The Gazette

May 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, Norman Wragg.


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

Membership Secretary’s Report 6

Treasurer’s Report 7

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 7

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 8

How Good is Your Chess?. 8

29th Chess Theme Break, Lauriston Hotel, Weston-super-Mare. 8

Winner of the David Hodgkins Memorial Best Game Competition 2022. 9

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition 2023. 13

18th BCA Email Tournament 13

Haaksbergen: End of an Era. 14

Ex-Champing at the Bit 10. 15

ECF Ratings. 18

Chess and Life! 19

Ukraine takes on UK in Solidarity Chess Tournament 19

Puzzle from Mark. 20

Personalia. 20

Find a Match! 20




Marilyn Monroe is quoted as saying “A career is born in public - talent in privacy.”  She was no doubt alluding to her own experiences as a famous Hollywood actress, but the same principle can be applied to other situations.  For example, in chess, when a player wins their first prize, trophy or title at a tournament, onlookers applaud their success without seeing the endless hours spent studying in quiet solitude, laying the foundations for the accomplishments to come.

Street artist, Banksy, is well known for concealing his identity and shunning personal fame, preferring to leave the limelight to his artwork.  He said, “I don't know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower.”

No doubt BCA members enjoy and value their privacy just as much as these celebrities, so you’ll be pleased to know that your committee takes the matter very seriously, especially when it comes to safeguarding your data.  For this reason, our booking conditions have been revised to reflect that we always need to get explicit permission from you before sending any information about you to hotels or to the ECF grading officer.  Please read the new conditions carefully and remember to give the relevant consent every time you book for one of our events.  The rules are there to protect everybody!

Now, I hope you’ve all found a moment to yourselves to settle down and look through this issue of the gazette!  You’ll find all the usual officers’ reports, details of tournaments to enter and how to take part in an exciting new coaching initiative!  We also have a report on the 29th Chess Theme Break and an update on the 18th BCA Email Tournament.  Guy reports on some sad news from the Netherlands, but by way of contrast, Personalia contains happy announcements for no fewer than seven members.  In case you’re wondering, they have all given permission for their news to be included!

There’s no longer any secrecy for the winner of the 2022 David Hodgkins Memorial Best Game Competition!  By the time you read this, his or her name will have been announced at the AGM.  For anyone who missed it, Paul Benson discloses the winner’s identity in an article which also contains the annotated game.  Similarly, our Treasurer reveals the winners of the Millennium Club draw in recent months!  Alas, Millennium Club numbers have dwindled lately so if you’re not already taking part, please do consider buying a number for a year for just £12.  It’s a really easy and fun way to support the BCA!

Kindly note that while the committee will continue to defend your “invisibility superpowers”, as Banksy put it, displays of other superpowers are not encouraged at BCA events – unless they’re chess related, of course.  So you’re respectfully requested to leave your Superman capes at home and refrain from wearing your underwear over your trousers at tournaments.

Please let me have articles for the August gazette by the end of June.

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Booking Conditions and Procedures.

When making your booking please let the organiser know that you give consent for your details to be sent to the hotel.  The hotel will be sent your name, dates booked, room type and any special requirements.

If taking part in the chess, you also need to confirm that you consent to the ECF being sent your forename, surname, club, results and possibly also your gender.

Also, please specify the following:

Name/names of everyone the booking is for.

Dates of arrival and departure.

Room type (single/double/twin/accessible room).

Any preference for a bath or shower or need for a walk-in shower.

If you will be bringing a guide dog.

If playing chess, which section you would prefer to play in if you are under the rating limit for the challengers.

Any special requirements, for example, a need for support in case of a fire alarm at night or a preference to be near the lift or the stairs.

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.

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

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.

29th July to 7th October 2023: BCA Summer Cup to be played remotely.

The committee has agreed that we will continue to arrange remote events for as long as there is sufficient interest in them from members.  The Summer Cup will be a five round tournament in which games are played by telephone, Skype, Zoom, or other internet based platform.  Telephone will be the default method of play.

It will be a five round event, running for 10 weeks with one round every two weeks at a mutually convenient time agreed between both players.  One point will be awarded for a win and half a point for a draw.  Ideally, there should be a third party timekeeper for each game unless it is played on a dedicated chess server such as Lichess.  If they wish, players will be able to take a half point bye in any one of the first four rounds and will be able to arrange this at fairly short notice.  The arbiters will be Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard.

The tournament will be open to all members and associate members of the BCA.  Depending on the entries, we may be able to incorporate a Challengers’ section.  Whether or not this is possible, the tournament will be a friendly and fairly informal event and we would urge as many members and associate members to “have a go” regardless of their playing strength.  Results will be sent for grading in the ECF Online Rating system, which is separate from over the board ratings.

Please let Abi Baker have your entry by Monday 24th July, giving full contact details and which playing platforms you can use.  You must also give consent for your contact details to be shared with all 2023 Summer Cup players and arbiters and for rating information to be sent to the ECF.  Abi's contact details are at the start of this gazette.

10th to 12th November 2023:  International Autumn Tournament

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

The format will be a five round Swiss tournament.  If there are sufficient entries there will be two sections, an Open and a Challengers Tournament.  The latter is for those players whose grade or estimated grade is below a specified threshold.  The threshold is likely to be set at around 1300.  This will be determined once the final number of players is known.  When making your booking, please state the section you wish to play in.  If you do not state a preference it will be assumed you wish to enter the section according to your grade.

Both tournaments are open to blind and partially sighted players and to associate members of the BCA.  The entry fee for both is £10.

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

Prices at the hotel have increased but we are of course doing our best to minimise the effect of this to members.  The cost for dinner, bed and breakfast is £65 per person per night for BCA members and associate members irrespective of room type.

Payment for all accommodation (including Sunday if required), together with the £10 entry fee should be sent to the Treasurer, Gill Smith.  The closing date for entries is 18th September.

Any queries about the tournament should be sent to John Fullwood. 

Saturday 27th January to Saturday 3rd February 2024 – The 30th Chess Theme Break

The 30th Chess Theme Break will be held at the Lauriston Hotel, 6-12 Knightstone Road, Weston-super-Mare BS23 2AN.  This year’s event was also held there, and it was found to be very convenient, with exceptionally friendly and helpful staff.  The hotel 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.  During the winter, dogs are allowed to run on the nearby beach.

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 Tony and Irene’s report on the 29th Chess Theme Break in this 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 can take part.  Any member with a rating of about 1400 or higher who would like to assist with the coaching would also be most welcome, as would anyone seeking a winter break with BCA friends.  Let’s try to make the 30th Chess Theme Break extra special!

For members, 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 £455 per person for single occupancy of a double or twin room.  With these prices, the £70 members’ grant has already been taken off and so no reimbursements will be made after the event this time.  The cost of individual nights for anyone not staying the whole week is £70 per person in a single room or sharing, and £75 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 2023.  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 strongly advise members to take out holiday insurance.

