The Gazette

February 2023


Registered Charity Number 263049



Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.


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

Christine and Norman Andrews, Hazel and Steve Burnell, Alec Crombie, Celia and Peter Gibbs, Julie Leonard, Stan Lovell, Mike Murphy, Richard Murphy, Julia Scott, Joan Shorrock, Gill Smith, Gerry Walsh, Roger Waters.


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

Honorary Members: Follow Up. 6

Words from the Whitehouse. 6

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 7

Treasurer’s Report 7

Fundraising as you Shop. 7

Membership Secretary’s Report 7

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 8

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 8

90th Anniversary Tournament in Solihull 8

90th Anniversary Poem for the BCA.. 11

The Mystery Person by Janet Hempson. 11

We Didn't Make the First Move. 12

17th BCA Email Tournament 13

Ex-Champing at the Bit 09. 14

Is a Bishops of Opposite Colour Ending Always a Draw?. 18

The Dangerous c4 Line against the Caro Kann. 18

2022 FIDE World Individual Seniors 50+ Championship. 19

My Games with Graham Lilley. 20

Gray Matter Test 20

Puzzle from Mark. 21

RIP Denis Warren. 21

RIP Graham Lilley. 22



Welcome to the first gazette of 2023!  I’m writing this in the lull just after Christmas, when all the haring around to prepare for the festive season is over.  This is a packed issue, so I’ll try not to rabbit on too much!

Regular readers will know that in the February gazette I take editorial inspiration from the Chinese New Year and some will already have guessed that this time it’s the Year of the Rabbit!  According to Chinese astrology, those born in a rabbit year are vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious.  Excellent qualities for a chess player!  How ironic then, that in chess parlance, “rabbit” is an unkind term for a weak chess player.  Whoever coined that phrase clearly didn’t know that both Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov were born in Rabbit years!

Our hard-working Tournament Subcommittee twice had their plans for our 2023 AGM event scuppered by hotels cancelling our bookings and it seemed as if we might not find a venue at all.  Then they pulled a rabbit out of the hat and got a slot at one of our regular hotels!  See Forthcoming Events for details of this and other tournaments.

There are games galore in this issue!  Paul Benson focuses on the English Defence, and if you feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights when faced with a Caro Kann, there are some tips from Owen Phillips that may help.

You can read about our 90th Anniversary weekend too, from the celebrations to the tournament and from the new Honorary Members to the soirée.  It was a perfect time to reflect on what our little charity has achieved.  Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit said, “Even the smallest one can change the world.”  The BCA has certainly changed mine!

This issue also contains a roundup of the latest email tournament and news about the 2023 Best Game Competition.  There are all the usual officers’ reports too, including the latest Millennium Club winners.  What is the secret to their luck, one wonders.  Hopefully not a rabbit’s foot!

Sadly, in this issue we say a fond farewell to two much loved members, Denis Warren and Graham Lilley.  Mark Hague has very kindly offered to take over providing puzzles for the gazette from Graham.  Thank you, Mark! 

Your Editor confesses to have learnt a valuable lesson when compiling this gazette.  In future, I shall always read items before promising to include them!  Luckily there was no harm done this time, but if something in the gazette ever displeases you, don’t let yourself get hopping mad about it, just tell me.  I’m all ears! 

Please let me have articles for the May gazette by the end of March.  Don’t be late like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland!  Now, to quote the closing sequence from Bugs Bunny cartoons, “That’s All Folks!”

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Friday 14th April to Sunday 16th April 2023:  AGM Weekend Chess Congress

This will take place at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.  The plan at present is to resume our usual practice of holding the AGM as part of the chess weekend.  The AGM will take place at 20.15 on Saturday evening, 15th April.  We shall also aim to enable members to join in via an online platform if they prefer.  The idea behind moving the AGM to the evening is to make the chess timetable more relaxed on the Saturday.

We have held successful tournaments at The Old Swan on a number of occasions.  However, several members have mentioned that they have had difficulty getting assistance and/or a taxi at Harrogate station.  We will be taking steps to hopefully make the transfer from the station to the hotel a little easier by contacting Network Rail in advance to request greater assistance at the station and also providing details of a taxi company who can be contacted by members themselves in advance.  Members travelling from London may like to note that although most King’s Cross to Harrogate trains involve changing at York or Leeds, at the time of writing there is at least one direct train on a weekday late morning in both directions.

We are hoping there will be enough entries to hold two five round Swiss tournaments – an Open and a Challengers for those whose grade or estimated grade is 1300 or below.  Both are open to blind and partially sighted players and to associate members of the BCA.  The entry fee for each tournament is £10.  Please state when booking which tournament you would like to enter – subject to eligibility.

Rooms will be available on the Friday afternoon from 15.00 with dinner that evening at 18.00.  Likely start times for the five games are 20.00 on the Friday evening, 09.45 and 14.00 on the Saturday and 09.45 and 14.00 on the Sunday, but these times might need to be changed depending on discussions with the hotel.  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. 

Any enquiries about the tournament or hotel should be sent to Steve Burnell.

Please send your entries to Steve, with a copy to our Treasurer Gill Smith.  The closing date for entries is Monday 27th February 2023. 

The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast for members and associate members is £60 per person per night irrespective of room type.  This is also the cost for Sunday night. Note that the hotel charges £10 per day for car parking which is payable direct to the hotel on check in.

Please send your entry fee and full payment for all accommodation to Gill Smith by the closing date.  Please send any resolutions or other items for inclusion on the AGM agenda to Guy Whitehouse by the same date.  Also, let Guy know if you are planning to join the AGM online or attend the AGM without staying at the hotel so that we can let you have the AGM papers.

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

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

The tournament is open to all blind and partially sighted chess players and to associate members of the BCA.  The Chairman’s Cup will be awarded to the highest placed player, whether VI or associate member, whose most recent published grade is 1750 or below (equivalent to about 140 under the old ECF grading system).  A player who scores the highest number of points but does not meet the rating criterion will be recognised as the overall winner of the tournament but will not receive the Chairman’s Cup.

If there are sufficient entries we will run two sections, an Open and a Challengers for players whose rating or estimated rating is 1300 or below.  Both are open to blind and partially sighted players and to associate members of the BCA.  Please state when booking which tournament you would like to enter – subject to eligibility.  The entry fee for each section is £10. 

Rooms are likely to be available on the Saturday afternoon from 15.00 with dinner that evening at 18.00.  The event will be played over 7 rounds with one round each day.  Likely starting times for the seven rounds are 19.45 on the first Saturday evening and a morning start of 10.30 for the remaining six rounds but these times might have to be changed a little depending on discussions with the hotel.  The rate of play will be all moves in two hours for each player.  Players may request a half point bye in any one of the first six rounds. 

In addition to the chess tournament there will be a varied programme of social activities.  Anyone with ideas for social events, or who wants further information about the hotel or tournament should contact the organisers: 

John and Pam Jenkins.

Please send your entries to John Jenkins, with a copy to our Treasurer, Gill Smith.  The closing date for entries is Friday 19th May 2023. 

The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast to members and associate members of the BCA is £385 for the week irrespective of room type.  The cost to those booking for less than the full week will be £55 per night for members and associate members.  For anyone wishing to stay additional nights at the beginning or end of the tournament, the cost per night will be £75 per person regardless of room type.  There are also options for guests to pay significant supplements for a sea view room or sea view plus balcony.  Please contact John Jenkins if you would like to know more about these options.

Bookings accepted after the closing date of 19th May are at the discretion of the organiser and will be subject to a late booking fee of £10 per person.  All payments should be sent to Gill Smith (see list of BCA Officers for contact details).  Please note that rooms will not be reserved until full payment has been received.

Autumn Tournament 2023: A Date for your Diary

The Autumn tournament will be the weekend of 10th to 12th November at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Solihull.

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.

Honorary Members: Follow Up

Readers will be aware that from time to time we appoint Honorary Members in recognition of their outstanding service to the BCA.  At the time of our 2022 AGM we had seven Honorary Members: Alec Crombie, Peter and Celia Gibbs, Julie Leonard, Stan Lovell, Julia Scott and Gerry Walsh.  It was agreed at the AGM that our 90th anniversary year was an opportune time to add to our list of Honorary Members.

