The Gazette

February 2022


Registered Charity Number 263049



Supporting Chess Players with Sight Loss.

This issue has kindly been sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation

BCA Website Address:


Twitter:                                  @braillechess









To contact a member of the committee, please see the Braille Chess Association’s website where there is a facility for emailing each officer.









Note: The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.










Editorial 3

Forthcoming Events. 4

Words from the Whitehouse. 5

2022 AGM... 6

Getting Back to Over the Board Chess. 7

Treasurer’s Report 8

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 8

Fundraising. 8

Membership Secretary’s Report 9

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 9

A Personal Account of the International Autumn Tournament 2021. 10

15th BCA Email Tournament 12

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 13

16th IBCA Olympiad Summary. 13

Ex-Champing at the Bit 05. 14

Gerry’s Chess Career: IBCA World Championship, Hastings 1982. 20

Gray Matter Test 21

Personalia. 22

RIP June Warren. 22




Welcome to the first Gazette of 2022!  The Chinese New Year starts on the 1st of February and it’s the Year of the Tiger, the creature that is regarded as the king of all beasts in China.  Its zodiac sign is a symbol of strength and courage.  It also signifies the banishment of evils, because in legend, an heroic tiger was rewarded by the Jade Emperor for defeating a ferocious lion and other malevolent animals to restore peace and harmony in the land.

Western culture tends to focus more on the tiger’s reputation for inherent merciless aggression.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, is said to have remarked “No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.”  In William Blake’s 1794 poem, “The Tyger”, he ponders the creation of such an awe-inspiring beast. “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”  Moving eastward again, a proverb used in India looks on the bright side as it advises, “Do not blame God for having created the tiger, but thank Him for not giving it wings.”

In China, those born in a Tiger year are considered brave, competitive, unpredictable, and confident.  They are believed to be charming and are respected for their leadership skills, which enable them to handle any situation.

Lately, Covid has forced us all to deal with new circumstances and BCA members continue to adapt well.  The committee is taking the lead in making the safety of our people the top priority and that is why we will once again be having an online AGM this year.  Details, including the agenda, are in this issue.  Please save the date!

All those who boldly attended the 2021 Autumn Tournament, our first over the board event since the lockdowns began, surely demonstrated the determination and valour of tigers!  After such a long break it was inevitable that people were a bit out of practice in the chess room.  All players are strongly urged to read and heed some advice put together by the Tournament Subcommittee in response to feedback from the event.  This gazette also contains a fine tournament report, written by members who were experiencing their first BCA event in person!  Numbers were down compared with pre-Covid times, but people still played some great chess and enjoyed the weekend. 

Sadly, numbers of tigers are down to a far more serious extent.  Tragically, it is an endangered species, primarily due to hunting and habitat loss.  It goes without saying that it would be catastrophic if these charismatic creatures went extinct.  Thankfully, conservationists are striving to save them and a glimmer of hope remains. 

The BCA has also lost part of its natural habitat recently i.e. the hotel in Derby that so many of us have visited in the past.  The gallant Tournament Subcommittee has come to the rescue and found new territory in the Derby area so we can still hold our spring weekend event.  Please see Forthcoming Events for details of the new venue.

The tiger is the largest living cat species.  Muscular yet agile; majestic yet menacing.  A tiger hunts by stealth, using its stripes as camouflage as it creeps up on its prey before unleashing a fearsome attack.  How many of us wish we could play chess like that!  Simon Webb’s book, “Chess for Tigers”, is coincidentally referred to by Paul Benson in his highly instructive article “Ex-Champing at the Bit 05”, which you will find in these pages.  Alas, in my own games, I invariably lose control of the position and end up feeling as if I have a tiger by the tail!

In this gazette you can also read the latest instalment of Gerry’s chess career as well as reports on the 15th email tournament and the 16th IBCA Olympiad.  Finally, we say farewell to June Warren, who passed away last year.

A tiger’s pattern of stripes is said to be as unique as a fingerprint, which in turn is as individual as each issue of the gazette!  This one does have something in common with many earlier ones though, because we are once again enjoying sponsorship from the Ulverscroft Foundation, for which we are very grateful.  

Please send me your articles for the May gazette by the end of March.

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March 2022: Spring Chess Congress

This will take place at The Derby Mickleover Hotel, Etwall Road, Derby, DE3 0XX.  Please note, this is a change in venue to the hotel advertised in the last Gazette.  The hotel is part of the Best Western Group of hotels and is

located about a 15 minute taxi ride from Derby Railway Station.  It has a health and fitness centre which includes a gym, sauna and heated indoor swimming pool - hopefully a good way of relaxing that overworked chess brain!  Although the closing date for entries has now passed, if you have any queries about the event then please contact the organiser, Steve Burnell.

Sunday 19th June to Sunday 26th June 2022: Combined British Championship and Chairman’s Cup

In memory of Sheila and David Milsom

This will take place at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth, which proved to be a very popular venue for our 2018 Chairman’s Cup.  It is very friendly and comfortable, and we also have use of an outdoor heated pool.  The parking and green areas are also very good.

The tournament is open to all visually impaired chess players and to associate members of the BCA.  The title of BCA British Champion will be awarded to the highest placed visually impaired player who has been resident in the UK for at least the last three years and has not played chess for a country other than the UK.  The Chairman’s Cup will be awarded to the highest placed member or associate member whose most recent published grade is 1650 or below (equivalent to about 126 under the old ECF grading system). 

The event will be played over 7 rounds with one round each day.  Players may request a half point bye in any one of the first six rounds.  If there are sufficient numbers there will be two sections.  Entry fee: £10.  Cost of dinner, bed and breakfast to members and associate members of the BCA: £300 for the week irrespective of room type.  The cost to those booking for less than the full week will be £45 per day for members and associate members.  For anyone wishing to stay additional nights at the beginning or end of the tournament, the cost per night will be £65 per person regardless of room type.

In addition to the chess tournament there will be a varied programme of social activities.  Anyone with ideas for social events, or who wants further information is invited to contact the organisers:  John and Pam Jenkins.

The closing date for bookings is 25 April 2022.  Bookings accepted after that date, at the discretion of the organiser, will be subject to a late booking fee of £10 per person.  Bookings, including full payment, should be sent to: Mrs Gill Smith.  Please note: Rooms will not be reserved until full payment has been received.

28th to 30th October 2022:  International Autumn Tournament

This will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Solihull, and will be our 90th anniversary event.  More details will be included in the May Gazette.

Booking Conditions and Procedures.

By entering a BCA tournament, a player is deemed to have consented for their name and any special requirements to be passed to the hotel prior to the event.  Also, consent is considered to have been given for a player’s name, club, results and possibly also their gender to be sent to the ECF for grading purposes.  For juniors, their date of birth is also required if they are to get the age-related grading bonus they are entitled to.

If you have any queries about the hotel or the tournament please contact the organiser. 

Blind and partially sighted UK residents under the age of 25 receive free entry and free accommodation when playing in BCA events. In appropriate circumstances, free accommodation is also available to a parent or guardian accompanying a junior.

Visually impaired UK residents in their first year of membership receive their first BCA weekend event free or £100 reduction in the cost of a week-long event.  They may also be accompanied by a guide or companion who will receive the same concession.  For a first event we ask for payment in advance and we then make a refund at the event.

You may pay in these ways:

Cheques payable to Braille Chess Association should be sent to Gill Smith, see the front of the Gazette for her address.

Online or telephone payments may be made to:

Account name: Braille Chess Association, sort code: 40 52 40, account number: 00082456.

If you pay by direct payment then you should inform Gill when the payment has been made. 

Bookings accepted after the closing date are subject to a £10 late booking penalty for each person. Late bookings and entries are accepted at the discretion of the organiser.

Bookings are confirmed when full payment has been received. Payments can only be refunded within the time limit set in the terms and conditions set by the hotels.  Members are advised to take out holiday insurance to cover themselves.

When making your booking please let the organiser know if you want a single, double or twin room and if you have a preference for a bath or a shower.  And remember, if emailing the tournament organiser, copy in Gill so she can look out for your payment and let you know when it has been received.  Gill will always confirm receipt of any payment.

Also say if any of the following apply.

1 If you will be bringing a guide dog;

2 If you are on a special diet;

3 If you have mobility problems and would benefit from being located in a room near to a lift;

4 If you are a wheelchair user;

5 If you feel you would have any special difficulties in an emergency such as a fire evacuation;

6 Any other special requirements.

The BCA reserves the right to refuse or cancel any entry or to exclude any person from any event it runs.

Words from the Whitehouse

As usual, I’ve written brief notes on the committee meeting we held on 13th November.  We’re still holding committee meetings on Skype which does present its challenges, but some committee members are still reluctant to travel by public transport and it does save the association money!

We’ve decided to separate the AGM from the spring congress and hold it online on 26th March.  You’ll find arrangements for the AGM outlined in a separate article in this gazette.  It will help the AGM run smoothly if you can let us know of any business you intend to raise at the AGM in advance.

