The Gazette

November 2022


Registered Charity Number 263049



Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.

This issue has kindly been sponsored by Alec and Caroline Crombie.

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

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 5

Treasurer’s Report 5

Fundraising as you Shop. 6

Training Reminder 6

Membership Secretary’s Report 6

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 6

BCA Summer Cup. 7

17th BCA Email Tournament 8

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 9

Ex-Champing at the Bit 08. 9

Gray Matter Test 12

Personalia. 12

RIP Phyllis Hodgkins. 13

RIP Raymond Pomeroy. 14

RIP Martin Kane. 14




As chess players, we’re always a bit glum if we lose our queen.  However, on the 8th of September this year, the loss of a Queen took on a whole new level of poignancy for many of us.  Now, completely at odds with the laws of chess, the UK has exchanged a Queen for a King, and the new monarch’s next moves remain to be seen.

Some commentators have remarked that the reign of Elizabeth II defined an era.  Her long life saw many changes, countless comings and goings of people, institutions and traditions.  However, one particular organisation that was established when she was approximately six years old is definitely here to stay.  Of course, I refer to our brilliant BCA, founded in 1932 and still going strong, championing the “Royal Game” at every opportunity!  As I write in mid-October, excitement is mounting as members look forward to our 90th anniversary event in Solihull.  Naturally, there’ll be more on that in the next issue.

In these pages are all the usual offerings from our officers who regularly contribute to the gazette.  There’s a fine crop of new joiners, as reported by our Membership Secretary, and encouraging fundraising news from our Treasurer.  Forthcoming Events contains information on the Chess Theme Break.  There’s still a month to put your name down, but early booking is advised especially if you require a single room. 

As a rule, we generally have a chess puzzle, and this issue is no exception!  Anyone who enjoys working on their game and feels their chess would benefit from coaching should look out for Voldi’s reminder about training allowances.  If correspondence chess is more to your taste, Paul is inviting entries for the 47th BCA Correspondence Championship.  He has also written another in depth analysis piece, the latest in his highly informative “Ex-Champing at the Bit” series.  Meanwhile, Paul is busy working through entries for the 2022 Best Game Competition, which he is kindly judging for us this year.  Remember to get your entry in by the end of December!

Sadly, it’s not just the royal family that has suffered a bereavement.  We have lost three members of our BCA family in recent months and we say a fond farewell to each of them.

Grateful thanks are due to Alec and Caroline Crombie, who have given a majestic donation to sponsor this issue of the gazette.  Readers who enjoyed Alec’s novel “Become the Wind” earlier in the year, will be excited to learn that his second novel has already been published!  See Personalia for more details.

Also in this issue is news about the 17th Email Tournament that started at the end of September and an account of our remote Summer Cup event.  The nights are drawing in now and summer already feels like a distant memory, but it’s pleasant to reflect on those balmy days when I could often be found in the kitchen, chopping up a white queen and putting it into a salad!  In case anyone is perturbed at the thought of senseless damage being inflicted on precious chess sets, I should perhaps explain that these particular white queens were tomatoes, a variety grown successfully in my greenhouse for the first time this year!  I hope nobody will report me to the R.S.P.C.A. if I confess that I’ve also been slicing up green zebras?

This is the final gazette of 2022 so I’ll conclude by sending best wishes for the festive season to all readers.  Please let me have articles for the February gazette by the end of December, ideally before Christmas.

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

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.  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.

Saturday 15th to Saturday 22nd July 2023:  Chairman’s Cup

This will take place at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth, where so many successful BCA events have taken place in recent years.  Organisers, John and Pam Jenkins, are planning to run the event along the same lines as others that they have arranged for us.  It’s a tried and trusted formula, but if anyone has any suggestions for improvements John and Pam would love to hear from you!

The February gazette will contain further information on this event but for now, please put the dates in your diary!

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.

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:

July:                Irene Elbourn, number 25

August:           Colin Chambers, number 50

September:      Julie Leonard, number 52

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Treasurer’s Report

We have now been working for six months under our new fundraising arrangements in partnership with Carl Concannon.  During this time, we have received a total of £17,800 which is an excellent outcome.  In our contract with Carl there is a clause stating that, if he had not raised at least £3,600 in the first six months he would continue to fundraise for us free of charge until he had reached that amount: the figures speak for themselves!  These funds have come from a variety of grant-making bodies.  At the end of this article, I have listed those organisations who have given since the last Gazette. Thanks are due to Freya and Norman for their contributions in helping me to manage this work. 