We called for nominations in the August Gazette and these were then reviewed and sifted by the committee.  After all the dust had settled, we decided to create nine new Honorary Members: Norman and Christine Andrews, Steve and Hazel Burnell, Mike Murphy, Richard Murphy, Joan Shorrock, Gill Smith and Roger Waters.  One could argue that nine is an appropriate number for our 90th anniversary, one for each decade, but this was purely accidental.

The names of our new Honorary Members were announced at the Saturday evening celebration dinner in Solihull in October and each was presented with a certificate, designed and produced by Gill’s daughter Freya.  It was a very happy and positive occasion.

Norman Wragg

Words from the Whitehouse

The following is a summary of the main points of the committee meeting held on 19th November last year.

Financial Matters and End of Year Reports: Our finances were in remarkably good shape thanks to the success of our arrangement with our new fundraising consultant, Carl Concannon.  During the financial year 2021-2022 we had raised £17,800, and this financial year we had already received an astonishing £13,300 in donations.  This is a remarkable improvement on what we were experiencing during the pandemic.

We’ve updated our reserves and investments policies to reflect our current financial situation and we also approved the accounts Gill circulated before the meeting.  These can now be sent to our independent examiner.  The committee also approved the trustees’ annual report; when drawing it up I couldn’t help reflecting on how much our over-the-board activities had got back to normal.

We’re looking into setting up an account to receive card payments from members.  At the moment we haven’t found a provider that allows for dual authorisation of payments, so if we decide to go ahead with this we might have to update our constitution which currently insists on dual authorisation for all payments; we’d put in place safeguards such as specifying a maximum amount that could be transferred out of the account.

Domestic Tournament Matters: We discussed holding a memorial event for Graham Lilley.  The 2023 autumn international or the 2024 British championships seemed the best options; in the end, although 2024 was a way off, we decided the British was the one to go for.  It would be ideal if we could find a suitable hotel in, or at least near St Helens where Graham lived.

We decided to run the idea of bringing back a ladies’ prize past our active female players.  It would be awarded in a tournament where there were at least three female players.  The British ladies champion would have to be a visually impaired member, but in other tournaments the prize could be awarded to an associate member.

Publicity and Junior Development: Julie has designed some large print scoresheets with the BCA logo at the top; these will be made available for download from the ECF website.

Sadly, we had to face the fact that our attempts to generate interest in chess at Worcester and RNC, Hereford had not been successful and we would simply have to start again from scratch.  We are going to approach the RNIB to see if they could help us locate visually impaired children in mainstream schools.  Also at Solihull we had found out the name of the ECF officer with responsibility for promoting chess in universities, so we would contact him to see if he could help in any way.

Membership Discounts: We decided that members who joined for a year could still receive a discount on a chess set, but that they should be expected to join for five years before receiving a discount on a talking chess clock.  Ideally associate members should be expected to join for more than a year before being eligible for reduced hotel rates, though we should allow ourselves some flexibility in the case of certain families who were well known to us.

Equipment: We will be using ringfenced funds to purchase six more DGT Echo talking chess clocks.  We’ve also decided in principle to purchase up to ten magnetic sets from Italy assuming an acceptable set can be found.  Unlike last time we wouldn’t be drawing up a list of names of those wanting a magnetic set; we’d just place the order and stock them.  One thing to note is that these might not be the same sets as the ones produced by Fabrizio; we did assess another Italian magnetic set which was a bit larger but which was of a high quality.

Online Content: Two small videos introducing the association and illustrating how we play chess have been uploaded to our Facebook page. Abi also wants to start a ‘meet the members’ section featuring radio-style interviews with members. She already has ideas on those she’d like to interview and would be interested in hearing from members who would like to take part in the project.

Accessibility Issues: At Solihull Nigel Towers of the ECF told us he would like to help sort out problems with the accessibility of the ECF’s online calendar of events. Since then some improvements have been made, but we aren’t there yet.

IBCA Matters: At the 2022 AGM we decided not to send representatives to IBCA tournaments because they had not banned Russian/Belorussian players from taking part in their events as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.  Next year the IBCA will be holding the world individual championships and the European team championships.  They have not reviewed their policy, but Russian/Belorussian players might not participate after all.  The invitation specifies that only countries which have paid their IBCA fees can send players, and apparently Russia and Belorussia have not done so.

Subsequent to the meeting I did find out that we can lend a proxy vote to another country should the matter come up for discussion again.  We would not have envisaged sending a team to the European team championships, but if it were to emerge that Russia and Belorussian players were not going to be present at the world individual championships, should we consider sending a representative?

Guy Whitehouse.

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery

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

Recent Millennium Club winners:

October: Gerry Walsh, number 33.

November: Colin Fisher, number 11.

December: Steve Burnell, number 55.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Treasurer’s Report

In the last 3 months of 2022 our new fundraiser, Carl Concannon, helped us to raise over £15,000.  We received grants from 21 organisations and the total income is a wonderful amount.

We have also received donations totalling £400 in memory of Graham Lilley.

In December Morpeth Chess Club raised £80 with a simultaneous event in memory of Les Whittle.  For many years the club has organised an annual fundraising event when they kindly collect funds for the BCA.  It is thoughtful of them to continue raising funds for us even though they and we lost Les over four years ago.

Sometimes members round up payments and ask me to record the extra amount as a donation.

We are very grateful for each and every gift, it all adds up.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Fundraising as you Shop

When shopping online please remember to shop through one of our fundraising schemes.  Give as You Live Online allows you to shop online with many different 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.  Since the last Gazette we have received £19.59 from AmazonSmile.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Membership Secretary’s Report

Two new five-year visually impaired members have joined in the last quarter.  Welcome to Maria Dod from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, and Gary Hogan from Carterton, Oxfordshire!  I’m also delighted to report that Irene and Tony Elbourn, who’ve been members for some years now, have both taken the plunge and become life members!


Very sadly we have lost three more BCA members. The legendary Graham Lilley, one of our finest chess champions, and Denis Warren, an extremely popular chess player and entertainer, both passed away since the last gazette.  They will be very much missed.  Also, I was notified that Roger Bishop, a very keen supporter of correspondence chess, had died.  I remember having some good games with Roger many years ago.

Mark Hague

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Another Correspondence Championship event has started with marginally fewer competitors than in the previous cycle.

47th BCA CORRESPONDENCE Championship 2023-24

Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson

Players: Alec Crombie, Philip Doyle, Malcolm Jones, George Phillips, Guy Whitehouse, all 0-0.

Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson

Players: Maria Dod, Mike Flood, Voldi Gailans, Eric Gallacher, Eleanor Tew, all 0-0.

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

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

As last year drew to a close, our judge, Paul Benson, was still considering which game to declare our best one of 2022!  The winner will probably be announced at the 2023 AGM in Harrogate and the game will be published in the May 2023 gazette.

Each year we ask a someone new to judge the Best Game Competition and I’m delighted to say that Norman Andrews has accepted the challenge of being our judge for 2023!

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 2023.  Any eligible games that are published in the gazette are automatically entered.  Other games can be sent to Norman either directly or via a committee member.  The 2023 competition is open!

Julie Leonard

90th Anniversary Tournament in Solihull

Bill Armstrong writes:

In October we celebrated our 90th anniversary of our chess association.  The centre piece of our weekend was the anniversary but there was also competitive chess that needs reporting.

We had a wonderful turnout of 27 players with Olle Engström (Sweden), Eamonn Casey (Ireland).  Neda Koohnavard (Iran) and Bittor Ibanez (Spain) making both sections of our tournament international events.

The Open event was enriched by several players who qualified for the Challengers but opted to play in the Open event.  The Open attracted our reigning champion, Stan Lovell, and three former champions so they were facing five rounds where they could expect strong opposition in several games.  Some had misgivings about their decision but these were groundless fears.  (e.g. Gary Wickett shared second place on 3.5 and all gave performances that justified their choice.  Mark Hague did less well than Gary but in our game, he launched a ferocious attack against my king and he did not deserve to lose.)

White Mark Hague Black Bill Armstrong

1. d4 Nf6  2. Nc3 g6  3. e4 d6  4. Bf4 Bg7  5. Be2 0-0  6. Qd2 Nc6  7. h4 Nxd4  8. 0-0-0 Nxe2+       9. Ngxe2 h5

10. f3 Kh7  11. g4 Rh8  12. gxh5 Nxh5  13. Rdg1 Nxf4  14. Nxf4 e5  15. Nfd5 c6  16. Ne3 Bh6  17. Kb1 Qf6

18. Qf2 Be6  19. Ng4 Bxg4  20. Rxg4 Bf4  21. Ne2 Kg7  22. h5 g5  23. Nxf4 exf4  24. Qh4 Kh6  Intending Qe5 and f6 with a safe position for Black’s king and a slight plus in the ending but still with a lot to do for a win.