Finances: Although the fundraising climate has been very tough during the pandemic, our finances are in pretty good shape.  However, our fundraiser has felt compelled to stand down for personal and health reasons.  We’ve decided that the best approach going forward might be to approach fundraising companies.  To this end we’ve written to Felton Fundraising Company who sounded interested in working with us in the future; they asked us to get back to them in March.

We’ll be seeking views on the best way forward regarding the Chairman’s Cup and the British Championship.  The plan is to combine the two events in 2022 but to separate them again starting in 2023.  Issues to consider will include the grading cut off point for the Chairman’s Cup and finding at least one other venue for our weeklong events.  We can’t keep going back to Bournemouth.

We’ve decided to keep running our multi-format remote events, but on a smaller scale.  We wanted to ensure they did not clash with over-the-board chess and our well-established email tournaments, so we’ve decided the best time to run a remote tournament would be during July/August when there isn’t much chess going on.

You’ve probably noticed we now have a new website.  Those able to see the visual presentation of the webpages have told us the site looks impressive.  When Dan took on the role of website coordinator, it turned out it wasn’t just a matter of coding some new pages, but there was a huge tidying up job to be done.  Now the new site is in place, it’s hoped we can begin outreaches on platforms such as Vitalk and RNIB Connect.  Another online success is that Mark Kirkham has persuaded to add fen diagrams to their blog articles.  How consistent they’ll be doing this going forward remains to be seen, but Mark did say the people he contacted did seem keen to help.

We managed to obtain a discount on an order of six DGT Echoes but still have considerable funds ringfenced to spend on sets and other chess equipment.  By the time you read this we should have assessed another folding set that has come on the market, though sadly at this writing our contact in Italy remains inactive, so we won’t be able to import peg-based or magnetic sets.

Although we’ve had one junior join as a life member, junior development as a whole remains a concern.  Voldi’s last visit to RNC resulted in initial enquiries from one student, but Voldi’s messages since then have gone unanswered.  We might be back to square 1 in terms of contacting Worcester and RNC to arrange visits and generate some interest.

Finally, you may remember we were considering employing a fulltime recruiter.  We’ve had second thoughts on that, not least because commitment to any large expenditure might be risky at least until we’ve successfully started raising funds again.  Dan has ideas of contacting blind media professionals active on social media.

Guy Whitehouse

2022 AGM

At our November committee meeting we discussed how best to proceed with the 2022 AGM.  We decided that we would once again separate the AGM from the spring congress and hold the AGM online on 26th March starting at 2 pm.  It would ensure the Saturday of the congress was less crowded, and it was felt that the 2021 AGM which had been held online had been reasonably successful.

We will run the AGM using Skype.  It will be possible for people to join the meeting via telephone if that’s easiest for them.

If you plan to attend the AGM please let Gill Smith know by the end of February indicating whether you will be joining online or via telephone.  Gill will liaise with you regarding joining instructions.  You will be sent the various AGM papers including committee reports and accounts and the committee will be seeking your feedback on these before the meeting.

Norman will briefly explain at the start of the meeting how we intend to proceed with such matters as election of officers and how to interact with the meeting.  Some basic instructions on how to operate Skype using screen readers can be provided.

Regardless of whether you are attending the AGM, you are encouraged to send enquiries to the committee or to raise any points with them ahead of the meeting; while we are not meeting face to face, it is more practical to resolve as much as possible before the meeting itself.

If you are not attending the meeting but would like a copy of the committee reports or accounts, please let Gill know.

The agenda now follows.  Please note we are seeking views on whether to continue to run the friendly ladder competition and whether to separate the Chairman’s Cup and the British championship or to continue to combine the two.  We’re also seeking views on what would be an appropriate grading cut off point for the Chairman’s Cup.

Guy Whitehouse

Agenda for the Annual General Meeting 2022:

To be held via Skype on Saturday 26th March 2022 starting at 2 pm.

Please note that Associate Members are eligible to vote on all items except those relating to the Constitution.

1.  Roll call.

2.  Apologies for absence.

3.  Minutes of the AGM held on 10 April 2021.

4.  Matters arising.

5.  Chairman’s report.

6.  Finance and fundraising.

6.1 Treasurer.

6.2 Presentation of accounts: these have been approved by the committee and examined and certified by a qualified accountant.

6.3 Fundraising matters.

7.  Officers’ reports.

7.1 Secretary, including IBCA matters.

7.2 Publicity Officer.

7.3 Correspondence Chess Director.

7.4 Gazette Editor.

7.5 Audio Librarian.

7.6 Membership Secretary.

7.7 Website Coordinator and Chairman of Information Communication Technology Sub Committee.

7.8 Junior Development Officer.

8.  Other reports.

8.1 Technical Sub Committee.

8.2 Tournament Sub Committee.

8.3 Congress Support Officer.

8.4 Coaching.

8.5 Representative to ECF Council.

9. Specific matters for discussion, including the continuation of the friendly ladder competition and issues relating to the Chairman’s Cup and British Championship.

10.  Election of Officers.

10.1 Chairman.

10.2 Secretary.

10.3 Treasurer.

10.4 Gazette Editor.

10.5 Correspondence Chess Director.

10.6 Membership Secretary.

10.7 Publicity Officer.

10.8 Audio Librarian.

10.9 Website Coordinator.

10.10 Junior Representative.

10.11 Junior Development Officer.

11.  Election to other posts.

11.1 Representative to ECF Council.

11.2 Representative to Chess Scotland.

11.3 Congress Support Officer.

12.  Date and venue of next AGM.

13.  Any other business.  Items should be notified to the Secretary prior to the meeting.  Please note that if any items are notified less than 48 hours before the meeting the Chairman will decide whether these should be taken.

Getting Back to Over the Board Chess

After what has seemed like an eternity, we’re now getting back to OTB chess – and not before time!  In October the BCA held its first OTB weekend tournament in two years and many members have returned to their local chess clubs, with others taking part in mainstream events.  For those members who are new to OTB chess, and for more experienced players who are a bit rusty, the tournament subcommittee and our arbiters thought it might be timely to give everyone a gentle reminder about some of the “do’s and don’ts” of OTB chess.

Those of us who play league chess will probably be all too familiar with some of the distractions which come from outside the playing room and over which we have no control.  Playing in the Leamington League for many years for example, I remember a rather ropey ABBA tribute group practising in the room next to where we were playing.  Even members of the team who liked ABBA, got rather fed up with hearing “Waterloo” sang over and over again in an attempt to get it right.  On another occasion, we played in a sports hall which was divided by a curtain.  On one side of the curtain was the chess club, on the other side was the table tennis club.  So the chess players spent the whole evening listening to the “ping-pong” of table tennis balls.  To add insult to injury, once the chess match had finished and players were discussing their games, the table tennis players had the nerve to ask us to be quiet!

We can do little about such external distractions.  However, there are other distractions from within our chess room which we can help to alleviate. An important one which is often commented on is the amount of noise which we generate during play.  With moves being announced and then repeated it is not surprising that our tournaments are noisier than mainstream tournaments.  However, this makes it even more important to be aware of noise levels and try to minimise them.  If moves can be announced clearly (preferably using the phonetic algebraic notation) and then repeated to ensure they have been heard correctly, this helps reduce confusion and hopefully reduce noise.  Other conversations about the merits of your opening should always be taken elsewhere.

It is also very important to record your game in whatever way best suits you. Many of us use a small pocket memo recorder or a small cassette recorder.  One advantage of this is that the move can be recorded at the same time as it is announced.  However, people may use whatever is best for them – large print or braille for example.  Recording moves is mandatory in competitive chess and the only method that is not permitted in any tournament is using a device which has internet connectivity.

Sometimes there is confusion about our equivalent of the “touch move” rule which applies to sighted players.  In other words, if a sighted player touches a piece he has to move that piece.  If he puts it down on a square but does not take his hand off it, he can still retract that particular move but nevertheless, having touched the piece, he is forced to move it somewhere provided a legal move is available.  I heard a story about a player who picked up his queen, and before putting it down he realised that he was going to lose it wherever he placed it on the board.  Having sat with queen in his hand for ten minutes staring at the board before returning it to its original square, he then said to his opponent “I suppose you saw me touch the queen” and then promptly resigned!  For us, once a piece is picked up off its square, it has to be moved, again providing a legal move is possible.  Once you put it down on a square and let go of it, you can’t then retract the move.  With many of us playing by correspondence or email or over the internet in some way, we may have fallen into the bad habit of “trying out” a particular move on the board to see what it looks like.  This can’t be done in OTB chess, so if you are going to “try out” a particular move, then do it in your head rather than on the board!  The arbiters watch out for this and will enforce the “touch move” rule if anyone is seen breaking it.

Our arbiters and stewards do a great job in ensuring all our tournaments run efficiently.  We can all play our part by being clear about what is and what isn’t permitted during our play.  Our tournaments may be more relaxed and friendly than the average weekend tournament, but we all need to help ensure they run as smoothly as possible.