Membership Secretary’s Report

It’s been a really good quarter for membership!

Three visually impaired members joined our association.  Glenn Crawford from Indianapolis, USA joined as a life member and is now playing in the current BCA email tournament.  Paul Baldwin from Sevenoaks, Kent joined as a five year member and is looking to play friendly games by telephone.  Richard Allen from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, has joined for one year.

Six new associate members also joined.  Frank Kirkham, from Sheffield, father to Mark, has taken out life membership.  Gary Hogan's wife, Alena Hogan, from Carterton, Oxfordshire, joined for five years and is due to attend the chess tournament in Harrogate.  Steve and Hazel Burnell's son in law, Steven Allen, from Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, has joined for five years and will also be at the Harrogate event.  Bill and Pat's daughter, Claire Armstrong from Leek, attended the Chess Theme Break and has joined as a five year member.  Also joining for five years are Mark Cholij from Mitcham, Surrey, and Peter Dickinson from Burnley, Lancashire.

A warm welcome to all the newcomers!

Change of Name

Steve and Hazel Burnell's daughter, Philippa, has changed her name to Philippa Allen.

Mark Hague

Treasurer’s Report

In the first 3 months of 2023 our fundraiser, Carl Concannon, helped us to raise £9,850, making a total of more than £43,000 in the last 12 months: a remarkably successful outcome.  We still receive funds from organisations where Julia and Linda had forged relationships, in January we received £3,500 from one donor.  The overall income from our fundraisers for the last year is £57,800.

We were also raising funds through Amazon Smile but it is no longer active.  We joined in 2019 and since then we have benefitted by £132.47 from the scheme.

We are still signed up to Give as You Live which raises funds when shopping online with many different retailers. Simply search for “give as you live online”, sign up and choose the BCA as the charity you are supporting.  Since the last Gazette we have received £17.48 from Give as You Live.

Our accountants, Dunkleys, have completed their annual independent examination of our accounts.  By the time you read this I will have updated the Charity Commission with our annual return.

Our financial position at the end of March 2023 is:

·       Cash in the bank £72,802, made up of general funds £65,971 and restricted funds, given for a specific purpose, £6,831. Accounts are held with Lloyds, CAF Bank and Virgin Money.

·       Funds in investments £43,120, these are held with CCLA.

·       Total funds, all cash and investments, £115,922.

If you would like a copy of the accounts for the year ending September 2022 please ask and I can send one to you.

The BCA has 2 talking chess computers, “Talking Chess Academy endorsed by Kasparov”. If anybody would like to borrow one, please contact me.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

47th BCA CORRESPONDENCE Championship 2023-24

Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson

Jones 0 - 1 Phillips, Owen's Defence, 39.

Doyle 1 - 0 Jones, Nimzo-Indian, 53.

Crombie 1 - 0 Jones, Black Lion, 86.

Crombie 0 - 1 Doyle, English Defence, 38.

Phillips 0.5 - 0.5 Doyle, English Opening, 35.

Scores: Philip Doyle 2.5-3, George Phillips 1.5-2, Alec Crombie 1-2, Guy Whitehouse 0-0, Malcolm Jones 0-3.

Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson

Gailans 1 - 0 Tew, English Opening, 26.

Dod 0 - 1 Gailans, Sicilian, 31.

Tew 0 - 1 Flood, Queen's Pawn, 26.

Tew 0 - 1 Dod, Caro-Kann, 73.

Flood 1 - 0 Gailans, Sicilian, 34.

Gallacher 0.5 - 0.5 Flood, Bishop's, 29.

Gailans 1 - 0 Gallacher, English Opening, 33.

Dod 0 - 1 Gallacher, Sicilian, 32.

Flood 0 - 1 Dod, Benoni, 26.

Scores: Voldi Gailans 3-4, Mike Flood 2.5-4, Maria Dod 2-4, Eric Gallacher 1.5-3, Eleanor Tew 0-3.

Congratulations to Voldi Gailans on winning the Challengers and gaining promotion to the Premier in the next cycle.

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

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:

January: Voldi Gailans, number 7.

February: Jim Cuthbert, number 18.

March: Norman Wragg, number 64.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

How Good is Your Chess?

In the recent past, Gerry Walsh has kindly undertaken some training sessions at our week-long events under the title “How Good Is Your Chess?”  In these sessions a group of students is taken through the opening moves of a game and participants are then asked to predict the succeeding moves for one side or the other.  These sessions proved to be very popular and so Gerry put forward the idea of running such sessions over Zoom.  He held such a session in March and a recording is available for those interested in getting an idea of this type of training.

In view of the success of this session Gerry has offered to run monthly sessions over Zoom for any members interested in taking part.  Having attended a couple of these sessions myself, I can highly recommend them to players of all standards.  Each person is asked to choose a move and points are available for those guessing the correct move and sometimes fewer points are available for subsidiary moves.  The sessions are very informal, the points awarded are a subsidiary to the main objective, which is to provide instruction, to give us an opportunity to work together as a group to find solutions and to enjoy some very exciting chess.  For those not used to solving chess problems it is a wonderful way to begin, and an encouragement to become involved by making suggestions at each stage of the game.  There is no criticism of individuals’ suggestions and anyone is free to suggest any possible move.  Solving puzzles is a must for all chess players and this is a great opportunity to get started.

At the end of each month I will send a note to the Usergroup, reminding everyone of the next session and asking for names of those interested in taking part in the next session.  I will then liaise with the group and Gerry to find a suitable day.  For those not familiar with using Zoom, help is available, either for accessing the sessions on a PC or an iPhone.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the sessions, which I would heartily recommend to all members.

Voldi Gailans

29th Chess Theme Break, Lauriston Hotel, Weston-super-Mare

By Irene and Tony Elbourn

Traditionally the Chess Theme Break has been held at Windermere, but last year 2022 it came south and was held at the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth.  This year it moved to the Lauriston Hotel, Weston-super-Mare, which is well known to some of us as it was previously run by the RNIB and is now owned by Weston College.  They still welcome visually impaired visitors and have facilities for guide dogs.  This is the first time that the BCA has used the Lauriston Hotel.

The BCA members all met together on Saturday 28th January.  We were soon reminding ourselves of the way round the hotel and getting reacquainted with our friends among the staff and the BCA members.

On Sunday we had two sessions of coaching.  Most of the coaching was carried out in the dining room whilst Gerry took a group of trainees in the bar for “How Good is Your Chess?” sessions.  In the evening there was Julie’s quiz which was themed around “The West”.

Monday took the same form, but the evening entertainment was provided by Steve Cesari, who played an assortment of music from the 60's and 70's.