Here Mark placed the Black king on h7 and chose his next moves on the basis of that placement of pieces.

25. Rxg5 Qxg5  26. Qxg5 Kxg5  White now discovered Black's King had been misplaced on his board and resigned.  Black gained a full point without really deserving it.

The Open event was won by Steve Burnell with 4.5 from 5 games, demonstrating that he deserved the grade that made him the top seed.  The drawn game was in round 4 and was published in the November edition of Chess magazine.

White Steve Burnell   Black Bill Armstrong

1. d4 d6  2. c4 Nf6  3. Nc3 g6  4. e4 Bg7  5. Be2 O-O  6. Bg5 Nc6 7. h3 a6  8. a4 a5  9. Nf3 h6  10. Be3 Nb4

11. O-O c6  12. Ne1 e5  13. d5 Ne8  14. Qd2 Kh7  15. f4 f5 16. exf5 Bxf5  17. fxe5 dxe5  18. Rd1 Qc8 

19. dxc6 Qxc6  20. Nd5 Nxd5  21. Qxd5 Be4  22. Qxc6 Rxf1+  23. Kxf1 Bxc6  24. b3 Nf6  25. Nc2 Ne4 

26. Bd3 Rf8+  27. Kg1 Nc3  28. Rd2 e4  29. Bf1 Be5  30. Bd4 Bxd4+  31. Rxd4 and offered a draw which Black happily accepted .1/2-1/2

Despite the absence of those who usually star in the Challengers Section, the event was still highly competitive.  The winner was the steadily improving Simon Highsmith with 4.5 points.

For the record, the scores and prizes were as follows.


4.5 Steve Burnell 1st

3.5 James Connors and Gary Wickett =2nd

3 Bill Armstrong, Stan Lovell, Norman Andrews and Eamonn Casey

2.5 Olle Engström, Colin Chambers and George Phillips (Olle and George shared Grading Prize A)

1.5 Mark Hague

1 Malcolm Jones, Voldi Gailans and Tony Elbourn (all three shared Grading Prize B)


4.5 Simon Highsmith 1st

3.5 Neda Koohnavard and John Fullwood =2nd

3 Bittor Ibanez, John Osborne, Gill Smith and Steve Bailey (John and Gill shared Grading Prize A)

2.5 Jim Cuthbert and Abi Baker

2 Phil Rafferty and Richard Harrington (shared Grading Prize B)

1.5 Lea Ryan

1 Irene Elbourn

The chess took precedence on Friday evening and in the mornings and afternoons of Saturday and Sunday. But on Saturday and Sunday evenings the focus was much more on the Association celebrating its anniversary.

More than fifty of us gathered on Saturday to celebrate the 90 years of its existence.  We welcomed Nigel Towers, the ECF Director of Home Chess as our special guest.  Our gathering included relatives of David Hodgkins family and six of the seven surviving members of an elite group, the honorary life members Stan Lovell and Alec Crombie, Peter and Celia Gibbs, Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard.  The missing honoured member, Julia Scott, prevented from attending by failing health was sadly missed.  I know that everyone values the immense contribution her work as a fund raiser has made to us reaching our 90th anniversary. 

It was great to have those six whose past and present efforts have created or continued the traditions of the thriving community of visually impaired chess players, our BCA.

Covid struck a mighty blow to many aspects of social life and chess did not escape this.  But the BCA has come through that.  Stan, Alec and currently Norman Wragg have built on the foundations of the 1932 initiative, have guided our association through some tricky times and established traditions of two weekend tournaments each year, and two seven day events, the Championship and the Chairman’s Cup.  Of recent years, Gerry and Julie have been the main figures controlling these and it was fitting that they took charge with their usual efficiency of the chess part of the celebration.  Peter and Celia Gibbs created and developed the theme break week and by the time you read this, the continuation at Weston super Mare will have taken place under new guidance.  Yet another role for Julie Leonard.

All these events and activities would be impossible without a lot of background organisation which often goes unnoticed when it goes as smoothly as the 90th anniversary celebration did under the control of people such as Steve and Hazel Burnell.  I still remember with pleasure the Harrogate championship where they organised such a wonderful variety of non-chess activities.  The advance preparation for the celebration would have impressed any wedding planner.  We had our seating plan, our individual menu choices and even our selected beverage for the toast all recorded in advance and delivered as planned.  It went like clockwork but if you imagine the scope for chaos, then you appreciate the importance of their efforts.

Here it is worth mentioning the willingness of the hotel staff to give assistance and the good quality of the hotel food and amenities – apart from a two- hour interlude just before the celebration dinner when the hotel lift was not functioning properly.  Fortunately, the problem was solved quickly but I guess the organisers were temporarily worried.

Another group, at this weekend represented by Norman Andrews, Gill Smith, and Richard Murphy, (but which includes also Roger Waters, Christine Andrews and Mike Murphy) are the sighted volunteers who make almost everything run smoothly and, when they don’t run as they should, are quick to sort things out.  The six people just mentioned and Hazel and Steve Burnell were all honoured by the award of honorary life memberships at a soirée which followed the celebration dinner.

Joan Shorrock founded the tradition of soirée at seven-day events and should have been with us to also receive honorary life membership.  Again, ill health prevented her attendance but such has been her success the soirée went ahead even though a weekend leaves limited time for artistic collaboration pre performance.

In Joan’s absence, Julie stepped into the role of organiser and, in addition to her own musical contribution, acted as continuity announcer.  What a great variety of talents were on display!  I chose “continuity announcer” because the soirées always remind me of sitting with a radio and flicking between various channels.  Radio 3 could have a professional violinist Abi Baker showing her versatility by playing a piano piece by Liszt.  Classic FM might happily present Guy Whitehouse with his flute solo piece.  While Radio 1 and 2 might offer Richard Harrington’s Elvis tribute, Stan Lovell’s lively piano playing or Gary Wickett and friends rendering yet another aspect of the musical range of BCA talents.  Not to be left out, Radio 4 could carry Tessa Fullwood’s soirée debut with three poem selections and Julie’s musical item whose chess references might just be wasted on the majority of Radio 1 devotees.  One voice which would not sound out of place on a BBC broadcast will be familiar to those who receive the audio version of the Gazette.  Janet Hempson achieved another step in soirée progress by making a much appreciated and specially recorded contribution to our celebratory soirée without coming to Solihull.

Perhaps because it was a special weekend event, a larger than usual number stayed for the Sunday evening meal.  This provided me with a lasting memory of the event.  It was a very convivial occasion.  It was not just a group of chess players marking an anniversary of their association.  It was a group of friends sharing memories of the past, some of which were tinged with sadness, and creating new happy memories for the future.  The dominant note of that Sunday evening was of happiness and laughter, especially from a riotous group crucial to the soirée performances.  I will spare their blushes by using only that general label.

If anyone questioned the chance of the BCA reaching its centenary, a recording of the joyous sound of hilarity on Sunday evening would dismiss any doubt completely.

Our 90th anniversary was a significant landmark well celebrated.

Editor’s note:  Before receiving Bill’s excellent report, I had already asked the two winners if they would like to send in a game for the gazette.  Steve chose the same one that Bill used in his report and added some comments.  Simon also selected a game.

Steve Burnell:

“The game was interesting in itself as well as in the context of the tournament.  Going into Round 4, I was on 3/3 and my opponent Bill Armstrong on 2.5/3.  Although the resulting draw probably suited us both, nevertheless neither of us played for this and it was only at the very end when Bill was getting rather short of time and neither of us could see a way to win, that we agreed the draw.”

Simon Highsmith:

“Wow, what a tournament!  I would like to put forward my game with Bittor from R4.  He has given me his permission to publish the game in the gazette.  I was just amazed as anyone that he fell for it, and like Julie said to him, it happens to all of us.  That is how I learnt about it.  All those defeats before now have come useful after all!”

R4: Simon Highsmith v Bittor Ibanez

1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Ng5 h6  4. Nxf7 Kxf7  5. Qf3+ Ke8  6. Qh5+ g6  7.  Qxg6, checkmate

90th Anniversary Poem for the BCA

Joan Shorrock writes:

Sorry I can’t be with you

At this special time.

