5
{With the dark-squared bishops having been exchanged, the queen naturally belongs on a dark-square.
The dark-squares around the king-side are particularly sensitive and the h7 pawn is especially vulnerable to attack.}
25... Kg7 26. Nc4
{Bringing the knight back into the attack.
This quiet regrouping demonstrates perfectly that black is completely tied down and can do nothing about his inevitable demise.
This knight is now headed for d6 or if needbe, to e3, to remove the defender of the f6 square. Simple deflection of a defender is it's simple objective.}
26... Qe7 27. Qg3
{White has many ways to play this.
He can exchange queens and get a wonderful end-game.
He can retreat to g4 and maintain a steady plus.
But the positional aspect of keeping the queen on the same coloured square to that of the exchanged bishop makes sense.
The king-side attack is still prolific.}
27... Nd7?
{naturally, the final blunder by black. The tension of the game and the match-score (UK were 1.5-0.5 up at this point), and the task of having to defend during the whole game came to bear on my opponent.}
28. Nd6
{With the threat of either knight to f5 winning the black queen. Black can not meet all of the threats.}
27... Qf8 29. hxg6 Rxc2
{as good as resigning. Obviously, 29... hxg6 30. nxe6+! fxe6 31. Qxg6+ Kh8 32. Qh7# is rather aesthetical.}
30. N4f5+ exf5 31. Nxf5+ Kg8 32. g7 1-0

[Event "13th IBCA Olympiad 2008"]
[Round "1.4"]
[White " Couwenberg,Pietr"]
[Black "Hilton, Stephen"]
[Annotator "Steve Hilton"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[WhiteTeam "The Netherlands"]
[BlackTeam " United Kingdom"]
{B97: Sicilian Nadjorf: Poisoned Pawn}
1. e4 c5
{It is very difficult to prepare for an opponent where you have no information about the player. My opponent was unrated and we found no previous games by him to prepare extensively for the match.}
2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6
{Oddly enough my coach and I had only discussed very briefly what my opponent would play and therefore we had decided that I would play the Sicilian.
I wanted to play this line but we were never sure what to expect.}
8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Rb3?!
{The critical lines for black to face are lines with 10. e5 and 10. f5. 10. Rb3 simply does not seem right to me in this line as it allows black to go back to a5 with the queen.
10. F5 was played by Radjabov against Ye in the 36th Chess Olympiad 2006 in Calvia Spain. The game went on 10 ...Nc6 11. fxe6 fxe6 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. e5 dxe5 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. Be2 h5 17. Rf1 Qxa2 18. Rd1 Qd5 19. Qe3 Qa5+ 20. c3 f5 21. Qg3 Kf8 22. Qg6 Qa4 23. Rf3 Ra7 24. Rg3 Bh4 25. Ng5 Bxg3+ 26. hxg3 Qa5 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. Rd8+ Qxd8 29. Qxd8+ Kg7 30. Qd6 1-0}
10... Qa5 11. Be2 Nc6 12. Bxf6?!
{Needlessly giving up the bishop pair to shatter the black pawn structure. But the black king is perfectly safe in the centre and may even run across to the queen-side if his own king-side attack comes quickly enough.
However, by exchanging this bishop, the black squares in the white camp are fatally weak and especially the a7-g1 diagonal. 12. nxc6 or 12. nf3 had to be preferred.
In either case, it looks as though black has successfully stolen the B2 pawn and is destined to keep it without white getting any significant compensation for the invested material.}
12...gxf6 13. 0–0??
{An inexplicable blunder.
Having given up the dark-squared bishop, white had to be especially careful of tactics along any exposed diagonal. Castling and placing the king on the open a7-g1 diagonal was bound to stumble into tactics.
12. Nf3 was probably his best effort, but finding an adequate defence is difficult now.}
12… Qc5
{Winning the pinned knight on d4 and effectively the game. White could resign now with a clear conscience.}
14. Kh1 Qxd4 15. Rd1 Qxd2 16. Rxd2 Be7 17. f5 Ne5 18. Na4 b5 19. Nb2 Bb7 20. fxe6 fxe6 21. Bh5+ Kf8 22. Re2 Rg8 23. c4 Rg5 24. Bf3 Bc6 25. cxb5 axb5 26. h4 Rg6 27. Nd3 Nxf3 28. gxf3 Rg3 29. Nf4 Kf7 30. Kh2 Rgg8 31. Rbe3 e5 32. Nd5 Bxd5 33. exd5 Ra4 34. Kh3 f5 0-1