Tuesday followed the same format with two hour training sessions.  Individual points scored after studying two How Good is Your Chess games were as follows:

Gary Wickett 60, Neda Koohnavard 53, Mark Hague 48, Jim Cuthbert 46, Richard Harrington 40, Tony Lawton 36, Tony Elbourn 35, Irene Elbourn and Gill Smith 32.

The evening entertainment was Freya’s quiz which kept our minds stretched to find the answers.

Wednesday was the day off.  A trip out had been arranged to visit the Weston Museum.  The staff there gave a talk on its history and described the range of exhibits some of which we were able to touch.  Following the talk various items were passed round for us to handle.  Included in the exhibits was an estate workers’ cottage which we toured although some of the rooms could only be viewed.  There was also a work boat which was used by the people of Weston at the end of the 19th- and the beginning of the 20th-century.  The tour ended back where we had started for lunch - which we had chosen and paid for in advance.

After we returned to the hotel the majority of the group gathered in the bar where Gerry read from a book by Harry Golombek on the history of chess.  That evening’s entertainment was a game of “Call My Bluff”.

Thursday morning was the first day of the chess tournament played between the trainees.  The playing time for each game was one hour with the stronger players being given a time handicap.  It was the first time either of us had played a quick play competition.  Tony’s first opponent was Lea Ryan and he had to play the game in 20 minutes whilst Lea’s clock was set for 40 minutes.  Fortunately, Julie happened to see Tony mating Lea’s King a second or so before Tony’s flag fell which meant that Tony won the first game.  Following a break of about fifteen minutes the second round was played.

After lunch three members of the Weston Chess Club came to play the BCA trainees.  In all, nine games were played the Weston Chess Club won with a score of 7.5 BCA 1.5.  The BCA’s successful players were Tony Lawton, who won a game and Mark Hague, who got a draw.  That was a very good afternoon over the chessboard!

The evening entertainment was Dave Curran who sang rock and roll songs and BCA members – some totally blind - got up during the evening and made their way onto the dance floor.

The last full day of the Chess Theme Break was a busy one.  In the morning rounds three and four of the tournament were played and after lunch the final fifth round, which was followed by Gerry reading another chapter or two from “The History of Chess”.

The final event of the afternoon was the prize giving, for which Peter and Celia Gibbs – who had run the Chess Theme Breaks very successfully for 27 years - were invited to attend via an internet link.  The usual thanks were expressed to all coaches, guides and participants.  Members of the hotel staff were in attendance and were thanked for their assistance over the week.

Tournament scores:

Gill Smith 4.5

Neda Koohnavard 4

Tony Elbourn, Mark Hague and Lea Ryan 3

Gary Wickett 2.5

Tony Lawton 2

Jim Cuthbert 1.5

Irene Elbourn and Richard Harrington 1

Gill was presented with the Peter and Celia Gibbs Trophy.

The last event of the week was the Soirée.  Unfortunately, the hotel’s bar did not lend itself to such an event and the other customers were so noisy enjoying their beverages that it was difficult to listen to the performances of our members.  Therefore, some of our members left the event early.

This was the first of the Chess Theme Breaks we had attended, and we found it very enjoyable, instructive and interesting.

Winner of the David Hodgkins Memorial Best Game Competition 2022

Paul Benson writes:

Question: “What constitutes a Best Game?”  A few answers quickly spring to mind.

Perhaps an attentive accumulation of advantages?  Interpretation: Encourage the opponent to self-inflict a few small weaknesses.  In time their game will simply fall apart.

Or maybe a placid positional pressuring?  Interpretation: Keep it all under control and make all your pieces better than the opposing ones.  The break-through moment should simply appear as if by magic.

Or even a tantalising tactical torrent?  Interpretation: Highly entertaining slugfest with plenty of metaphorical blood on the board.  It might be unsound but who cares?

All these game types could easily qualify, it is a matter of personal taste.  No advance warning of what to expect here other than occasional clues scattered through the game comments.

S. Burnell (1824) vs E. Casey (1510), BCA Summer Cup Open 2022 Round 5.

Perhaps to begin with examining tournament progress of our “Warring Gladiators” might assist?  Steve, top seed, started with a draw, then a loss, a couple of wins.  He has 2.5 points from 4 games.  Eamonn, 5th seed, excellent start of 3 wins in a row, then a loss.  He has 3 points from 4 and the possibility of being joint winner?  Aspirations of the players as the game proceeded is obviously not available.  Is the 300+ rating points disparity going to be an influential factor on how they approach this battle?

1. d4 Nf6  2. Nf3 e6  3. e3 d5  4. Bd3 Nbd7  5. c3 Be7  6. Nbd2 O-O  7. O-O c5

At last, some tension appears in the position.  Attaining early king safety combined with speedy minor piece development without aggression has been the chosen strategy by both so far.  Does 7. ... c5 suggest that Black might be thinking of pushing for the full point?

8. Re1 Re8  9. e4

A thematic central pawn break which will offer the apparently entombed c1 bishop a chance to join the fun.

9. ... dxe4  10. Nxe4 Nxe4  11. Bxe4 Nf6  12. Bc2

Keeping pressure on the black kingside from a safer location.  At the moment the h7 square is satisfactorily defended, but defenders can either be pushed around or voluntarily relocate.

12. ... b6

Black is also planning pressure on the light squares.  White must be wary of threats along the a8 - h1 diagonal.

13. Bg5 cxd4

Releasing the central tension while giving White a mobile 3 vs 2 queenside pawn majority.  Such a pawn formation might prove useful for White in a single minor piece endgame.  Fine, but there is a lot of middlegame to go through before then.

14. Nxd4 Bb7  15. Qe2 Qd5

A doubler.  Firstly, this black queen and bishop battery threatens Qxg2+ mate.  Secondly, an attack is placed on the undefended white g5 bishop.  White can nullify both immediate threats but must find a long-term means of neutralising the pressure on the a8-h1 diagonal.

16. Nf3 Rad8  17. Red1

Avoiding complications, centralising the a1 rook requires tactics to be checked, some ideas run:

(A). 17. Rad1 Qxa2 18. Ra1 Qxb2 a blunder as 19. Bxh7+ Nxh7 20. Qxb2 Nxg5 21. Nxg5 Bxg5 22. Rxa7 and Black only has the bishop pair to counter the white queen, bad news.

(B). 17. Rad1 Qxa2 18. Ra1 Qd5 19. Rxa7, is fine for White but Black can mix it up.

(C). 17. Rad1 Qxa2 18. Ra1 Bxf3 19. Rxa2 Bxe2 20. Rxe2 White has gained the bishop pair but lost a pawn in the trading, Black stands better.

(D). 17. Rad1 Qxa2 18. Ra1 Bxf3 19. Qxf3 Qxb2 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Qe4 g6 22. Rxa7 Qxc3 Black has snaffled 2 pawns, the only chance for White is a potential opposite colour bishop ending.