To show I’m with you in spirit,

Here’s a little rhyme!

The BCA is 90 years old,  

Not the members.  Or so I’m told!

Maybe there’s room for doubt

But chess is what it’s all about!

Then there is the soirée too.

All contribute, no matter who,

With instruments, songs and rhyme.

I’ll miss it, but hopefully, see you all next time! 

The Mystery Person by Janet Hempson

Editor’s note:  This year Janet stood down from recording the audio gazette for us.  She had been doing it for 11 years so we’re enormously grateful to her!  Sadly, Janet and her husband, Peter, were unable to join us for our 90th Anniversary celebration.  Instead, Janet composed a poem called “The Mystery Person” to be read at the Soirée and, if possible, put in the gazette.  I assumed the mystery person in the poem would be Janet herself because although many members know her voice, most don’t know anything about her.  This sounded like a brilliant idea to me, and I agreed to include the poem in the gazette before I’d even heard it.  However, I got a very big surprise in Solihull!  Nevertheless, I’m keeping my word and including it in the gazette.  Here it is:

Is there no end to her talents,

Is there anything she cannot do?

From guiding, controlling and playing

A blind chess player’s dream come true.

She works every day in an office

Then back to her home she will go,

To work in her garden is blissful

She’s good with a spade and a hoe.

Her flowers open their petals

To beam at the sun in the sky,

They open their hearts for the birds and bees

What pleasure they give her, oh my!

But soon she must turn her attention

To matter that come to the fore

From people who send contributions

She cannot afford to ignore.

There are articles all about holidays

And contests in which we might play

Some she’ll have to leave out this time

And same for another great day.

Her editorial theme will relate to the chess

The game we all know and play

Oh, how does she do it, I only can guess,

I admire such a skill every day!

I’m sure that by now you will know who I mean

And I’ll add the guitar she can play

She can sing – she’s our own wonder woman

Julie, the Ed. Of Gazette B.C.A.

We Didn't Make the First Move

Editor’s Note:  The BCA Band performed a version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” with lyrics adapted to cover 90 years of BCA history!  I’m including the words here because a few people requested them.

Nineteen thirty-two, Reg Bonham and his crew

Correspondence Chess, was what they liked the best

Brailled moves on little notes, sent them in the post

Had a great idea one day, “Let’s start the BCA!”

Olympiad, Weymouth, Jack Horrocks, Harry Booth

Organisers, thank you, Hans Cohn and Stefi too

Moving on, passed pawn, forty years, growing strong

Ted Williams, Yorkshireman, Ivy’s laughing policeman

Chorus – 2 lines

We didn't make the first move, we don’t mind admitting but the clock’s still ticking

We didn't make the first move, no we didn’t play it, but we’re glad that they did

Fifty years, let me check, Hastings, Harry Golombek

Paul Benson new talent, Geoff Carlin what a gent!

Doncaster, no bar staff, Graham Lilley’s booming laugh

Sensation, Bill Armstrong, he’s the new, champion

Jan and Stan, Sean and Pat, north v south, with my Dad,

Blackpool, Torquay, Sheila Milsom brought the tea,

We don’t mind, where we play, Llandudno, Morecambe Bay

Chorley Wood, I’m not kidding, players went skinny dipping!


Oakham School, Sixty, Diamond, Jubilee

Willerby, championships, Walking on the Humber Bridge

Ivor Wagner, Guitar, Six Nations, Scarborough

Gerry Walsh, Teeside, Anglo Dutch, who needs a guide?

Now we’re platinum, Eastwick-Field, Paignton

Watkins, Patching, moves sent on cassette

Ladies Champion Chrissie Brown, York v Hamburg on the lawn

All the news in the gazette, Peter Price, Juliet

Three quarter century, hosted IBCA

European, in Durham, Spain to Azerbaijan

Twenty five nations, joined the celebrations

Fundraiser Julia, couldn’t have done it without her

Committee, Guy and Voldi, Norman Wragg, Alec Crombie

Oh no, fancy that, Victor ate the Chairman’s hat


Peter Gibbs, Celia, Chess Theme Breaks in Windermere

Coaching, each other, Antoine singing “Mother”

Dublin, London, Steve Thacker, Haaksbergen

Bournemouth, Murder Mystery, Joan does the Soirées

Hodgkins, 4NCL, Gallagher, Steve Burnell,

Harrogate, Old Swan, Tanvi, Dan, Gary’s Band,

Ninety years, Solihull, hope you liked this chronicle

Digi clocks, magnetic sets, our flag’s not fallen yet

We didn't make the first move, we don’t mind admitting but the clock’s still ticking

We didn't make the first move, but when we are gone

BCA will go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on ….

17th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

For the first time ever in our seventeen completed tournaments, we've had to resort to adjudications to decide the outcome of two of the games in Division 4.  Steve Burnell, chairman of the tournament subcommittee, performed the task very efficiently.  This is also the first time we've used up our full allocation of three months to complete the tournament.

In Division 1 we had joint winners, Bill Armstrong and Steve Burnell.  Congratulations to both in sharing victory in a very hard-fought division.

Doyle drew with Burnell

Burnell drew with Jones

Doyle beat Jones

Jones lost to Armstrong

Armstrong beat Doyle

Burnell beat Armstrong

Final Scores: Armstrong and Burnell 2, Doyle 1.5, Jones 0.5

Division 2 ended up being a three-cornered struggle, due the early withdrawal of Daniel Shek, a new young associate member.  As all three games had started before the withdrawal, each of the three remaining players was awarded a full point.  All three players won one game apiece so there was no dividing them.

Casey beat Fullwood

Prasath beat Casey

Fullwood beat Shek

Shek lost to Casey

Prasath beat Shek

Fullwood beat Prasath

Final Scores: Casey, Fullwood and Prasath, 2

Division 3 ended up in a clearcut victory for Voldi Gailans.  He won all his 3 games and was the only 100 percenter in the tournament.

Smith lost to Gailans

Gailans beat Emery

Gailans beat Elbourn

Elbourn beat Emery

Elbourn beat Smith

Emery beat Smith

Final Scores: Gailans 3, Elbourn 2, Emery 1, Smith 0

Division 4 went right down to the wire.  Our colleague, Marilyn Bland from the United States, experienced a number of problems, including disruption caused by all the terrible snowstorms over there, before Christmas and as a result, two of her games needed to be sent for adjudication.  However, in the event, she still managed to come out the winner of this division.

Harrington lost to Flood

Flood lost to Ramm

Ramm beat Harrington

Bland beat Harrington

Bland drew with Flood

Ramm lost to Bland

Final Scores:  Bland 2.5, Ramm 2, Flood 1.5, Harrington 0

In conclusion, we wish to thank all the players for their co-operation and also for the friendly and sporting manner adopted by all during the tournament.  Our next tournament is due to commence in March, so it won't be long before you are hearing from us again.  Look out for the notice in early February.  Just one gentle reminder, only enter the tournament if you are fully committed to seeing it through.  We had 16 players this time, let's get it back up into the twenties next time!

Philip and Eamonn

Ex-Champing at the Bit 09

Paul Benson writes:

Just over 10 years ago a file was downloaded from a chess database onto my laptop.  It contains four games which were to be examined with the intention of incorporating them into my repertoire.  Thankfully chess games do not go mouldy.  Here are a couple of those games demonstrating how surprisingly effective this offbeat idea can turn out.  Attention should be paid to comments regarding pawn characteristics, in particular “Isolated” or “Passed”.

Z. Franco Ocampos (2522) - J. Arizmendi Martinez (2503), Cala Mendia, Mallorca, 2001.

1. c4 b6

Welcome to the English Defence.  Black is hoping to influence the centre right from the start.  There is a secondary reason for the immediate black fianchetto.  White is discouraged from the move 2. g3 planning a kingside fianchetto.  Some players base their entire repertoire of the English Opening on having a g2 bishop.  Only a single move has been played and Black is already annoying White.

2. Nc3 Bb7  3. e4 e6  4. Nge2 Nf6  Threatening to win a pawn after just 4 moves.

5. d3 d5  Another challenge to the centre.  White must again respond to Black’s threat to win a pawn with exchanges on the e4 square.  So much for thinking it is White who leads in the dance of the opening skirmishes.  White can maintain pawn symmetry with 6 f3, but this leaves the f1 bishop wondering how to get into play.  There is also 6. Ng3 but this means white pieces are tied down to defensive roles.  So this black system involving 5. ... d5 appears to force imbalance in the centre pawn structure.  Exactly what a combative player desires.