Grants are still sent to us as a result of work by our previous fundraisers, Julia Scott and Linda Innes, with funds having been received in the last quarter from the Moynitrust.

We have also received donations in memory of Phyllis Hodgkins and further donations in memory of Steve Thacker. These latest gifts total £625.

Many thanks to Alec and Caroline Crombie who have kindly sponsored this issue of the Gazette.

Sometimes members round up payments and say the difference is a donation.  These amounts all add up nicely.

We are very grateful for each and every gift.

The following organisations have supported us financially this quarter:

The Tula Trust, the Michael Barnard Charitable Trust, the Ostrich Charitable Trust, the James Wise Charitable Trust, the Veale Wasbrough Charitable Trust, the Broughton Family Charitable Trust, the Fitton Trust, the Keith and Joan Mindelsohn Charitable Trust, the Sydney Black Charitable Trust, the Lord Belstead Charitable Trust, the John Robinson Youth Chess Trust and the Broyst Foundation.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Fundraising as you Shop

When shopping online please remember to shop through Give as You Live Online, which allows you to shop with many different online retailers and a percentage of the price is donated to charity.  Also, Amazon Smile has the same products and prices as but when you shop on AmazonSmile, a donation is raised.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Training Reminder

I'd like to remind all UK-based members that you are eligible to claim an allowance under the BCA Training Scheme.  Each such member is entitled to a grant of £120 per annum to spend on coaching.  For the purposes of this scheme the year starts at the beginning of October and ends at the end of next September.

If anyone, in particular our newer members, is interested in receiving coaching this year then please get in touch with me and I will do my best to arrange a suitable coaching set-up.

Voldi Gailans

Membership Secretary’s Report

We have had six new members this quarter!  Four of them are one year associate members.  First, there is Daniel Shek, a junior member from Fleet, Hampshire who is already playing in our BCA Autumn email tournament.  Sam and Andy Orton from Leicester have also joined.  Sam is a relative of David Hodgkins and had previously been a member when he acted as a guide for David in overseas tournaments.  The fourth new member is James Connors, who is training to be an arbiter and is interested in supporting the work of the BCA.  He paid a visit to our Summer tournament in Bournemouth.

Andrew Stokes from Hyde has joined as a visually impaired life member and Catherine Turner has joined for one year.


Sadly associate member, Ray Pomeroy, passed away on 29th August.  Those who used to receive the recording of chess columns from the newspapers will remember how well they were read on to tape for us.

Martin Kane died on 25th September.  He had been very ill for quite a long time.  In the past, he and his guide dog attended many BCA tournaments.  He was a very popular member.

Mark Hague

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Entries to the 47th BCA CORRESPONDENCE Championship 2023-24, starting on 1st January 2023, are now being accepted, closing date 23rd November 2022.  Correspondence play can take place using a variety of methods, Braille, cassette, email, telephone, according to mutual agreement.  For further information contact the Correspondence Chess Director, details as shown in list of Officers.

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

46th BCA CORRESPONDENCE Championship 2021-22

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

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

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

BCA Summer Cup

Julie Leonard writes:

The BCA Summer Cup got underway on the 9th of July.  It was a remote event so games were played by telephone, Skype, Lichess or Zoom.  Twenty-two players took part in two sections.  We were particularly delighted to welcome Tim Musson to his first BCA tournament!

Round 1 was played in the searing mid-July heat.  Perhaps the players in the Open section were affected by the high temperatures as there were quite a few draws.  Only Eamonn Casey, Malcolm Jones and Dan Rugman were on a full point going into the second round!  It was a different story in the Challengers section, where every single game was decisive.

Round 2 straddled the end of July and the start of August.  This time there were no draws at all in the Open section.  Incredibly, there was a sole leader on maximum points in both sections after just two rounds!  Eamonn was leading the open, with Steve Hilton, Norman Wragg, Stan Lovell and Mahendra Galani just half a point behind.  Meanwhile, Steve Bailey was heading up the Challengers, closely followed by Neda Koohnavard and Nene Clayton.

