The Gazette

August 2022


Registered Charity Number 263049



Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.

This issue has kindly been sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation

BCA Website Address:


Twitter:                                  @braillechess


User Group Email Address: (Any member wishing to join this forum should email the Editor or Website Coordinator, who will be pleased to send an invitation.)





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



Honorary Members

Alec Crombie, Peter and Celia Gibbs, Julie Leonard, Stan Lovell, Julia Scott, Gerry Walsh.




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

Treasurer’s Report 6

Fundraising as you Shop. 6

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 7

Honorary Members. 7

Membership Secretary’s Report 7

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 7

16th BCA Email Tournament Wrap Up. 8

BCA British Championship and Chairman’s Cup, Bournemouth 2022. 9

BCA Summer Cup. 10

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 10

ECF Ratings for BCA Members. 11

Joan Shorrock’s Poem from the 28th Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth. 12

Ex-Champing at the Bit 07. 13

Gray Matter Test 15

Personalia. 15

RIP Stephen Thacker 16




A couple of months ago, Olly and I travelled to Portugal to visit friends.  It was the first time we’d travelled by air since the pandemic so although we were looking forward to it, we were a little nervous too.  The holiday didn’t start well.  The captain announced that there was a power outage at Portuguese air traffic control and they weren’t allowing any flights into their airspace.  Our only option was to divert to Madrid and take on more fuel to get us to Faro.  The passengers remained in their seats while the plane was on the tarmac in the Spanish capital.  Outside there were grey clouds.  Raindrops were bouncing off the wings and trickling down the windows.  Perhaps this goes to show that the rain in Spain really does fall mainly on the “plane”?  Eventually, we reached our destination, many hours late but grateful to arrive safely and we went on to have a wonderful time.  It was worth the wait! 

In June, the BCA held its first week-long tournament since 2019 and that too was worth waiting for.  You can read about our Combined Championship and Chairman’s Cup in this gazette.  At the tournament in Bournemouth, with chess clocks ticking away at the seaside, it was more evident than ever that tide and time wait for no man.  The chess was very exciting and we have a new Champion who’s been biding his time for years!

Results from the Combined Championship and Chairman’s Cup were sent to the ECF and this gazette contains ratings from the July list.  This issue also contains the final results of the 16th Email Tournament and the first round pairings in our remote Summer Cup tournament which got underway in July.

In Personalia you can read about a member who had an agonising wait before he could reveal good news to family and friends.  There is also an important occasion coming up for someone who’s been known to wait on members with glasses of water!  

If you haven’t yet entered our International Autumn Tournament, what are you waiting for?  All the details are in Forthcoming Events.  Please also take note of our Chairman’s request for people to nominate members who’ve given outstanding service to the BCA for Honorary Membership.  Awards will be made at the Autumn Tournament.  We have many hard-working members so please put your ideas forward.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it! 

Also in Forthcoming Events, you will find details of the 29th Chess Theme Break, which will be held at a venue which is new to the BCA but not to many of our members.  If you’ve not been to a Chess Theme Break before, why not give it a try?  Joan’s poem about this year’s event in this issue and Celia’s report in the May gazette will give you an idea of what to expect.  This year the coaches were greatly outnumbered by the trainees so it would be wonderful to have a few more coaches at next year’s event!

In these pages, Guy summarises the most recent committee meeting and Gill updates us all on money matters.  There are also all the usual officers’ reports, a game from the championship and the next instalment of Paul’s “Champing at the Bit” series.  Anyone who’s been puzzling over May’s Gray Matter Test need wait no longer to discover the solution. 

Once again, we are grateful to the Ulverscroft Foundation for sponsoring this issue of our gazette.  They have supported us very generously on numerous occasions.

Please send me your articles for the November gazette by the end of September.  Do get in touch if you’d like to write a tournament report or any other BCA related article.  You don’t have to wait to be asked!

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Friday 28th to Sunday 30th October 2022:  International Autumn Tournament

This year’s International Autumn Tournament will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Solihull.  The hotel is located a short taxi ride from Solihull Railway Station and is also convenient for Birmingham International Airport.  It has extensive grounds, a fitness centre, a sauna and a heated indoor pool and is adjacent to Solihull’s indoor shopping centre.

It will be our 90th anniversary event and we are hoping that as many members as possible will be able to join us, including some of our friends from overseas.  On the Saturday evening we will be aiming to hold one of our soirées in which members entertain us with their musical and other talents.

The chess part of the weekend will consist of two five round Swiss tournaments – an Open and a Challengers for those whose grade or estimated grade is 1450 or below.  Both are open to blind and partially sighted players and to associate members of the BCA.  The entry fee to take part in the chess is £10.

The rate of play is likely to be 90 minutes for each player for all moves.  Any player can request a half point bye in any one of the first four rounds or a delay in the start of their game in round 1 of 30 minutes.  Likely start times for the five games are 20.00 on the Friday evening, 09.45 and 14.15 on the Saturday and 09.45 and 14.00 on the Sunday.

Prices at the hotel have increased but we are of course doing our best to minimise the effect of this to members.  The cost for dinner, bed and breakfast for the Friday and Saturday nights is £50 per person per night for BCA members and associate members irrespective of room type.  The cost for members and associate members staying the Sunday night will be £80 per person per night irrespective of room type.

Any enquiries about the tournament or hotel should be sent to Voldi Gailans:  Please see the list of BCA Officers on the website for contact details.  Please also send your entries to Voldi, with a copy to Gill Smith.  The closing date for entries is 2nd September 2022.  Payment for all accommodation (including Sunday if required), together with the £10 entry fee should be made by this date.

