Registered Charity Number 263049
Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.
BCA Website Address: www.braillechess.org.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/braillechess @braillechess
User Group Email Address: BrailleChess@groups.io (Any member wishing to join this forum should email the Editor or Audio Librarian, 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 sending a message.
Christine and Norman Andrews, Hazel and Steve Burnell, Alec Crombie, Celia 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.
In July I witnessed a king, a queen and assorted knights engaged in combat, not on a chessboard but on an actual battlefield! Before the hostilities commenced, King Edward IV met with his foe, Queen Margaret of Anjou, who was challenging him for the throne on behalf of her teenage son, the Prince of Wales, also present. Keen historians will no doubt have spotted that this was the battle of Tewkesbury, which took place in 1471, then every year from 1982 to the present day courtesy of a mediaeval reenactment society. There were longbowmen shooting silent volleys of arrows. Cannons exploded loudly and filled the air with gunpowder smoke. Nobles wielded mighty swords that crashed down on the armour worn by their enemies. All in all, it was quite an experience. The real event must have been terrifying, and it was a sobering thought that the bones of many who fell in combat back in 1471 were literally below the ground we stood on, in an area known to this day as the Bloody Meadow.
Luckily, in chess battles, the only casualties are captured pieces that come back to life when a new game begins and this gazette is brimming over with tales of bravery and chivalry on the chess board! Owen Phillips gives a blow by blow account of his encounters at the AGM tournament, there’s a thrilling analysis of a multi-sacrifice game from Paul Benson and a superb specimen of a game from the most recent email tournament! We’ve reinstated “All Under One Roof” for the first time since Covid to help members find adversaries in mainstream chess events. Don’t forget to check whether you qualify for the Congress Support Scheme and free coaching to ensure you’re ready for action! All the details are in these pages. If your chess set has a few battle scars you might do well to read Gill Smith’s article about a new batch of magnetic sets imported from Italy!
Our Membership Secretary reports on a battalion of new recruits and sadly we pay tribute to Steve Hilton, who passed away earlier this year. The Secretary updates everyone on the AGM and the May committee meeting. Alas, the committee will be in dire need of reinforcements next year so please do consider coming to the rescue.
Meanwhile, Alec Crombie’s pen is mightier than any sword - he has recently published his third novel!
Sincere apologies to recipients of the Braille and audio gazettes, which will reach you a little later than usual. I am running late this quarter due to exceptional circumstances at home. Hopefully, things will be back to normal for the November gazette, so please let me have articles by the end of September.
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, not the treasurer.
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.
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, whether you are in a single room or sharing a room with someone. To speed things up on the day of arrival, a menu for the Friday evening meal will be circulated to those attending during the week prior to the tournament. Members will be asked to specify their choices to the organiser by Thursday 9th November, so that the information can be passed to the hotel.
All entries and queries about the tournaments should be sent to John Fullwood.
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.
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 the May 2023 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 have a favourite room or you require a single room or one 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.
2024 AGM Weekend Congress: A Note from the Tournament Sub-committee
At the time of writing, we have been unable to find a suitable venue for March/April 2024. We are actively looking and hope to have more information in the next gazette.
This event will be held at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. The cost will be £57 per person per night in a single room and £48 per person per night in a shared room. More details will follow in the November issue.
Don’t forget that Norman Andrews is judging the competition this year! 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 play a game you’re proud of at the Chairman’s Cup in Bournemouth or in the Remote Summer Cup please do 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.
We held a committee meeting in May which I’ll cover in another of my Words from the Whitehouse articles; committee business has moved on since the AGM so these notes will be brief.
This year’s AGM was as much concerned with handing out or confirming awards as it was with transacting association business. Richard Harrington stood down as periodicals distributor, and was presented with a set of miniature whiskeys as a token of our appreciation. Honorary life memberships handed out at the 90th anniversary tournament were ratified, and Steve Burnell was awarded the 2022 best game award for his win against Eamonn Casey in the Summer Cup.
This AGM also had a sense of handing on the baton in a way that the last few AGMs hadn’t. Norman Wragg stood down as Chairman after 11 years in the role. Guy said Norman had been an easy and supportive colleague to work with, and as a token of our appreciation for all the service Norman had given the association (not just as Chairman), he was awarded honorary life membership and presented with a lyre harp.
Back to business: we had signed a contract with a fundraising consultant. Carl Concannon drafted us letters to various grant-making organisations which Freya Smith helped us send out. Since Carl had joined us he had helped us raise £42,100. It goes without saying we were hugely appreciative of his help and the generosity of all those who donated funds to us. The AGM also recorded thanks to the Ulverscroft Foundation and to Alec and Caroline Crombie for sponsoring our gazette.
Guy said that Nigel Towers of the English Chess Federation (ECF) had helped us bring our General Data Protection Regulations policy up to date. He was also interested in helping to make the ECF calendar accessible which would help in restarting the All Under One Roof articles advertising congresses taking place in hotels.
Gill asked for views on whether we should change the constitution to allow the association to use single signatory online accounts so that we could accept card payments, e.g. via Paypal. The idea received a mixed response, but the general feeling was that people would like a full report on the ins and outs of adopting such an approach before taking a formal vote.
Norman reported that Dan Rugman had stood down as Website Coordinator, and Dan was thanked for the work he had put in enhancing the existing site and tidying up website related files. However the committee felt, for various reasons, that it would be best to develop a new website from scratch, and Olly Leonard had kindly volunteered to do this.
John Fullwood pointed out that hotel prices were increasing and sought opinions on whether subsidies should be increased to help members attend events. It was felt that spending money on helping members attend events was fundamental to the association’s purposes. Steve Burnell encouraged members to volunteer to help with the putting on and running of tournaments.
Sadly, Guy had to report that concerns had been raised about the way the IBCA was being run. Various members of the IBCA had been pushing for a special meeting to be held during the European team championships scheduled to be held at the end of April. There was a strong feeling that someone from the committee should be present at the meeting, (it was possible to attend online) so Guy agreed to represent the BCA’s interests and report back.
This was the first time that we had tried to hold an AGM where people could attend in person or online. It became clear during the meeting that those attending remotely were struggling to hear what was said, particularly when someone was speaking from the floor. It was also the first time that the AGM had been held in the evening; the feedback was that this was better than holding the AGM in the afternoon and a round of chess in the evening, so it is likely that we will adopt this approach at the 2024 AGM and spring congress.
The committee remains unchanged except that Bill Armstrong has been elected as Chairman and Olly Leonard has been elected as Website Coordinator.
We held a committee meeting on 20th May. Below is my usual summary of the main points.
Financial matters: Dunkleys finally signed off our accounts which meant we were able to submit our annual return to the Charity Commission.
We would be using ringfenced funds (£500) which could only be spent in Lincolnshire to investigate hotels in Lincoln to see if any would be a suitable venue for our tournaments. We were also spending ringfenced funds on obtaining magnetic sets from Italy. A company with which David Clayton had connections, Librium Games, were looking after the order. We would refund them the cost of the sets and their administration related expenses. Librium would obviously want to make a bit of a profit on the transaction and there might be some import duty to pay. We would assess the arrangement when the order was complete and make a decision on whether to subsidise the price of a set when selling them to members.