In Round 3, Steve Bailey drew with Neda, but Nene also drew her game against Tony Lawton, meaning that Steve Bailey retained his half point lead.  Tim Musson notched up his second win to draw level with Neda and Nene.  In the Open, Eamonn retained his perfect score and the chasing pack had been reduced to a chasing individual – Stan.

Round 4 proved to be a turning point in the Open section with Stan snatching a point from Eamonn to overtake him on the leader board.  Steve Hilton moved back up to joint second place.  In the Challengers group, Steve Bailey scored a victory against Tim to retain his lead.  Neda and Nene were still just a half point behind though.

In both sections there was everything to play for going into the final round.  In the Challengers group Neda beat Tony Lawton, which meant that Steve Bailey now needed a full point to win the event outright.  He was up against Nene but managed to get his full point to retain the lead that he held since round 2.  In the Open, Stan faced Steve Hilton and the game was drawn, which was enough for Stan to win the section.

The final scores are:


1st Stan Lovell 4

Joint 2nd Stephen Hilton, Steve Burnell and Colin Fisher 3.5

Eamonn Casey 3

Malcolm Jones, Norman Wragg and Mahendra Galani 2.5

Dan Rugman and Mark Hague 2

Gary Wickett 1

Voldi Gailans 0.5


1st Steve Bailey 4.5

2nd Neda Koohnavard 4

3rd Nene Clayton 3

Tony Lawton, Lea Ryan, Abi Baker, Gill Smith 2.5

Tim Musson 2

John Ramm 1

Richard Harrington 0.5

Many congratulations to Stan Lovell and Steve Bailey, who will each receive a trophy.  Hopefully, these will be presented in person at our Autumn Tournament in Solihull.

Gerry Walsh and I were the controllers for this event, and we were continually impressed by the friendly way in which players arranged their games, taking into account each other’s schedules and preferred platforms.  There were plenty of offers to act as timekeepers too, even though there was no points incentive in this event.  Gerry and I felt that the whole tournament was played in keeping with the spirit of the BCA!

This report would not be complete without a very special mention for Bittor Ibanez, who kindly offered to collate the games from this event.  He gave up hours and hours of his time to check and compile all the games that were received, converting them into PGN format when necessary.  We’re very grateful to him for all this work.  Thanks to Bittor’s dedication, we have a near complete record of the games played in the event.  If anyone would like to receive a copy of the file by email, please contact me.

I asked Stan and Steve Bailey to select a game each for the gazette.  Stan chose his game against Steve Burnell because he considered it to be his most significant win.

Steve Burnell 1824  v Stan Lovell 1633, BCA Summer Cup Open, Round 2 25/07/2022

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 c5 8. Rb1 Qa5 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Bc4 Qc7

11. Qc1 Bg4 12. Bf4 Qc8 13. Ne5 Bd7 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. Bd5 Nb6 16. dxc5 Nxd5 17. exd5 Qxc5

18. Rxb7 Bxc3+ 19. Bd2 Qxd5 20. Rb3 Qxg2 21. Ke2 Bxd2 22. Kxd2 Qxf2+ 0-1

Steve Bailey chose his first-round encounter with Gill Smith.  Steve says, “Many thanks to Gill for this exciting game!”

Gill Smith 1080 v Steve Bailey 1163. BCA Summer Cup Challengers, Round 1, 18/07/2022

1. d4 d6 2. Bf4 Nf6 3. Nd2 c6 4. e3 Nbd7 5. Ngf3 g6 6. Bd3 Bg7 7. O-O Nh5 8. Re1 O-O 9. c3 Nxf4 10. exf4 Re8

11. f5 Nb6 12. Qb3 Bxf5 13. Bxf5 gxf5 14. Ng5 e6 15. Ngf3 Qc7 16. Re2 Nd5 17. Rc1 Nf4 18. Re3 Nd5

19. Ree1 Nf4 20. Qc2 b5 21. g3 Nd5 22. Qd3 a5 23. Ng5 h6 24. Nh3 c5 25. Qxb5 Reb8 26. Qd3 cxd4

27. cxd4 Qa7 28. Nf3 Rxb2 29. Qa3 Rb4 30. Rb1 Rxd4 31. Nxd4 Bxd4 32. Kg2 Nc3 33. Rbc1 Qb7+ 34. f3 Qb4