Saturday 28th January to Saturday 4th February 2023 – The 29th Chess Theme Break

The 29th Chess Theme Break will be held at the Lauriston Hotel, 6-12 Knightstone Rd, Weston-super-Mare BS23 2AN.  Many members will already be familiar with the hotel.  It is in an excellent location, one mile from Weston-super-Mare railway station, a short walk from the seafront and the town centre shops.  Beds and bowls are provided for guide dogs.  The hotel also offers a dogfood service by prior arrangement, to save owners having to transport it themselves.

It is anticipated that the week will closely follow the tried and trusted programme developed by Peter and Celia Gibbs over many years.  It will include coaching provided by more experienced BCA members, a tournament and many social events.  Please refer to Celia’s report on the 28th Chess Theme Break in the May 2022 issue of the Gazette to get a flavour of what the week entails.  Alternatively, get in touch with the organiser, Julie Leonard, to find out more.  See officers' contact details on the website.  Any visually impaired person who wishes to learn chess or improve their chess is welcome.

The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast for the week is £420 per person in a single room or sharing a double or twin room, and £490 per person for single occupancy of a double or twin room.  The cost of individual nights for anyone not staying the whole week are £60 per person in a single room or sharing, and £70 per person for single occupancy.  If there is sufficient interest it may be possible to arrange an excursion for the free day at an additional cost.

The normal BCA booking procedures apply to this event.  When informing Julie of your requirements, please also state whether you’re attending as a trainee, a coach or a non-chess person and let her know when you have made your payment.  The closing date for entries is 30th November 2022.  Early booking is advised, especially if you require a single room or a room with a bath as there are limited numbers of these.  Rooms will be allocated on a first come first served basis and will only be reserved when the BCA has received your payment.  Payments made to the BCA are refundable until such time as the money is forwarded to the hotel, which will be in the first half of December.  No refunds will be possible after that time and therefore we advise members to take out holiday insurance.

Following a revision of the Chess Theme Break grant at the May 2022 committee meeting, all BCA members who attend for the whole week will receive a grant of £70 which will be paid as a refund after the event.

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

We held a committee meeting on 21st May. Below is my usual summary of the main points.

Financial Matters:  We are in remarkably good shape given the lack of income we experienced in the pandemic, though it should be said that we have not had the usual expenditure associated with sending teams or individuals to competitions abroad.  Nevertheless, we’ve received some donations recently, and our new fundraising consultant has been drafting a reasonable number of letters for us to send out to potential donors.

New hotels and support for over-the-board tournaments:  At the meeting the committee decided not to drop the Mickleover from our list of hotels of interest.  We were aware there had been issues on our first visit, but Derby is a very central location and we thought we should see whether those issues were to do with the pandemic.  Should we revisit the hotel, close to the event we’ll let those attending have the number of a local taxi firm and, funds permitting, we could offer £6 to help offset the expense of the taxi ride from the station to the hotel.  An idea might be to contact someone else going to the tournament and arrange to share a taxi with them to further reduce taxi costs.

The 2023 chess theme break will be held at the Lauriston Hotel in Weston Super Mare.  All BCA members attending will be entitled to a £70 grant.

Coaching:  The most successful form of coaching we’ve tried so far is to use the “How Good is Your Chess?” articles from Chess Magazine with groups of up to four.  We’d like this to become a regular part of our activities,

and if that does happen, we’ll publish the fact on our website as one of the things we do.

Junior Development:  Voldi has said he’d like to stand down as Junior Development Officer at the next AGM so we’ll be looking for a replacement.  The current thinking is that RNC has not really been a fertile recruiting ground for us, and that we might do better to try approaching the charity Look UK which works with visually impaired children and young people.

In the meantime a project is underway to systematically approach junior members, particularly those who joined us recently, to find out more about their requirements and aspirations regarding their membership of the BCA.  We’ve been thinking a way to keep their interest in chess going would be to pair them up with a buddy who could work with them on a one-to-one basis.

Covid Guidance:  It seems we’re passed any serious restrictions regarding social distancing, but we would ask members to respect your opponent’s wishes regarding shaking hands before the beginning of a game.  We’ll be mentioning this at tournaments and in tournament programmes.

Website:  Shortly after the meeting, Dan injured one of his hands which has impacted on his ability to work on ideas discussed at the committee meeting.  Still, he hopes to complete his work on an application which will transform our ability to interact with pgn files; the hope is he’ll be able to demonstrate the application in action on Skype.

Audio Content:  We’re going to advertise a list of the articles recorded from chess magazine on the user group.  The hope is it’ll pique people’s interest and increase the take up of our regular recording of excerpts from the magazine.

90th Anniversary and making it to our 100th and beyond:  Finally, we’ll be seeking nominations for honorary life membership and we’ll be making the awards at this year’s autumn international tournament.  We’ll be holding a drinks reception before Saturday’s dinner and having a soirée afterwards.

However, if we’re to make it to our 100th and beyond, the task of moving the association forward can’t be left to the committee.  Mention us to your friends and to any chess club you might be part of, and maybe you could be tempted to volunteer for a committee or sub-committee role.

Guy Whitehouse.

Treasurer’s Report

We recently received donations in memory of Roy Scott, Julia’s late husband, and also Steve Thacker who had been a member of the BCA for over 30 years.  The total was £350.

From time to time we still receive grants as a result of work by our previous fundraisers, Julia Scott and Linda Innes.  Since the last Gazette we have received a grant of £2,000 from the Anson Charitable Trust, £3,000 from the Dixie Rose Findlay Charitable Trust and £5,000 from the Calleva Foundation. 

