The Gazette

May 2022


Registered Charity Number 263049



Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.

This issue has kindly been sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation

BCA Website Address:


Twitter:                                  @braillechess









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








Note: The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.










Editorial 3

Forthcoming Events. 4

Notes on the 2022 AGM... 6

Periodicals Distributor 7

Treasurer’s Report 7

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 7

Membership Secretary’s Report 7

Coaching Matters. 8

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 8

EFCC Correspondent Issue 1. 9

28th Chess Theme Break 2022. 9

To Antoine. 10

BCA Spring Chess Congress 2022. 10

16th BCA Email Tournament 11

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 12

Ex-Champing at the Bit 06. 14

Gerry’s Chess Career: My First BCA Championship. 16

Gray Matter Test 17

A Debut Novel! 18

Personalia. 18



On my daily commute I habitually listen to the radio, just to let a bit of music and chat drift by me.  Recently though, I found myself paying keen attention to the broadcast because the presenter was interviewing lexicographer Susie Dent, whose name may be familiar to you from the TV show “Countdown” in which she occupies “Dictionary Corner”.  Words, the connections between them and the way in which language evolves over time hold great fascination for me.  In the interview Susie spoke about words that have lost their positive counterparts in modern parlance.  She quoted the examples of “disgruntled” and “gormless”, lamenting that the English language has only retained the negative forms of those words.  “Gruntled” has fallen into disuse and once upon a time it was probably possible to describe someone as being “gormful”.  She suggested it would be a fine thing if English were to reclaim the lost positives and I can't help but agree!

Of course, the goal of reclaiming lost positives has wider applications and there was plenty of it in evidence at the 28th Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth and our Spring Congress in Derby earlier this year.  Although we held an over the board event last autumn, some people were unable to attend for various reasons.  So, after many months of Covid enforced separation, friends not encountered since pre-pandemic days were greeted warmly and players relished the opportunity to sit down opposite their opponents once again, albeit diagonally.  Reports on both events are in this issue.  There’s also the welcome return of a poem by Joan!

It is hoped that even more members will feel able to return to BCA over the board tournaments later this year.  Please see Forthcoming Events for details of a couple of occasions where you’ll be able to reclaim the positives of being among friends who share a passion for our game.  And for those who are not yet ready or simply want more chess, do consider entering our remote Summer Cup, which is also in Forthcoming Events.

Anyone who feels their chess has suffered lately may wish to take affirmative action to restore lost skills.  Our Coaching Officer, Voldi, has some suggestions which might be of interest.  If you enjoy correspondence chess, please read Dan Rugman’s article about a new magazine devoted to that subject.  A lot of work has gone into making the content accessible!

In March we held our AGM via Skype.  Guy has typed up the minutes for us so, if you missed it you can read about what was discussed.  I was “gruntled” to be re-elected as your Gazette Editor for another year and will endeavour to carry out my duties “gormfully”!  The winner of the 2021 Best Game Competition was announced at the AGM and the game itself is in this issue for everyone to admire. 

These pages also contain the usual officers’ reports, keeping you up to date with what’s happening in the running of our association.  There’s a puzzle selected by Graham to test you and another chapter in Gerry’s Chess Career to look forward to!  We also have news of a member who might be embarking on a new career – as a published author!

Once again, we are grateful to the Ulverscroft Foundation for their generous sponsorship of this gazette.  With postage costs for the standard print copies on the rise and the price of Braille transcription remaining substantial, it is wonderful to have their support. 

Please send me your articles for the August gazette by the end of June.  Do get in touch if you’d like to write a tournament report or any other BCA related article.  It’s always a pleasure to receive contributions from you, the readers!