Finally fundraising letters would now be sent out in Bill Armstrong’s name as our new Chairman.
We’ve revised some of the figures quoted as typical expenses in those letters.
Website issues: Olly Leonard has been developing our new website. We agreed that certain updates would have to be made to the new site before it was launched. These included moving the full catalogue of gazettes across, though if it proved easier we’d concentrate on moving the most recent ones first. We’d also include testimonials and make sure to keep the Forthcoming Events section fully up to date. Training on how to make updates to the new site will be offered to committee members who want it. Before launching the new website we’d also make a decision on whether to include a resources page as we were aware that people were using the current one.
We’ve realised that we have a premium internet package with our provider and this might be rather more than we need. We’re going to look into whether we save by money by switching to a reduced package.
Tournament issues and chess events: One of the issues raised in connection with the AGM and spring congress at Harrogate was that some people’s rooms had been too small. This had happened before; the problem seems to arise especially in cases where people bring a guide dog. In future tournament organisers would be asked to liaise with hotels in advance of the event to ensure this didn’t happen. Rather than automatically pay any extra expense, we would stress to the hotel that not providing a large enough room to a guide dog owner was a breach of their equality duties.
We agreed we would pay the accommodation expenses of the tournament organiser. We would also ask people to bring details of someone who could be contacted in an emergency, and hand them to the organiser, preferably in a sealed envelope.
As there were enough competitors we would be awarding a ladies prize at the Chairman’s Cup. Gill would be bringing some new BCA branded items to offer members at Bournemouth.
Planning for the chess theme break and the 2024 British championship was underway. The theme break would be held at the Lauriston Hotel in Weston-super-Mare again. The British would be held in memory of Graham Lilley.
Audio: John Fullwood said that when we receive the mp3 file for the recording of extracts from the next issue of Chess Magazine, he would try it out on his DAISY player to see what navigating the file was like. In view of the fact that the Chess Magazine source file would not be fully processable by DAISY-producing software, we should concentrate on helping members get the most out of the technology they were already using.
Membership matters: We were checking with the English Chess Federation whether permission obtained from members to be included on the last membership list would allow us to include them on a new one. We suspected it wouldn’t. The committee’s current thinking is that it would be more efficient to start an arrangement whereby anyone who wanted a member’s contact details asked the Membership Secretary who would pass on those details provided permission was given.
IBSA games: We were still trying to find out whether we would be allowed to enter players into the event and what arrangements governed the advertising of organisations in the exhibition hall. We had been told that there were 30,000 people in Birmingham who were registered blind or partially sighted and we were very aware that this was a publicity opportunity we had to make the most of.
DBS clearance: When submitting our return Gill had had to answer several new questions, one of which was whether everyone who needed one had a DBS certificate. She had answered yes as we genuinely believed this to be the case, but as a belt and braces approach we were going to check whether Voldi as Junior Development Officer, the other trustees and stewards needed to obtain one. It was felt that as any certificates would be obtained on the association’s behalf, it was reasonable to meet any cost out of BCA funds.
IBCA matters: I have been asked to step in as our representative to the IBCA until the next AGM. In accordance with AGM instructions I attended via Zoom a meeting organised to discuss recent disputes that had arisen on issues relating on how the IBCA was being run. The meeting called for suspensions that had been issued during these disputes to be lifted and threats of legal action, which were meaningless anyway, to be withdrawn. There was also a call for elections, at least to the presidential board to be held during the congress linked to the individual world championship in Rhodes in October.
One other decision taken at the meeting was that we should lobby to be more involved in accessibility testing and improvements made to the DGT Echo clock. The Netherlands would take the lead on this as that was where the company that manufactured the clock was based but it was felt I should try to get involved with the project as well.
It was decided we would offer Steve Burnell the chance to represent us in Rhodes and in Birmingham but he has said he can’t go to either event. At the time of writing Gary Hogan is checking to see if he can get the time off work in October (he’s also keen to represent us in Birmingham).
Junior development: We had decided it wasn’t worth our while trying to work with the RNIB in our attempts to try to contact visually impaired children in mainstream schools. Voldi was planning to try and approach Worcester and Hereford again, and it was agreed it would be a good idea to include testimonials in any approaches we made both to them and any other school. Bill Armstrong was going to take on the task of approaching Visionary, an organisation which coordinates local societies serving the visually impaired, to see if they could help put us in touch with potential new members.
Other matters: The various sub-committees (Finance and Fundraising, Technical, Information and Communication Technology and Tournament) were all reconstituted. They remain effectively unchanged, except that as Chairman Bill has taken Norman Wragg’s place on the Finance and Fundraising Sub-committee and Julie has been made Chair of the Information and Communication Technology Sub-committee. It was also agreed we would hold two more online committee meetings before the next AGM, in September and January or February next year.
Finance and Fundraising: Bill Armstrong (Chair), Gill Smith and Guy Whitehouse.
Information and Communication Technology: Julie Leonard (Chair), Mark Kirkham, Olly Leonard and Gill Smith.
Technical: Guy Whitehouse (Chair) and Malcolm Jones.
Tournament: Steve Burnell (Chair), John Fullwood, Voldi Gailans, Mark Hague and Stan Lovell.
Sadly, but very understandably, three hard-working committee members have decided not to stand for re-election at the 2024 AGM. Gill Smith who will have been our Treasurer for fourteen years, Voldi Gailans our Coaching and Junior Development Officer who’s served in various roles since 2014, and Mark Hague who’s been Membership Secretary since 2017 and a Tournament Organiser before that, are all stepping down from their posts. Also, when Bill Armstrong was elected Chairman in April, he indicated that he wanted to serve for one year only.
So once again, we’re appealing for offers of help from the members. If you’re interested in standing for these posts, or any other position on the committee, please speak to a member of the committee without delay. Kindly note that Coaching Officer and Junior Development Officer are two separate roles. If you don’t feel you can take on a full post but would like to help in some way, do get in touch. Many hands make light work!
Remember that the BCA simply cannot function without a fully staffed and well supported committee. So, ask not what the BCA can do for you - ask what you can do for the BCA!
A note from your Congress Support Officer, Tony Elbourn: If you would like to participate in any mainstream competitions, then why not make use of the Congress Support Scheme? It's designed to help BCA members meet the costs of entering mainstream congresses. The expenses that can be claimed are travel, accommodation and the entry fee, or just the entry fee itself. It's open to all members who have played in a BCA event over the past year and who have not also received international funding. All we ask for is a little feedback on the congress in which they have taken part.
If you are considering entering a mainstream event you may well find yourself in good company as some of them are popular with BCA members. In order to make a claim there are three simple steps:-
1. Contact the Congress Support Officer at least one week prior to the event. Retrospective claims will not normally be accepted. Please contact him either by telephone or email giving full details of the event in which you wish to compete.