35. Qxb4 axb4 36. Rc2 Nxa2 37. Ree2 b3 38. Rcd2 Nc1 39. Re1 b2 40. Rxb2 Bxb2 41. Rd1 d5 42. Nf4 Kg7

43. Nd3 Nxd3 44. Rxd3 f4 45. Rb3 Bc1 46. Rc3 Be3 47. gxf4 Bxf4 48. h4 Ra2+ 49. Kh3 f5 50. Rc7+ Kf6

51. h5 Rh2# 0-1

17th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

Welcome to our 17th BCA email tournament.  There are 16 participants on this occasion, including new member, Daniel Shek, who is taking part in his first BCA event!  We have divided these into four divisions with 4 players in each division, based on BCA grades, performance in previous email tournaments where applicable, and where possible, incorporated promotion and relegation.  Because there are four players in all divisions, half the players will have two whites, and the other half will have two blacks, dependent on the seeding.  The players in each division are given below.

Division 1:

Philip Doyle, Steve Burnell, Bill Armstrong, Malcolm Jones.

Division 2:

John Fullwood, Malola Prasath, Eamonn Casey, Daniel Shek

Division 3:

Voldi Gailans, Tony Elbourn, Gill Smith, Anton Emery.

Division 4:

John Ramm, Marilyn Bland, Michael Flood, Richard Harrington.

Divisions 1 and 3 will be controlled by Eamonn, and divisions 2 and 4 will be controlled by Philip.


David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

The deadline for entering games is the 31st of December so this is a final reminder to everyone to send in your best game for the 2022 competition so that this year’s judge, Paul Benson, can consider it!  All BCA members, including associates and overseas members, 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 17th Email Tournament and the Autumn Tournament are all eligible.  Paul already has the entire collection of Summer Cup games because I sent him the pgn file that Bittor Ibanez compiled.  I thought Paul would perhaps sample a few games from the event but instead he valiantly decided to play through all of them.  That’s surely going beyond the call of duty!

Julie Leonard

Ex-Champing at the Bit 08

Time for some good old-fashioned nostalgia.  Not a personal encounter but instead a game using an opening system which was the mainstay of my repertoire with white for about 20 years.

Tischbierek - Uhlmann, 1974.

I cannot find any information about Tishbirek, unless he is Raj Tishbirek who became a Grand Master in 1990 and would have been about 12 years old when this game was played, unlikely.  However, Uhlmann is easier to trace, he was a top-flight Grand Master, beating no less than Bobby Fischer in 1960.

1. d4 Nf6  2. Nc3 d5  3. Bg5

Welcome to the Veresov Opening.  A respectable offbeat system occasionally employed by Tony Miles around the time this game took place.  If allowed White might play Bxf6 giving Black doubled f-pawns.  Black can avoid this or pick up the gauntlet by permitting the idea.

3. ... Nbd7

No doubled f-pawns today.  White must now search elsewhere to inject imbalance into the game.

4. Nf3 h6  5. Bh4 e6

Giving White the chance to play an unclear gambit.  Instead, 5. ... c5 challenging the white centre is an active alternative offering opportunities for imbalance to both players.

6. e4

Offering a pawn for activity.  Fine, but is it sound?  Unfortunately, database access is now denied me so the latest judgement on the entire concept cannot be given here.  Nevertheless, back then in 1974 ideas were bouncing back and forth from both sides, it was happily in a state of flux.  Instead, 6. Qd3 intending a slower and safer pawn e4 advance is easier to play but less fun.

6. ... g5

Accepting the challenge, the fight is on!  Instead, 6. ... Bb4 7. e5 g5 8. Nxg5 hxg5 9. Bxg5 Rg8 10. Bxf6 Nxf6 11. exf6 Qxf6 12. Qd2 Bd7 and it is Black giving up a pawn for activity.

7. Bg3 Nxe4  8. Nxe4 dxe4  9. Nd2

Tried this line just the once, my lower-rated opponent sailed through all the tricky tests, I was grateful to hold it for a hard-fought draw.  My favoured move of 9. Ne5 must be treated with respect.  Black must be ready for either pawn h4 or Qh5 in response to the 9th black move.

9. ... Bg7

While preparing to put white 9. Nd2 into my repertoire the reply 9. ... f5 needed a good answer.  Aging grey cells vaguely recall my home analysis involving 10. Qh5+ Ke7 11. h4 would set Black thinking.  The game move of 9. ... Bg7 is much more sensible for Black.