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Sunday 19th June to Sunday 26th June 2022: Combined British Championship and Chairman’s Cup

In memory of Sheila and David Milsom

This will take place at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth, which proved to be a very popular venue for our 2018 Chairman’s Cup.  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 visually impaired chess players and to associate members of the BCA.  The title of BCA British Champion will be awarded to the highest placed visually impaired player who has been resident in the UK for at least the last three years and has not played chess for a country other than the UK.  The Chairman’s Cup will be awarded to the highest placed member or associate member whose most recent published grade is 1650 or below (equivalent to about 126 under the old ECF grading system). 

The event will be played over 7 rounds with one round each day.  Likely starting times for the seven rounds are 19.30 on the first 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.  If there are sufficient numbers there will be two sections.  Entry fee: £10.  Cost of dinner, bed and breakfast to members and associate members of the BCA: £300 for the week irrespective of room type.  The cost to those booking for less than the full week will be £45 per day 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 £65 per person regardless of room type.

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 is invited to contact the organisers:  John and Pam Jenkins.

The closing date for bookings was 25 April 2022.  There might still be time to enter if you do so quickly but bookings accepted after the closing date are at the discretion of the organiser and will be subject to a late booking fee of £10 per person.  Bookings, including full payment, should be sent to: Mrs Gill Smith (see list of BCA Officers for contact details).  Please note: Rooms will not be reserved until full payment has been received.

9th July to 17th September:  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 by Lichess or similar platform.  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 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.  Games will not be graded unless a sufficient number of the participants are in favour of sending them for grading.  Note that we are not referring to the ECF OTB grading system but to a completely separate ECF system for grading games played online.

Please let Mark Hague have your entry by Monday 27th June, giving full contact details and which playing platforms you are able to use.  If you have a preference, please also say whether or not you’d like the games to be sent for grading.  By entering this tournament, you are deemed to have consented to sharing your relevant contact details with all participants and the arbiters.  The arbiters will be Gerry Walsh and Julie Leonard.

28th to 30th October 2022:  International Autumn Tournament

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

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

soirées in which members entertain us with their musical and other talents.

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

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

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

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 2nd September. 

Any queries about the tournament should be sent to Norman Wragg.  Please see the list of BCA Officers for contact details.

Booking Conditions and Procedures.

By entering a BCA tournament, a player is deemed to have consented for their name and any special requirements to be passed to the hotel prior to the event.  Also, consent is considered to have been given for a player’s name, club, results and possibly also their gender to be sent to the ECF for grading purposes.  For juniors, their date of birth is also required if they are to get the age-related grading bonus they are entitled to.

If you have any queries about the hotel or the tournament please contact the organiser. 

Blind and partially sighted UK residents under the age of 25 receive free entry and free accommodation when playing in BCA events. In appropriate circumstances, free accommodation is also available to a parent or guardian accompanying a junior.

Visually impaired UK residents in their first year of membership receive their first BCA weekend event free or £100 reduction in the cost of a week-long event.  They may also be accompanied by a guide or companion who will receive the same concession.  For a first event we ask for payment in advance and we then make a refund at the event.

You may pay in these ways:

Cheques payable to Braille Chess Association should be sent to Gill Smith, see the front of the Gazette for her address.

Online or telephone payments may be made to:

Account name: Braille Chess Association, sort code: 40 52 40, account number: 00082456.

If you pay by direct payment then you should inform Gill when the payment has been made. 

Bookings accepted after the closing date are subject to a £10 late booking penalty for each person. Late bookings and entries are accepted at the discretion of the organiser.

Bookings are confirmed when full payment has been received. Payments can only be refunded within the time limit set in the terms and conditions set by the hotels.  Members are advised to take out holiday insurance to cover themselves.

When making your booking please let the organiser know if you want a single, double or twin room and if you have a preference for a bath or a shower.  And remember, if emailing the tournament organiser, copy in Gill so she can look out for your payment and let you know when it has been received.  Gill will always confirm receipt of any payment.

Also say if any of the following apply.