2. Send a receipt or proof of expenditure to the Treasurer on return from the congress. Claims can include entry fee, accommodation, travel and any other reasonable expenses. The Congress Support Scheme does not cover claims for insurance.
3. Provide feedback on the event to the Congress Support Officer. This does not need to be formal and will be stored as an anonymous record for our database. It may benefit other BCA members thinking of attending the same event in the future.
Please note that, in the spirit of the Congress Support Scheme, failure to complete all of the above steps may mean that we cannot guarantee that your claim will be processed successfully, as the scheme is subject to available funds (the year referred to is the BCA’s operating year starting on 1st October and ending on 30th September). Contact details for the Congress Support Officer and the Treasurer are in the list of officers.
If you are mainly a “home player” and have been wondering whether to take part in a local tournament and would like to find out more about playing competitively then why not join the BCA in one of its competitions, or you may recently have become V.I. in which case you can find out about the equipment we use and that you will still be able to play competitively. The next one will be the Autumn International Tournament on 10th-12th November. Our competitions are run in exactly the same way as a “mainstream” congress. If it is your first time as a competitive player then you can take part in the Challengers section which, in spite of its name, will give you some good games. If you are concerned about the expense of joining a mainstream congress, then you will have taken the first step to obtaining “Congress Support” from the BCA.
Please note that all congresses are now using the 4-digit chess ratings recently introduced by the ECF.
Riviera Congress, 3rd – 8th September 2023, TLH Carlton Hotel, Torquay.
There are two 5 round Swiss congresses, the sections for the AM congress being an Open, a U-1900 and a U-1700. The PM congress has an Open, a U-1800 and a U-1600.
22nd Fareham Congress, 13th – 15th October 2023, Lysses House Hotel, Fareham.
Happily, Castle Chess seem to be up and running again. In the past Castle Chess’s events were 6 round Swiss events in which you could take a couple of byes. The only details given on the site at the moment are that there will be an Open, a Major U-1901 and a Minor U-1601. Contact Tony Corfe or Mark Shaw.
55th Torbay Congress, 10th – 12th November 2023, TLH Toorak Hotel, Torquay.
There is an Open which will be ECF and FIDE rated, a Major U-1950 and, an Intermediate U-1750 and a Foundation U-1500.
Six new visually impaired members have joined this last quarter! Two are married friends of Mahendra Galani called Geetha Shamanna and Alok Kaushik. They are from Bromley and they plan to join our Bournemouth tournament for a few days in July. Richard Broadley from Silloth on Solway, Cumbria, Nicholas Stout from Swanage and Adrian Tamasan from Portsmouth have joined as five year members. John Langford from Scarborough has joined for one year. He wishes to improve his chess visualisation skills and recently has encountered serious eye problems.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Steve Hilton, one of our finest chess players. Steve battled courageously with serious health issues for many years. He was very popular as his humour and quick wit were appreciated by many BCA members. RIP Steve you will be missed.
With a heavy heart, I have to report that Peter Gibbs passed away on the 2nd of July. Peter's health had been in decline for some time. He made a huge contribution to the BCA over many decades and it was wonderful that he was able to attend our 90th Anniversary celebration last year. Peter will be greatly missed by all his BCA friends. We will include a tribute to him in the next issue of the gazette.
Since the last Gazette our fundraiser, Carl Concannon, has helped us to raise £11,100. We are fortunate to have some organisations supporting us who give generously each year.
If you are shopping online, please use Give as You Live which raises funds with many different retailers at no cost to you. Simply search for “give as you live online”, sign up and choose the BCA as the charity you are supporting.
Our financial position at the end of June 2023.
Cash in the bank £74,526, of which £6,059 are restricted funds, given for a specific purpose. Accounts are held with Lloyds, CAF Bank and Virgin Money.
Funds held in investments total £43,418, these are held with CCLA.
Total funds, all cash and investments, £117,943.
Gill Smith, Treasurer
To take part in the monthly draw costs £12 per number per year. You may have as many numbers as you like at £12 each. Every month a lucky winner receives £35. If you wish to take part, please make a payment to the BCA.
Recent Millennium Club winners:
April: Roger Waters, number 67.
May: Alec Crombie, number 73.
June: Joan Shorrock, number 12.
Gill Smith, Treasurer
47th BCA CORRESPONDENCE Championship 2023-24
Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson
Doyle 0.5 - 0.5 Whitehouse, English Opening, 30.
Whitehouse 0 - 1 Crombie, Dutch, 26.
Jones 0.5 - 0.5 Whitehouse, Caro-Kann, 36.
Scores: Philip Doyle 3-4, Alec Crombie 2-3, George Phillips 1.5-2, Guy Whitehouse 1-3, Malcolm Jones 0.5-4.
Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson
Gallacher 1 - 0 Tew, French, 28.
Final scores: Voldi Gailans 3-4, Mike Flood 2.5, Eric Gallacher 2.5, Maria Dod 2, Eleanor Tew 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!
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 are taken through the opening moves of a game and then asked to predict the succeeding moves for one side or the other. These sessions proved to be very popular amongst those who undertook them and so Gerry put forward the idea of running such sessions over Zoom. He undertook such a session in late June 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 other 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 opportunity to start, 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 make a start.
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.
Editor’s note: Mark Hague has kindly provided the scores from the June 2023 session, which were as follows:
Voldi Gailans 24, Abi Baker 23. Eamonn Casey 21, Mark Hague and John Ramm 20, Eleanor Tew 19, Tony Lawton 14. Well done everybody!
We have bought a batch of Italian magnetic chess sets. The wooden boards are 32 cm square with raised black squares. The pieces are wooden and each black piece has a nail driven into the top. The magnets are strong so pieces will stay in place until you want to move them. We are offering a generous subsidy as an introductory price for this first batch and are selling them for £70 each. To be eligible to buy one you must be a Visually Impaired, UK resident who has been a BCA member for more than one year or have joined with 5 years or life membership. If you would like to buy one please contact Gill Smith.
Grants are available from the BCA to pay for chess coaching for visually impaired members resident in the UK. If you are eligible then you may claim up to £120 each financial year, which runs from October 1st to September 30th. Coaching may be delivered by a variety of means including telephone, Skype or Zoom. To claim a grant, contact our coaching officer Voldi Gailans, and he will arrange a coach to suit you.
The BCA has two talking chess computers, “Talking Chess Academy endorsed by Kasparov”. They can coach you while you play, there are different teaching modes and many levels of play. If anybody would like to borrow one, please contact Gill Smith.
As reported by Guy earlier in this gazette, a new website is being created for us by Olly Leonard, with Gill Smith and Julie Leonard learning how to create reports and maintain pages such as Forthcoming Events and Gazettes. The aim is to launch the new website in mid to late August 2023. The website address will not change. When the switchover has been made, we’ll announce it on the email user group.
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of the AGM Weekend Chess Congress, as Tennyson almost wrote. This year after the original plans for the date and venue fell through, the organisers were able to arrange a welcome return to an old favourite and regular venue. So in April, 45 players and non-players descended on The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate. While I was debating the wisdom of lugging my belongings the half mile from the train station, I luckily bumped into Guy Whitehouse and was able to share a taxi.