(E). 17. Rad1 Qxa2 18. Ra1 Bxf3 19. gxf3 Qd5 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Rxa7 is material equality but a highly drawish opposite colour bishop endgame seems unavoidable.

17. ... Qc6  18. Qf1

Neutralising the threat of mate on g2 at the cost of deactivating the white queen.  Perhaps White is willing to adopt a defensive role until the queenside pawn majority is ready to start rolling?

18. ... Rxd1  19. Rxd1 Qc7

Black voluntarily dismantles the c6 queen plus b7 bishop battery up the a8 - h1 diagonal.  With White having negated the mate threat then redeploying the black queen makes sense.  However, the other side of this coin is that the white queen can now go active again.  She has no sensible options at the moment, but positions can change very quickly.

20. Rd4

Known in the trade as a “Rook Lift”, this advance up the d-file gives White a couple of options.  Firstly, the f1 queen might shuffle behind the d4 rook creating a battery up the d-file.  Secondly, from d4 the rook can swing over into the kingside to assist with attacking ideas.

20. ... Bxf3

At last, some imbalance has been injected into the position.  Now a couple of unasked questions are in the air.  Will the shattered white kingside pawn structure prove to be an important weakness in the endgame?  Will the lack of a black light square bishop permit White to take control of the light squares for whatever middlegame remains?  Perhaps both, perhaps neither.

21. gxf3 h6

A deliberate provocation of the white dark square bishop.  Perhaps hoping for white Bxf6, when an opposite colour bishop ending seems inevitable.  Important decision for White here.  Play safe by trading, heading for that ending or keep the fight for a win still possible by retreating.  Instead black 21. ... Nd5 gives White a chance to speculate.  The idea is 22. Bxh7+, the white queen can jump in with Qh3 and the d4 rook can swing kingside.  Is this attack sound?  Fritz and friends, not available here, could pronounce with some certainty.  However Black is not silicon-based but bio-organic.  Calculations of the sort required here take time, it seems an unnecessary risk has been side-stepped by Black.

22. Bh4

Fight on then, and why not?  White has the bishop pair in an open position, something might appear depending on how Black plays.

22. ... Nd5

Offering White another chance to reduce material with 23. Bxe7, though this time there would be no opposite colour bishop ending.  We are back into the tricky question of tournament aspirations.  Who, if anyone, is still thinking of playing for a win?

23. Bg3

Probably played on the grounds that White risks nothing by continuing?  The risk factor for White is indeed low.  Black to play must do something about the attack on the c7 queen.  Quite a few ideas available, should chew up some time on the clock.

23. ... Bd6

Black continues with the policy of seeking piece trades.  Strategically this is fine and hints that Black might be content to drift towards a draw.  However sometimes a desirable strategic plan can lead to undesirable tactical events.

24. Bxd6 Qxd6

With the trade of bishops the black queen gains considerable influence on the dark squares.  Mind you, could there be similar opportunities for the skulking white f1 queen on the light squares?

25. Qd3

Immediate tactics fail, 25. c4 Qe5 escapes the pin with an attack on the undefended white d4 rook.  Now that 3 pairs of minor pieces plus a pair of rooks have been eliminated we must discuss the relative values of the opposing queens.  White has a powerful queen plus bishop battery aiming at the h7 square.  The black queen plus knight have yet to coordinate in the vicinity of the white king.  There is also the tiny matter of a dangerous pin on the black d5 knight to be neutralised.  It seems White can throw the first punch, but be warned, Black will also be hunting the opposing king.  Welcome to a fascinating “Mutual Test of Tactical Event Horizons”.  King safety, or otherwise, is going to be the decisive factor.

25. ... Qe5  26. Qh7+ Kf8  27. Re4  Giving the black queen a tricky choice, attack or defend.

27. ... Qg5+

A critical decision.  Black chooses to up the stakes, both kings are about to become targets in a mutual king hunt.

28. Rg4 Qc1+  29. Kg2 Nf4+  30. Kg3 Nh5+

Nicely played, this backwardly guards the g7 pawn with a checking gain of tempo.  Now it is the white king who must make a critical decision.

31. Kh4

Very committal, a clear pronouncement of intention of playing for a win.  Perhaps testing the water with 31. Kg2 wondering if Black will repeat positions with 31. ... Nf4+ was worth a try?  Of course, on h4 the white king attacks the undefended black h5 knight, so this charge toward enemy territory makes sense.  Black to play might be running short of time, should defensive play be sought or should active play be tried?  From your armchair you have as long as you like to consider, Black might have had to make a hasty decision.

31. ... g6

A quadrupler.  Firstly, the black g6 pawn protects the h5 knight.  Secondly, the c1 queen backwardly protects the h6 pawn.  Thirdly, the defence from the white h7 queen to the c2 bishop has been severed.  Fourthly, the black h5 knight is free to move as the previously targeted g-pawn is now on the g6 square.

It seems it all hangs together for the defence, right?  Fine, but what about the active exchange fork by Black?  Some tactics needed crunching out, a few ideas run:

(A). 31. ... Nf6 32. Qxg7+ Ke7 33. Bg6 Nxg4 34. Qxf7+ Kd6 35. Qxe8 Qg5+ 36. Kh3 Nxf2+ mate would be a shock to all.

(B). 31. ... Nf6 32. Qxg7+ Ke7 33. Bg6 Nxg4 34. Qxf7+ Kd6 35. Qxe8 Qg5+ 36. Kg3 Ne3+ 37. Kh3 Qg2+ 38. Kh4 Qxh2+ mate is equally shocking.

(C). 31. ... Nf6 32. Qxg7+ Ke7 33. Rd4 Qxc2 34. Rf4 Qg6 Black emerges a knight up for a pawn, Black wins.

(D). 31. ... Nf6 32. Qxg7+ Ke7 33. Rg6 Qf4+ 34. Kh3 Rg8 and the best White has is 35. Qxf6+ Qxf6 36. Rxf6 Kxf6 when Black has an exchange for a pawn with the white king restricted to the h-file.  Reasonable technique by Black should win this final line.

If all of the above analysis is correct then White attempting to avoid 3-fold repetition was an error and in return Black missed an opportunity to simplify into a won ending.

Tactical discussion over, we must now compare and contrast the coordination of the opposing forces.  All of the white pieces, including the king, are on the attack while the black pieces are all scattered on the edge of the board.  Appropriate Fischerism: “Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.”

32. Bxg6

And now it is the black f8 king which is being hunted.  There is also the tiny problem of finding a defence for the black h5 knight while avoiding being mated.  Only a single solution for Black, accept the bishop along with whatever follows in the wake.

32. ... fxg6  Non-acceptances fail, some ideas run:

(A). 32. ... Re7 33. Qh8+ mate.