The BCA is planning several OTB events this year. We hope as many members as possible will attend and that the above notes are taken as a gentle reminder to help things run smoothly.

Steve Burnell

Treasurer’s Report

In the last few months, we have received a total of £4,500 from two grant giving charities: the Ulverscroft Foundation, who have sponsored this and the next two issues of the Gazette, and the Dorothy Hay-Bolton Charitable Trust, who gave funds for general purposes.  We are very grateful to them

Sadly, we have had to accept the resignation of Linda Innes, our professional fundraiser. Her resignation was offered with regret and was due to personal circumstances.

I am going to investigate fundraising companies rather than individual fundraisers, hoping that we will have continuous support in the future.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery

To take part in the monthly draw costs £12 per number per year.  You may have as many numbers as you like at £12 each.  Every month a lucky winner receives £35.  If you wish to take part, please make a payment to the BCA.

Recent Millennium Club winners:     October: Richard Murphy, number 43.

November: Graham Lilley, number 34.

December: Richard Harrington, number 5.

Gill Smith, Treasurer


Give as you Live Instore.  Raise funds for the BCA with your instore grocery shop.  Reloadable grocery store cards can be used at Sainsburys, Asda, Waitrose, Morrisons, and Marks and Spencer.  Sign up with Give as you Live, order a card, pre-load funds and then shop.  An average £100 weekly spend raises £100 per year.

We are also signed up to Give as you Live Online which allows you to shop with many different online retailers and a percentage of the price is donated.  In 2021, Give as you Live Online raised £37.03 for the BCA. 

Another fundraising scheme is Amazon Smile which has the same products and prices as  When you shop on AmazonSmile, 0.5% of the net purchase price is donated to your chosen charity, hopefully the BCA.  In 2021, Amazon Smile raised £56.87 for the BCA. 

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Membership Secretary’s Report

Six new BCA members signed up in the fall of 2021!  Brian Hawtin from Birmingham and Humphrey Laughton from Henley on Thames have joined as visually impaired members for five years.  Marek Soszynski from Birmingham has joined as an associate member for one year.  He is interested in the work of our association and wishes to make use of the material in our chess library.  Edward Hardstaff from Newark and Hayley Xie from Surrey have both joined as visually impaired junior members.  Also, Hayley's mother, Heather Li, has joined as a life time associate member as she wishes to learn chess alongside her daughter.

Interestingly of the four new visually impaired members their memberships and new chess sets were arranged by sighted friends or family members as gifts.  Personally, I think the limitations of Covid have encouraged people to look for new forms of interest during these tricky times.

Mark Hague

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Firstly an apology.  The November 2020 report incorrectly stated the 45th BCA CORRESPONDENCE TOURNAMENT 2019-20 Challengers section had finished.  A single result had yet to be reported, this is given below with final scores for that section.

The BCA Correspondence League 2022-23 has started with a decrease in participants such that there are now only 2 divisions.


Challengers - Group Leader Gary Wickett

Cuthbert 0.5 - 0.5 Greatrex, no details.

Final scores:

Mike Hague 4.5-5, Voldi Gailans 4, Eric Gallacher 3.5, Jim Cuthbert 1.5, Arthur Greatrex 1.5, Eleanor Tew 0.


Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson

Final scores: George Phillips 3.5-4, Alec Crombie 3, Guy Whitehouse 2.5, Eric Gallacher 1, Voldi Gailans 0.

Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson

Jim Cuthbert has withdrawn without starting any games, no victories awarded, it is as if he had never entered the event.

Final scores: Philip Gordon 2-2, Eleanor Tew 1, Denis Warren 0.

Congratulations to Philip Gordon on winning the group with a perfect score and achieving promotion to the next Premier.

BCA LEAGUE 2022-23

Division 1 - Group Leader Voldi Gailans

Players: Alec Crombie, Jim Cuthbert, Voldi Gailans, George Phillips, all 0-0.

Division 2 - Group Leader Guy Whitehouse

Players: Mike Flood, Eric Gallacher, Malcolm Jones, Eleanor Tew, all 0-0.


Apologies, the laptop with records of Ladder games has still not yet been resuscitated.  Consequently, announcing the winners of the 2020 and 2021 Ladders is not yet possible.  Similarly offering a new Ladder is not possible as the unknown winner must be placed at the foot of the Ladder.

Any friendly games played under correspondence conditions, such as by Braille, cassette, email, Skype, telephone, can qualify as a Friendly Ladder game once it is running again.  Please report such games and let your efforts be reflected in your accumulating score.

In closing, to those about to start a game: Break a peg!

Paul Benson


A Personal Account of the International Autumn Tournament 2021

By John and Tessa Fullwood

Both of us are relatively new members of BCA having joined at the start of 2021, John as a full member and Tessa an associate member.  John had stopped playing chess many years ago, after having played at school, university and for clubs in Hatfield and Crowthorne, Berkshire.  John was prompted by our younger son, Simon, to play him online during lockdown.  Simon introduced John to  This led to him playing multiple games, and hence needing more Merrick chess boards.  It was here that BCA were able to help.  Voldi Gailans encouraged John to join the BCA and Tessa thought it would be a good idea for her to join since there was the prospect of chess weekends in attractive parts of the country.

We were originally going to drive up to Harrogate from Surrey, a distance of over 250 miles, but with only three days to go Tessa got cold feet about doing the drive and we decided to go by train.  Having crossed London from Waterloo to King’s Cross, Tessa did spot someone with a guide dog getting assistance from station staff and wondered if they were on their way to Harrogate.

Of course, when we got out of the train at Harrogate there they were again, so we introduced ourselves only to find it was Tony Lawton who John was playing at the time in the 15th Email Tournament.  John’s guide dog made the acquaintance of Tony’s dog in the traditional way by mounting her!

The tournament was taking place at the Old Swan Hotel, which is over 170 years old.  It is large and has many traditional features.  BCA member’s bedrooms were on the first and second floor, and, while not modern, they were roomy and comfortable.  The ground floor was where the dining room bar library and conference rooms could be found.  With the carpeting, wood panelling, and chandeliers it felt very elegant.  The chess room, lobby bar and lift were all close together which was very convenient.  The gardens to the front and side of the hotel had some fine old trees, and an attractive lawned area and shrubbery up a quiet lane where the dogs could be taken and free-run.

After checking in and finding our room we went to the foyer and there met Christine and Norman Andrews.  John had played Norman in the TESSLa competition.  They were not strictly part of the party, but they only live in York and intended to drop in both on the Friday evening and also on Saturday.  It was very evident the BCA members had really missed the opportunity of meeting up for over two years.

At dinner we sat with Malcolm and Gill Jones.  They are also new members of BCA and John had just lost a hard-fought game against Malcolm in the 15th Email Tournament. Malcolm had not brought his guide dog because they were not certain what the arrangements would be.  However, we found that the facilities for dogs were very good.

During dinner the pairings for the evening match were announced by Gerry Walsh.  Nineteen players had originally signed up but two people had dropped out.  With an odd number of players obviously someone had to have a bye each round.  The games took place in a small conference room.  Because of Covid protocol players sat diagonally opposite each other.  John was very pleased to find that analogue clocks were available as he was rather unsure about the digital ones.  John finished his match rather late, but there was just about half an hour before the bar closed so a very welcome pint of Doombar was consumed.

During the evening Tessa started to get to know some of the eight non-chess playing members of the party.  We had assumed that all of these would be the other halves of the competitors – not so.  Moira Whittle had been attending tournaments for a good number of years with her late brother, Les, and had many stories to recount.  Joan Shorrock first came across BCA about 25 years ago.  She and her mother had booked a holiday at a hotel in Morecambe.  Having learned from the hotel management that BCA were monopolising the hotel, they still went ahead.  Her mother had never enjoyed a holiday so much and they continued to return whenever BCA were having an event.  Sarah Nelson is a friend of Mark Hague and Lea Ryan and had come with them to enjoy Harrogate and meet friends in the area.

Gerry had announced during the evening that the pairings for round 2 would not be given out until after breakfast on Saturday, lest we sit up all night doing our homework on our respective opponents.  However, in John’s case Julie slightly pre-empted Gerry’s announcement by bringing her Dad, Colin Chambers to sit opposite us at the breakfast table and saying that we were to play each other in round 2.  John took the opportunity of reminiscing about the legendary Reg Bonham, who Colin had played alongside, and had taught John maths at Worcester College.  “Bon” had encouraged his interest in maths, which was a very significant influence on John’s choice of career path.  There are a large number of stories about “Bon” which have done the rounds for years, but Colin was able to tell one that John had not heard.

By the end of Saturday afternoon three rounds had been completed.  It was still all very tight.  Heading the Open section were Ian Blencowe, Colin Chambers, Bill Armstrong and Richard Murphy with 2.5 points.  In the lead in the Challengers section were Tony Lawton and John with 2 points.