10. h4 Bxd4  11. c3 gxh4

Black decides to give White a semi-open h-file for the h1 rook.  Surely this makes the isolated h6 pawn a target?  Yes, but if Black allows a double trade of pawns on g5 there will follow a trade of rooks on h8 and then White throws in Qh5 when the queen will find good activity and be difficult to repulse.

12. Rxh4 Bg7  13. Nxe4 Qe7  14. Qh5

Much white piece activity for a pawn.  Fine, but as of yet there is no real coordination against targets in the black position.  If Black can unravel the queenside and castle long then the extra pawn will be an asset, White would be facing a tough defensive struggle.

14. ... Nf6  15. Nxf6+ Bxf6  16. Rf4

Ideally this rook would like to be part of a doubling up the fully open d-file.  Fine, but this is rather slow to arrange.  Black would have time to complete development.  When material down, activity is required to compensate.  There now comes a flurry of tactics, the question is who has envisaged the furthest?  Warning: It is the 19th black move which needs to be discovered before initiating the sequence.

16. ... e5  17. Rxf6 Qxf6  18. Bxe5 Qe7  19. O-O-O Bg4  20. Qxg4 Qxe5

A curiously symmetric tactical melee of deflection, skewer, pin, skewer, deflection.  This simplified position has White an exchange down, surely bad news?  In my younger days my judgement would have declared Black is winning, just a matter of technique.  This older self recognises Black still has some problems to solve.

21. Rd2

A tripler.  Firstly, Black must respond to the white threat of 22. Re2 skewering the royal pair.  Secondly, Black is denied the option of stray queen checks on the c1 - h6 diagonal.  Thirdly, the white 2nd rank pawns are given useful defensive support.

21. ... Kf8  22. Bc4 Re8  23. Qf3

A doubler.  Firstly, White threatens Qxf7+ mate.  Secondly, an attack is placed on the unprotected black b7 pawn.

23. ... Rh7  24. Qxb7 Rg7

Perhaps some reflections on the position might assist?  Black has all heavy pieces in play.  Fine, but they are not creating any useful threats.  Moreover, if the rooks attempt to invade the white position then the black king will become vulnerable to white queen spite checks, forcing some form of defensive retreat.  White enjoys useful piece placement, in particular the c4 bishop is prodding at a weak point in the black defences.  Black can only neutralise the bishop by giving up an exchange but having just gone a pawn down this idea is now rather unappealing.  Lastly, the white queen is floating in amongst the split queenside pawns, more defensive headaches for Black.

25. Bb5 c6

The critical moment, Black is seeking activity at the cost of a couple of pawns.  Other choices lead to positions which vary between totally disastrous to unpleasantly difficult.  Firstly, moving the black e8 rook forward is hopeless:

(A). 25. ... Re7 26. Rd8+ Re8 27. Rxe8+ Qxe8 28. Bxe8 Kxe8, white has queen and pawn against a rook.

(B). 25. ... Re6 26. Qc8+ Ke7 27. Qd8+ mate.

(C). 25. ... Re6 26. Qc8+ Re8 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. Rd8 Qxd8 29. Qxd8+ mate.

(D). 25. ... Re6 26. Qc8+ Re8 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. Rd8 Ke7 29. Rxe8+ white is a queen and pawn up.

In the above lines it is the smothering of the black f8 king by the g7 rook which makes all this possible, a vital flight square is being denied.

(E). 25. ... Re6 26. Qc8+ Re8 27. Bxe8 Rg6 28. Bc6+ Kg7 the black king escapes but White is a bishop and pawn up.

Secondly, Black can create more flight squares for the e8 rook by flicking in a queen check which gives the g8 king a flight route:

(F). 25. ... Qe1+ 26. Kc2 Qe4+ 27. Qxe4 Rxe4 28. Rd8+ Ke7 29. Re8+ Kf6 30. Rxe4 Rxg2 31. Rf4+ White is a bishop up.

(G). 25. ... Qe1+ 26. Kc2 Re5 27. Qc8+ Ke7 28. Qd8+ Ke6 29. Bd7+ mate.

(H). 25. ... Qe1+ 26. Kc2 Re4 27. Qc8+ Ke7 28. Qd8+ Ke6 29. Bd7+ Ke5 30. Qe7+ Kf4 31. Qf6+ mate.