Funds are now coming in from the work Carl and Freya have been carrying out.  Our new fundraiser, Carl, researches grant-making organisations and emails Freya with the letters he has written.  Freya then prints and posts them along with a copy of our accounts.  As at 1st July, we have received a total of £8,050 from this work, with donations from the following organisations: The Teale Charitable Trust, The Blakemore Foundation, The Belacqua Charitable Trust, The Annett Charitable Trust, The Richard Cadbury Trust and The UKH Foundation.

We are very grateful for each and every gift.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Fundraising as you Shop

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. 

We have recently received £47.60 from this scheme.

Another fundraising platform 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.  So far in 2022 we have received £25.75.

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:

April: Chris Ross, number 10.

May:    Tony Elbourn, number 27.

June:    Martyn Wilson, number 21.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Honorary Members

From time to time we have appointed Honorary Members in recognition of their outstanding service to the BCA.  We currently have seven such members:  Alec Crombie, Peter and Celia Gibbs, Julie Leonard, Stan Lovell, Julia Scott and Gerry Walsh.  Starting with this issue we will be including Honorary Members at the front of each Gazette in order to give them some prominence.

At the recent AGM there was full agreement that, in this our 90th anniversary year, we should appoint a few additional Honorary Members.  We already have ideas who might be considered for the award but we are also inviting nominations from the wider membership.  It should be emphasised that serving committee members will not be considered unless there are exceptional circumstances.  The AGM agreed that the committee should be responsible for deciding which nominations will receive the award, with announcements and presentations being made at the Solihull weekend at the end of October.

Please let me have your nominations by the end of August please, together with a brief indication of why you feel they should be recognised in this way.  Thank you.

Norman Wragg.

Membership Secretary’s Report

Just one new member for this quarter but a very impressive one nevertheless, this being my friend Mahendra Galani from Austria.  Mahendra is extremely well known in the blind online chess community for his outstanding contributions in running chess tournaments tailored for visually impaired chess players and for running the International Chess Café chat room where visually impaired chess players can chat about chess and other topics in a friendly atmosphere.  For more details:

I first met and played chess with Mahendra way back in 2011 in what was then known as a “For the People” Tournament.  In those days the chat room worked very like CB Radio and you had to take it in turns to speak.  If someone forgot to release the microphone then no one else could get a word in until the mic was released!  In those days we used a quirky time control where you had an hour each on your clock and every 30 moves you completed you would automatically be given an extra hour of time.  The net effect of this time control was that you needed to be very efficient at getting your first 30 moves out and then things would get easier as the game progressed.  Another feature of this time control means that in theory games could go on indefinitely and in my first game with Mahendra we had to adjourn the game twice and the game lasted 81 moves in all taking 5 and a half hours in total.  Mahendra actually won the game, I played a rather ropey closed Sicilian, as in those days I knew very little about opening theory!  To this day it is the longest online game I've ever played.

It was with great pleasure that Mahendra was able to attend the combined British/Challenger tournament in Bournemouth this June and it was wonderful to finally meet and play over the board in the flesh as opposed to meeting in the online world.  So I'm hoping that in the future some of our online friends will take Mahendra's lead and join the BCA and attend some of our BCA OTB events.


It is with great sadness I have to report the death of Steve Thacker who heroically coped with so many health problems.  At the British/Chairmans Cup attendees were able to watch Steve's funeral.  RIP Steve.

Mark Hague

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Anyone seeking an opponent for a couple of friendly games should contact myself, details given in list of Officers.


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

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

BCA LEAGUE 2022-23

Division 1 - Group Leader Voldi Gailans

Phillips 0.5 - 0.5 Gailans, English Opening, 43.

Phillips 0 - 1 Crombie, English Opening, 17.

Jim Cuthbert has withdrawn from Division 1, no results are credited.

Final scores: Alec Crombie 2-2, Voldi Gailans 0.5, George Phillips 0.5.

Congratulations to Alec Crombie on winning Division 1 with a perfect score to become League 2022-23 Champion.

Division 2 - Group Leader Guy Whitehouse

Final scores: Malcolm Jones 3-3, Mike Flood 1.5, Eric Gallacher 1.5, Eleanor Tew 0.

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

Paul Benson

16th BCA Email Tournament Wrap Up

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

Here’s the wrap up of our 16th BCA Email tournament.  Except for a few minor problems in Divisions 4 and 5, the event went off very smoothly.  We have a new champion in Division 1 for the first time in a long while.  Peter Gibbs had to withdraw at the last minute owing to some health problems, and has been replaced by Philip Doyle as the overall champion.  Well done to Philip, but he will have a tough time holding on to the title should Peter make a comeback, which we sincerely hope he does.  Colin Chambers made a good case for returning to Division 1 with victory in the second division.  Eamonn Casey won Division 3 with a perfect score as did Simon Highsmith in winning Division 4.  Depending on entries for the next competition, Simon may well achieve promotion in two consecutive events.  Donna Jodhan and Neda Koohnavard were inseparable in Division 5, with both of them receiving 2 and a half points.

It is great to see over the board tournaments returning within the BCA, and I'm sure many of you are looking forward to the British Championship and Chairman's cup in Bournemouth in June, but there are good numbers who would prefer to play chess from the comfort of their own homes, and email chess fills this space perfectly.  I would encourage members to seriously consider giving it a go.  Our next tournament is due to take place at the beginning of October, and we will always welcome new players to join our regulars.  Once again, thanks to all the players for your co-operation, which helps to make this such an enjoyable tournament.

Results of games not yet reported and final scores to follow.

Division 1:  Bill Armstrong, Steve Burnell, Philip Doyle, Malcolm Jones.