6. cxd5 exd5  7. e5 Nfd7  8. d4 c5  Trying to undermine the defence of the cramping white e5 pawn, there is a feel of the French Defence in the air.

9. f4  A branch point.  In the game to follow this one White chooses 9. Nf4 leading to a completely different type of middlegame.

9. ... Nc6  10. Be3 cxd4  A move of both mixed and as yet unknown consequences.  Black voluntarily, depending on your perspective, either “Isolates” the d5 pawn, or creates a “Passed” d-pawn.  Which is it?  Only time will tell.  If White can restrain the advance of the d5 pawn followed by ganging up on it, then isolation is the status.  If Black organises sufficient support to give safety followed by preparation to advance, a “Passed” d-pawn is in play.

11. Nxd4 Nxd4  12. Bxd4 Bc5  Despite always being a move behind from the start of the game, Black is now a development tempo ahead, not bad huh?

13. Be2 O-O  14. O-O Qe7  15. Bf3  A second attack on the black d5 pawn.  Perhaps it is becoming “Isolated”?

15. ... Rad8  An x-ray attack on the white d1 queen.  Fine, but there are 3 units between the opposing pieces of the x-ray threat, so is Black gaining anything?

16. Re1  White could probably snatch with 16. Bxd5 but perhaps reckons the black d5 pawn cannot run away and so prefers to mount more pressure into the position.  A less energetic plan of pawn g3 with Bg2 would keep everything under control.

16. ... Bxd4+  17. Qxd4 Nc5  A couple of changes in the position need noting.  Firstly, the white queen is now directly x-rayed by the black d8 rook, there now being only a single unit between the opposing heavy pieces.  Secondly, White now has 3 attackers focusing on the black d5 pawn which is only defended twice.  However, this does not tell the complete story.  If White starts capturing on d5 a white piece will be entering into a self-pin up the d-file.  Expect problems to emerge rather quickly.

18. Nb5  Keeping the tension.  White seems content to postpone capturing, possibly on the grounds the black d5 pawn is destined to fall no matter what.  Some ideas on an immediate capture run:

(A). 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. Bxd5 Ne6 20. Qc4 Nxf4 21. Qxf4 Rxd5 when it is White who has an “Isolated” e5 pawn.

(B). 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. Bxd5 Ne6 20. Qc4 Nxf4 21. Bf3 Ne6 again White has an “Isolated” pawn to worry about.

Black seems all right in these lines, however White can vary the capture move order.

(C). 18. Bxd5 Ne6 19. Qc4 Nxf4 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Qxf4 Black has lost a piece for a pawn.

(D). 18. Bxd5 Qd7 19. Rad1 Ne6 21. Qc4 and Black has no sensible means to increase the pressure.

If these lines with 18. Bxd5 are correct then perhaps White could have quite safely won a pawn.

In the game White is planning the positional Nd6 denying Black access to some light squares in the defence.  Fine, but it is Black to move.

18. ... Ne6  19. Qe3  A sad necessity, there are some simple tactics to be avoided:

(A). 19. Qf2 Nxf4 White drops a pawn.

(B). 19. Qd2 Qc5+  20. Kh1 Qxb5 Black wins a piece.

(C). 19. Qd2 Qc5+  20. Nd4 Qxd4 again Black wins a piece.

This strongly hints that White 18. Nb5 was not the best available.  Black to play can now take a strong grip on the position.

19. ... d4  20. Qd2 Bxf3  21. gxf3 f5  Several important changes have occurred in the position.  Firstly, Black has fixed the centre but much more importantly the white f4 pawn is now a target waiting to be hit.  Secondly, that d4 pawn is beginning to take on the persona of a “Passed” pawn.  Higher power white forces will become tied down to prevent it from advancing further.  But surely White has something even better, an “Advanced Protected Passed” e5 pawn?  Indeed so, but it will be difficult to defend if the f4 pawn falls.

22. Rac1  Opening up the position only favours Black.  Instead 22. exf6 Rxf6 and the white f4 pawn will soon fall.

22. ... Rd5  23. Nd6 Qh4  24. Rc6 Nxf4  Weak pawn falls, job done, right?  Not really.  White is starting to think something is available by following the maxim: “Passed pawns must be pushed.”  But Black also knows of this maxim.  A satisfactory defence to the forthcoming white threat needed to be carefully calculated before abandoning the blockade of the white e5 pawn.  The real middlegame fun is about to begin, complications to escalate, who will envisage the further?

25. e6  Only chance.  The threat is pawn e7 and promotion on e8 costing Black a rook.  Black to play needs inspiration, but what?

25. ... Nd3  Exploiting an overloading of the white queen.  She cannot give a defence to the e1 rook and keep out this invading black knight at the same time, the e1 rook must move.

26. Re2  Tactics favour Black.  A couple of ideas run:

(A). 26. e7 Qxe1+ 27. Qxe1 Nxe1 28. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 29. Rc8+ Ke7 30. Re8+ Kxd6 31. Rxe1 Re5 32. Rd1 Kd5 Black has 2 extra pawns plus the more active pieces, a quick win coming soon.

(B). 26. e7 Qxe1+ 27. Qxe1 Nxe1 28. e8=Q Rxe8 29. Nxe8 d3 30. Rc1 d2 31. Rd1 Nxf3+ Black is 3 pawns up.

26. ... Ne5  A tripler.  Firstly, Black threatens Nxf3+ winning the white queen.  Secondly, a backward attack hits the white c6 rook.  Thirdly, the support of the white e2 rook to the e5 pawn is blocked.

27. e7  White throws in a tactrick.  That is, a tricky tactical move which is not completely sound but might work if the opponent gets confused or panics.

27. ... Qxe7  Black avoids the trap but needed to find the follow up before snatching this dangerous white pawn.  Instead 27. ... Nxf3+ 28. Kh1 Nxd2 29. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 30. Re8+ mate was what White hoped might appear.

28. Qf4  There is a different way to try to exploit the pinned black e5 knight, some ideas run:

(A). 28. f4 Nf3+ 29. Kg2 Nxd2 30. Rxe7 Rd8 31. Rcc7 and Black has no means of preventing the white rooks from forcing perpetual check.

(B). 28. f4 Rxd6 29. Rxd6 Qxd6 30. fxe5 Qd5 when Black is 2 pawns up, this is winning but needs careful nurturing.

(C). 28. f4 Rxd6 29. Rxd6 Qxd6 30. Rxe5 g6 again Black is 2 pawns up, winning, but careful play required to convert.

(D). 28. f4 Rxd6 29. Rxe5 Qd7 30. Rc1 White is 2 pawns down but has all the heavy pieces still in play, Black must work harder than in the above lines.

Black to play cleverly simplifies into an easily won endgame.

28. ... Qg5+  29. Qxg5 Nxf3+  A royal fork.  Black is going to be 3 pawns up, and we can finally pronounce the d-pawn status to be “Passed”.

30. Kg2 Nxg5  31. Re7 d3  0-1  Grandmaster technique ensures Black will take the full point.

M. Voiska (2320) - S. Matveeva (2447), 2nd Women’s European Championship, Warsaw, 2001.

1. c4 b6  2. Nc3 Bb7  3. e4 e6  4. Nge2 Nf6  5. d3 d5  6. cxd5 exd5  7. e5 Nfd7  8. d4 c5  9. Nf4  A bold decision, instead 9. f4 as in game 1 is safer.

9. ... cxd4  10. Ncxd5 Nxe5  Black chooses a simple life.  Trying to refute the white construction of tandem knights with 10. ... g5 gives White an attack, some ideas run:

(A). 10. ... g5 11. Ne6 fxe6 12. Qh5+ mate is cute but will not happen.

(B). 10. ... g5 11. Ne6 Qc8 12. Nec7+ Kd8 13. Bxg5+ Be7 14. Bxe7+ mate hints of the style seen in the 1870s.

(C). 10. ... g5 11. Ne6 Qc8 12. Nec7+ Kd8 13. Bxg5+ f6 14. exf6 White would have a fine position plus being 2 pawns up.

11. Bb5+ Nbc6  12. Qh5  Here or on the previous move capturing Qxd4 seems playable.  Your Annotator cannot find a refutation and so assumes White judges the black d-pawn is “Isolated”, it can be picked off in time.  Now both players decide the opening skirmish is over, time to get king safety before the middlegame gets rolling.