(I). 25. ... Qe1+ 26. Kc2 f6 27. Bxe8 Kxe8 28. Qc8+ Kf7 29. Rd7+ Kg6 30. Rxg7+ Kxg7 31. Qxc7+ Kg6 32. Qg3+ Kh7 33. Qe3 Qh1 34. Qxa7+ White is 3 pawns up in a queen ending.

(J). 25. ... Qe1+ 26. Kc2 f6 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. g3 a5 29. Qd5 a4 30. Qd8 forces queens off when White is a pawn up with a far superior pawn structure.

26. Bxc6 Rb8

Backwardly guarded by the black e5 queen this rook gets some activity up the b-file.  Fine, but a single-attack on the white b2 pawn is not enough, it must be triply attacked before White needs to respond.

27. Qxa7

In the space of just 4 moves the 3 black queenside pawns have been wiped out.  Black has no tangible compensation, this is a win for White, it just requires careful shuffling before the queenside pawns can start rolling.

27. ... Rg6  28. Bd5

Again, threatening Qxf7+ mate, sometimes a bishop can be of greater value than a rook.

28. ... Rf6  29. Qc5+ Kg7  30. Qd4 Qe1+  31. Kc2 Qa1

Creating a double-attack on the singly defended white b2 pawn, this is easily neutralised with an interference.

32. Bb3 Qf1  33. Qe5 Rb5

The black b8 rook had to move but this choice allows white a favourable simplification.  Instead, trying to coordinate with 33. ... Rbb6 forces White to work harder.

34. Qe2 Qxe2

No choice, if the black queen runs away then the loose b5 rook drops off.

35. Rxe2 h5  36. Rd2

A doubler.  Firstly, a useful square on the d-file is now controlled by White.  Secondly, the b3 bishop is now free to manoeuvre to the f1 square if need be, though there is a better future available for this piece if Black permits it.

36. ... h4

Black is seeking activity, perhaps hoping that opening up the kingside will give the rook pair some play?  Instead, containment with 36. ... Rff5 will prevent an immediate white Bd5 but passivity is ultimately futile.  White now sets up the winning plan of queenside pawn advancement.

37. Bd5 Rg6  38. c4 Rb8  39. Kc3 Rh8

Trying to hold the queenside with 39. ... Rgb6 just forces white pawn b3 then Rb2 and the pawns are ready to roll.

40. b4 h3  41. gxh3 Rxh3+  42. f3 1-0

Many winning ideas available to White.  Perhaps the simplest plan is pawn a4 - Ra2 - pawn a5 and so on to cost Black a rook.


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.

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.

Solution:  Qxf1+

November 2022 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Khanty Mansyisk, 11/29/2005


White: King g1. Queen e2, Rook d8, Bishop c4, Knight f6, Pawns b2, c3, f4, g3, h2

Black: King g7, Queen a5, Rook c7, Bishop h6, Knight f5, Pawns b4, c5, e7, e6, g6, h5

White mates in two moves.  The solution will appear in the February gazette.


Congratulations to Tom Kenealy and his partner, Eve, who had a baby boy on the 14th of July.  They’ve named him Arthur David.  He was 7lb 12oz.  Arthur is Phyllis Hodgkins’ fourth great grandchild, but she missed out on meeting him by just a few days.  Gary Wickett and Julie Leonard had the pleasure of meeting the young man on the day of Phyllis’s funeral, where he was extremely well behaved.  His great grandma would have been so proud!

Congratulations also to Alec Crombie, whose second novel was published on the 28th of September!  Here is the publisher’s description of “The Eye of the Clown” by Alexander Crombie:

“Set mainly in England in the 1960s, and reflecting some of the attitudes of the time, this compelling story challenges the choice between “difference” and “assimilation”, using the image of a clown as metaphor.

“In his debut novel, “Become The Wind”, Alexander Crombie drew heavily on his experience of sight loss.  While “The Eye of a Clown” is not at all a sequel to “Become The Wind”, it does have in common, the impact of loss, and the unexpected ways by which loss is dealt with, and ultimately understood.

“The author's protagonists, Ralph and Melanie, each suffer extreme trauma.  In Ralph's case, the agent is fire; in Melanie's case, the sudden death of her lover threatens to destroy her young life.  As the story unfolds, each character is forced to face the mirror of pity as well as pain; yet the novel is far from downbeat.