1 If you will be bringing a guide dog;

2 If you are on a special diet;

3 If you have mobility problems and would benefit from being located in a room near to a lift;

4 If you are a wheelchair user;

5 If you feel you would have any special difficulties in an emergency such as a fire evacuation;

6 Any other special requirements.

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

Notes on the 2022 AGM

26th March 2022

We began by sadly noting the passing of several members: Paul Brookes, Arthur Greatrex, Stanley Lightowler, Bob Rathbun, and June Warren.  The key points from the rest of the meeting were as follows.

Financial matters: Sadly, Linda Innes had felt compelled to stand down from the position of Fundraiser for personal reasons.  We have now appointed a new fundraiser, Carl Concannon.  The arrangement is somewhat different to the one we had with Julia Scott and Linda and involves us fielding more administration, but we will review matters in six months’ time.  Meanwhile the accounts have now been formally examined and approved, and by the time you read this we should have submitted our annual return to the Charity Commission.

Website and information technology issues: games from email tournaments would appear on the website.  Dan also proposed that our site feature a page listing members’ chess ratings.  This would be updated each month in line with the ECF ratings system.  We would try to get the page to list online grades as well.

Dan has done a huge amount of work tidying up the website and bringing it into line with worldwide web’s content accessibility guidelines.  He also hopes to produce an application which will enable us to process pgn chessbooks from publishers like Everyman Chess much more conveniently than is the case at the moment.

Tournament issues: While there was no shortage of friendly games being played there was no real activity on the friendly ladder competition.  It was decided the ladder competition should be discontinued; if there was sufficient demand it could be restarted.

There was some discussion of issues relating to the British Championship and the Chairman’s Cup.  There was now a wish to separate the two again, running a championship one year and a Chairman’s Cup the next.

However, it was noted that numbers might not always justify this approach.  In previous years quite a few players would have been excluded from the Chairman’s Cup because their grade was too high but at the moment it was only two or three players affected in that way which made excluding them feel much more awkward.

We couldn’t run the championship every year; this tournament had a bearing on selection for international events, meaning that the winner of the championship might be faced with playing for a week in our event and then very quickly being away for nearly two weeks at an international tournament.

It was decided that everyone should be invited to take part in a week-long tournament each year, but that the title of British Champion would be awarded only every two years.  In the year when that title was not being contested, a trophy would be awarded to the highest placed competitor rated below 1650; another prize would be awarded to any player with a higher grade who won the event.  The time controls might differ when the title of British Champion was being decided.

International issues: The International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) recently debated two motions tabled as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and Belarus.  One would have prevented Russian and Belarusian players from competing in IBCA events; the second merely prohibited the participation of a Russian or Belarusian team and required players from Russia and Belarus to play as neutrals under the IBCA flag.  The vote on the IBCA board was six votes for each motion, with the President casting his vote in favour of the milder second motion.

Almost everyone at the AGM felt this did not go far enough.  Although the IBCA’s motion mirrored actions taken by other sporting organisations and there was no hostility to Russian or Belarusian individuals on the association’s part, nevertheless there was an almost unanimous vote to the effect we should not send any BCA representative to an IBCA event until the IBCA changed its policy.

Election of officers: All committee members were re-elected to their current posts with the exception of Dan Rugman who wished to stand down as Publicity Officer.  Abi Baker was elected unopposed to the post.  Tony Elbourn, Steve Hilton and Gerry Walsh were elected unopposed to the posts of Congress Support Officer, representative to Chess Scotland and representative to the English Chess Federation respectively.

Next AGM: We hadn’t decided yet whether to reincorporate the AGM back into the spring congress or not, but there was strong support for trying to run a hybrid AGM next year, i.e. an approach based on some people meeting face to face in a room with others joining online.  The Information and Communications Technology Sub-committee will look into the details.