After dinner on Saturday the majority of the party repaired to a room next to the chess room and close to the bar where drinks could be readily ferried in.  John had a long talk to Dan Rugman about maths and music.  Dan had studied the former at Warwick University and the latter at the Royal College of Music.  Tessa discussed with Eleanor Tew local politics in the York area.

Sunday started with Gerry’s breakfast announcement of the pairings for the morning games.  Richard Harrington had a bye, so he and Tessa walked to the War Memorial opposite Betty’s Tea Rooms and had a rest on a bench. There was a long queue outside the tea shop, so no opportunity for refreshment.  The return walk took them through the Georgian part of town, passing the Crown Inn, a Harrogate landmark.

The 4th round pairings pitted the players at the top of the leader board against each other, i.e. Bill Armstrong v. Colin Chambers and Ian Blencowe v. Richard Murphy.  No surprise then that two draws resulted.  The tournament was still wide open.

John’s morning match was against Tony Lawton.  Because of a miscalculation on an exchange John lost material and hence the game.  However, he was able to take revenge on Tony in the 15th Email Tournament only a week later.  They seem to be well matched and plan future ‘friendly’ games.

While the afternoon games were being played, Barbara Chambers, Pat Armstrong and Tessa walked into Valley Gardens, a park which was close to the hotel, and took a stroll around it, seeing a wonderful display of dahlias.

The final round started with 4 players on 3 points.  Bill Armstrong, Colin Chambers and Ian Blencowe won their games so there was a three-way tie for first place.  Prizes were awarded shortly after the completion of the final game. Colin Chambers won the trophy on tie-break rules.  The first Challengers prize went to George Phillips. There was a three-way split for second place between Simon Highsmith Tony Lawton and John.

Most people stayed on for an extra night at the Old Swan.  After dinner we gathered in the bar to wind down.

After breakfast on the Monday some of us were rushing to get taxis to the station to get rather early trains, so goodbyes were sometimes a bit perfunctory.

We both enjoyed the weekend very much and intend to come on another one shortly, possibly the Derby event. BCA members seem to be such a very friendly and sociable crowd.

Thanks to Julie and Gerry, the organisation throughout the tournament was excellent.  They were ably assisted by Gill Smith’s daughter, Freya.  Also, the Tournament Sub-committee must be congratulated for putting the event on despite the uncertainties due to Covid.

Final Scores and Prizes

4 points: =1st Open Colin Chambers, Ian Blencowe, Bill Armstrong (Colin won the trophy on tie-break)

3.5 points: 1st Challengers George Phillips

3 points: =2nd Challengers John Fullwood, Tony Lawton, Simon Highsmith

3 points: Richard Murphy

2.5 points: Mark Hague, Malcolm Jones, John Osborne (John won Grading Prize B)

2 points: Dan Rugman, Richard Harrington (Richard won Grading Prize C)

1.5 points:  Gill Smith, Lea Ryan, Phil Rafferty (Gill won Grading Prize A)

1 point: Eleanor Tew

Here is a Round 1 game from one of our joint winners, Bill Armstrong.  Bill said that this game may appear easy but finding some of the moves was far from easy!

White Armstrong  Black Jones

1. d4 d6  2. Nf3 Nf6  3. Bf4 Nbd7 4. e3 h6  5. h3 g5  6. Bh2 c6  7. c3 Qc7  8. Nbd2 e5  9. dxe5 dxe5  10. Nc4 b5

11. Ncxe5 Nxe5  12. Bxe5 Qe7  13. Qd4 Bg7  14. 0-0-0 Bd7  15. Bd6 Qe6  16. b3 Nh5  17. Qc5 Bf8

18. Ne5 Bxd6  19. Rxd6 Qe7  20. Nxd7 Rd8  21. Qxc6 Rxd7  22. Bxb5 0-0  23. Rxd7 Qf6  24. Qxf6  Nxf6

25. Rxa7 Ne4  26. Kc2 Kg7  27. Bc4 Nd6  28. Rd1 Nxc4  29. bxc4  Rc8  30.  R1d7 Rf8

After exchanges on f7 Black resigned.

15th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

We have come to the conclusion of yet another BCA email tournament, our 15th.  The tournament ran quite smoothly, except for a few problems in Division 5.  On this point, I would urge all players to acquaint themselves with the tournament rules before commencing play.  In Division 1 the status quo prevailed.  Peter Gibbs continued to dominate, winning by 1 and a half points.  Malcolm Jones won Division 2 by no less than 2 points.  Voldi Gailans took Division 3 by a much tighter margin.  A newcomer to our event, Nene Clayton, managed a hundred percent three out of three to win Division 4 and Simon Highsmith did similar in winning Division 5.  Well done to all the winners, and better luck next time to the remainder.  Our next tournament is due to commence on the 1st of March 2022, so look out for the notice in early February.  We would like to increase the number of members taking part, so spread the word among all your visually impaired chess-playing friends and advise them to join up! 

Results since the November gazette and final scores:

Division 1:  Peter Gibbs, Philip Doyle, Steve Burnell, Bill Armstrong, Alec Crombie.

Crombie drew with Burnell

Gibbs beat Armstrong

Doyle drew with Burnell

Crombie drew with Gibbs

Burnell lost to Gibbs

Armstrong drew with Doyle

Armstrong beat Crombie

Burnell drew with Armstrong

Final scores: Gibbs 3.5, Armstrong 2, Crombie, Burnell and Doyle 1.5

Division 2:  Malcolm Jones, Eamonn Casey, Philip Gordon, John Fullwood, Tony Lawton.

Jones beat Fullwood

Lawton lost to Gordon

Casey beat Lawton

Casey beat Gordon

Gordon lost to Jones

Gordon beat Fullwood

Fullwood beat Casey

Fullwood beat Lawton

Final scores: Jones 4, Casey, Gordon and Fullwood 2, Lawton 0

Division 3:  Voldi Gailans, Tony Elbourn, Steve Thacker, Gill Smith.

Smith lost to Thacker

Thacker drew with Gailans

Gailans beat Elbourn

Gailans beat Smith

Elbourn beat Smith

Elbourn drew with Thacker

Final scores: Gailans 2.5, Thacker 2, Elbourn 1.5, Smith 0

Division 4:  Mike Flood, Anton Emery, John Ramm, Nene Clayton.

Ramm beat Flood

Flood lost to Emery

Clayton beat Ramm

Emery lost to Clayton

Emery lost to Ramm

Final scores: Clayton 3, Ramm 2, Emery 1, Flood 0

Division 5:  Simon Highsmith, Neda Koohnavard, Igna Triay, Richard Harrington.

Koohnavard beat Harrington

Triay lost to Highsmith

Highsmith beat Harrington

Harrington lost to Triay

Final Scores: Highsmith 3, Koohnavard 2, Triay 1, Harrington 0

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

David Mabbs writes:

It was a pleasure and a privilege, to judge the Best Game of 2021.  Throughout the year, I resisted the strong temptation to preview some of the entries - I thought it best to save them up until Christmastime, in order to have them all fresh and current in my mind.  I played through them in random order.

Quite soon, I recognised an entry as being very deserving of a Best Game prize.  Shortly afterwards, another even stronger entry displaced it.  Later, yet another game appeared, even better.  And - so it went on!  I was very impressed indeed at the quality of the entries.  It was evident that our players were at the top of their game, and everyone concerned should be justly proud of their performances.

Julie Leonard concludes:

David played through a total of twenty games to find the winner.  I’m sure everyone will join me in thanking him for his meticulous work and careful considerations!

It’s my happy duty to announce that the winner is (drumroll) going to be announced at the AGM!  (Ha ha, sorry!) So you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.  The next issue of the gazette will feature the winning game.

Meanwhile, the 2022 competition is already open.  Paul Benson has kindly agreed to be our judge for this year!  All BCA members, including associates, can enter games, which must have been played in a BCA event or for a BCA team during 2022.  Any eligible games that are published in the gazette are automatically entered.  Other games can be sent to Paul either directly or via another committee member.

16th IBCA Olympiad Summary

Editor’s note: This item is based on updates kindly sent by Owen Phillips, who followed the action on the internet.

The 16th IBCA Olympiad was held in Rhodes, Greece from the 16th to the 27th of October, 2021.  Twenty-two teams took part.  Sadly the U.K. was not among them this time as we were unable to raise a team due to Covid concerns.  We were by no means alone in this.  The Netherlands and South American teams were also absent, to name but a few.

In Round 1 a very young Indian team (seeded 14) pulled off a surprise 2.5-1.5 victory against Ukraine (3).  There were also draws between Lithuania (17) and Spain (6) and between Germany (7) and Bulgaria (18).   

Round 2 saw India in another unexpected win, this time against Spain.  Further down the table, Hungary (4) was held to a draw by Romania (10), while Kosovo (20) managed to beat Croatia (13).  France (16) had a narrow victory over fellow French speakers Canada – Quebec (22).  After two rounds Russia (1), Poland (2) and Serbia (5) were the joint leaders on 7.5 game points each, and India was just behind them in fourth place.  These four teams were the only ones to have won both of their first two matches.     