[Event "13th IBCA Olympiad 2008"]
[Round "9.4"]
[White "Sereda, Josef"]
[Black "Armstrong, William"]
[Annotator "Bill Armstrong"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[WhiteTeam "Czech Republic"]
[BlackTeam " United Kingdom"]
{B34: Sicilian Dragon}
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. d4 cXd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. Be3 d6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. Bd3 Ng4 9. Nde2 Nxe3 10. Qxe3 0-0 11. 0-0 Nb4 12. a3 Nxd3 13. cxd3
{Having exchanged his knights for white's bishops, Black now has good
chances. I needed to play aggressively but with some care to deny White counter
play. This is easier from the sidelines than from a seat at the table. Especially
if, as here, the team's final placing is at stake!}
13 ...f5 14. Rac1 f4 16. Qd2 f3 17. Ng3 fxg2 18. Kxg2
{Choosing the right option here was a bit tricky.}
18 ...Qd7 19. Nd5 Qh3+ 20. Kg1 Bh6 21. f4 e5 22. Rc7 Be6 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Qc3 Rxf4 25. Rxf4 Bxf4 26. d4 Rf8 27. Qd3 exd4 28. Qxd4+ Be5 29. Qd3 Bg4 30. Rc2 Bf3
31 0-1
{31. nf1 Qg4+ 32. Kf2 Be2+ is curtains for white.}

Click here to visit the official I.B.C.A. 13th Olympiad website


Round 1

United Kingdom 3-1 Netherlands

White on board 1.

1. Colin Crouch (2359) 1-0 Rick Van Loy (1997)
2. Louis Van Duuren (unrated) 1/2-1/2 Chris Ross (2172)
3. Graham Lilley (2115) /12-1/2 Sergio Harnandan (unrated)
4. Pieter Couwenberg (unrated) 0-1 Stephen Hilton (1907)

Round 2

Finland 1.5 - 2.5 United Kingdom

1. Ari Tonteri (1986) 0-1 Colin Crouch (2359)
2. Chris Ross (2172) 1-0 Bengt Wikman (1943)
3. Kari Holmela (1933) 1/2-1/2 Graham Lilley (2115)
4. Bill Armstrong (1964) 0-1 Teemu Ruohonen (unrated)

Round 3

Serbia 1.5 – 2.5 United Kingdom

1. Danko Bokan (2323) 0-1 Colin Crouch (2359)
2. Chris Ross (2172) 1-0 Sretko Avram (2320)
3. Markov Ziva (2205) ½-1/2 Graham Lilley (2115)
4. Stephen Hilton (1907) 0-1 Veso Avram (2132)

Round 4

United Kingdom 2.5 - 1.5 Ukraine

1. Colin Crouch (2359) 1-0 Sergey Grigorchuk (2244)
2. Sergej Wassin (2325) 0-1 Chris Ross (2172)
3. Graham Lilley (2115) 0-1 Lubov Zsiltzova-Lisenko (2265)
4. Mykhailo Baloha (2170) 1/2-1/2 Stephen Hilton (1907)

Round 5

Russia 3 - 1 United Kingdom

1. Colin Crouch (2359) 1/2-1/2 Yuri A Meshkov (2400)
2. Vladimir Berlinsky (2325) 1-0 Chris Ross (2172)
3. Graham Lilley (2115) 1/2-1/2 Sergey Krylov (2388)
4. Sergei Smirnov (2301) 1-0 Stephen Hilton (1907)

Round 6

Germany 2.5 - 1.5 United Kingdom

1. Oliver Mueller (2292) 1-0 Colin Crouch (2359)
2. Chris Ross (2172) 1/2-1/2 Dieter Bischoff (2144)
3. Frank Schellmann (2144) 1/2-1/2 Graham Lilley (2115)
4. Bill Armstrong (1964) 1/2-1/2 Anton Lindenmair (2121)

Round 7

United Kingdom 2 - 2 Spain

1. Colin Crouch (2359) 1-0 Perez M. Palacios (2195)
2. Flutur G. Draghici (2153) 0-1 Chris Ross (2172)
3. Graham Lilley (2115) 0-1 Ignacio J.M. Vela (2103) *
4. Llamero R. Clemente (2118) 1-0 Bill Armstrong (1907)

Round 8

Lithuania 2 - 2 United Kingdom

1. Gintaras Grybas (2063) 1/2-1/2 Colin Crouch (2359)
2. Chris Ross (2172) 1-0 Anatolijus Novikovas (1901)
3. Gediminas Rutkauskas (2001) 0-1 Graham Lilley (2115)
4. Stephen Hilton (1907) 1/2-1/2 Anatolij Kuvsinov (1979)

Round 9

United Kingdom 2 - 2 Czech Republic

1. Colin Crouch (2359) 1/2-1/2 Jaroslav Olsar (2326)
2. Karel Vlach (1400) 1-0 Chris Ross (2172)
3. Stephen Hilton (1907) 1/2-1/2 Jan Kalik (2022)
Josef Sereda (1400) 0-1 Bill Armstrong (1950)

Final Standing.



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