“If Alexander Crombie's second novel is as well received as his first, this should prove he can entertain while at the same time tackle challenging subjects.”

Alec’s novel is available as an ebook priced £2.66, or in paperback at £12.97.


RIP Phyllis Hodgkins

Based on the eulogy written by Phyllis’s daughter, Sally Kenealy.

Phyllis spent her childhood in Kenilworth, playing with her sisters Jo and Mo in the castle grounds and helping her Dad in his allotment growing vegetables and looking after their rabbits, which always ended up on the dinner table.  When she was thirteen her baby brother David was born.  She adored him and helped look after him.

On her marriage to Clive in 1954 they moved to a flat above a shop in Earlsdon, Coventry.  After a few years I was born followed by Jane.  We had a small communal garden so Phyllis would take us to the park to run around and get some fresh air.  In 1964 my parents bought a house with a large garden in Whitnash village.  It became the family home for the next 58 years.  Phyllis was a keen gardener and birdwatcher.  She was fond of musicals, ballet and local theatre productions.  She was a key performer in the Christmas party entertainment for the Derby and Joan club, which she ran with Clive.  They were presented to the Queen Mother in recognition of their work.

When not in the garden Phyllis was in the kitchen, listening to Radio 4.  An “Archers” addict, she once won first prize at the Royal Show for being the most knowledgeable fan.  She loved ironing and was usually very good at it.  However, the night before my wedding, she decided to press my bridal nightie and put the iron straight through it!

Another of her skills was baking.  Our birthday cakes were always a resounding success with our friends.  From Humpty Dumpty sat on his wall, to crinoline skirted ladies!  She baked cakes for the Women’s Institute, Townswomen’s Guild and Mothers Union fund-raising events and entered her pickles and jams into competitions.

In her spare time she would knit or sew.  Dresses, capes, jackets and school cardigans - we were the best dressed girls on the block and we had the best dressed Sindy dolls too!  From ball gowns to beachwear, she would spend hours making dolls clothes.  Her stall at the school Christmas Bazaar was always one of the first to sell out!

Saturdays were spent in Kenilworth with her parents and other relatives or friends who lived nearby.  In 1969 we had a surprise addition to the family, our brother David.  He was the apple of her eye.  David was blind so she dedicated her time to teaching him the extra skills that he would need to lead a full life in mainstream society.  She gave him the confidence not to let his disability hinder his ambitions and to accept and conquer life’s challenges.  She was so proud of all he achieved in his short life but she would never accept that it was because of her.  

Phyllis and Clive enjoyed accompanying David on his many chess trips, making many friends at home and abroad through the BCA.  For many years the family organised the hugely successful annual trip to Haaksbergen in the Netherlands and many members have very fond memories of those expeditions!

Phyllis was a humble person who dedicated her life to caring for her family and for others through her work with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service.  It wasn’t easy with Dad being disabled and extremely accident prone, a young blind son and two teenage daughters the eldest being quite a rebel.  She coped with whatever life dealt her.  She never complained or got flustered and very rarely lost her temper although I do remember two such occasions.

Once, Dad didn’t come home from work all night.  She sat up waiting for the police to arrive with bad news.    He strolled in next morning, and she asked him what time did he call this and where had he been?  He replied in his usual manner; “Where did she think?  He’d been stuck in work.”  Needless to say, she threw the clock at him.

The other time was when she squared up to a long-haired lout called Baz, who had just had an altercation with me.  She came at him blazing, all 4ft 11 and a half inches of her, brandishing her famous little stick.  He was so shocked he stopped in his tracks.  Despite her reservations, he grew on her.  Even with her dementia every time I saw her he was the one person that she remembered, always asking me, “How’s Baz, is he ok”?

Phyllis had a great sense of humour especially after a red wine or a dram of Tullamore Dew.  She was ever the optimist, finding the good and funny side of any situation.  She found strength from her faith and enjoyed the friendship and support she found within the family of St Margaret’s Church.

As a grandma she was the favourite, fun one.  Grandchildren were denied nothing!  Boiled eggs for breakfast, individual shepherd’s pies one with mash, one with sliced potato, dressing up, playing shoe shops, painting!  No wonder they’d say, “I’m going to live with Granny she lets us do anything”.  