In Round 3 Russia achieved a 3-1 victory over Serbia, and Poland put an end to India’s winning streak with a whitewashing.  Further down the table there was a Scandinavian local derby in which Finland (15) was beaten by Sweden (9).  Poland was now in the lead, just one game point ahead of Russia.  Hungary had climbed to 3rd place by beating Germany.

The clash between the top two seeds occurred in Round 4.  The Russian team made its intentions clear by wiping out Poland 4-0!  Serbia defeated Hungary by the narrowest of margins.  There were also 4-0 victories for Ukraine against Italy (8), India against Sweden, and Bulgaria against the host nation, Greece (21).  Croatia was only able to take half a point from North Macedonia (12).  Meanwhile, on the bottom board, Israel (19) notched up their first match win in the event by beating Canada - Quebec.  Russia was now beginning to put some distance between them and their nearest rivals (Serbia, Poland, Ukraine and India).

Next up to face Russia was Ukraine, who were beaten by 2.5-1.5.  Similarly, Poland just managed to beat Serbia and India had a narrow victory over Hungary.  Further down the table there was a more decisive victory for Lithuania over Kosovo.  After the fifth round Russia was still leading, with Poland and India joint second.

With just over half the rounds behind them, the teams were rewarded with a rest day.  Returning refreshed to play in Round 6, India faced Russia and gave a very good account of themselves, only losing 1.5-2.5.  Poland had a convincing 3-1 victory over Germany.  An invigorated Spanish team managed a narrow victory over Ukraine.  Russia was still leading, but Poland, now in sole second place was edging a little closer.  India, Serbia, Spain, and Sweden were all vying for third place. 

In Round 7, Russia scored a 3-1 victory over Sweden, the Spanish team was very firmly defeated by Poland, and Serbia beat India in a close match.  Canada – Quebec scored their first match points with a win against Kosovo!  The first and second teams on the leader board remained unchanged this round, but Serbia had become the sole team in third place.

In the penultimate round, Russia only conceded half a point to the Spanish team, and Serbia beat Sweden by the same margin.  Ukraine emerged the winner of a closely fought match against Poland.  The Russian team had assured itself of Gold with a round to spare!  In second place, Poland and Serbia were level on match points with Poland just one game point ahead.  Just behind them was Ukraine. 

Although Russia had won all their matches thus far and already secured first place, they approached their final opponents with the same ferocity as had been shown to others and only conceded half a point to Hungary in the last round.  Poland beat Bulgaria by the same score, but Serbia and Ukraine had a closely fought battle with Serbia just coming out on top.  Slovenia (11) finished strongly with a 4-0 victory over Kosovo.  So Poland and Serbia finished level on match points but Poland took the Silver medals on tie-break, leaving Serbia to pick up Bronze. 

So the final placings were (in tie-break order):

Rank    Team                           Match Points

1          Russia                         18

2          Poland                         14

3          Serbia                          14

4          Germany                     11

5          Romania                     11

6          Ukraine                       10

7          Spain                           10

8          India                            9

9          Hungary                      9

10        Bulgaria                      9

11        North Macedonia        9

12        Sweden                       9

13        Italy                             9

14        Slovenia                      9

15        France                         9

16        Lithuania                    8

17        Israel                           8

18        Croatia                        8

19        Finland                        5

20        Kosovo                        4

21        Greece                         3

22        Canada - Quebec        2

Congratulations to the medal winning teams and those who won individual board medals by having the best rating performances: Board 1 FM Pavle Dimic, Serbia 7/9; Board 2 Alexei Smirnov, Russia 4.5/7; Board 3 FM Stanislav Babarykin, Russia 8/9; Board 4 FM Evgenij Suslov, Russia 5.5/7; Reserve Maksim Ermenkov, Russia 9/9. 

Congratulations also to the organisers for putting on the event in such challenging times!  Let’s hope that by the time the next Olympiad comes around Covid will be much more under control throughout the world and the U.K. and other teams will be back with a vengeance!

Ex-Champing at the Bit 05

Paul Benson writes:

Same idea as before, just a change in title.

A. Botez (2005) - V. Pechenkin (2408), Canadian Open Toronto 2011.

Yes, another "David versus Goliath" battle that Round 1 of a large national Open must throw up.  Perhaps some information on our “Mismatched Gladiators” might assist? 

Alexandra: Approaching her 16th birthday, joint winner of the Women’s Canadian Youth Championship in 2009, destined to regularly represent Canada in the Women’s Olympiad.

Vladimir: Mid-30s established FIDE Master more than capable of punching above his weight, evidenced by him winning a strong event at Edmonton some 7 months after this tournament.

These 400 Elo point disparities impose different problems to each opponent.  “Chess for Tigers”, an excellent practical handbook from Simon Webb, offers good advice to both opponents when paired in this way. 

To the lower-rated: Play a gambit, choose activity whenever possible, seek opportunities to complicate, the hope is something unexpected neither player could have anticipated will appear when the complexities escalate.  In essence, cross your fingers and make it murky, hoping your opponent will get stranded in the swamp.  The alternative is to let the stronger player slowly but surely accumulate small advantages until the position of the weaker player falls apart, you go down never having thrown a punch.

To the higher-rated: Be patient, do not try to blast the opponent off the board.  Instead pose tricky strategic questions on how to continue, keep it under control.  No need to fear an equal-looking late middlegame, it is in the endgame where a higher-rated should outplay the lesser-rated.

Well, this is what Simon Webb recommends.  Fine for the higher-rated here, but what if the lower-rated does not play gambits, instead preferring a calm positional approach?

1. d4 f5

Immediately signalling aggressive middlegame intentions with the Dutch Defence.  In simple terms, Black will focus on kingside activity with ideas of launching a mating attack.  White usually blocks the centre then starts pushing queenside pawns while trying to keep the black kingside activity under control.  Hand-to-hand fighting should be on the agenda but not quite yet.  We shall have an unspoken temporary agreement of “Non-Hostility”, both players sensibly choose well-known development plans.

2. c4 Nf6  3. g3 e6  4. Bg2 Be7  5. Nc3 O-O  6. Nf3 d6  7. O-O a5

White usually plans pawn c5 to start the queenside fighting.  This almost always requires a support from a pawn on the b4 square.  By advancing pawn a5 Black plans trading pawns on b4 either gaining the fully-open a-file or trading rooks on a1 reducing the number of active white units for the queenside battle.

8. Qc2 Nc6  Supporting a central pawn e5 break.

9. a3 e5  10. d5 Nb8

Having achieved supporting the advance of the e-pawn the black knight is not bothered about being pushed backwards, it has a perfectly satisfactory alternative posting available.  The apparent loss of a couple of tempi is of little consequence, the centre is closed and the black king is sufficiently protected. 

White to play produces a concept of such depth it leaves Grand Rabbit wondering how to explain it.  Perhaps the easier road to take is to comment as the game proceeds and summarise once it has been executed?

11. Ng5

Surely breaking the rule of voluntarily moving a piece twice in the opening when other units could make good use of the tempo?  Not really.  White has a manoeuvre in mind which gives stability to the kingside, a case of getting a retaliatory defence in place before it is needed.

Black to play chooses to start some trickery.  This strategy is not automatically bad, White is being asked to answer questions correctly.

11. ... Ng4

A doubler.  Firstly, a double-attack is unleased onto the singly-defended white g5 knight.  Secondly, the black g4 knight is probing at the white h2 pawn, a queen manoeuvre of Qe8 - Qh5 will set a mate threat, not a forcing attack but will require White to be aware of it.  Instead 11. ... h6 12. Nh3 g5 sets up a potential kingside pawn-roller which, supported with harmonious black piece-placement, might be very difficult to restrain.

12. Nh3

All part of the "Master-Plan" for this knight, any ideas just where it will eventually influence the middlegame?

12. ... Na6

Black now has complete control of important dark squares, namely b4 and c5, which White must control if the usual queenside activity is to appear.

13. Rb1

A doubler.  Firstly, the necessary advance of pawn b4 is now doubly-supported and therefore safe.  Secondly, the queen's rook escapes the x-ray attack from the black a8 rook.  Instead if, 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 Nxb4 with a tempo attack on the white c2 queen, Black would be safely snatching a pawn.

13. ... Qe8  Heading kingside where the action must occur for Black in the Classical Dutch.

14. b4 axb4  15. axb4 Qh5

Important move for White to find here and might have been in mind when 11. Ng5 appeared on the board.

16. f3

A move of mixed consequences.  The Gains: Pushing back the black knight will make it more difficult for Black to weave a mating net.  When a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else, f2 is now available to White for future piece-shuffling.  The Loss: Fianchetto bishops enjoy having their long diagonal open, the g2 bishop might be inactive for quite a while, or possibly worse?

16. ... Nh6

A common means of trying to break up the white defences can begin with Black pushing pawn f4, retreating with Nf6 would block the vital support of the f8 rook.