After many visits the quality of the rooms and food are a known quantity, and they were great as always. Likewise the staff were very helpful. A wedding which involved axe-throwing meant a change to the regular guide dog area and was the source of much amusement. But the best part of these weekends is always catching up with old friends and making new ones. Imagine my surprise on discovering that new member Mark Cholij had not only shared a house with my father in the 1970s, but also used to know me when I was very young!
On Saturday evening after the AGM, the chess room was turned into a concert hall with singalongs accompanied by guitar, violin, ukulele and on one memorable occasion a kazoo. I won't single out individual performers, but the standard was incredibly high and a good time was had by all who attended.
But what of the chess, I hear you ask.
In the minor section I had the pleasure of watching a number of well fought exciting games. Ultimately, Bittor Ibanez swept all that was put before him and won with a fine performance of 5 out of 5. He followed this up with a race to catch his train back to London that may have come very close to breaking the four minute mile!
In each round of the Open section three of the six matches were drawn. This meant that the lead changed a number of times. After 3 rounds new member Gary Hogan was ahead with 2.5 points, but he was gradually overhauled and eventually Owen Phillips came first with 4 out of 5. A full list of scores and prizewinners can be found below.
After the prize giving Gary's wife Alena provided a delicious Easter cake and everyone I spoke to is already looking forward to the next event.
1st on 4 points Owen Phillips
=2nd on 3.5 points Steve Burnell and Gary Hogan
On 2.5 points Norman Andrews, Ian Blencowe, Colin Chambers, Mark Kirkham, George Phillips and Guy Whitehouse. Norman, Ian and Colin shared Grading Prize A, while Mark, George and Guy shared Grading Prize B.
On 2 points Bill Armstrong, Stan Lovell, Richard Murphy and Gary Wickett
1st with a perfect score of 5 points Bittor Ibanez
2nd on 3.5 points Gill Smith
=3rd on 3 points John Osborne and Phil Rafferty
On 2.5 points John Fullwood, Tony Lawton and Abi Baker. Tony and Abi shared Grading Prize A.
On 2 points Mark Cholij, who won Grading Prize B.
On 1 point Richard Harrington and Eleanor Tew
Many thanks to Steve and Hazel Burnell for organising such a great weekend. Thanks also to arbiters Matthew Carr and David Clayton, and steward Tristram Cole for running the tournament so smoothly.
Editor’s note: I asked Owen for a game from this tournament, and he very kindly sent me two, together with an overview of the event from his perspective, which I have summarised below.
Round 1: I had the white pieces against Norman Andrews. We started with a Reverse Pirc, to which Norman responded classically and very well with threats of blocking the emerging pawn structure. I enjoyed finding the positional sacrifice and winning combination allied to complex piece manoeuvres. It was a tough opening game!
Round 2: Now I had black against Gary Hogan, a player who’s improving fast. He was already rated 1775 after playing for only one year! Gary not only played very well, but matched me almost throughout on the clock, which is highly unusual. Gary drew with me and went on to finish joint second with a rating performance of 1930.
Round 3: I was up against the ever youthful Steve Burnell! Steve is a formidable opponent, not least when he plays black and can adopt his beloved and very well-prepared Caro Kann Defence. This was an odd game as I decided to play a new and very sharp line, which an American GM had espoused on google as a “Caro Killer”! My relative lack of preparation and disrespect of such a fine opening got its due comeuppance! After just a few moves I was fearing this bizarre Normandson Gambit was well and truly unsound, as Steve calmly navigated his way to being a piece for only a pawn up. That said, the position remained extremely wild. Steve had lost castling rights and had two rather buried bits, while White had plenty of play and a strong pawn centre. With a degree of guilt, I meekly offered a draw on move 12. Steve quickly accepted as he said he felt a bit battered by the opening onslaught and hadn't really a clue what was happening moving forward. “That makes two of us” I concurred! It was a dodgy start to the event for me with 2/3. I would have to win my remaining games to justify my seeding!
Round 4: My next opponent was Stan Lovell, with Casper ever present at his side! My previous games with Stan have both been competitive struggles. Stan got off to a very good start aiming for a Barry attack, with the option of switching to a London System if necessary. I used the rare but playable 3. Qb6 line, against which Stan played aggressively, counterattacking my Queen with his Knight on the Queen's wing. This is much the best way, rather than playing passively with b3 or Qc1. The game developed into a quasi London System variant of the Pirc system rather similar to my round 2 set up against Gary Hogan. Eventually I decided that in order to have any chance of winning I would have to make a speculative sacrifice of a piece for one pawn but play complex open lines. It transpired to be a good idea as some 11 moves later, after offering what looked like a two pawn winning combination for Stan, I unleashed a winning sting in the tail to the 8 move tactical melée which resulted in him losing his Queen for at most one Rook. Yet another very tough game!
Round 5: Going into the last round I was equal first with Steve Burnell on 3 points. Gary Hogan on 2.5 was facing Stan Lovell on 2. I was to play the difficult to beat Richard Murphy on 2 points and Steve was to face a rejuvenated Mark Kirkham also on 2 points. I decided to adopt a slow strategic game, opening with the English, which I almost never play except online at rapidplay chess! My aim was to outplay Richard in a middle or endgame struggle. After a slow start where I felt Richard had at least equalised, I encouraged a series of exchanges resulting in some lasting middle to endgame initiative. The final endgame position was quite satisfying in that from a relatively drawish position a quiet move or two from me resulted in a completely transformed and winning ending. Here is the position after Black's 32nd move. Can you find White’s winning move?
White: King f3, Rook d6, Pawns a3, b3, e3, f2, g3, h4
Black: King f7, Rook e7, Pawns a6, b7, c6, f5, g6, h6
For the answer, please see “Solution: Final Move in Owen’s R5 Game at Solihull”, just before Personalia.
Gary Hogan beat Stan Lovell and Steve Burnell drew with Mark Kirkham, leaving me outright first, with Gary and Steve sharing second place.
Round 2: Gary Hogan (1776) v Owen Phillips (1977)
1. d4 g6 2. Bf4 Bg7 3. Nc3 Here, I was tempted to play 3. ... c5 4. dxc5 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Nc6 when we would have had a position, or rather mess, akin to a Sicilian Pterodactyl. Black's position being playable in view of the terrible triple pawns that White is left with but in the long-term the ceding of the bishop pair and loss of the King's bishop after having already played g6, can come back to bite Black, so I decided a more anodyne approach was preferable. The other thing is that I guessed that White might not take the c5 pawn, but instead play e3 aiming for a London System or d5 and hope for some kind of Benoni. All things considered, I opted for a simpler move.
3. … d6 4. e4 c6 A Pirc Gurgenidze.
5. Qd2 a6 6. a4 Nd7 7. Nf3 Qc7 Opting to transpose into a Wade Pirc, which is based on the idea of strong-pointing the e5 square and thereby equalising, but Black has to be exceedingly careful not to cede the d file.