In 2007 Phyllis was diagnosed with dementia and short-term memory loss.  It was a gradual decline not helped by the death of dad and five years later the sudden death of her beloved son.  Until last year she was a familiar sight walking to the shops to get her paper and the cakes that filled her cupboards.  She still knew her nonsense rhymes but forgot family names.  For years she thought Tom was the gardener.  I was bossy britches.  She often said she had lived too long and asked why she couldn’t be with Dad and David.  With our support she stayed at home with her memories, but a rapid decline in March meant that following a hospital admission we had to place her in a care home.  She passed away on the 9th of July, aged 91.  Mum, you are at last in the place where you longed to be, looking after your two special men and ironing the angels’ tunics in heaven.  God bless and rest in peace.

RIP Raymond Pomeroy

Mark Kirkham writes:

Readers will be sorry to learn that associate life member Ray Pomeroy passed away on the 29th of August.

Few members are likely to have met Ray, but many will be familiar with his distinctive West Country accent.  Starting in the mid 2000s, for several years Ray read chess columns onto tape for us taken from the newspapers.  Those who used to listen to his recordings will recall that he would habitually produce two sets of press cuttings each month.  This equated to approximately six hours’ worth of material every month - quite remarkable dedication to the cause.  Some of these compilations are still available in the archives from our audio library.

Ray's daughter Linda has kindly supplied us with plenty of additional information about her father's life.

Ray was born in Bridgewater but grew up in Plymouth, where he was an avid Plymouth Argyle supporter.  He was keen on sport but especially rugby, a game he played and refereed for twenty-five years.  Early in his career he moved to work in London for eight years before eventually settling in Manchester where he raised a family.

Ray had been organising chess events as early as 1961 when still at school.  He spent the majority of his working life in the Civil Service where he worked in export insurance, mainly as an accounts director.  He was heavily involved in playing and organising chess in the Civil Service over many years. In particular, he ran the Civil Service Team Correspondence Chess League from 1973 to 1978 and in his second year he built the number of teams which played from 12 to 47.  At the same time, he began organising the Civil Service teams in the British Correspondence Chess League and continued to do so ever since.  He served several stints as match captain for a variety of teams in both correspondence and over-the-board matches.  In the 1980s he acted as an over-the-board league recorder.  He was elected as a Vice-President of the Civil Service Chess Association and the London Civil Service, Post Office and Municipal Chess League in 1993 for his outstanding services to Civil Service chess.  He was a member of various chess clubs, including Macclesfield where, in 2001, he met Richard Murphy.  This led to Ray becoming a volunteer reader for the BCA.  Macclesfield chess club even hold an individual competition named the Pomeroy cup.

Shortly before his death, Ray was nominated for the English Chess Federation President's award for Services to Chess.  Happily, he was aware of this and that the award had been approved by the ECF Awards committee.

Apart from chess, he was a life long stamp collector and a keen bird watcher.

Ray spent the final seven years of his life in Lytham St Annes - a place he used to visit with his family, who have very fond memories of the area.

R.I.P. Ray.

RIP Martin Kane

BCA member, Martin Kane passed away on the 25th of September.  He had been very ill for quite a long time.

Martin was born in Co. Kilkenny in 1956.  He attended two boarding schools for the blind in Dublin and learned how to play chess at St. Joseph’s where most of the Irish players were taught the game.

In 1979 Martin moved to London where he worked for several years as a telephonist at the Allied Irish Bank in Hammersmith and later for NatWest in the city centre.  He joined the BCA soon after moving to London and became a regular and very popular figure at events.  Many members will remember him from those days. 

In 1993 Martin returned to Dublin to work at police headquarters in the Phoenix Park.  He regularly took part in events run by the BCA of Ireland.

The highlight of Martin’s chess career was when he travelled with a team of Irish players to Edinburgh to compete in the Louis Braille Bicentenary Chess Tournament in January 2009.  The event was sponsored by the Royal Blind and organised by the BCA.  Martin played alongside his good friends Sean Loftus, Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey, as they faced opposition from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.  It was a very closely fought tournament.  Going into the final round several teams were in with a chance of winning.  Martin scored a half point, contributing towards Ireland’s final round victory, which gave them outright first place in the tournament.  Martin beamed from ear to ear as he received his trophy!

Martin enjoyed a pint and was always pleasant to everyone he encountered. 

May he rest in peace.

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Philip Doyle for supplying the information for this piece.