17. Nf2

On h3 this knight might become a target for tactics, a potential black line-opening pawn f4 would unleash the lurking c8 bishop, the threat is cancelled before it can arise.

17. ... Bd7  18. Nd3

More shuffling.  This knight has now consumed 5 tempi to arrive at the final destination planned for it when 11. Ng5 hit the board.  Yes, White is flouting the good advice on developing pieces quickly.  However, since the position is closed and there are no weaknesses on which Black can focus then it is safe for the moment.

18. ... g5

Thematic.  Black should not fear advancing kingside pawns.  Opening up lines for the pieces with pawn trades is the standard means of attacking in the Classical Dutch.

19. Be3

Development for both sides finally completed.  Perhaps some thoughts on how our "Mismatched Gladiators" have been coping with the rating disparity might assist? 

White: Lower-rated: No signs of panic, no sense of fear, reproduced the strategic ideas of the opening system to achieve a solid position.

Black: Higher-rated: The temptation to blast White off the board has been resisted.  Serious testing will take place in the middlegame, and if need be, later in the endgame.

But how does the position stand? 

White: A sensible balance between queenside attack and kingside defence has been struck.  The curious path of the king's knight to d3 allows it to play on either side of the board according to demands.

Black: Trying to hold the queenside while being ready to launch a kingside assault. 

It is Black to play with several options in need of sifting, serious commitment is in the air.

19. ... e4

Is this the best move available to Black?  Fritz and friends could spend hours and most likely disagree on how Black should continue.  Decisions must be made as the clock remorselessly ticks on. 

A different approach is a plan involving Kh8 - Rg8 and maybe Raf8 before deciding which kingside pawn should advance.  Also dropping the black queen back to g6 which combined with Nf7 allows the h-pawn to advance to maximise line-opening options.  Or perhaps even better a hybrid of both plans could be considered.  The game move is setting a tactical trap, the testing of the lower-rated player has just escalated.

20. Nf2

White passes the test.  Instead 20. fxe4 Ng4 threatens mate on h2, but after 21. h3 Nxe3 White drops a piece while receiving an exchange fork, the c2 queen and f1 rook being hit, disaster.

20. ... f4

Black definitely has the initiative, pawn advances claim space as they hit white pieces.  Of course, the white units can dance around in reply, but as they do so no progress is made on the queenside.

21. g4

Closing the kingside with a tempo-attack on the black queen avoids losing the e3 bishop.  Instead the immediate 21. Bd4 would be met with the same idea from Black as in game.

21. ... Qe8  22. Bd4

This bishop is more active on the a1 - h8 diagonal.  Though careful consideration was needed before playing here, at the moment it has no safe flight squares.  Instead retreating with 22. Bc1 would only leave it pointing at a black pawn chain.

22. ... e3

Black demonstrates flexibility of thinking.  Usually, the Classical Dutch involves good piece activity in front of the white king, prodding and probing to force fatal weaknesses.  Clearly such general plans would involve opening files somewhere with pawn trades, then perhaps throw in an appropriate piece sacrifice somewhere to further open up the white king.  However here Black tries to lock up the white kingside, it is the fianchetto g2 bishop who is being imprisoned inside a white pawn chain.  Well, this is of course true providing Black manages to maintain the constricting g5 - f4 - e3 pawn wall.

23. Nd3 c5

Black chooses to force matters on the queenside.  There is some sense in this approach, White is essentially a piece down for the ending if the g2 bishop remains entombed. 

Instead trying to trap the white d4 bishop with 23. ... b6 fails, a couple of ideas run:

(A). 23. ... b6 24. Ne4 c5 25. bxc5 bxc5 26. Ba1, when the trapped g2 bishop is still a worry.

(B). 23. ... b6 24. Ne4 c5 25. dxc6 Bxc6 26. Bxb6 White has snatched a pawn but that g2 bishop still suffers.

However with the advantage of "Annotator Hindsight" perhaps 23. ... Bf6 which will force the exchange of dark square bishops might have been simpler.

24. bxc5 dxc5

An important couple of changes has occurred to the pawn structure.  White now has a protected passed d-pawn, it cannot get far at the moment but it must be kept under control by Black.  With the trade of the white b4 pawn the b1 rook attacks the unprotected black b7 pawn which must be protected.

25. Be5 Nb4

Closing the semi-open b-file with a tempo-attack on the white c2 queen.  Instead either 25. ... Ra7 or 25. ... Bc8 would be placing pieces on worse squares than they presently occupy. 

26. Nxb4

White could move the queen, but where could she go and maintain ideas of influencing the centre and kingside as she does on the c2 square?

26. ... cxb4

Black gets a passed pawn, protected by the e7 bishop, but it cannot advance, it is simply waiting to be surrounded and then captured.

27. Ne4

A doubler.  Firstly, this fights for control of the f6 square, Black cannot challenge with Bf6 to force a trade of bishops, White is beginning to get some play.  Secondly, the e4 knight is pressuring the black g5 pawn.  This means the e7 bishop is now tied down to keeping a defence on the important base of the strangling g5 - e3 pawn chain as well as guarding the b4 pawn.  Overloaded pieces such as the e7 bishop are prime candidates for exploitation.

27. ... Qg6

A doubler.  Firstly, the important clamping g5 pawn is given an extra defence.  Secondly, the white e4 knight is pinned to the unprotected c2 queen, this surely immobilises it?  It is White to play, the centralised white e4 knight and e5 bishop are battling hard on the dark squares, this strongly hints how White should proceed.

28. d6

A brave move to play against an opponent with a 400+ Elo rating points advantage.  This pawn advance comes with mixed consequences. 

The Gains: The black e7 bishop is forced to retreat to the black back rank which disconnects the a8 and f8 rooks.

Pushing the bishop off the f8 - a3 diagonal means the b4 pawn is now undefended.

The Loss: Albeit temporary, the white d6 pawn is not supported by another white pawn, Black might be able to gang up on it with pieces.

28. ... Bd8  29. Rxb4

Time to think again how our "Mismatched Gladiators" have fought so far.

White: Calmly bounces back non-committal moves, demanding to be outplayed, out-thought, out-confused, depending on how the opponent chooses to fight.  Essentially forcing the higher-rated to show their greater skills, no self-destruction here.

Black: Started with aggressive intent, the Dutch Defence is not a weapon of neutralisation, hand-to-hand fighting is on the agenda.  Flexibility of thinking has however taken over, the opportunity to trap the white g2 bishop replaced the usual desire to rip into the white kingside.

Annotator Opinion: Both players have chosen a sensible approach.  As expected, the higher-rated has gained a significant positional advantage, the trapped white g2 bishop, which should be the decisive factor in the endgame.

But we are still in the middlegame, tricks and traps into which the unwary can fall are just sitting there.

29. ... Nf7

Surely giving White a difficult choice of choosing between:

(A). 30. Ba1 Nxd6 White keeps the bishop on the board but loses the important d6 pawn.

(B). 30. Qb2 Nxe5 31. Qxe5 Bc6 Black is beginning to unravel with the advantage of having the bishop pair and white still has a trapped g2 bishop to sort out.

However, we must remember that every move made in a game is a test of all chess skills.  Tactical event horizons, positional comprehension, time-management, emotional control and much more.  Databases are full of examples where the higher-rated outplays and beats the lower-rated.  Fine, but the statistics also report that the underdog sometimes comes out on top.  White to play has a "Window Of Opportunity" to open.  It just needs the thought to occur that a higher-rated player can actually misjudge the position and make a mistake.

30. Nf6+

Surely this is the lower-rated player making a simple tactical mistake?  Black has 2 units guarding the f6 square, d8 bishop and g6 queen, but as the white knight arrives there it is only defended once by the e5 bishop.  Looks like the pressure has got to White, all the previous hard work is now of no value, right?

30. ... Bxf6

Walking into an x-ray attack by moving the g8 king onto the h8 - a1 diagonal should not be contemplated, some ideas run:

(A). 30. ... Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Kh6 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxe5 34. Rxb7 Nxc4 35. d7 White has won a rook in the trading plus the white passed d-pawn is very strong.

(B). 30. ... Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Kg8 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxe5 34. Ne6 and White has won a rook in the trading.

(C). 30. ... Kh8 Nxd7+ Kg8 transposes into line (B) just given.

(D). 30. ... Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Nxe5 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxe5 White has won a piece in the trading.

(E). 30. ... Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Nxe5 32. Qxg6+ Nxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxf8 34. Rxb7+ White has won an exchange plus b-pawn which creates a pair of connected central passed pawns.

31. Qxg6+

All part of the white "Master-Plan", a guardian of f6 is eliminated, the apparent black control of this square was illusory.

31. ... hxg6  32. Bxf6 Bc6

Consolidating.  White is not permitted the luxury of connected passed pawn by capturing the black b7 pawn.

There is still the white passed d6 pawn to be restrained, but with 3 units controlling the d8 promotion square it seems Black should be winning.  It is the trapped white non-contributing bishop which is going to be the deciding factor, right?  Perhaps matters are not so simple.