Doyle beat Armstrong

Armstrong beat Burnell

Final Scores: Doyle 2.5, Burnell 1.5, Armstrong and Jones 1.

Division 2:  Colin Chambers, Malola Prasath, Gerry Walsh, John Fullwood.

Prasath beat Walsh

Final Scores: Chambers 2.5, Fullwood 1.5, Prasath and Walsh 1.

Division 3:  Eamonn Casey, Voldi Gailans, Tony Elbourn, Nene Clayton.

Gailans lost to Clayton

Final Scores:  Casey 3, Clayton 2, Gailans 1, Elbourn 0.

Division 4:  Gill Smith, John Ramm, Marilyn Bland, Simon Highsmith.

Highsmith beat Bland

Bland lost to Smith

Ramm beat Bland

Final Scores:  Highsmith 3, Smith 2, Ramm 1, Bland 0.

Division 5:  Mike Flood, Neda Koohnavard, Donna Jodhan, Richard Harrington.

Flood lost to Koohnavard

Koohnavard drew with Jodhan

Harrington lost to Jodhan

Final Scores:  Jodhan and Koohnavard 2.5, Flood 1, Harrington 0.

BCA British Championship and Chairman’s Cup, Bournemouth 2022

Stan Lovell writes:

This event celebrated the lives of David and Sheila Milsom, who served BCA for many years.  Before losing his sight, David was manager of a youth hostel in the south west of England.  After he lost his sight, David entered a new career teaching at the Queen Alexandra College for the Blind in Birmingham.

David joined BCA during the 1970's.  He was elected as Treasurer in 1980 and later served for a number of years as Membership Secretary.  During those years of service his wife Sheila was always at his side with generous help and support.  Upon David's death Sheila continued to be a regular at BCA events, carrying out many tasks.  She raised a considerable amount of money for us with her raffles, and Sheila's quizzes were legendary in our BCA events.  David and Sheila will never be forgotten.

The event was held at the Marsham Court hotel. Once again, this hotel and its staff gave us a very warm welcome and a comfortable and friendly environment for our tournament.  John Jenkins was the genial master of ceremonies, with his finger always on the pulse.  As usual, there was a full and varied programme of social events throughout the week.  On Monday, Julie prepared a “Call my Bluff” type word game at very short notice as the Chorus that was due to perform were unable to do so due to covid within their group.  On Tuesday Martyn Wilson assisted by Richard Harrington prepared a quiz, which cleverly included some easy rounds along with some more difficult rounds.  All the teams finished within a few points of each other.  On Wednesday John had booked an excellent jazz duo which was very much enjoyed, particularly by the author of this report.  Then came the murder mystery on the Thursday evening.  Members grouped into teams to try to solve the mystery.  All teams came up with ingenious theories and two of the teams actually identified the murderer.  Friday was the time for the BCA Soirée.  Although many of us will have had memories of Antoine in our mind, we were able to enjoy an excellent variety of acts.  Many were touched by an Iranian folk song performed by Neda Koohnavard along with debut artists, Steve Bailey and Richard Harrington along with the regular performers.  It was a wonderful way to bring a wonderful week to its climax.

By now, I can imagine, some are saying, “But what about the Chess?”  Due to the Covid pandemic, BCA had got behind with its tournaments.  It was decided to catch up and run the BCA British Championship and the Chairman's Cup jointly.  In addition, there were some coaching sessions and a simultaneous display by local player, Martin Simons.  Of the ten who played in the simul, only Ian Blencowe managed to come away with a draw.

The tournament got under way on Saturday evening, with 24 players, including some fairly new to BCA events, and Mahendra Galani, who had travelled from Vienna to be with us.  The tournament was managed by our team of arbiters, Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard, assisted by Norman Andrews as steward.  Thanks to their good work the tournament ran very smoothly.  I thought the room in which the chess was played was comfortable and there seemed to be plenty of space between tables. 

The first upset in the Championship event occurred in round 2 when George Phillips, who had played well in the recent Spring tournament, beat the top seed, Bill Armstrong.  By the end of round 6 Bill Armstrong and Stan Lovell were joint leaders in the British Championship with 4.5 points.  Richard Murphy also had 4.5 points and Ian Blencowe was leading the Chairman's Cup on 5 points.  Richard and Ian could not qualify for the British as it is limited to VI players. 

In the final round Bill was paired against Ian and Stan was paired to play Dan Rugman who was just a half point lower.  It was with around an hour to go when Bill completed a win against Ian.  This meant Stan needed to win to maintain a single point advantage in the sum of progressive tie-break system.  The game between Stan and Dan was fairly tense.  Stan had managed to gain a pawn but he was behind on time.  Then Dan fell into a mating net.  This meant Stan had won the title by just one tie-break point, 22 to 21.  Bill was equal on points.  Richard Murphy, who defeated Mahendra in the final round, won the Chairman's Cup for the second time running. 

From the following list of scores you will see just how close the event was.  There was just half a point separating the top four players and just half a point separating the next 12 players.  For those who enjoy a keenly fought tournament in a friendly atmosphere, at an excellent venue, among the friendliest bunch you can imagine, make a note in your diary for 15th  to 22nd July 2023, for this is when BCA will return to this hotel for the Chairman's Cup.

Final Scores and Placings

Joint 1st on 5.5 Points: Stan Lovell (BCA British Champion), Richard Murphy (Chairman's Cup), Bill Armstrong

4th on 5 Points: Ian Blencowe

Joint 5th on 4 Points: Mark Hague, Colin Chambers, George Phillips, Dan Rugman, Mahendra Gallani, Tony Elbourn (Mark, Mahendra and Tony shared Grading Prize A.)