8. Bc4 h6 9. O-O g5 Not classically desirable but playable, and it tends to increase the pressure on White who otherwise gets a simple space advantage. It also invites somewhat unsound sacs of a piece for two pawns!
10. Bg3 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Qe2 White plays classically and very well. I had to find some tricky manoeuvres just to survive.
12. ... Ne7 13. Nd2 Ng6 14. Bb3 Ndf8 15. Rad1 Ne6 16. Nc4 Bf8 The last three moves were critical for Black to survive White's potentially roving knights allied to his likely control of the d file.
17. Rd2 b5 18. axb5 axb5 19. Ne3 Nef4 20. Bxf4 Nxf4 Forced, as Black would otherwise fall foul of 21. Nxb5 or Nf5!
21. Qd1 Bb4 Critical to the defence but I would still have to be brave and castle into an alarming attack!
22. g3 Ng6 23. Qf3 O-O 24. Qf6 Kh7 25. Rfd1 Be7 26. Qf3 b4 27. Ne2 Nh8 28. Nf5 c5 29. Bc4 Played quickly by Gary, who was more than aware of my plan to defend and counterattack if possible by Ra6 and then a transfer over to the Kingside!
29. … Rg8 30. Qh5 Rg6 31. Rd3 Ra7 32. Kg2 Qb6 33. Rd5 Gary showed an ability to find better routes for his knights and a patient approach to take advantage of my speculative h6 and g5 set up!
33. … g4 I had to continue with this, which had been my integral counterattack plan on the White Queen that had not been easy to foresee 8 or 9 moves earlier but was critical to my defence and in that sense I felt I had not played a bad game at all. That said, Gary must have missed a few plus lines along the way, such as 32. g4 stopping my mischievous counterattack possibilities! Now I only had 5 minutes left and Gary had about 15. It was beginning to seem ok for Black except for the time pressure.
34. Rxe5 Rg5 35. Qh4 Here I thought better for Gary, in view of my time difficulties would have instead been the sacrifice of his Queen with 35. Nxe7 RxQh5 36. Nxc8 Qb8 37. Rxh5 Qxc8 38. Nf4 where the position would have been a complete mess, with it far from clear that my Queen was worth his Rook, Bishop and pawn, particularly with his King relatively safe!
35... Rxf5 36. RxBe7 Rg5 Draw offered
37. Rxa7 Qxa7 38. Rd6 Ng6 39. Rxg6 fxg6 40. h3 and Gary offered me a draw, which I said I would consider. After briefly deciding that 40. ... Qe7 looked pleasant, I glanced at my clock and I had at most 100 seconds left. As there was no quick win and I thought Gary thoroughly deserved a draw, I accepted and congratulated Gary on what I thought was a very good game of chess.
Round 3: Owen Phillips (1977) v Steve Burnell (1825)
1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d3 dxe4 4. Ng5 exd3 5. Bxd3
A pawn sac but with some dangerous ideas. For example, h6 here to riposte the knight would lose immediately to Nxf7 Kxf7 Bg6+ winning the Black Queen. Ditto if Black continued with the solid looking Nf6.
5. ... Nd7.
Here I thought Nxh7 is ok followed by threats involving NxBf8 or if Black plays wrongly then even Qh5 with potential exposures onto the Rook on h8. But I was in an odd mood and decided in for a penny in for a pound and went the whole hog.
Remembering that a USA GM online had said that at worst even if your opponent finds a playable defence he or she will be left with a position in disarray, a king having lost castling rights, and a truly scary position, very unlike a Caro Kann! True but I almost immediately saw a saving continuation for Steve while at the board so I thought if I can see that straight away then he is likely to play it OTB whether immediately or after about ten minutes!
6. ... KxNf7 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Bxg6+ Kg7 This is better than ceding the rook on h8.
9. Bd3 Nd7f6 10. Qg5+ Kf7 11. Nc3 Bh6!!
This was the move that I had foreseen after 6. Nxf7! It makes me think this whole line is suitable for a dustbin since I recall the GM saying online that White gets huge counterplay after Queenside castling. I am about to see my bishop taken and lose the rights to castle long!
12. Qh4 I somewhat timidly offered a draw.
Much to my relief, Steve, understandably in a state of shock, said something along the lines of, “Yes please, I think I have to accept that.” He was perturbed by the crazily abnormal position. That said, I feel that White doesn't have quite enough play to justify his material deficit.
Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:
Our 18th BCA Email tournament has concluded. This one was extremely easy to control, and this is due in the main to the cooperation of all the players. In particular, we would like to commend the participants on the standard of the game scores sent to us. We could count on the fingers of one hand, the number of minor errors we have received. Congratulations to the winners of all four divisions, and especially to our Division 1 champion, Malola Prasath, who after a few seasons in Division 2, has risen to the top in his first season back in our top division. Also, a special mention to Nene Clayton and John Ramm, who both achieved perfect scores in their respective divisions.
Our next email tournament is due to commence on 1st October, so look out for the announcement in early September. Please spread the word among your chess playing friends, as we are always looking out for new competitors. Below find the results that were not reported in the May gazette and a wrap up of the standings.
Prasath beat Burnell
Final scores: Malola Prasath 3, Bill Armstrong 2.5, Steve Burnell 2, Colin Chambers 1.5, Philip Doyle 1
Gailans drew with Crawford
Crawford beat Jones
Fullwood lost to Crawford
Final scores: Eamonn Casey 3, Glenn Crawford 2.5, John Fullwood 2, Voldi Gailans and Malcolm Jones 1
Bland lost to Clayton
Elbourn lost to Emery
Clayton beat Elbourn
Emery lost to Clayton
Elbourn lost to Lawton
Bland beat Elbourn
Emery lost to Bland
Final scores: Nene Clayton 4, Tony Lawton 3, Marilyn Bland 2, Anton Emery 1, Tony Elbourn, 0
Harrington lost to Flood
Final scores: John Ramm 3, Gill Smith 2, Michael Flood 1, Richard Harrington 0
We both agree that what follows is the stand out game of the tournament. It was a great performance by Malola with a fine ending!
Malola Prasath - Steve Burnell, Bird’s Opening, 18th BCA Email Competition, 2023
1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 Bf5 4. Bg2 e6 5. d3 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. c3 h6 8. a4 c5 9. Na3 Nc6 10. Qe1 Rc8
11. h3 d4 12. Nc4 Nd7 13. g4 Bh7 14. Qg3 Nb6 15. Nfe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 f6 17. Nc4 Nxc4 18. dxc4 dxc3
19. bxc3 Rc7 20. f5 e5 21. Bd5+ Kh8 22. e4 Bg8 23. Be3 Qd7 24. h4 b6 25. Kf2 a6 26. Rfb1 Rb8 27. g5 Bxd5
28. Rd1 b5 29. Rxd5 Qe8 30. gxh6 gxh6 31. Rxe5 bxc4 32. Bxh6 Qf7 33. Re6 Rcb7 34. Rg1 Rb2+ 35. Ke3 1-0
Hugo Roman writes:
Piet Devos recently called me “Mr Ibis”, and rightly so: I was so lucky to be able to go 43 times! I was really hooked on the tournament that stood there as a beacon, at the beginning of spring, when the Japanese cherry trees started to bloom. I think I only had five host families during all those years.