(B). 32. ... Ke7 33. Qxf7+ Kd6 34. Qxe8 white has won a rook plus 2 pawns.

(C). 32. ... Ng7 33. Qh8+ Ke7 34. Qxg7, pinning the black f7 pawn, White has won a knight plus pawn and the attack will continue.

33. Qxg6 Qh1

Black is struggling to defend the f8 king and so opts for queen activity in the vicinity of the white king, you never know what the opponent might do.  Meanwhile White has the move and if you haven't guessed yet, it is now a case of which king is going to be hunted to extinction.

34. Qxh6+

As the phrase goes: “A knight on the rim is dim”, so the black h5 knight remains untouched for the moment.  With white queen and rook active near an open black king only a single thought should be in mind, hunt it down.

34. ... Ke7

Running for the queenside, staying on the kingside asks for trouble, a couple of ideas run:

(A). 34. ... Kf7 35. Qxh5+ Kf6 36. Qg5+ Kf7 37. Qg7+ mate.

(B). 34. ... Kf7 35. Qxh5+ Kf8 36. Qh8+ Kf7 37. Qg7+ mate.

35. Qh7+ Kd6  Other choices fail miserably, some ideas run:

(A). 35. ... Kf8 36. Rg8+ mate.

(B). 35. ... Kd8 36. Rd4+ Kc8 37. Qd7+ Kb8 38. Qxe8+ Kb7 39. Qxh5 and White has won a rook in the trading, the black queen will not find a perpetual check.

36. Rd4+ Ke5  Heading further into the queenside fails, a couple of ideas run:

(A). 36. ... Kc6 37. Qd7+ Kc5 38. b4+ mate.

(B). 36. ... Kc5 37. Qc7+ Kb5 38. Qc4+ Ka5 39. Qa4+ mate.

37. Qxh5+   1-0   The end soon follows with 37. ... Kf6 38. Qg5+ Kf7 39. Rf4+ mate.

All that now remains is to pronounce the winner of the competition.  Congratulations to Steve Burnell for showing fighting spirit and not fearing an attack on his own monarch while chasing down the enemy king.  Well, that is the style of game I enjoy, a mutual fight to the death.

In closing some comments on the judging process might be appropriate.  Approaching 60 games were received here, all carefully examined irrespective of ratings of those playing.  A few games, all from the 2022 BCA Summer Cup, grabbed my attention in varying ways and should receive credit for attractive play.  These are, in order in which they were discovered:

1. Challengers R3, J. Ramm - A. Baker.

Opposite-wing castling, Black grabs the initiative with some kingside activity.  But what really impresses is a strong attacking manoeuvre by Black completely missed by the judge.  Nice play from Abi.

2. Open R2, S. Burnell - S. Lovell.

Sharp opening skirmishes encourage White to seek early middlegame complications.  Forceful play is fine when it works, but sometimes matters begin to spin undesirably out of control.  Here Black kept his nerve to exploit an unsafe white king, calmly handled by Stan.

3. Open R4, E. Casey - S. Lovell.

Early middlegame complications fizzle out to permit Black to surround and snatch a pawn, rather neat.  However, won positions do not win themselves.  Careful technique by Black kept control while preparing to convert using the extra material, patiently done by Stan.

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition 2023

Just a reminder that Norman Andrews is 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.  So, if you’re especially pleased with a game from the 18th BCA Email Tournament or the AGM Weekend Congress in Harrogate don’t forget to enter it!  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. 

Julie Leonard

18th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

Welcome to our 18th BCA email tournament!  There are nineteen participants on this occasion.  We have divided these into three divisions with five players in each of them, and one division with 4 players in it, based on BCA grades, performance in previous email tournaments where applicable, and where possible, incorporated promotion and relegation.  In the top three divisions each player will have two whites and two blacks.  Because there are four players in Division 4, two players will have two whites, and the other two will have two blacks, dependent on the seeding.

Divisions 1 and 3 are being controlled by Eamonn, while Philip is controlling Divisions 2 and 4.  Play started on the 1st of March and the event will finish no later than the end of May.  However, at the time of going to press most results are in and some of the division winners are already decided.  Congratulations to Eamonn Casey and John Ramm on topping Divisions 2 and 4 respectively.  In Division 1, the outcome rests on the result of the last game, Prasath V Burnell.  A draw gives a triple tie while a win puts all five players on different scores.  With only three games finished in Division 3, the outcome is still unclear.

The composition of the divisions and the results so far are as follows:

Division 1:

Steve Burnell, Bill Armstrong, Philip Doyle, Colin Chambers, Malola Prasath.

Doyle drew with Chambers

Doyle lost to Burnell

Chambers drew with Prasath

Prasath beat Doyle

Chambers lost to Armstrong

Burnell drew with Chambers

Armstrong drew with Doyle

Burnell drew with Armstrong

Armstrong drew with Prasath

Scores so far: Armstrong 2.5/4, Burnell and Prasath 2/3, Chambers 1.5/4, Doyle 1/4


Division 2:

Malcolm Jones, John Fullwood, Eamonn Casey, Voldi Gailans, Glenn Crawford.

Casey beat Jones

Fullwood drew with Casey

Jones beat Gailans

Jones lost to Fullwood

Casey beat Gailans

Crawford lost to Casey

Scores so far: Casey 3.5/4, Fullwood, 1.5/2, Jones 1/3, Crawford 0/1, Gailans 0/2

Division 3:

Tony Elbourn, Anton Emery, Nene Clayton, Tony Lawton, Marilyn Bland.

Clayton beat Lawton

Lawton beat Bland

Lawton beat Emery

Scores so far: Lawton 2/3, Clayton 1/1, Bland and Emery 0/1

Division 4:

Gill Smith, John Ramm, Michael Flood, Richard Harrington.

Smith lost to Ramm

Smith beat Flood

Ramm beat Flood

Smith beat Harrington

Ramm beat Harrington

Scores so far: Ramm and Smith 2/3, Flood and Harrington 0/2

Haaksbergen: End of an Era

I was sad to learn that this year’s Haaksbergen tournament would be the last.

For the benefit of those who have joined the association relatively recently and who therefore might not really know what Haaksbergen was, I should explain that Haaksbergen is a small town on the Dutch-German border which would host a friendly annual chess tournament for the visually impaired, usually over a weekend in April.  Based on their estimated ability players would be grouped into tables of four and participate in three rounds of chess with each table winner being awarded a prize.

Entertainment would be put on in the chess venue on the Saturday evening, and at the end of the tournament players would often go out for a meal with host families who had provided accommodation.  The atmosphere was very friendly and much less intense than the more serious international competitions such as the Olympiad.  Quite a few of our members played in Haaksbergen, some being very regular participants.