When Black was forced to trade Bxf6 the white dark square bishop became a very powerful piece.

Only sensibly challengeable by the black knight, unless Black is prepared to give up an exchange to eliminate this potentially powerful prelate.

But surely the black c6 bishop has an even stronger grip on the light squares?

This is so, but where in the white defences can it produce pressure while it is tied to defending the b7 pawn?

Also, the apparent extra black piece, the f7 knight, is tied to defending the important g5 pawn.

If that pawn falls the entire constricting black pawn chain might disappear.

33. Rd1 Ra2

Black takes the chance to play actively.  Fine, but perhaps initially placing the king on h6 to protect the g5 pawn and so releasing the f7 knight for action elsewhere might have been simpler before trying to force matters?  Maybe time on the clocks is becoming a critical factor?  Perhaps Black is guessing the rating disparity will automatically favour the higher-rated player when decisions need to be made quickly?  This is a good generalisation, but sometimes positions can spin out of control as the complications escalate.

34. Bf1 Rd2

A doubler.  Firstly, an interference, the white d1 support to the advanced passed d6 pawn is broken.  Secondly, Black reinstates a third defence on the d8 square, albeit by x-ray.

35. Rbb1

Probably the simplest, leaving Black to work out the consequences of making captures.  A couple of choices doubtlessly considered run:

((A). 35. Rxd2 exd2 36. Rb1 Ba4 and the passed black d2 pawn is about to cost White a whole rook.

(B). 35. Ra1 Rxd6 36. Be7 Rd2 37. Bxf8 Kxf8 and while White has snatched an exchange the combination of the black minor pieces against the white rook is not easy to assess.  Black to play "Punches the Random Button", setting the lower-rated player a tricky test.

35. ... Nxd6

A move of mixed consequences.  The Gains: A dangerous opposing advanced passed pawn is eliminated plus the black knight is finally getting active.  The Loss: Defence of the vital g5 pawn is relinquished, the compressing black pawn chain is at risk of being dismantled.  But maybe White has something better than snatching a pawn?

This is the tricky test handed to White and sifting through the trickery will consume clock-time.

36. Be7

With the advantage of "Annotator Hindsight" White seems to be failing the test.  The time-trouble trickery might be paying off.  Skewering the black d6 knight and f8 rook in an attempt to win material is the confusion-trap Black set.  Much more relevant is 36. Bxg5 when the black dark square pawn chain might fall and a timely white pawn h4 begins the process of freeing the trapped white light square bishop.  Black to play must have prepared an answer to the obvious bishop skewer, but what?

36. ... Nxc4

Black reveals the method in the apparent madness.  An exchange loss is offered on f8 for the gain of the white central pawns plus the creation of a passed b-pawn.  Teamwork of black bishop, knight, pawn, will seriously test a white rook, much pressure on White to hold the position.  White to play is still sitting that tricky test.

37. Rdc1

Well played!  Meeting complication with counter-complication, excellent strategy as the time-control approaches.

Though the position is not particularly complex, playing a “Non-obvious” move can sometimes throw an opponent off balance as vital seconds on the clock tick down.

37. ... Rf7

Similarly well played!  Black forces White to choose between capturing the loose black c4 knight or save the e7 bishop, more time consumption on the white clock.

38. Bxg5

Definitely the simplest way to handle the position, the tricky test is over, White has passed.  Black has been hoping White will play a line where this dark square bishop trades itself for the f8 rook.  White has finally correctly assessed it is of greater value than a black rook, the dismantling of the black pawn chain is under way, which will eventually permit the release of the light square bishop.  Tactics were however available with 38. Bb4, black would have an exchange on d2 to worry about while the c4 knight still hangs, but how much time does White have to find and then judge them?  And what if the searches revealed nothing acceptable, time would have been expended for no return.  A couple of sample lines run:

(A). 38. Bb4 Rd4 39. Bc5 Rfd7 40. Rb4 b5 leaving White to decide to give up the dominance of the dark squares for an exchange gain with 41.  Bxd4, not easy to assess.

But Black can set another tricky test for White by standing firm.

(B). 38. Bb4 Rfd7 39. Bxd2 exd2 and now the tree of complexity begins to expand considerably.

Instead of offering line after line perhaps a discussion of ideas for both players might be better?  White has the c1 rook en prise, it must make a decision.  If it captures with Rxc4 then Black promotes the d2 pawn costing White a rook leading to material equality but the resulting pawn structure imbalance is not easy to assess.  If it instead defends with Rd1 Black simply wins an exchange back with Ne3, and this will be followed by Ba4, White must give up the remaining rook on the d2 pawn, Black wins.

White can now free the f1 bishop with pawn e4, but Black captures fxe3 to create advanced connected passed pawns, dangerous.  When Black captures exd2 the e3 square is vacated for the c4 knight, further fighting for the important d1 promotion square.

These ideas lead Grand Rabbit to conclude the lower-rated player correctly chose the simpler capture of the black g5 pawn.  Instead entering into complications by snatching an exchange might just give the higher-rated player the opportunity to demonstrate their superior skills of calculation.

38. ... Ne5

Setting up some dangerous tactics, White is in danger of being blown away.

39. Rc5  1-0

Why is Black resigning in a position which is very unclear?  Perhaps it was not resignation but a loss on time?  There are a few tricks available to Black, maybe it was trying to sift out the most favourable idea which resulted in flag-fall?  Fritz and friends would enjoy crunching out many lines to show who, if anyone, could play for a decisive advantage.  Instead, here are some aging bio-organic computations to indicate the complexity in the position:

(A). 39. ... Nd7 40. Rc4 and black is losing the f4 pawn with the e3 pawn also soon likely to fall.

(B). 39. ... Rd5 40. Rxd5 Bxd5 41. Rb5 Rd7 42. Bxf4 Nc4 it is White, now a good pawn up, thinking in terms of trying to win by advancing the kingside pawns to release the f1 bishop.

Retreat moves gain Black nothing, so search for something dynamic.

(C). 39. ... Bxf3 40. exf3 Nxf3+ 41. Kh1 Rxh2+ mate, but White has much better available than this sad blunder.

(D). 39. ... Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxe2 41. Bxe2 Rxe2 42. Rf1 f3 43. Rxe3 Rg2+ 44. Kh1 Rxg4 45. h4 f2 46. Re2 and the black f2 pawn falls, White with the extra bishop has a win with careful technique.

Note the tricky black continuation of 46. ... Rh7 fails as 47. Rexf2 Rxg5 48. Rf8+ Kg7 49. R1f7+ Kh6 50. Rxh7+ Kxh7 51. hxg5 and White has won a rook in the trading.

(E). 39. ... Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxg4 41. Re4 Bxe2 42. Bxe2 Rxe2 43. Bxf4 Rh7 44. Rxe3 and White again has a technical win.

(F). 39. ... Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxg4 41. Re4 f3 42. exf3 Bxf3 43. Rxe3 White again should win with good technique.

Perhaps varying the black method of attack will offer better chances?

(G). 39. ... Nxf3+ 40. Kh1 Nxg5+ Black wins a piece with a discovered check, White can resign here.

(H). 39. ... Nxf3+ 40. exf3 Bxf3 41. Bc4 e2 42. Re1 Rd1 43. Kf2 Bc6 44. Bxf4 White can pick off the black e2 pawn at leisure and there is still an exchange on f7 to be taken, White wins.

(I). 39. ... Nxf3+ 40. exf3 Bxf3 41. Bc4 e2 42. Re1 Rd1 43. Kf2 Bxg4 44. Rc7 and Black will lose a whole rook on the f7 square.

Is it that 39. ... Nf3+ is not right, or could it just require a different black follow-up?

(J). 39. ... Nxf3+ 40. exf3 e2 41. Bg2 Rd1+ 42. Kf2 e1=Q+ mate but White can avoid this disaster.

(K). 39. ... Nxf3+ 40. exf3 e2 41. Bxe2 Rxe2 42. Rf1 Re8 43. Rc4 Ref8 saving the f4 pawn, the presence of opposite bishops strongly hints a draw is on the horizon

Grand Rabbit concludes that if line K is the best available to both players then a draw would be the eventual result.  So why did Black not play it?  It is most likely that Black found it but kept searching the other variations in the hope of finding a forcing favourable line, a “Win at All Costs” approach, but failed to find a clincher.  Such is the pressure on higher-rated players in early rounds of large Open events.  And oh yes, congratulations to the victorious “Out-Gunned Gladiator” for evading the flying flack, assuming they had guns in those days.

Gerry’s Chess Career: IBCA World Championship, Hastings 1982

Gerry Walsh writes:

At Easter 1982 in The Royal Victoria Hotel, Hastings, I began my long, happy career with the BCA!  International Master Harry Golombek was to be the Chief Arbiter at the IBCA World Championship, and I had been invited to be his deputy.  There were twenty-seven players from twenty-four countries.  Back then, nations were usually only allowed to enter one player each.  However, the reigning World Champion, a Russian, had an automatic right to take part so the USSR had two.  The host nation was permitted to field two players so both Geoff Carlin and Paul Benson played for the United Kingdom.  The Executive Committee could also nominate a representative on the understanding that the person would be playing for the EC, not their country.  Despite these rules we had an odd number of participants hence a bye in each of the eleven rounds.