Once I stayed with the vicar, whose wife said, “I cannot stand people who, the moment you mention a plant, give you that name in Latin.” I couldn’t resist replying, “The organisation gave you an Impatiens Semperflorans, meaning: impatiently always flowering”. I wasn’t invited to their house again, but Jan van Binsbergen hosted me 26 times and asked me back this year!
Sadly, there were only 24 participants. The organisation once hosted 144 players! Some years ago, Gerry Walsh once got the organisation a certificate from FIDE. It was on display during the tournament, very nicely framed.
At the prizegiving I almost cried: My house is full of souvenirs that remind me daily of Haaksbergen.
Paul Benson writes:
Perhaps we should start with some thoughts to drive you Wilde? It has been said that: “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” There is only one thing in life worse than being quoted, and that is being misquoted. To be tempted to sacrifice a piece may be regarded as a misfortune. To be tempted to sacrifice again looks like carelessness. So, to just how many “Temptations” can anyone succumb in a game of chess?
G. Serper (2575) - I. Nikolaidis (2440), St. Petersburg 1993.
1. c4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 After a little move-order jockeying the game settles into a King's Indian Defence.
Welcome to the Kramer Variation. This knight is heading for the g3 square to over-support the white e4 pawn. Is it better than those lines where the g1 knight immediately trots onto the f3 square? Wrong question. It demands Black understands how to respond to a perfectly respectable but less usual system. In turn, White must also understand the subtleties involved, homework required. The unagreed mutual non-interaction pact continues for a few more moves.
5. ... Nbd7 6. Ng3 c6 7. Be2 a6 8. Be3 h5 9. f3 b5 At last, some action demanding calculation by the opponent.
10. c5 dxc5 11. dxc5
By mutual consent the queenside is temporarily devoid of action. Only white has the option to re-open the debate over there, pawn a4 being the initiator.
11. ... Qc7 12. O-O h4 A doubler. Firstly, White must now spend a couple of tempi to get the g3 knight back into play. Secondly, when a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else, the h5 square is available for the f6 knight. All very good, but thinking of the long term, where is the black king to find safety?
13. Nh1 Nh5 14. Qd2 e5 Fighting for control of the f4 square, fine, but severely limiting the scope of the g7 bishop, usually a powerful influence on the h8 - a1 diagonal.
15. Nf2 Nf8 Unleashing the c8 bishop for action, though where it will be better placed, d7 or e6, is not yet clear.
16. a4 White forces matters on the queenside. Pay careful attention to the pair of opposing rooks on the a-file, even if there are a couple of pawns between them.
16. ... b4 Wisely keeping the queenside closed. Now White must do something about the attacked c3 knight, but what?
17. Nd5 Forcing Black to choose between a couple of unenviable options. Firstly, grab the material giving White a couple of central connected passed pawns, not easy to assess. Secondly, decline capturing, allowing the knight to manoeuvre Nb6 - Nc4 - Nd6 where it will be thoroughly annoying.
17. ... cxd5 Taking the bait in the hope the white passed pawns can be restrained.
18. exd5 f5 Seeking kingside activity. Black dares not just sit there doing nothing. White would just put rooks behind those passed pawns and push, push, push. And please note Black is now threatening pawn f4 trapping the highly restricted white e3 bishop.
19. d6 Qc6
Looks quite natural, fine, but Annotator 20-20 hindsight suggests 19. ... Qb7 with Bd7 then Bc6 might have been more circumspect. White to play, a piece for a pawn down, needs more dynamism in the position.
20. Bb5 Skewering the black royalty, realistically speaking, Black must accept this bishop and suffer the consequences.
20. ... axb5 21. axb5 Those a-file rooks previously glaring at each other over a pair of pawns are now face-to-face. Black is now a couple of pieces up but white has a phalanx of passed pawns ready to roll and roll. Who is better? Wrong question. Fritz and friends would coolly calculate all the complexities. Humans must at some point accept their limitations of analysis and resort to good old-fashioned gut-feeling.
21. ... Qxb5
Yes, Black is well aware the a8 rook has just been left undefended. This is a pragmatic decision, designed to give some material back in order to avoid something worse. Instead, 21. ... Qb7 22. c6 Qb8 23. b6, and there are just too many pleasant ideas for White to find and probably nothing enjoyable for Black to discover.
22. Rxa8 Qc6 23. Rfa1 f4
And as previously hinted at, Black snares the white e3 bishop. There must be a riposte planned, but what?
24. R1a7 Hardly the dynamic destructor anticipated when a piece is left hanging. White is simply increasing the pressure around the black king. With a pair of rooks, a pair of connected passed pawns, and a skulking queen ready to jump in, something somewhere must be about to happen.
24. ... Nd7 Desperately trying to strengthen the queenside while preparing castling out of the dangers. Appropriate Fischerism: “Tactics flow from a positionally superior game.” White to play and offer strong proof the quote is fundamentally correct.
A tripler, but in order to feel confident about playing this sacrifice, the correct follow-up needed to be in mind. Firstly, a defender of the black d7 knight is eliminated. Secondly, deflecting the black queen dismantles the blockade of the white c5 pawn. Thirdly, the black queen is dragged onto the back rank, dangers of a royal skewering against the e8 king are in the air. All these gains are definitely valuable from the perspective of the attack, but the fate of the e3 bishop also needed consideration.
25. ... Qxc8 26. Qd5
Another tripler. Firstly, the black king cannot castle out of the danger, placing him on g8 would walk into check. Secondly, white threatens Ra8 skewering the black royalty. Thirdly, the white queen has the option of a Qe6+ invasion with strong threats on the black 2nd rank to be neutralised.
26. ... fxe3 White “Sacrifice Count” is 4, not that anyone is actually counting them. Black might as well grab the booty, attempts at defending seem to offer little joy, some ideas run:
(A). 26. ... Nxc5 27. Qf7+ Kd8 28. Qe7+ mate, the benefit of a 7th rank rook is revealed.
(B). 26. ... Qb8 27. Qe6+ Kd8 28. Qxd7+ mate.
(C). 26. ... Qb8 27. Qe6+ Kf8 28. Rxd7 and White has a massive positional advantage in the centre, passed pawns ready to run through.
(D). 26. ... Bf8 27. c6 Ndf6 28. d7+ Nxd7 29. cxd7+ Qxd7 30. Qxd7+ mate.
(E). 26. ... Nhf6 27. Qe6+ Kf8 28. Ne4, and the variation-tree expands dramatically, white has much pressure on Black but nothing concrete seems immediately forthcoming.
27. Qe6+ Kf8 28. Rxd7 exf2+ White “Sacrifice Count” is now 5, if this trend continues White might be ultimately forced to deliver checkmate with a bare king!