Sadly, the number of participants and the number of families volunteering to host players and their guides has been decreasing for quite some time; covid didn’t help in this regard.  The organisers have therefore decided that this year’s event (the 46th) will be the last.  As it says in the title: It’s the end of an era.

I have written to the organisers expressing our gratitude for all the work that went into hosting the tournament over so many years and stressing that everyone from our association who attended had very positive things to say about the event.  I also expressed the hope that organisers and host families had fond memories of their involvement in making the tournament happen.

Guy Whitehouse

Editor’s note:  So many members have enjoyed travelling to Haaksbergen over the years!  If you’d like to share a memory or two from this unique event, please do get in touch.  Perhaps we’ll have a tribute to Haaksbergen in the next issue!


Ex-Champing at the Bit 10

Paul Benson writes:

Definition of the adjective “Immortal”: Not subject to death.  So, is it wrong to declare a non-living chess game to be “Immortal”?  Perhaps if the game never leaves the public arena the designation is acceptable.  Witness below a game between a couple of the best tacticians on the 1994 Grand Master circuit and decide if “Immortal” applies. 

Some useful background information on the protagonists might assist?  White, about to turn 18 years old, is the strongest female player ever known.  Black, about to turn 22 years old, sits proudly at number 2 on the FIDE rating list.  A mutual test of their “Tactical Event Horizons” is about to unfold for your entertainment.  Do not feel sad if the moves are virtually impossible to anticipate.  Instead, just sit back and enjoy a dazzling duel of dynamism.

J. Polgar (2630) - A. Shirov (2705), Las Palmas, 1994.

1. e4 c5  2. Nf3 d6  3. d4 cxd4  4. Qxd4

Welcome to the Chekhover Variation of the Sicilian Defence.  Most players choose 4. Nxd4 here, so is this early white queen sortie a mistake?  Not really.  This odd-looking move has much theory to show it must be both handled correctly by the proponent and shown respect by the opponent.

4. ... Nc6  5. Bb5

An important move for White in this system.  To put it bluntly, the black c6 knight must be eliminated.

5. ... Bd7  6. Bxc6 Bxc6

A black bishop now sits on the c6 square, will it have any impact on the white centre?  Early activity now over, both sides develop before seeking interactions as the middlegame demands.

7. Nc3 Nf6  8. Bg5 e6  9. O-O-O Be7  10. Qd3

Initiating an important 4-move plan, perhaps 5 moves if Black plays along.  Clue: When a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else.

10. ... O-O  11. Nd4

Occupying d4 with this knight is not the real point.  No, when this unit was on f3 a dynamic option was denied White, on d4 another unit itching to join in can now get rolling.  And forget about trading on c6, this will only give Black the joys of a semi-open b-file.

11. ... Qa5  12. f4 Rfc8  13. f5 b5

Black finally joins in with the expected pawn advances often observed in opposite wing attacks.  Now it is all about speeds of the mutual assaults.  Black has deliberately offered White a dainty morsel, an e6 pawn.  This is where the serious stuff begins.  Should White spend time capturing a pawn while Black is pushing on the queenside?  That announced mutual test of “Tactical Event Horizons” has begun.  Who will envisage the further?

14. fxe6 fxe6  15. Nxe6 b4

White has “Swallowed the Bait” to land a knight on e6 which seems to have little relevant to attack.  Meanwhile Black threatens the white c3 knight.  If it runs away Black will snatch the a2 pawn with the a5 queen.  Surely Black is making the greater progress in this mutual king-chase?

16. Bxf6 

Again, White voluntarily gives up bishop for knight.  Surely the general rule is knights prefer closed positions while bishops enjoy open positions?  Yes, that is generally the case.  So what is White, ELO 2630, missing or not understanding?  Absolutely nothing, this exchange of minor pieces fits in very well with plans for the white attack.  A very useful black defender is eliminated while the pressure on the white centre is diminished.

16. ... Bxf6

Correctly assessing that immediate queenside aggression gets nowhere, a couple of ideas run:

(A). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxe7 Qxa2 18. Qxc3 Qxe6 19. Rxd6 Qxe7 20. Rxc6 Black is 2 pawns down in a heavy piece ending without compensation.

(B). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxe7 Qxa2 18. Qxc3 Qxe6 19. Rxd6 Bd7 20. Rxe6 Rxc3 21. Rd6 Rc7 22. Rd4 and again Black is 2 pawns down without compensation.

If Black has any ambitions of winning this game then either of the above lines dare not be played.  But this is not the end of the story.  White might view the tactics differently, some ideas run:

(C). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxc3 Qxa2 18. Qg3Qxe6 19. Qxg7+ mate.

(D). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxc3 Qxa2 18. Qg3 Bf8 19. Nxf8 Rxf8 20. Qxg7+ mate.

(E). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxc3 Qxa2 18. Qg3 Bf8 19. Nxf8 Kxf8 20. Qxg7+ Ke8 21. Rhf1 Kd8 22. Bf6+ Ke8 23. Qe7+ mate.

(F). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxc3 Qxa2 18. Qg3 g6 19. Nf4 Bxe4 20. Rhe1 d5 21. Nxd5 Bxd5 22. Rxe7 Black is about to be crushed on the dark squares.

(G). 16. ... bxc3 17. Bxc3 Qxa2 18. Qg3 g6 19. Nf4 Bxe4 20. Rhe1 Qa4 21. Rd4 Qa1+ 22. Kd2 Black has no sensible way to save both the a1 queen and the e4 bishop.

That Fischerism seems true: “Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.”

17. Nd5 Be5

A doubler.  Firstly, attacking ambition, Black needs this bishop to contribute to whatever attack happens around the white king.  Secondly, defensive duty, the potential target g7 pawn is still backwardly defended.  Instead, 17. ... Qxa2 18. Nxf6+ gxf6 each king feels somewhat lonely but neither attack seems to have sufficient power to succeed.  So keeping the black dark square bishop is deemed more important than snatching a superfluous white a2 pawn.

18. Kb1

Appropriate Fischerism: “In chess it is important to know when to punch and when to duck.”  White wisely takes a tempo to prevent an a2 invasion by the black queen.

18. ... Bb5

Intending Bc4 forcing White to respond with a queenside pawn move which will only give Black a new target to focus on.  White to play must have anticipated this black idea and have a reply ready, but what?

19. Ne7+

A doubler.  Firstly, this forks the black g8 king and c8 rook, though the black attack on the white d3 queen means the fork is not going to win material.  Secondly, when a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else.  Fine, but are not the white knights both wandering deep into the black position without any protection?

19. ... Kf7

Ouch!  White now has the d3 queen and both knights en prise.  Looks like that “Mutual Tactical Event Horizons” test has swung strongly in the favour of Black.  Oh well, short and sweet, plenty of time to prepare for the evening meal, right?