Guy Whitehouse

Periodicals Distributor

Following the AGM, the post of periodicals distributor has been discontinued.  This is due to the fact that we no longer routinely produce any of our audio publications on cassette.  Richard Harrington has held this role since 2005.  By copying and distributing all the tapes required each month for “Chess Magazine”, he helped to ensure that the service continued to run smoothly.  Richard's vigilance even bailed me out on one occasion when he drew my attention to a problem with the recordings on a set of master tapes that I hadn't bothered to check.  This meant that the inevitable delay was much shorter than it otherwise would have been, and listeners did not receive an inaudible magazine.  Richard's reliability over the years has greatly assisted me and I'd like to express my grateful thanks to him for his time and effort.

Mark Kirkham

Treasurer’s Report

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.

In March we received a grant of £1,000 from the Sir John Eastwood Foundation.  This foundation has been a loyal supporter for several years for which we are very grateful.

In April we started work with a new fundraiser, Carl Concannon, who is confident he will be able to increase our income again.  I have given him a list of donors from the last 6 years so we can maintain our relationships with them.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery

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

Recent Millennium Club winners:

January: Tony Lawton, number 29.

February: Celia Gibbs, number 68.

March: Paul Benson, number 57.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Membership Secretary’s Report

Four new visually impaired members joined in the last quarter.  Malcolm Blake from Leicester and Claire Amoroso from Hertfordshire have taken five year membership.  Mary Lee from Derry, Northern Ireland has joined as a one year member and Noah Lawson from Hexham has joined as a junior member.


Robert Rathbun, a member since 1983, passed away in January this year.  Bob was the designer of chess courses for visually impaired players for the Hadley school of the blind.  He did a huge amount to promote chess playing for blind people throughout the world with his superb free course and free chess set.  Unfortunately, Hadley has not been able to replace the achievements of this remarkable man.

Sadly Paul Brookes, a popular member since 2012 who took part in a number of BCA events, passed away in March this year.

Junior member Harmony Scott, a delightful little girl who joined the BCA at age six, passed away in May 2019 aged seventeen.  So very tragic as she was such a bright and promising youngster.

Mark Hague


Coaching Matters

Due to the pandemic, I have not carried out any face-to-face coaching activities, but have concentrated instead on initiatives carried out via Zoom, Skype and telephone.  As well as co-ordinating training under the current coaching scheme, I have taken on introducing new and prospective members to chess by holding remote coaching sessions and currently have two weekly sessions with students new to chess.  I am particularly keen to involve new members in our coaching activities in order to inspire them to want to improve their game and to manage their own training choices.  Thanks to Gerry Walsh, I have a further initiative in respect of coaching, which I hope to run if there is sufficient interest.

The current coaching scheme is still in operation.  All UK-based members are entitled to £120 worth of training per annum and I have a number of coaches able and willing to take on one-to-one training via Skype, Zoom or telephone.  If anyone is interested in training under the scheme then please contact me and I will undertake to find a suitable trainer.

For those members new to chess and who have just joined us I am happy to introduce them to the game with some introductory sessions prior to further coaching if required.  For any members who wish to take part I have a list of players who are happy to play friendly games remotely and if anybody wishes to join this then please send me your e-mail address and details of how you wish to play, either by e-mail or remotely.

At the recent BCA Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth, Gerry Walsh undertook to train a group of students using the 'How Good is Your Chess' course.  Participants were taken a few moves into a game and then asked to predict moves for the rest of the game, with points awarded for each move.  This proved very popular throughout the week and Gerry has kindly offered to run a similar initiative if there is sufficient interest.  If anyone would be interested in this then please contact me and I can then liaise with Gerry and any prospective participants.

In conclusion, I am always on the lookout for new training initiatives in order to encourage us all to play and to further our interest in chess.  If anyone has any ideas then please let me have your suggestions.  See the front of this Gazette for my contact details.

Voldi Gailans, Coaching and Junior Development Officer

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Discussion at the AGM decided to discontinue the Friendly Games Ladder.  Organisation of friendly games will still continue, it is just that the result will not count on the Ladder.  Anyone seeking an opponent for a couple of friendly games should contact myself, details given in list of Officers.


Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson

Final scores: George Phillips 3.5/4, Alec Crombie 3, Guy Whitehouse 2.5, Eric Gallacher 1, Voldi Gailans 0.

Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson

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

BCA LEAGUE 2022-23

Division 1 - Group Leader Voldi Gailans

Crombie 1 - 0 Gailans, Giuoco Piano, 18.

Scores: Alec Crombie 1/1, Jim Cuthbert 0/0, George Phillips 0/0, Voldi Gailans 0/1.

Division 2 - Group Leader Guy Whitehouse

Flood 0 - 1 Jones, Black Lion, 22.

Flood 1 - 0 Tew, French, 22.

Tew 0 - 1 Jones, Philidor, 26.

Jones 1 - 0 Gallacher, Sicilian, 34.

Gallacher 0.5 - 0.5 Flood, Bishop's, 30.

Tew 0 - 1 Gallacher, Queen's Pawn, 23.
Final scores: Malcolm Jones 3/3, Eric Gallacher 1.5/3, Mike Flood 1.5/3, Eleanor Tew 0/3.
Congratulations to Malcolm Jones on winning Division 2 with a perfect score and gaining promotion to battle in Division 1 next cycle.

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

Paul Benson

EFCC Correspondent Issue 1

Dan Rugman writes:

Readers may already be aware that the English Federation for Correspondence Chess recently launched their new quarterly magazine; the EFCC Correspondent.  Mark Kirkham and I spent some time looking at it and concluded that it would be difficult for us to make it easily readable even for our more tech savvy members.  At this point I reached out to the magazine’s editor – Michael Blake – in the hope that they might have some source materials that would be more accessible.  To my delight, Michael rose to the challenge.  After some trial runs and discussions on what works best for visually impaired readers he produced the entire magazine complete with standard algebraic notation and FEN diagrams for all of the positions.

Obviously, the magazine contains a lot of information about current correspondence events in the UK and overseas but also has some excellent articles on other matters.  This first issue has an article on Howard Staunton as well as an extremely thorough piece on setting up computer systems for chess analysis.  There is also plenty of game analysis.

I have made this version available as a Word document, EPUB and HTML file so there are plenty of options to suit members individual requirements.  You can download all three from the link below.

We would be very grateful for any feedback especially on the accessibility of the magazine.  Do not hesitate to contact Dan Rugman or Mark Kirkham if you need help finding suitable apps or devices for reading the various formats available.

28th Chess Theme Break 2022

The 28th Chess Theme Break in memory of Antoine Reeves was held from 30th January to 8th February 2022.  The previous Theme Break was held at the Windermere Manor Hotel just prior to the Covid 19 restrictions coming into force.  The new venue was the very comfortable hotel, Marsham Court, Bournemouth.

Julie Leonard and Gerry Walsh intended to run the event but sadly Gerry found he was unable to attend in person.  However, he was able to give Julie support online.  Nevertheless, Julie was in the circumstances kept very busy both with preparations for the event and organising chess and social events during the week.

There were five chess trainees and Colin Chambers and Gerry were coaches.  Gerry gave his training via video link.  Eight other members completed the group and Gill Smith, Freya Smith and Tanvi Muir joined us mid-week.

All our activities took place in a large room called the “Bit on the Side”, where, on the first evening, we enjoyed a Bucks Fizz reception prior to the welcome meeting. 

Chess training took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Well done to Colin and Gerry, and also the trainees for all the hard work that was put into those sessions!

Later in the week a mini tournament was held.  An all-play-all handicap competition was prepared by Peter Gibbs.  After hard-fought games George Phillips was the victor.  On looking at my records I discovered that George has now won the event on nine occasions, once sharing the honour with Steve Thacker. 

The final chess activity of the week was a simultaneous display given by local player Christian Westrap, who defeated all the opposition. 