29. Kf1 Playing safe.
Instead 29. Kxf2 Qxc5+ gives Black thoughts of delivering perpetual check on the exposed white king. Leaving the black f2 pawn on the board should not cause White any problems, it should be rounded up in the fullness of time.
29. ... Qe8
Preventing the threatened Qf7+ mate and surely pushing the white queen out of the scene of action? Of course, White might trade queens and be just a couple of pieces down. If so, then those white passed pawns still need restraining, but Black might get away with only giving up a single piece. Could it be the white sacrificial rampage is about to come to a sad end?
White “Sacrifice Count” is now 6, hey ho, just the queen left wondering when she will be led to the altar. Instead 30. Re7 Qb5+ 31. Kxf2 Qxc5+ and the black queen would be planning a perpetual check again. So now Black is a complete kingside battalion to the good. Fine, but at the moment they are not contributing to the real battle. White to play is relying on those passed pawns to save the day and maybe even find a win?
30. ... Qxf7 31. Qc8+ Qe8 32. d7
As the maxim goes: “Passed pawns must be pushed.” Way back with 18. exd5 this pawn became passed. Much of the action from then to now has been aimed at clearing the black defenders out of the way to permit advance. White is now either guaranteed a new queen or eliminate the black queen with the d-pawn, it is for Black to choose which.
32. ... Kf7 33. dxe8=Q+ Rxe8 Material imbalance still slightly favours Black. Fine, but White has a massive trump-card in the shape of the passed c5 pawn ready to race through. It seems Black cannot coordinate to either win the pawn or prevent promotion. Everything suggests that pawn will somehow cost Black the rook.
34. Qb7+ Re7 35. c6
A nice touch, getting the c-pawn as close as possible to promotion is the main priority. Instead after 35. Qxb4 e4 36. fxe4 Be5 Black has stopped the white c-pawn. White would then have connected queenside passed pawns but Black would have time to get the h5 knight back into the centre. Everything still points to White being favourite but converting to a win would take considerable time.
35. ... e4
Setting White a test when perhaps both players are short of time. Instead 35. ... Rxb7 36. cxb7 White promotes next move.
36. c7 e3
All of a sudden Black has a serious threat of 37. ... e2+ 38. Kxf2 e1=Q+ mate. White is in no mood to sacrifice the king like this.
37. Qd5+ Kf6 Retreating to the back rank allows White to promote on c8 with check.
38. Qd6+ Kf7 39. Qd5+ Kf6 40. Qd6+ Kf7 Repeating moves is not indicating the game is heading for a draw. White is almost certainly making the time-control before thinking again.
41. Qxe7+ Yes, White “Sacrifice Count” is 7, though this time it is to prevent immediate disaster.
41. ... Kxe7 42. c8=Q
So, seven piece sacrifices plus two queenly reincarnations and it is only 42 moves played. Chances of further fireworks from either side are extremely limited now. White must use the power of the queen hitting in eight directions at once to skewer/fork something. Black must try to construct a fortress or even possibly dream of getting something with those connected passed pawns, both unlikely.
42. ... Bh6
Almost certainly ensuring the advanced pawns will be secure in the short term. Attempted queenside activity lets the passed pawns fall. Instead 42. ... Bxb2 43. Qc7+ Kf8 44. Qb8+ Kg7 45. Qa7+ Kf8 46. Qxe3 and the f2 pawn goes next move. After such a line there would still be more work ahead for White, start by bringing the king and queen toward the black king on the light squares and think again.
43. Qc5+ Ke8 44. Qb5+ Kd8
For some reason Black has run the king out of the kingside. However, had the Black king shuffled on the g-file then white Qxb4 creates a passed pawn which will cost Black a piece, after which the white kingside pawns come into play.
45. Qb6+ Kd7 46. Qxg6 And the black kingside falls apart. Surely Black must have envisaged this when dancing the king over to the queenside? Absolutely, so there must be a trick, right?
46. ... e2+ Hoping for a blunder in reply.
Avoiding 47. Kxe2 Nf4+ 48. Kxf2 Nxg6 when Black wins.
47. ... Be3+ 48. Ke1 1-0
Again avoiding the pitfalls. Instead 48. Kxe2 Nf4+ 49. Kxe3 Nxg6 50. Kd4 and White can grab the black b4 pawn, sufficient to draw but probably nothing more. Similarly 48. Kxe3 e1=Q+ looks drawish.
Finally after 48. Ke1 Nf4 49. Qh7+ Kc6 50. g3 hxg3 51. hxg3 pushes the black knight back after which the e2 pawn falls and the white kingside pawns rush through.
These puzzles are selected by Mark Hague from the website http://www.wtharvey.com, which contains many puzzles that challenge you to find a win from a position in a real game.
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. Solution: Qh8+, Rh7, Qxf6 mate
August 2023 Puzzle
Magnus Carlsen vs Vugar Gashimov, Moscow, 2009
White: King g1, Queen f5, Rook d5, Knight f6, Pawns a3, e2, f2, g3 and h2
Black: King g7, Queen b3, Rook e7, Pawns a7, c5, f7 and h6
White mates in two moves. The solution will appear in the November Gazette.
Owen Phillips sent this for all the BCA Caro-Kann fans! It’s a rated blitz game played on lichess, 17th May 2023.
hubertor (1988) v meowl (1978)
1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. f4 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nf2 e6 6. Nf3 Bc5 7. d4 Bb6 8. c3 O-O 9. Bd3 Nd5 10. Bc2 Bc7
11. g3 Nd7 12. Qd3 g6 13. Bd2 N7f6 14. h4 a5 15. h5 b6 16. hxg6 fxg6 17. Rxh7 Kxh7 18. Qxg6+ Kh8
19. O-O-O Qe7 20. Rh1+ Nh7 21. Rxh7+ Qxh7 22. Qxh7# 1-0
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33. h5! and Black resigned.
If 33. … gxh5 Black loses the kingside pawns.
If 33. … Re6 34 Rd7+ or hxg6+ wins.
This time, the celebrations include gemstone milestones in the lives of members who are themselves gems within the BCA, treasured not only for the tremendous work that they do but also because they’re such wonderful friends!
Gill and Paul Smith will be celebrating their Pearl Wedding Anniversary on the 28th of August. This fantastic couple attends many BCA events together. Their bright enthusiasm never fails to add lustre to our gatherings! Please join me in congratulating them on thirty years of marriage!
The 7th of September will be the 80th birthday of Pauline Wragg! This delightful lady has supported the BCA quietly, behind the scenes, throughout her husband’s long stint on the committee and her contribution should never be undervalued. Please join me in sending best wishes to Pauline as she completes her eighth decade.
Just two weeks later, on the 21st of September, Pauline and Norman Wragg will be celebrating their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. This couple is also prized beyond measure in BCA circles. Please join me in congratulating them on sixty years of marriage and wishing them many more sparkling years together!
We learned of Steve’s passing from a post by Simon Rogers on the English Chess Forum. He wrote:
“I am sorry to report that Stevie Hilton passed away on 16th April after a long illness. Stevie played in the Ayrshire League for Irvine and then joined Prestwick, helping them to win the Ayrshire League. He also played in the Glasgow League for Paisley. He was also a regular at weekend tournaments, had an international career as part of his involvement with the blind community and also served as a director for Chess Scotland.”