20. Qd5

A doubler.  Firstly, a dangerous x-ray attack through the white e6 knight onto the black f7 king is set in place.  Secondly, a pin is created along the 5th rank.  If the black b5 bishop moves the undefended a5 queen falls.

20. ... Kxe7

So White loses a knight, surely it is time to resign?  No chance!  There is too much white firepower in the vicinity of the black e7 king.  Combine this with him being somewhat short of defensive cover and the “Attacking Adrenaline” should be pulsing away.

21. Ng5

White is attacking a queen up, those e6 and f7 squares are tremendously inviting.

21. ... Re8

An attacker turns defender, a sign that all is not well in the black camp.  This strange-looking rook move is offering a defence to the e5 bishop.  Instead, 21. ... Rf8 22. Qe6+ Kd8 23. Qxe5 picks off the e5 bishop since the d6 pawn is pinned, and the white attack will continue.  With a rook on the e-file the e5 bishop is safe.  Fine, but what about the safety of the black king?  White to play and demonstrate her mastery of tactics.

22. Rhf1

Aha, were you looking around for a dynamic defensive destruction?  This simple developing move still keeps White effectively attacking a queen up.  All white pieces apart from the white b1 king are now actively placed for a breakthrough.  Fine, but surely the f1 rook is en prise to the black b5 bishop?

22. ... Bxf1

Strange as it might seem, this might actually be the best try for Black.  Instead fighting to prevent a white rook invasion on f7 is disastrous, a couple of ideas run:

(A). 22. ... Bf6 23. Qxd6+ mate would be unbelievable.

(B). 22. ... Rf8 23. Qe6+ Kd8 24. Rxf8+ Kc7 25. Rxa8 Black has lost a couple of rooks.

23. Qxa5 Be2

Attempting to get back to give some light square defensive cover to the black e7 king.  Instead 23. ... Bxg2 24. Qd5 sets Black problems on the e6 or f7 light squares.

24. Rd2

Keeping the white rook active on the d-file, it might appear the tactics have fizzled out, but appearances can be deceptive.

24. ... Bg4  25. h3 Rf8

Tactics often flourish in an open position.  Black threatens 26. ... Rf1+ leading to a back rank mate.  White must have expected this position to arise when keeping the rook on the d-file.  So, we must also assume there is a good answer in mind to avoid mate, but what?

26. a4

When a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else.  The white b1 king now has a potential flight route to escape the immediate black Rf1+ mate threat.  Note how the black g4 bishop cannot join the attack with Be6 as the white g5 knight will instantly eliminate it.

26. ... Rf1+

Arguably the best try.  Black is seeking activity in the hope something might turn up.  Instead, opening up the queenside with an en passant capture does not give Black much joy.  After 26. ... bxa3 27. Qxa3 Rab8 28. c3 the white king can use the c2 square for flight.

27. Ka2 Bd7  28. Rd5

With only queen, rook and knight remaining White is still searching for tactical ideas.  Fine, but how to proceed?  Firstly, Black must not be allowed time to coordinate the rooks and bishops.  Secondly, a queen is best in an open position in which she can strike in several directions at once.  These thoughts more or less explain the remainder of the game.

28. ... Kf6

Finding a sensible plan for Black is hard, bad positions are just waiting to fall apart.  It is almost certain Black calculated the game continuation and maybe thought this was the simplest way to end the agony?

29. Nxh7+

Surely this white knight has jumped to a square from which there is no escape?  If so, then there must be some method in the madness, but what?

29. ... Kg6  30. Rxe5

Tactics come in a variety of flavours.  Sometimes wholesale destruction of the defences in front of the enemy king to force mate, great entertainment.  Other times liquidation of material transforming a middlegame into a simple endgame, calm professionalism.  Here we have the latter method producing a position where Black has several weak points and virtually zero coordination.

30. ... dxe5

Declining capturing the white e5 rook does not help.  Instead 30. ... Kxh7 31. Re7 Bc6 32. Qg5 Rg8 33. Qh5+ mate exposes the lack of coordination in the black position.

31. Qa6+

Loose pieces cost points.  This fork of black g6 king and f1 rook clinically removes all black resistance.

31. ... Kxh7

Trying to clean up the kingside pawn structure fails.  Instead 31. ... Rf6 32. Nxf6 gxf6 33. Qb7 Rd8 34. Qc7 Black must lose the d7 bishop, an easy white win.

32. Qxf1 Bxa4

When losing both on material and position grab whatever is going while hoping the opponent will mishandle the kill.

33. Qf5+ Kh8  34. Qh5+ Kg8  35. Qxe5  1-0

There is nothing sensible for Black.  Grand Master technique will easily convert this to a win.  The centralised white e5 queen is just too powerful to contain, some ideas run:

(A). 35. ... Bxc2 36. Qd5+ Kh7 37. Qxa8 White wins the unmoved black a8 rook.

(B). 35. ... Bc6 36. Qe6+ Kh7 37. Qxc6 White wins the black c6 bishop.

(C). 35. ... Rf8 36. b3 Be8 37. Qc5 Black has no means of defending both the loose a7 and b4 pawns.

ECF Ratings

Here are the April 2023 ECF Ratings for BCA members.  The ECF publishes Standard (S), Rapidplay (R) and Blitz (B) ratings for both Over the Board (OTB) and Online (OL) chess, provided a person has played enough games in each category.

Every effort has been made to avoid errors or omissions but please do let the editor know if you spot any!  Bear in mind though, that if you haven’t played a graded game recently you will probably not have a published rating.   

Andrews, Norman      OTB S 1604, OL S 1709

Armstrong, Bill          OTB S 1668

Bailey, Steve               OTB S 1193, OL S 1939

Baker, Abi                  OTB S 1059, OL S 1529

Blencowe, Ian             OTB S 1580, OTB R 1528

Brown, Geoff              OTB S 1836, OTB R 1660, OL S 1750

Burnell, Steve             OTB S 1825, OL S 1995

Carr, Matthew             OTB S 1744, OTB R 1631, OTB B 1899, OL R 1700

Casey, Eamonn           OTB S 1505, OL S 1900

Chambers, Colin         OTB S 1560

Chambers, Duncan     OTB S 1677, OL S 1607

Chapman, Gordon      OTB S 1444

Clayton, David            OTB S 1452

Clayton, Estelita         OL S 1715

Cloudsdale, Peter        OTB S 1823

Connors, James          OTB S 1716

Cuthbert, Jim              OTB S 1060

Dickinson, Peter         OTB S 1544

Elbourn, Anthony       OTB S 1286, OL S 1824

Elbourn, Irene             OTB S 680

Engstrom, Olle           OTB S 1615

Fisher, Colin               OL S 1859

Fullwood, John           OTB S 1269, OL S 1698

Gailans, Voldi             OTB S 1299, OL S 1292

Galani, Mahendra       OTB S 1404, OL S 1817

Gordon, Philip             OTB S 1488

Graff, Ben                   OTB S 1764, OTB R 1768, OTB B 1639, OL R 1646, OL B 1687