On 3.5 Points: Phil Gordon, John Jenkins, Voldi Gailans, Steve Bailey, Simon Highsmith and Neda Koohnavard (Simon and Neda shared Grading Prize B.)

On 3 Points: Gary Wickett, Gill Smith and Tony Lawton

On 2.5 Points: Lea Ryan, who won Grading Prize C

On 2 Points: Abi Baker and Jim Cuthbert

On 1 Point: Richard Harrington

On 0.5 Point: Irene Elbourn  

Editor’s note: I asked Stan for a game for the gazette and he kindly sent his final round win. 

Round 7: White Dan Rugman, Black Stan Lovell

1. d4 Nf6  2. Bf4 g6  3. Nc3 d5  4. e3 Bg7  5. h4 c5  6. dxc5 Nbd7  7. Be2 Nxc5  8. h5 Nfe4  9. Nb5 Ne6

10. Nd4 Nxf4  11. exf4 Qb6  12. Ngf3 Bg4  13. c3 Qxb2  14. Bb5+ Kf8  15. Be2 Bxf3  16. gxf3 Qxc3+ 

17. Kf1 Nd2+  18. Kg2 Bxd4  19. hxg6 fxg6  20. Rc1 Qa5  21. Rh4 Bf6  22. Rh6 Bg7  23. Rh4 Nc4  24. f5 gxf5

25. Bxc4 dxc4  26. Rhxc4 Qd8  27. Qc2 e6  28. Rc7 b6  29. Qa4 Be5  30. Rb7 Rg8+  31. Kf1 Qd3+  0-1

BCA Summer Cup

The BCA Summer Cup got underway on the 9th of July.  It's a remote event so games will be played by telephone, Skype or on other internet-based platforms.  There are 22 players taking part in two sections.  The round 1 pairings are below and the game will have been played by the time you read this gazette.

Open Section

Board  White                          Rating or Estimate                  Black                           Rating or Estimate

1          Stephen Hilton            1865                            v          Mahendra Galani             1404

2          Mark Hague                1343                            v          Steve Burnell             1824

3          Stan Lovell                 1633                            v          Gary Wickett             1305

4          Voldi Gailans              1305                            v          Eamonn Casey             1510

5          Colin Fisher                1508                            v          Malcolm Jones             1283

6          Norman Wragg           1713                            v          Half Point Bye

7          Dan Rugman               1419                            v          Full Point Bye

Challengers Section

Board  White                          Rating or Estimate                  Black                           Rating or Estimate

1          Neda Koohnavard       1184                            v          Tim Musson                1085

2          Gill Smith                   1080                            v          Steve Bailey                1163

3          John Ramm                 1150                            v          Nene Clayton              1050

4          Lea Ryan                     849                              v          Abi Baker                   1097

5          Tony Lawton              1088                            v          Richard Harrington     705

The Summer Cup will finish on the 17th of September so the final results will be published in the November issue.

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

We’re over halfway through the 2022 competition now so if you have a game that you’re particularly pleased with don’t forget to send it in so that this year’s judge, Paul Benson, can consider it.  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.  Games from the 16th Email Tournament, the Combined Championship and Chairman’s Cup and the remote Summer Cup are all eligible.

ECF Ratings for BCA Members

Many thanks to Dan Rugman for compiling the list of ECF Ratings for BCA members below!  The ratings are the over the board ones as of the 13th July 2022.  Rapidplay ratings are included for those who have them and are shown with an ‘(R)’ suffix.  Every effort has been made to avoid errors or omissions but please do let the editor know if you spot any!  Bear in mind though, that if you haven’t played a graded game recently you will probably not have a published rating.

Andrews, Norman      1594   

Armstrong, Bill          1696   

Bailey, Steve               1163   

Baker, Abi                  1097   

Baxter, Colin              1548   

Benson, Paul               1930   

Blencowe, Ian             1628    1528(R)

Brown, Geoff              1838    1682(R)

Burnell, Steve             1824   

Carr, Matthew            1694    1640(R)

Casey, Eamonn           1510   

Chambers, Colin         1555   

Chambers, Duncan     1668   

Chapman, Gordon      1484   

Clayton, David            1428   

Cloudsdale, Peter        1823    1660(R)

Cole, Tristram            1803   

Cuthbert, Jim              1059   

Doyle, Philip              1608   

Elbourn, Irene             697     

Elbourn, Tony             1270   

Flood, Mike                1015   

Fullwood, John           1271   

Gailans, Voldi             1305   

Galani, Mahendra       1404   

Gibbs, Peter                1960   

Gordon, Phillip           1488   

Graff, Ben                   1763    1839(R)

Hague, Mark               1343   

Harrington, Richard    705     

Highsmith, Simon      1218   

Holtz, Steve                1233   

Ibanez, Bittor              1296    1068(R)

Jenkins, John              1314   

Jones, Malcolm          1283   

Khare, Shubhransh     843      1250(R)

Kirkham, Mark           1483   

Koohnavard, Neda      1184   

Lawton, Tony             1088   

Lovell, Stan                1633   

Mabbs, David                         1998(R)

McElroy, Ernie           1593   

Mills, David                1698   

Murphy, Richard        1622   

Osborne, John             1074   

Phillips, George          1456   

Phillips, Owen            1967    1916(R)

Pomeroy, Ray             1503    1330(R)

Pourtahmasbi, Ednun  738     

Prasath, Malola           2105   

Rafferty, Phil              959     

Ross, Chris                 2251   

Rugman, Daniel          1419   

Ryan, Lea                    849     

Shimwell, Efe             1660    1555(R)

Smith, Gill                  1080   

Tew, Eleanor              693     

Thukaram-But, Jijjith 1398   

Walsh, Gerard             1572   

Warren, Denis             1143   

Waters, Roger             1510   

Whitehouse, Guy        1435   

Wickett, Gary             1305   

Willis, Graham           1713    1540(R)

Wragg, Norman          1713   

Joan Shorrock’s Poem from the 28th Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth

Here we are for the Theme Break

At Bournemouth with the BCA

And very glad to be here

After a long time away.