12. ... Qd6  13. Bd2 O-O-O  14. O-O g6  A tripler.  Firstly, the white queen is pushed to a less aggressive location.  Secondly, g7 is vacated for the black f8 bishop.  Thirdly, the f5 square can now be occupied by a black piece.

15. Qh3+ Kb8  16. Qg3 Bg7  17. Rac1 Rhg8  Difficult to explain this move, speculation required.  Maybe Black planned Bh8 intending pawn g5 disrupting the white tandem knights only to change her mind for something less loosening?

18. Bxc6  Somewhat committal.  This unforced exchange of pieces only leaves the black light square bishop thinking of a rosy future come the late middlegame onwards.  Instead 18. Rfe1 or 18. Rfd1 waiting for Black to produce a plan makes sense and vacates f1 for the light square bishop to strengthen the defences.

18. ... Nxc6  19. Rfe1 Rge8  20. h4  Strongly hinting White does not have a positive plan.  This advance cannot be aimed at opening the kingside.  Only Black could profit from that.  Perhaps it is designed to prevent black pawn g5 disrupting the mutual protection scheme of the white tandem knights?  White cannot force open the queenside with the symmetric pawn structure over there.  All that is left is shuffling pieces while trying to contain the growing black central activity.

20. ... Re5  21. Nb4  Surely this drops a piece to a fairly obvious capture sequence?

21. ... Rxe1+  22. Bxe1 Ne7  Black avoids the trap.  White had a couple of discovered checks available, accuracy required, the ideas run:

(A). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Nd5+ Ka8 25. Nxb4 when White wins the black queen for a piece, painful, but White has something far better.

(B). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Nd5+ Ka8 25. Nc7+ Kb8 26. Na6+ Ka8 27. Qb8+ Rxb8 28. Nc7+ smothered mate.

But Black is missing a trick in those lines, the disasters can be avoided.

(C). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Nd5+ Qd6 Black saves the queen and prevents mate.  White has simply lost a piece.

However in turn White is also missing a trick.

(D). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Ne6+ Rd6 25 a3 Qxb2 26. Qxd6+ Ka8 27. Qd8+ Bc8 28. Qxc8+ mate.

(E). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Ne6+ Qd6 25. Nxd8 and the black queen is pinned to her king, white has snaffled an exchange, Black can no longer think of winning.

And just to show how tricky tactics can be, Black can produce a surprise in the white improvement lines.

(F). 22. ... Nxb4 23. Bxb4 Qxb4 24. Ne6+ Be5 25. Qxe5+ Qd6 26. Qxd6+ Rxd6 when Black still has the extra pawn.

However the simplifications give White an easier game, keeping the tension while probing the kingside gives white more problems to solve.  Having sidestepped the trap, is Black making any gains with a knight retreat?  Yes, this knight is heading for a more active posting on the kingside while still supporting the d4 pawn.  Also the black b7 bishop is unleashed and finally influencing the light squares on the a8 - h1 long diagonal, as planned so long ago.  Black now improves the position of a couple of units while the corresponding white units become a little more passive.

23. Nbd3 Nf5  24. Qh2 Rc8  25. Rd1 a5  A move requiring careful consideration.  The Gains: The a7 square is vacated for the black king, the b7 bishop still has options of using the a6 square, the white e1 bishop is denied the b4 square.  The Loss: White can get some queenside pawn activity, this is what needed careful consideration.

26. b4 a4  Keeping the queenside closed for as long as possible.  Instead 26. ... axb4 27 Rb1 White will win the pawn back with piece activity into the bargain.

27. b5 Ka7  28. Bb4 Qd7  So White gets a bishop on b4 anyway, but the advanced b5 pawn is now a liability.

29. Rb1  Placing an x-ray defence on the stranded white b5 pawn.  This should make the black queen think twice before capturing, right?

29. ... Qxb5  Perhaps played with an unspoken: “Show me!”  Had the white rook been on the b2 square, backwardly guarded by the d3 knight, this capture would be a blunder.  White could then reply 30. Bc5 which will win the black b6 pawn.  But surely giving the opponent a semi-open file in front of your king is unwise?  Generally speaking, yes, but Black has weighed the gains and losses.  The white units are scattered across the board, they cannot coordinate against the black defences, in particular the queen on h2 contributes nothing.

30. Re1 h5  Fixing the white h4 pawn, another target appears for Black to combine against.

31. a3 Bf6  32. Qh3  While 32. g3 saves the h4 pawn it also incarcerates the white queen.

32. ... Bxh4  33. Re5  Setting up a tactic, it should not work, but in desperate positions try something, anything.

33. ... Qd7  34. Rxf5 Qxf5  35. Qxh4 g5  The tandem knights mutual protection scheme is in the process of falling apart.  On f5 the black queen hits both white knights, now the f4 knight is attacked by the black g-pawn, it dare not move as the d3 knight would fall.  White has a couple of ideas available which must be tried.

36. Qxh5  Pinning the black g5 pawn to the unprotected f5 queen.  Black to play can force a win of material.

36. ... Be4  A doubler.  Firstly, backward protection is given to the black f5 queen so the g5 pawn is no longer pinned and can safely capture the white f4 knight.  Secondly, a double attack now hits the white d3 knight, if it moves the f4 knight falls.

37. g4  Setting just one last test for Black to pass.

37. ... Qh7  Keeping all threats in place, a pawn attack on the f4 knight, a double attack on the d3 knight.

38. Ne1  There is nothing better.  Instead 38. Qxh7 Bxh7 39. Nh3 Bxd3 40. Nxg5 Bc4 Black would be an exchange plus pawn up.

38. ... gxf4  0-1  Black is an exchange plus 2 pawns up, a decisive material advantage.  In closing, the black d4 pawn must be declared as “Passed” and will soon cost White a piece.

Is a Bishops of Opposite Colour Ending Always a Draw?

Owen Phillips writes:

There is a saying that opposite colour bishop endings are always draws.  Well, they often can be but for two good reasons they shouldn't be assumed to be.  Firstly, if one can get an attack then the side attacking can develop a powerful initiative as the opposing bishop will often not be a good defender.  Secondly, in all endings where a rook is involved the relative activity of a rook is often the key from which a player can get a lasting initiative.

The following position arose during my recent foray in the 46th International Guernsey Open event in St Peter Port (White to move):

White: Kh2 Rg3 Bd4 with pawns on g2, f2, a3, b4 and h4

Black: Kf7 Rc1 Bb7 h7, g6, f6, a6 and b5

I was White and my opponent seemed shocked that I hadn’t accepted his offer of a draw as it was an opposite coloured bishops ending with equal material and if anything my h pawn looked vulnerable.  I didn't want to as such an ending can be very tricky and that was why I had placed my pawn on h4 in the first place, as a distraction.  I had remembered that the key to such endings is to get activity.

The ending that ensued, where my opponent captured my h pawn and I went a pawn down in order to create a strong bishop and permanently active rook, soon showed the importance of following good principles and in playing on in so called ‘drawn opposite bishop endings’!   Enjoy:

33. Re3 Rc4  34. Bc5 Rxh4+  35. Kg3 Re4  36. Rd3 Ke6  37. f3 Re2  38. Rd6+ Kf5

39. Rd7 Bc6  40. Ra7 h5  41. Rxa6 Bd5  42. Bd4 Re6  43. Ra5 Bc4  44. a4 g5  45. axb5 h4+  46. Kh2 Kf4

47. b6 Re8  48. Bxf6 Ke3  49. Bxg5+ Kd4  50. Bxh4 Bd5  51. Bg3 Rh8+  52. Kg1 Rg8  53. Rxd5+ 1-0

You may note that several mating threats were key to the win!

The opening was 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nxd5 6. d4 e6 7. Nf3 Nc6 8.a3 a6 9. Bd3 Be7 10. O-O Nf6.....where White deliberately saddles himself with an isolated central pawn with the intent of a less regular and an attacking Caro Kann game.

P.S. I finished with 4/7 with a gain of 21 rating points.  Incidentally I can highly recommend going to the Guernsey Festival of Chess as the playing conditions are always excellent and with one game a day there is plenty of time to take in the fresh and generally rather warmer air than on the mainland.  Many participants are regulars as it is so well thought of.  Three players have attended over 40 times now!