The pairing rules were clear that players from the same country should face each other in round one hence the two Russians and the two English were paired together.  Even before round one started, we had a protest because the Yugoslav player had not been paired against the EC representative who just happened to be from Yugoslavia.  IBCA had nominated the very charming Margaret Greshkovic as a permanent member of our pairings panel and her experience was invaluable.  The protest was dismissed, and the event got under way. 

In tournaments of this calibre, it is usual for people from the same country who are playing each other in round one to agree a quick draw.  The Russians and the English complied with this principle and their games finished in 10 and 13 moves respectively. 

The hotel proved to be a very good choice and I seem to recall that I enjoyed all my meals in the large dining room with Bill Bergum playing the piano in between his courses.  Harry had predicted that the event would be a happy one and he was correct. 

A well-attended tournament for BCA members was run alongside the championship.  I remember on an isolated occasion there was suddenly a lot of noise emanating from the hallway and Harry despatched me to achieve silence.  When I went into the corridor there was a crowd heading in the direction of the bar and they explained the reason for the offending noise, “Ted has just beaten Graham!”  When I conveyed the information to Harry he seemed to accept the situation because the bar was far enough away and we continued our event in relative silence.

Round one was played on 4th April 1982.  There was a double birthday celebration on 6th April for our own Editor, Julie, and the Dutch player Jan van Gelder.

Editor’s Note:

Ted Williams, a former BCA Champion who was now approaching 70 years of age, had his best chess behind him.  Graham Lilley, on the other hand, was still in his twenties and a rising star.  Graham was the favourite to win their encounter but, on this occasion, experience unexpectedly triumphed over youth, which is why Ted received such a loud cheer!  Graham naturally took it all in good part, laughing along with the others as he always does!

Jan van Gelder and I had ages that were the reverse of each other’s on our shared birthday that year.  One of us was 15 and the other 51.  I’ll leave you to work out which was which!

To put the tournament in an historical context, it was just at the time when the task force was en route to the South Atlantic.  As hotel rooms typically didn’t have TVs back then, a crowd would gather solemnly in the TV lounge each evening for the news.  I felt a sense of shared apprehension over how events in the Falklands would unfold.

Apart from that, like Gerry, I have very happy memories of the time in Hastings.  I had been to a few BCA events with my dad before, but nothing on this scale.  It was exciting to meet all those people from different parts of the U.K. and abroad.  Many friendships that have stood the test of time were forged during that fortnight!

Now back to Gerry!

Here is another game from Hastings 1982 between Benson (United Kingdom) and Bibas (Israel) French Defence.

1. d4 Nf6  2. Nc3 d5  3. Bg5 Nbd7  4. Nf3 e6  5. e4 dxe4  6. Nxe4 Be7  7. Nxf6+ Bxf6  8. Bxf6 Qxf6  9. Bd3 O-O

10. Qe2 c5  11. Qe4 Qh6  12. 0-0 Nf6  13. Qe3 Qxe3  14. fxe3 b6  15. a4 Bb7  16. Ne5 Rad8  17 c3 Ne4

18.  Bxe4 Bxe4  19. Rfd1 f6  20. Nf3 c4  21. Nd2 Bd3  22. Nf3 Be4  23. Kf2 a6  24. Nd2 Bd3  25. Re1 Rd7  

26. a5 Rb8  27. b4 cxb3  28. Nxb3 Bc2  29. Nd2 bxa5  30. Rxa5 Bd3  31. e4 Rc7  32. Rc1 Rbc8  33. Ra3 Bb5

34. c4 Bxc4  35. Rac3 Rb8  36. Rxc4 Rcb7  37. Rc8+ Kf7  38. Rxb8 Rxb8  39. Rc7+ Kg6  40. Ra7 Rb2  

41. Ke3 Resigns 

Paul says: Mutual time-shortage definitely influenced the result.  Black blundered away a piece when only a pawn could have been the lesser price for misjudging the position.  Resignation was offered at the evening meal so no need to analyse for an adjournment.

Gray Matter Test

These puzzles are selected by Graham Lilley from the website, which contains many puzzles that challenge you to find a win from a position in a real game.

November 2021 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Hans Harestad, Copenhagen, 2003


White: King g1, Queen h4, Rook f1, Bishops c1 and c2, Knight h6, Pawns b2, c3, d5 and g2

Black: king g7, queen a6, rook a8, bishops d7 and e7, knights c5 and g5, pawns b5, c4, e5, f6, h7 and h5

White mates in three moves. 

Solution: Qxg5+ fxg5, Rf7+ Kxh6, Rxh7#  

February 2022 Puzzle

Jon Hammer vs Magnus Carlsen, Halkidiki, 2003


White: King h1, Queen d1, Rooks a1 and e1, Bishop e3, Knight b3, Pawns a2, b2, c3, f2, g2 and g4.

Black: King g8, Queen b5, Rooks e4 and f8, Bishop g7, Knight e2, Pawns a7, b7, c7, d6, f7, g6 and h7

Black mates in 2 moves.  The solution will appear in the May gazette.


Readers may recall from the November gazette that Derek Heyes had reached the semi-final stage of Brain of Britain on BBC Radio 4.  His semi-final was recorded in London on 13th October before a socially distanced audience.  This was the first time in a year and a half that a live audience had been permitted!  Derek faced the additional pressure of having the first question of each round directed at him.  In the first round he correctly answered questions on jazz and classical legend.  The competitors were neck and neck.  In the second round Derek used his knowledge of British coinage to increase his score, but sadly in the third round the questions didn’t go his way and he began to lag behind.  He came back strongly in the fourth round, answering questions on World War One, Welsh cities and nocturnal teeth grinding to double his score!  He also did well in the final round, picking up points for questions on Lancashire comic entertainers and British politics, but alas, it wasn’t enough for him to close the gap on the leader and Derek finished in a very respectable third place.  No doubt all the readers will join me in congratulating him on this achievement.  Derek – if you’re ever at a BCA quiz night you’re going to have an awful lot of people who want to be on your team!

RIP June Warren

Written by Gary Wickett, with details kindly provided by Denis Warren.

June joined the BCA as an Associate Member in March 2012 whilst attending the AGM tournament with her husband Denis, who had joined the previous year.  Since that first tournament, they both became regular attendees at our events and made many friends.  Although June NEVER played chess, she was very much a part of the BCA family, as I like to call it, and her sparkly chuckle would often be heard in the bar or during the non-chess events.  Like many of our associate members, June was full of the BCA spirit and was always happy to help whenever help was needed.

Over the years, I have travelled down to Luton to visit Denis and June on several occasions, and June would meet me from the station in her car.  She would then be busily bustling around in the kitchen, whilst Denis and I had the more indulgent task of tussling over a game of chess; not literally I hasten to add!  After our game, which often ended in a draw, the guitar and ukulele would come out; and while dinner was happily cooking, the three of us would sing and play songs together.  June was quite shy when it came down to singing, but she had a lovely voice and she would sing along and often do little harmonies.

June was born in St. Austell in Cornwall on the 5th of June 1941.  During her early adult life, she worked as a teacher in a primary school, before leaving to marry and bring up a family.

When June met Denis many years later, she was running a play group for young children.  By this time they had both sadly been widowed.  However, romance once again bloomed and they married on the 6th of June 1981.

They enjoyed many happy years together and worked perfectly as a team.  They both shared a love of music, and Denis told me that June, with her knowledge of the piano, would sit and help him sort out the guitar chords for all the various songs he had in his repertoire.  As previously mentioned, I have sat and played music with Denis and June on many occasions, and I can tell you that Denis has a huge repertoire!

About five years ago, sadly, June began to develop symptoms of premature dementia and it all too soon became apparent that she would need to go into a local care home.  Although this was a huge blow to Denis, June received the best of care and he was able to visit on a regular basis.

However, the illness was relentless, and in the space of just over two years, June’s condition had deteriorated so much that communication between herself and Denis became almost impossible.  It was therefore felt that it would be better for all concerned if June moved to Somerset where she could be near to her daughter.  Once again, Denis tells me that she received excellent care in her new home, and due to a good friend who would drive him all the way to Somerset for the day, he was able to visit on an almost monthly basis.  During his visits, Denis would tell me that June seemed quite perky.

Denis actually saw June less than a week before she died, and once again, she seemed relatively happy.  Those who knew June will remember her as having a cheerful disposition, always friendly and helpful; extremely modest and always putting others before herself.

I will close with the words of Denis.  “June was one of those people that was good at whatever she put her hand to and was always happy to put others before herself.”

June passed away peacefully on 3rd November 2021 at the tender age of 80, but her gentle legacy lives on in all who had the pleasure of knowing her.