Hague, Mark               OTB S 1332, OL S 1726

Harrington, Richard    OTB S 705, OL S 1386

Highsmith, Simon      OTB S 1246, OL S 1698

Hilton, Stephen           OL S 1957

Hogan, Gary               OTB S 1775

Ibanez, Bittor              OTB S 1256, OTB R 1069, OL S 1782

Jenkins, John              OTB S 1304

Jones, Malcolm          OTB S 1234, OL S 1821

Khare, Shubhransh     OTB S 1138, OTB R 1309

Kirkham, Mark           OTB S 1553, OTB R 1498

Koohnavard, Neda      OTB S 1182, OL S 1773

Lawton, Tony             OTB S 1088, OL S 1676

Levens, David             OTB S 1756, OTB R 1694

Lovell, Stan                OTB S 1639, OL S 2028

Murphy, Richard        OTB S 1622, OL S 1925

Musson, Tim               OL S 1665

Osborne, John             OTB S 1103

Phillips, George          OTB S 1451

Phillips, Owen             OTB S 1977, OTB R 1916, OL S 1959, OL R 1840, OL B 1828

Prasath, Malola           OTB S 2072, OTB R 2099, OL S 2087

Rafferty, Phil              OTB S 946

Ramm, John                OL S 1527

Ross, Chris                 OTB S 2235, OL S 2193

Rugman, Dan              OTB S 1399, OL S 1702

Ryan, Lea                    OTB S 844, OL S 1556

Shek, Daniel               OTB S 1861, OTB R 1878, OTB B 1628, OL S 1951, OL R 1627

Shimwell, Efe             OTB S 1663, OTB R 1577

Smith, Gill                  OTB S 1084, OL S 1703

Soszynski, Marek       OTB S 1844, OTB R 1858

Tew, Eleanor              OTB S 693

Tinti, Jacopo               OL S 1743

Triay, Jose Ignacio     OL S 1504

Walsh, Gerard             OTB S 1598

Wickett, Gary             OTB S 1344, OL S 1588

Willis, Graham           OTB S 1698

Wragg, Norman          OTB S 1703, OL S 1746

Chess and Life!

Many thanks to Hugo Roman for sharing a huge collection of chess related quotes and anecdotes with your Gazette editor!  The following quotes about chess and life have been selected for this issue.  Perhaps readers will be inspired to send in their own thoughts about why chess is, or is not, like life?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

“Life is like a game of chess, changing with each move.” - Chinese proverb

“Chess is not like life ... it has rules!” - Mark Pasternak

“Life, like chess, is about knowing to do the right move at the right time.” - Kaleb Rivera

“For me, chess is life and every game is like a new life.  Every chess player gets to live many lives in one lifetime.” - Eduard Gufeld

Ukraine takes on UK in Solidarity Chess Tournament

Our game doesn’t get a great deal of coverage in national news outlets so on the 23rd of March I was pleased to stumble across a chess related article on the BBC news website.  The report says that Michael Adams, the UK’s number one chess player, took on reigning Ukrainian champion, Andrei Volokitin, in an eight-minute Blitz game.  Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle made the ceremonial opening move - d4.  Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK replied with Nf6.  The game ended in a diplomatic draw.

Sir Lindsay remarked that chess is “a wonderful game of strategy that crosses boundaries of language, age, sex, culture and disability”.

At the same time, MPs took on peers in a twelve-board match.  The House of Commons won by 8.5 to 3.5.

Anyone wishing to read the article in its entirety can find it here:

In the following days, GMs Adams and Volokitin competed in an eight game UK-Ukraine Solidarity Chess Match.  On 30th of March, reported on outcome of the match.  The time control had been 100 minutes for 40 moves followed by 50 minutes for the rest of the game plus a 30 second increment starting on move one.  Volokitin won by 4.5 to 3.5.

Julie Leonard

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.

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. 

Solution:  .. Rh1+, Ng1 Qxg2 mate

May 2023 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Teimour Radjabov, Porto Vecchio, 2007


White: King f5, Queen e8, pawn f3 and h4

Black: King h6, Rook g7, pawns e4, f6 and h5

White Mates in two moves.  The solution will appear in the August Gazette.

Mark Hague


Belated congratulations to our terrific Treasurer, Gill Smith, who celebrated a milestone birthday on the 28th of April!  Gill’s bright, cheery manner, together with her energy and enthusiasm, leads one to believe that she is quite a youngster, so readers will no doubt have difficulty believing that she’s 60 this year!  (I certainly did.)  However, as we know from her meticulous account keeping, she never gets her numbers wrong so it must be true.  Hopefully, by the time you read this, Gill will have had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends!

Congratulations to Norman Andrews for finishing joint second with five others in the U1700 section of the 29th 4NCL Congress, over the weekend 20th to 22nd January 2023!  He scored an unbeaten four points from five rounds.  As the tournament took place in The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, Norman was on familiar territory!  And his winning streak persisted when he returned to The Old Swan for our BCA AGM Congress in mid-April.  Not only did he scoop a share of a prize in the Open section (more details next time) but he also backed the winner of the Grand National at 10 to 1!  Norman – may your good fortune continue!

Diamonds are beautiful and also very resilient.  Perhaps that’s why it takes sixty years of marriage, for better for worse, before a couple can celebrate their Diamond anniversary.  Barbara and Colin Chambers will be marking theirs on the 8th of June this year so please join me in congratulating them on this very special occasion!  They’re having a family weekend away to celebrate.  Happy anniversary Mum and Dad!

Meanwhile in Wokingham, wedding plans are underway for Val Warner and Jim Cuthbert who are going to tie the knot on the 30th of September, at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church.  Jim and Val are a very popular couple at BCA events and I’ve no doubt that readers will wish them well as they make the preparations for their big day!

Efe Shimwell also has an exciting year lined up!  He will be playing football for England in Birmingham at the IBSA World Cup finals in August.  Then, in October, he will be starting a joint degree course in History and Economics at St Peter’s College, Oxford.  Please join me in wishing Efe all the best for his football and congratulating him on securing a place at such a prestigious university!

Julie Leonard

Find a Match!

Following on from the matrimonial announcements in Personalia, readers could be forgiven for thinking that the title of this article heralds the launch of a BCA matchmaking service of a romantic nature!  But no, this is something far more important.

Do you have a sad, lonely chess set hiding at the back of a cupboard because one or more of the pieces are missing?  If you do, please get in touch with Julie Leonard, who has a substantial collection of spare pegged pieces, both Staunton and Merrick patterns.  She might be able to supply suitable replacements and make that unloved set usable once again!