The Dangerous c4 Line against the Caro Kann

Owen Phillips writes:

Example game showing the dangerous c4 line against the Caro Kann INT: Harshavardhan, GB (2397) v Devaev, Alexander (2325) Round 6, 03.08.2021, ECO B14

1. e4 c6  2. d4 d5  3. exd5 cxd5  4. c4 Nf6  5. Nc3 e6  6. Nf3 Bb4  7. cxd5 Nxd5  8. Bd2 Nc6  9. Bd3 O-O

10. O-O Be7  11. Re1 Bf6  12. Ne4 Nce7  13. Rc1 Ng6  14. Nxf6+ Nxf6  15. Bg5 Qd6  16. Ne5 Nd5  17. Qh5 Bd7

18. Re4 Rac8  19. Rce1 Nf6  20. Bxf6 gxf6  21. Rh4 1-0


2022 FIDE World Individual Seniors 50+ Championship

Owen Phillips our Associate Member and long-time coach of our international team writes:

I enjoyed the 2022 World Seniors event in Assisi Italy although it was tough work!  I was 113th seed but finished equal 80th on 5/11 so was pleased with that.  My trip started with a few days of sightseeing in Florence so I was reasonably relaxed from the outset.  The paintings, architecture, sculptures, basilicas and frescoes were very dramatic.  Assisi proved equally awe inspiring with works by the great masters of the Renaissance!

The Championships had 350 competitors from 52 Federations including a host of famous Grand Masters, top IMs and numerous top women players.  In all there were 22 GMs, 5 WGMs, 37 IMs, 5 WIMs, 42 FMs, 3 WFMs and 10 CMs participating!  The highlight for England was John Nunn taking home the Over 65 World Title with 9/11.

In my Over 50s event GM Zurab Sturua of Georgia emerged victorious on 8.5/11 winning on tie break from GM Maxim Novak.  GM Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia won her 8th Senior Ladies World Title.

It was hard to select games for the Gazette but I plumped for my Round 10 win against Giancarlo Badano.  I thought that game was exciting and also most relevant to the BCA as Giancarlo has long been playing in the IBCA events.  I met him at Lake Ohrid, Macedonia a few years back, where he lost a tussle with Stevie Hilton, but as he arrived in the playing hall he was hailed as El Maestro by the Italians!  He is clearly a favourite of theirs!  I have to say that although Giancarlo was some three hundred to 450 points below my other opponents, I found him a very good competitor and we had a most exciting game.

The other miniature from the last round I chose because it involved a very sharp line of the French Defence and I thought it might be of interest to those of you who play the French but not the extremely sharp MacCutcheon line!

Owen Phillips (1978) v Giancarlo Badano (1751), Round 10, 25.11.2022

1. e4 e6  2. Nc3 d5  3. f4 d4  4. Nce2 c5  5. Ng3 Nf6  6. c3  Tempting d3, where the pawn gets over extended.

6. ...  Nc6  7. d3  Now I prefer to stop the pawn roll.

7. ...  b5  8. Nf3 Be7  9. a4 b4  10. cxd4 Nxd4  11. Be3 Nxf3+  12. Qxf3 Bb7  13. b3 Black has a backward c pawn

13. ...  Rc8  14. Be2 O-O  15. O-O Qb6  16. Rad1 Rfd8  17. h3  A tempting alternative was f5.

17. ... Rd7  18. Nh1  Time to reposition my charger!

18. ... Rcd8  19. Nf2 .Ba6  Piling the pressure on my d pawn!

20. g4 Ne8  21. g5  The Fritz assessment here is still only +0.33 for White!

21. ... f5  22. gxf6 Nxf6  23. Bc1  Maybe Kh1 was preferable.

23. ... Bb7  24. Kh2 Kf7  I thought maybe he would go for a pawn  break with c4.

I have to be incredibly careful in moving forward that I don't release the latent power of his two bishops!

25. Bb2 Qc7  26. h4 g6  27. Qg3 Rg8  28. Rg1 R7d8  29.Be5 Qb6  By now Black was in serious time trouble almost down to just his 30 second increments per move!  In some ways yet again this adversely affected the accuracy of my own play, but I did pose my opponent significant tactical issues.

30. Qh3 Rdf8  31. Rgf1 Ke8  32. Nh1 Nd7  33. Bb2 Bf6  34. e5 Be7  35. a5 Qa6  36. Ng3 Bd5  37. d4 Qxa5  

38. Ra1 Qc7 39. Bc4..Time! 1-0

I shall leave you to spot where White went wrong getting excited in his opponent's time trouble!  Giancarlo finished well scoring 4/11.

Marco Ceccarini (2014) v Owen Phillips (1978), Round 11, 26.11.2022

1. e4 e6  2. d4 d5  3. Nc3 Nf6  4. Bg5 Bb4  5. e5 h6  6. Be3

A major alternative was 6. exf6 hxg5  7. fxg7 Rg8  8. Qh5 Qf6  9. Nf3 Qxg7  10. h4 gxh4  11. Qxh4 Nd7  12. O-O-O a6.  Back to the game:

6. ... Ne4  7. Qg4 Kf8  8. a3 Bxc3+  9. bxc3 Nxc3  10. Bd3 c5  11. dxc5 Nc6  12. Nf3 f5!!?  This came as a major surprise to my opponent but it seemed natural to me.  He now spent almost 50 mins on his next move!  

13. Qh3  Else if 13. Qh4 Qxh4  14. Nxh4 Kf7 or if 13. Qh5 Bd7 14. Ng5 Nxe5 15. f4 g6 both of which look slightly better for Black.  Back to the game:

13. ... d4 and finding the position unclear and wanting to watch the French World Cup match I offered a draw which was eagerly accepted by my Italian opponent.  The MacCutcheon indeed looks alive and well with the move 12. ... f5! resource!

My Games with Graham Lilley

Steve Burnell writes:

Since the 1980’s, I have played Graham more times than I have played any other member of the BCA.  We both used to attend OTB tournaments regularly where our paths would invariably cross – usually in round 3 or 4.  In addition to these games, over recent years when poor health prevented Graham from attending BCA events, we played a series of friendly games by email.  These games showed that without doubt, although Graham wasn’t fit enough to attend BCA events, his ‘chess brain’ was as sharp as ever.  These email games also gave us the opportunity to chat about various matters – often football related, where Graham’s team (Liverpool) invariably fared better than mine!

Throughout all our games, I think that a draw was the most common result, with victory for Graham the next most frequent.  Here are a couple of our games.  Note the common theme at the end of each – the knight fork.  It can happen to the best of us!

This is one of our earliest encounters at a BCA weekend tournament in Llandudno.  I don’t recall the outcome of the tournament overall, but I would be pretty sure that Graham won it.

Lilley-Burnell, BCA AGM Weekend Congress, Llandudno, Round 3, 31.03.1990

1. d4 d5  2. c4 dxc4  3. Nf3 Nf6  4. e3 Bg4  5. Bxc4 e6  6. Nc3 Nbd7  7. h3 Bh5  8. Be2 Bd6  9. 0–0 0–0  10. e4 e5

11. dxe5 Nxe5  12. Nxe5 Bxe2  13. Nxe2 Bxe5  14. f4 Bd6  15. Qc2 Qe7  16. Ng3 Bc5+  17. Kh1 Bb6

18. Bd2 Rad8  19. Bc3 Bd4  20. Bxd4 Rxd4  21. e5 Nd5  22. Nf5 Qb4  23. Nxd4 Qxd4  24. Rad1 Ne3

25. Rxd4 Nxc2  26. Rd7 Black resigns

The second game is one of a series of email games we played over the past three years.  Most of these were draws, with the game below being my only win.  After the game Graham told me that he had made a similar mistake in our game in the British Championship in 1999!