Following the announcement of the sad news on the BCA email user group, many members expressed their sadness, shared memories of Steve and said how much they’d miss him. Peter and Celia Gibbs wrote that they’d been friends with Steve for many years and remembered him especially from the European Championship in Durham 2007, when Steve was in relatively good health. Norman and Pauline Wragg observed that Steve was a fine chess player who’d represented the BCA in several international tournaments and that his love of chess was never in doubt. Malcolm Jones and Stan Lovell recalled the tough and exciting games they’d had with Steve, mainly on Skype in recent years. Ian Blencowe remarked that Steve was always extremely courteous and affable.
Steve regularly took part in the annual IBIS tournament in Haaksbergen, sometimes staying with the same host as Gary Wickett, who commented that as well as being a top player, Steve was a good laugh who regaled many a gathering with his funny chess tales. Mike Murphy often travelled to Haaksbergen as a guide and knew Steve for nearly 30 years. They talked about chess, history and current affairs. Steve was passionate about Scottish independence and he and Mike had many a debate on opposite sides of the fence but always remained friends.
Steve also served on the board of the IBCA. Sergio Harnandan from the Netherlands announced the news of Steve’s passing on the IBCA Facebook page. He wrote:
“Stephen was an invaluable member of the IBCA board for many years, serving in various roles, including Secretary and 2nd Vice President. He was always dedicated to advancing the goals of the IBCA. Stephen participated in numerous chess tournaments and was a regular player for the UK team. He was a kind-hearted individual, always willing to help others.
“I first met Stephen twenty years ago at the IBIS tournament in Haaksbergen, Netherlands. We didn't compete against each other then but we had many conversations in the sunshine after our games. Later, we played each other at numerous events. Games against Stephen were always engaging, as he was a talented player. I won our first game but he quickly learned and ensured I never did so again. I appreciated his engaging stories and humour.
“In 2008, Stephen became the IBCA Secretary. I knew he relished this role because he loved interacting with people and helping whenever possible. Additionally, improving chess for the blind and visually impaired was a cause close to his heart. I congratulated him and playfully suggested that I might take over his position someday. While that never happened, it was Stephen (with others) who introduced me to IBCA in 2012. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served on the board alongside Stephen, who was always ready to offer advice on handling various situations. His guidance extended beyond IBCA matters to include chess and personal life events.
“The last time I saw him in person was at the 2017 Olympiad in Orhid. He planned to visit the Netherlands in 2018 for the Six Nations Tournament but was snowed in. Afterwards, due to Covid and other circumstances, neither of us travelled to tournaments. However, we maintained regular contact both within and beyond our work for IBCA. Stephen was a good friend and I am happy and honoured to have known him. I will miss him dearly.”
Owen Phillips got to know Steve when he accompanied him as a coach at a number of international chess events where he represented the U.K. Owen wrote:
“Stevie was a gentle giant of a man who had made himself a very good chess player despite being registered blind and struggling for many years with severe diabetes. He loved his chess greatly, worked hard at it and played a lot of correspondence chess. He built up quite a collection of varied chess sets!
“I was particularly proud of Stevie’s efforts at Lake Ohrid in Macedonia at the Olympiad in 2017 when, after a poor start and despite feeling under the weather, he transformed the U.K. team’s score with a run of 5/6. That exceptional run ensured that the BCA team finished 13th and qualified for the next IBCA World Cup.
“I shall fondly remember my moments with Stevie, particularly his keen hunt for tourism pieces in Warsaw and my times with him in the cathedral there, next to the infamous Jewish Ghetto quarter where so many people were brutally treated. I recall well the change in tone in Stevie's voice and the tears streaming down his face. He was a very good man and a chess devotee of considerable ability.”
GM Neil McDonald also coached Steve at foreign events, including the IBCA Olympiad in Chennai, India. When the news of Steve’s death was relayed to Neil he wrote:
“Steve had a nice friendly character. I last spoke to him on Skype back in 2019. He’d played an excellent combination in a game with M. Dyer which he was justly proud of. I included it in one of my chess books and he wrote to say he’d ordered a copy. He was enthusiastic about his chess and his online friends.”
Neil has generously given permission for the M. Dyer game, with Neil’s annotations, to be published here.
S. Hilton v M. Dyer.
1. d4 Steve's favourite game.
1. ... Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Bg5 h6 7. Be3 e5 8. d5 a5
9. Qd2 Kh7 10. h3 Nbd7 11. Nf3 Ng8 12. g4 Nc5 13. O-O-O Bd7 14. Rdg1 c6 15. h4
With the centre blocked White edges forwards on the kingside hoping to break open lines and mate the black king.
15. ... cxd5 16. exd5! A finely judged recapture. Black is allowed to expand in the centre as Steve realises his own pieces will benefit the most from the opening of lines. Also 16. cxd5 would allow Black counterplay along the c-file or potentially with the pawn advance b7-b5 after Rc8.
16. ... f5 17. gxf5 gxf5 18. Ng5+ A fierce attacking move.
18. ... Kh8 Black would be crushed after 18. ... hxg5 19. hxg5+ Nh6 20. g6+! Kg8 21. Bxh6 Alternatively, 18. ... hxg5 19. hxg5+ Kg6 20. Bh5+ is also fatal for the black king.
19. f4 Analysis after the game showed the unlikely strength of 19. Bh5! Qf6 to stop a fork on f7, then 20. Rg2 planning to double rooks along the g-file.
19. ... e4 20. Bd4 Preparing a combination.
20. ... Nd3+? Black would be OK after 20... Bxd4 21. Qxd4+ Qf6 which is why the line with 19. Bh5 mentioned earlier should have been preferred by White. Of course, this is speaking objectively - it was hard for Black to resist the losing game move!
21. Qxd3! Steve sacrifices his queen as part of a well-prepared combination. After 21. Bxd3 Bxd4 White has three pieces hanging.
21. ... exd3 22. Bxg7+ Kxg7 23. Ne6+ Kh7 24. Nxd8 Raxd8 25. Bxd3
The dust has settled and White has an extra pawn. Steve eventually created a passed pawn to win a piece and the game.
25. ... Nf6 26. Re1 Rde8 27. Rhg1 Nh5 28. Rxe8 Rxe8 29. Ne2 Re3 30. Kd2 Rf3 31. Nd4 Rxf4 32. Ne6 Bxe6
33. dxe6 Ng7 34. e7 Ne8 35. Ke3 Rxh4 36. Bxf5+ Kh8 37. Be6 Nf6 38. Bd5 Rh5 39. e8=Q+ Nxe8
40. Rg8+ Kh7 41. Rxe8 b5 42. Re7+ Kh8 43. Bf3 Rh2 44. cxb5 Rxb2 45. a4 Rb3+ 46. Kf2 Ra3 47. Re4 Rb3
48. Rd4 Ra3 49. b6 1-0