This week is all about chess

But when all is said and done

We do much more after all

We like to have some fun!

We went to a museum

Asking, when and who and how.

Antoine would have loved it

With his “Amazing!” and “Wow!”

Then we went to Monkey World

Tony brought Hester too

Baboons, Chimps, Orangutans

Wondering who was looking at who!

Joan is guiding George or walks

Giving him her dedication

But this week’s walks were different

Sorting out his medication.

Jim was another one

Needing medical attention

And Joan did not feel too well

Another one to mention.

Is the BCA cracking up?

But let me now explain.

Nothing will ever beat us.

We keep meeting again and again!

Thanks Julie for your input

There wasn’t any doubt

That you would do a great job

You had your work cut out.

You have worked very hard

And we all would like to say

Though depleted you have made this

A great chess holiday!

To everyone else who helped

The staff at Marsham Court too

It’s been an enjoyable week

And so we say “Thank you!”

I don’t know who’s won the tournament

Tomorrow I won’t be here.

But I say congratulations!

That’s all for another year!

(I had gone by the time the results were announced but it was George who won.  Well done again!)

Ex-Champing at the Bit 07

Another IBCA game from the 80s.  This tournament took place in the town of Middlesbrough located in County Cleveland.  Organiser Gerry Walsh successfully applied for a grant from the County Council and entrants from IBCA European countries arrived to do battle with various U.K. BCA members.


G. Carlin (England) - L. Beutelhoff (West Germany), Cleveland (UK) 1988.

No ratings available, your annotator guesses the players are about 2050 and 2180 respectively on the present ECF rating system.

1. e4 e5  2. Nc3 Nf6  3. f4

Welcome to the Vienna Gambit, a close cousin to the King's Gambit, early complications available to both sides should they choose.

3. ... d5

Black escalates the central tension, White now has 3 potential captures to consider.  Each combatant will of course still be in their chosen opening repertoire, necessary homework required from both players to enter this variation.

4. fxe5 Nxe4

Much of the central tension has been released but both players should be feeling content.  There is a space advantage to White which can soon be challenged and speedy piece development is on offer to both sides.

5. Nf3 Nc6  6. d4 Bg4  7. Bb5 Bb4

With just 7 moves each on the board Black has all 4 minor pieces developed plus the bonus threat of winning material on the c3 square.  There are sufficient defensive options to avoid material loss, but this is not the point.  White, surely seeking to put pressure on Black, must now instead spend a tempo on defence.

8. Qd3 O-O

A doubler.  Firstly, the black king finds safety on the g8 square.  Secondly, White must work out the consequences of permitting Black Bxf3, it is the d4 pawn which is presently in danger.

9. Bxc6

For the price of the bishop pair White neutralises any potential tactical threats to the d4 pawn.  The thwarted idea for Black is Bxf3 since white gxf3 is hit by Qh4+, very dangerous for White.

9. ... bxc6  10. O-O Nxc3

Another pair of minor pieces disappear with Black having gained the nominal advantage of the bishop pair along the way.  White in return still has that central space advantage.  Who is better?  Wrong question.  This position is asking each player just how they intend to squeeze the most from their present asset, such is the reason why imbalance should be sought.

11. bxc3 Be7  12. Be3 f6

Trying to open up the position for the bishop pair.  A completely different approach of 12. ... Bxf3 needed careful consideration.  The Plusses: White would have a dark square bishop restricted by dark square pawns which would be targets for the remaining black bishop.  The Minus: The future mutual test of handling the minor piece imbalance of white knight versus black light square bishop would disappear.

13. exf6 Bxf6  14. Ne5 Bd7

With Black estimated as the stronger player, perhaps seeking a win, then avoiding exchanges must be the plan, no matter how awkward the position might become.  Instead 14. ... Bxe5 is very committal, an eventual opposite colour bishop ending is virtually unavoidable, a draw would be the most likely result.

15. Bf4 Be8  16. Qg3 Bh4

A sign all is not working well in the black camp.  This prodding at the white queen only helps her to control some light squares, exactly what she desires.  Instead the sensible 16. ... Kh8 getting off both the g-file and the g8 light square was worth consideration.

17. Qg4 Qe7  18. g3

Reclaiming control of the e1 and f2 dark squares.  Options for centralisation of the white a1 rook or doubling rooks on the f-file are now available.

18. ... Bf6  19. Rae1 Qa3

A critical decision.  Black assesses the white central pressure can only increase to a point where defensive duties might become unmanageable.  So why is the black queen deliberately deserting her king?  She will only become a target by remaining in the centre of the defences.  By charging into the white queenside there will at least be some questions to be answered.

20. Qe6+ Kh8  21. Bd2

A doubler.  Firstly, White has protected the c3 pawn.  Secondly, the white f1 rook is again active up the f-file.