Lilley-Burnell, Email game 2022

1. c4 Nf6  2. Nc3 e6  3. Nf3 b6  4. d4 Bb7  5. h3 Be7  6. Bf4 d6  7. Bh2 Nbd7  8. e3 a6  9. Be2 0–0  10. 0–0 c5

11. d5 e5  12. e4 h6  13. Ne1 g5  14. Nc2 Kg7  15. Ne3 Ng8  16. Nf5+ Kh7  17. Bd3 Ndf6  18. Ne2 Bc8 

19. Neg3 Bd7  20. Qd2 b5  21. b3 bxc4  22. bxc4 Rb8  23. Rab1 Bxf5  24. Nxf5 Qc7  25. g3 Rxb1  26. Rxb1 Rb8

27. Qc2 Rxb1+  28. Qxb1 Bf8  29. f3 Ne7  30. Nxe7 Bxe7  31. Kg2 Kg7  32. Bg1 Qa5  33. Be3 Bf8  34. Qc2 Qc7

35. Bd2 Be7  36. Qb1 Bd8  37. Bc2 Ng8  38. Ba4 Ne7  39. f4 f6  40. h4 exf4  41. gxf4 gxf4  42. Bxf4 Ng6 

43. Bg3 Ne5  44. Qc1 Qb6  45. Bd1 Qc7  46. Bf4 Kg8  47. Bxh6 Qh7  48. Bf3 Qg6+  49. Kf2 Nd3+ White resigns

Gray Matter Test

Here is the solution to the final Gray Matter Test selected by Graham Lilley.

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. 

Solution:  Rg8+, black King moves, followed by White playing Qxe6 mate.


Puzzle from Mark

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

Graham had been supplying puzzles derived from Magnus Carlsen's games, please let me know if you would like any alternative puzzle themes.

February 2023 Puzzle

Kjetil Stokke vs Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, 6/8/2006


White: King f1, Queen b8, Rook e1, Knight f3, Pawns a3, b4, f2, g2

Black: King g7, Queen d5, Rook h3, Knight f4, Pawns b6, e7, f7, g6, h7

Black mates in two moves.  The solution will appear in the May Gazette.

Mark Hague

RIP Denis Warren

Gary Wickett writes:

As Denis and I were close friends, Julie asked me if I would write an obituary for the Gazette.  In truth, I know very little of Denis’s life before the BCA as we mainly talked about music and chess.  The only surviving member of his family that I know of is his sister, but unfortunately, I have no way of contacting her for information.  So my apologies that this obituary will be a very pale and unsubstantial reflection of a long life well lived.

Denis, along with his twin brother, was born on 28 July 1932, the same year that the BCA came into being, and he sadly passed away almost twelve months to the day of his late wife June.

Although having very poor sight as a child, he attended his local mainstream school; taking a particular interest in woodwork, which he continued to enjoy well into his eighties.  In fact, about ten years ago, when I showed him my chess set, he was appalled at its quality and offered to make me a new one, which he produced about two weeks later and which I still use to this day.

I can’t quite remember what Denis did for a living, but he worked, I think in some kind of engineering capacity well into his fifties, when he accepted the offer of early retirement due to his sight deteriorating.

Losing both the little sight that he had and his job was a triple blow, because although he had never spoken to me about this, he would have been no doubt still grieving over the death of his first wife, who would have died possibly less than a year previous to this.

However, Denis, as many who have played him at chess will know, is not a man that is easily beaten.  He eventually moved from his home in London to Luton where a year or so later he met June.  Romance blossomed and they were married on 6 June 1981.

Denis joined the BCA in 2011, and until prevented by lockdown and subsequent poor health, he and June were familiar faces at all our events.  He was also a keen correspondence player; playing in both the email and correspondence tournaments, as well as finding time for friendly correspondence games.  For a time, he took on the role as Friendly Games Coordinator. 

I started this report by mentioning that we often spoke about music.  As well as his love of chess, when he wasn’t wielding a hammer or a saw, Denis enjoyed playing the guitar.  I have fond memories of going down to Luton and after tussling over a game of chess, which often ended in a draw, we would get the guitars out and sing and play for a good couple of hours before June dished up the food and it was time for me to catch my train home.

Denis was a regular performer at the BCA soirées, and I am sure many, like me, will always think of Denis when they hear the Bob Dylan classic made famous by Adele: “To feel My Love”.

Although he continued to play correspondence chess, the last event Denis attended was the 2019 BCA British in Torquay, where he came joint second in the Challenger’s section.

It is always sad when we lose one of our members; but many of us have been left with lots of happy memories.

RIP Graham Lilley

Editor’s note: This piece is based on the eulogy for Graham, written and kindly shared with us by his brother, Jon.

Graham was born on the 19th of August 1954, the second son of Gwen and Bert Lilley.  The family lived in Liverpool for Graham’s first year then moved to St Helens.  Graham put on weight and was sent to hospital for a few months of enforced dieting.  Much later, his condition was diagnosed as Bardet-Biedel Syndrome (BBS).

At primary school, BBS combined with low vision made life difficult but Graham put up with it without complaint (except for the dieting).  A glancing blow with a car prompted further sight tests that showed marked deterioration.  By 1970 Graham was certified blind and went to Henshaws Specialist School in Manchester to learn Braille and other skills for life as a blind person.  He loved sports, especially football and used to play using a ball with a bell inside.  He was a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter but also enjoyed cricket and tennis radio commentaries.

Graham loved music too.  Initially on vinyl, then tape when he got a player designed for a blind person.  Later he embraced the CD.  He loved a brass band and would go out of his way to listen to one, especially at Christmas.

At seven, Graham’s father taught him chess and it became his favourite hobby.  Bert was soon outclassed!  They played together until Bert’s death in 1966.  At eighteen Graham joined Pilkington and Knotty Ash Chess Clubs, where he played sighted opponents from other Merseyside teams, which greatly improved his game.  He was also playing up to a dozen postal games at once.  In 1973 he competed in the British Blind Chess Championship.

Graham became a well-known figure in St Helens, striding confidently along with his white cane on his many journeys to chess matches or the pub, where he enjoyed a pint or two (or three or four).  He was friendly to all and apparently bus passengers used to ‘light up’ when Graham got on board!

In 1976, Graham was one of a few blind players to face Russian Grandmaster Mark Taimanov.  This encounter was practice for his first IBCA Chess Olympiad in Finland.  As reserve, he won two of his six games, narrowly losing the others.  He was accompanied by Gwen, whose colleagues had raised funds towards her expenses.

The following year, he played in a Six Nations tournament in Germany.  On his return he found a massive party waiting for him at the Hare and Hounds where he was a regular.  Everyone there thought the world of Graham and marvelled at his chess ability and his cheerfulness.  The regulars raised cash to support him in his travels.

Graham travelled all around Britain to play chess.  He once fell into a hole when someone had moved the barriers, and he was trapped for two hours in a school playground in Bolton late one night after taking a wrong turn, but nothing deterred him!  He played for the UK in every IBCA Olympiad from Finland 1976 to Crete 2008, and took part in World Individuals, World Cup team competitions, European Individuals and many others besides.  

Graham attended a day centre for social gatherings and life skills training.  His friends there fondly remember him standing like a mountain leaning on his cane and telling corny jokes.  He was a whizz at whatever he tried from macramé to rug-making.  He got a cookery qualification, but Gwen still wouldn’t let him loose in her kitchen!

Graham wanted to get a job and earn his own money.  He passed an NVQ in Information Technology and the RNIB Employment Services Manager said he was an inspiration to others.  He got a placement with a Special Needs User Group to pass on some of his computer skills.  He also helped others with Braille and was recognised for his volunteer work.  His crowning achievement though was to teach his computer hating brother to use a PC!

Graham was a long-standing member of the BBS charity.  Keen to provide information about BBS to the medical profession and fellow sufferers, he regularly attended the National Bardet-Biedl clinic in Birmingham.

When his international chess travels ended Graham continued to go to local clubs and play email games.  BCA friends kept in contact by email and regular phone calls.  Members of the local clubs kept in touch too.

As Graham’s health declined Gwen finally agreed to a care package for them both.  After Gwen’s death in 2016, Graham’s brother Jon and his family played an increasing role.  Movement became harder for Graham and falls were more frequent.  In the summer of 2022, he moved to a care home but shortly afterwards was admitted to hospital where he lost his battle with sepsis, slipping away peacefully on the 3rd of November with Jon at his side.

Jon writes, “Unlike usual sibling relationships there was never any rivalry between us.  I always tried to protect Graham, but he rarely required my assistance as he got on with life in his own inimitable way.  In the years following my marriage to Maria, Graham was proud to be an uncle to our children, David and Janet and later David’s wife Julie and Janet’s husband Pete, then granduncle to Sophie, Max and Ellie.  He loved them all and asked about them till the end.  He liked reminding me about their birthdays and checked I had got gifts from him.  Graham led as full a life as possible, never letting disabilities limit him.  His hearty laugh was heard in chess halls around the world for years and the many friends he made here and abroad mourn his passing.  His cheerful disposition, quiet fortitude and generosity endeared him to everyone.  You could not meet a better man.”