21. ... Qxa2

Very committal.  Back on a3 the black queen could still offer limited backward defensive cover to the d6, e7 and f8 dark squares.  Surely a player as experienced as Black realises the dangers of sending the queen on walkabout?  Almost certainly, so what is going on?  “Chess For Tigers” by Simon Webb recommends, upon diagnosing a poor position, do something immediately rather than trying to sulk it out.  Here the black queen plans snatching material then sneaking back over to the kingside to defend after the brief holiday is over.  Risky, but far better than waiting for White to shuffle the attackers to then bust the black kingside apart.  Now the centralised white attacking forces outnumber the black defenders.  Fine, but presence alone is not enough, they must combine together to find a breakthrough.

22. Ng4

Proving the point that sometimes to make progress a backward move is required.  The tactics on the black f6 bishop must win material somewhere for White, it is for Black to choose how it proceeds.

22. ... Bf7

A move of mixed consequences, but in fairness to Black, there was not much better to be found.  The Gain: The black connecting of rooks has strengthened the black back rank, but there are still tricks and traps floating around.  The Loss: Lining up pieces on the f-file just inspires White to search for a "Crusher".

Instead resorting to counter-tactics seems to fail, some ideas run:

(A). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 Qxd2 24. Nxe8 Rfxe8 25. Qxe8+ Rxe8 26. Rxe8+ mate.

(B). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 Qxd2 24. Nxe8 Raxe8 25. Qxe8 Rxe8 26. Rxe8+ mate.

(C). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 Rxf6 24. Qxe8+ Rf8 25. Rxf8+ mate.

(D). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 Rxf6 24. Qxe8+ Rxe8 25. Rxe8+ Rf8 26. Rexf8+ mate.

(E). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 gxf6 24. Bh6 Rg8 25. Qxf6 Rg7 26. Qxg7+ mate.

(F). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 gxf6 24. Bh6 Rf7 25. Qxe8+ Rxe8 26. Rxe8+ Rf8 27. Rxf8+ mate.

(G). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 gxf6 24. Bh6 Rf7 25. Qxe8+ Rf8 26. Qe7 Rg8 27. Qxf6+ Rg7 28. Qxg7+ mate.

(H). 22. ... Qxc2 23. Nxf6 gxf6 24. Bh6 Rf7 25. Qxe8+ Rf8 26. Qe7 Qg6 27. Bxf8 White has won a rook plus bishop in the trading.

23. Qxc6 Qxc2

White to play and support the claim of Bobby Fischer: “Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.”

24. Rxf6

Demonstrating that just because a piece is en prise, the white d2 bishop, the threat can be ignored if something strong is available elsewhere.

Easier to play would have been 24. Bf4 when all white units are ready to further increase the pressure on Black.

24. ... Qxd2

Had this material-equalising move not have been available then Black would almost certainly have resigned.  The white rook on f6 was hoping for the reply 24. ... gxf6 when 25. Qxf6+ Kg8 26. Nh6+ mate is a neat smothering.  So much for the oft-quoted maxim: “A knight on the rim is dim.”

25. Ref1

White gangs up on the pinned black f7 bishop, the f6 rook is still immune from capture as the 2-move mate still works.

25. ... Rad8

Protecting the pinned f7 bishop fails.  Instead 25. ... Kg8 26. Rxf7 Rxf7 27. Qxa8+ Rf8 28. Qxf8+ mate.

26. Rxf7

The tournament bulletin annotation gives a powerful continuation missed by White.  Instead 26. R6f2 Qg5 27. Ne5 Qe3 28. Kg2 Qe4+ 29. Kh3 and Black cannot find any more sensible queen checks while the pinned f7 bishop is now triply attacked, White is winning a piece.  This analysis seems correct which implies the black queen holiday of pawn-snatching was not enough to deflect the coordination of the white forces, isn't “Annotator 20-20 Hindsight” wonderful?  The other side of the coin is had the black queen stayed with the defences then the black position would have become congested and White would have surely broken through in time.  If all this is correct then where did Black start to stray?  Perhaps 12. ... Bxf3 eliminating the white knight before it gets some good play would have made the defensive task easier?  However, another early exchange of minor pieces would have reduced chances to complicate, the rating differences implying Black would like to play for a win.

26. ... Rxf7  27. Rxf7

The superior white forces have combined to win a piece.  Fine, but in doing so they have completely lost coordination and are scattered across the board.  Furthermore, the white king has virtually no defensive assistance and has the black queen hovering just a couple of squares away.  Black to play has a chance to take advantage of these factors.

27. ... Qd1+  28. Kg2 Qxg4

Black regains the piece and is now actually a pawn up but the white heavy piece activity easily cancels this out.

29. Qxc7

White creates a powerful position which essentially forces Black down a road of little choice.  Perhaps that rating differential is having the final say?  Has White decided further risk-taking is just too risky and prefers to avoid defeat at the hands of a stronger player?  Instead 29. Qxd5 playing for tricks such as 29. ... Rxd5 30. Rf8+ mate will not happen.  Black would probably go for 29. Qxd5 Rb8 when it is the white king who needs defensive cover and quickly.

29. ... Qe2+  30. Kh3

Indicating a willingness to split the point.  Instead retreating with 30. Rf2 takes the pressure off Black, who might now feel like fighting on for a few more moves.

30. ... Qh5+  31. Kg2 Qe2+  32. Kh3 Qh5+  33. Kg2 Qe2+  Draw agreed, 1/2-1/2

Black accepts he had nothing better than to play for 3-fold repetition. 

A tough game for Black once the middlegame got going leading to a lost position for a single move but the opponent failed to maximise.  In contrast the wandering black queen finally justified the risks involved in the desertion of the defences.  Conclusion: When confronted with a hard position to play seek activity, your opponent might not handle the complications as Fritz does.  Humans are known to err.

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.

May 2022 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Nurlan Ibraev, Calvia, 2004


White: King c1, Queen f5, Rooks d6 and h1, Bishops b2 and f1, Knight g5, Pawns a2, b3, c4, e3, f2, g2 and h4.

Black: King g8, Queen d8, Rooks a8 and e8, Bishop b7, Knights c6 and f6, Pawns a7, b6, d7, e5, f7, g7 and h6.

Find White’s winning move! 

Solution: Rxf6 followed by Qh7+

August 2022 Puzzle

Viktor Laznicka vs Magnus Carlsen, Internet, 12/21/2005


White: King g1. Queen e5, Rook c5, Bishop f1, Pawns a2, f2, g2, h3

Black: King a7, Queen b5, Rook b7, Bishop e4, Knight f4, Pawns e6, f5, g5, h6

Black mates in 3 moves.

The solution will appear in the November gazette.


Many congratulations to Ed Green, who received an OBE for Public Service in the Queen's Birthday Honours List!  I asked Ed how it felt and he said, “I felt very surprised, proud and, well, honoured when I found out.  I was told towards the end of April and had to keep it a secret until the list of honours was announced on 1st June - it was quite the effort!”

We have another milestone birthday coming up this autumn.  Norman Andrews will be 80 on the 23rd of October!  Norman has been a member of the B.C.A for decades, attending many tournaments sometimes to take part and sometimes as a hard-working steward, watching over the games and looking after the players.  One of his duties is to keep the players supplied with glasses of water and I’m sure that many readers will have benefited from the refreshments that Norman brings.  But Norman, I hope that you will enjoy a glass of something a bit stronger that water on your special day!  Please join me in congratulating Norman and wishing him many happy returns! 

RIP Stephen Thacker

This piece is based on the eulogy, kindly shared with us by Steve’s brother, Philip.  The section related to Steve’s involvement with the BCA has been expanded upon a little. 

Stephen was born in Long Eaton on the 16th January 1964 to his parents Maurice and the dear late Jean.  He shared his upbringing with his brothers Philip, Neil and Lee.  Fond memories were shared of family holidays to Skegness and Ingoldmells as they grew up.

When Stephen was younger, he went to Brakenfield School, then on to boarding school at Tapton Mount due to his partial sightedness.  As his condition deteriorated, he went totally blind.

Stephen went to Worcester and Hereford College for the Blind.  When he left Hereford, he moved to Peterborough, where Scope had funded a machine at the Land Registry, so that Stephen could work there.  He was employed at the Land Registry between 1997-2002.  Stephen had his PC at home and a special computer too.

In Peterborough, Stephen lived with his girlfriend Helen for a number of years, until she very sadly passed away.  They had planned to marry, so naturally this was devastating.

Stephen was a much-loved brother-in-law to the dear late Alison.  Neil is now married to Emma (who was one of Stephen's carers to near the end).  Lee is married to Julie, who was also his other carer for quite a while.  His mum was a carer too.  Philip's partner is Mandie.  Stephen was uncle to Amie and Jay, Lydia and Joshua.  Each family member has their own very fond memories.

In the last fifteen to twenty years, Stephen was diagnosed with Alstrom Syndrome, being treated by specialists in Devon, where he commuted to, until the team was moved to Birmingham. 

Stephen used to go regularly for tests and to help them out with research, something he was proud to do.  Until Stephen passed away, he was the oldest person in the world with Alstrom Syndrome, a progressive illness.  He has contributed tremendously to medical sciences.  His input will continue to benefit countless others, now and over the coming years.

Alstrom UK have supported Stephen tremendously.  Special thanks to them.  Gratitude also to the authorities, the RNIB for their help and the Braille magazines and also Scope to name but a few.  They have all been amazing. 

Stephen was part of Sense too and he did a lot for them and with them.  He attended many conferences in London in the early times, supporting various organisations.  He was very active, travelling mostly by rail, often on his own.  The staff looked out for him on the railways.

To wind down, he had a variety of hobbies and interests.  He was very big into chess, playing a lot for the Braille Chess Association and attending many tournaments with them all over the country.  He was a loyal supporter for at least thirty-five years and over that time he made many friends in the association.  In earlier years he was a regular participant in the annual trip to Haaksbergen in the Netherlands.  He also played in Irish Open tournaments and represented the U.K. in Six Nations events at home and abroad.  He had been due to play in the Combined Championship and Chairman’s Cup in Bournemouth this summer, but sadly that was not meant to be.  Stephen’s funeral took place that very week, which sadly meant that none of his chess friends could attend in person.  However, the playing schedule was altered so that anyone who wished to could follow the service via a live link.  Almost thirty of Steve’s friends gathered to pay their respects remotely.  He will be much missed in the B.C.A.

Stephen loved to travel, even hot air ballooning in Australia.  He visited Israel and America too.  He was a fan of listening to football and cricket, often discussing the matches with his dad. 

He had a vast CD collection, with a particular fondness for Queen, Elton John and musical artists from the 80s.  He loved the story CDs too.

Despite deteriorating hearing and using hearing aids, blindness, diabetes, extra bone growth and an extensive list of surgeries, Stephen was a happy go lucky guy.  He was always laughing and smiling and had a great sense of humour.  So many tributes have poured in on social media.  He lived such a full life, making some amazing, close friends along the way.  So many of his friends have sent messages of condolences.  Philip affectionately concluded; Stephen was an amazing, amazing man. 

Stop Press:

Just before this Gazette was finalised, there was more sad news.  Phyllis Hodgkins passed away on the 9th of July.  There’ll be a proper tribute to Phyllis next time, but for now we send our condolences to her family.