One afternoon Antoine's tea party was held where we all enjoyed a slice of cake and a cup of tea.  This was paid out of the money that Antoine's family had kindly donated.  Several of our group shared memories of Antoine which was very moving.  This was followed by music Antoine had played and loved, provided by the wonderful team of musicians in our group.  Beatles songs were sung and ‘Twonnie’ was remembered with love.

After dinner one evening Julie posed a very challenging quiz based on Twonnie’s interests and I organised a general knowledge quiz on another evening.  A Sax and Piano Jazz Duo entertained us too.

During the week we were able to visit the Russell-Cotes Museum which was directly opposite our hotel, where some were able to go on a Tactile Tour of some of the artefacts, and also to enjoy a light lunch in the museum's cafe.  On the day free of chess our group visited by minibus, Monkey World where they were able to see the animals at close quarters through glass screens and later visit the gift shop and cafe. 

On Friday evening we enjoyed our usual soirée compered by Joan Shorrock.  Many people offered contributions and our musicians were much in evidence.  We also found a new star - Richard Harrington - who sang an Elvis Presley number - Can't Help Falling in Love with You.  A completely brilliant evening!

Prize giving took place on the last evening.  George received the Peter and Celia Gibbs trophy for the 28th Theme Break chess competition.  Peter received his trophy for winning the last BCA Email Event and also the trophy for the Best Game Prize played in 2021, which had been judged by David Mabbs.

A thoroughly enjoyable week!  The friendliness amongst the group was apparent and all pulled together to make the event a success.  Julie in particular deserves our great thanks for all her hard work.  The staff at Marsham Court were all so kind and helpful too.

Celia Gibbs

To Antoine

A poem by Joan Shorrock, written for the soirée at the 28th Chess Theme Break, in memory of Antoine Reeves.

The BCA are here in Bournemouth

Antoine, your friends are here too

Here’s to you with all our love

This soirée’s just for you!

We really miss your talent

You were quite a star

With your command of music

On piano, flute, guitar.

We remember you with fondness

And all of us are glad

That we knew, though you’re not with us

You don’t want us to be sad.

St. Peter will say “Someone to see you,

Come and meet one another,

There she is” and you say,

“Hello Mother!”

You know that we all shall meet

At that soirée in the sky

But until then, dear Antoine,

It’s time to say “Goodbye”.

BCA Spring Chess Congress 2022

Lea Ryan writes:

On Friday the 18th of March 2022, 15 chess players, along with family and friends, travelled to the Mickleover Hotel at Derby.  The Mickleover Hotel was a first for the BCA, therefore the hotel was entered with some slight trepidation.  Any fears however, soon proved to be groundless.  The hotel staff were extremely welcoming.

On being taken to our room Mark and I soon realised we would be residing in the usual high standard of style that we have come to expect when attending a BCA event.  Some totally blind members did comment that the hotel was complicated to negotiate.  However, there was lots of sighted help if requested.

The food was excellent and the dining staff could not have been more helpful.  I also understand that Julie Leonard and Neda Koohnavard took full advantage of the hotel swimming pool, as did Gill and Paul Smith.

The chess room was excellent too.  It was spacious and there were even Male and Female toilets ensuite.  This made things so much easier for the chess players.

Our arbiters, Mathew Carr and David Clayton, ran the tournament with outstanding efficiency.  When running a BCA chess tournament, one must always be ready for the unexpected and to act quickly if necessary.  This they did, when in one of the chess matches which John Fullwood played as white, he managed to capture his opponent’s queen.  In his excitement at taking the black queen off the board he dropped it on the floor.  John's Guide dog Monty was under the table at the time and in a trice had got the chess piece in his mouth.  With the quick thinking of the arbiters and chess player, Phil Rafferty, who also came to help, this only caused a small amount of chaos.  The clocks were stopped for a short time and Monty was eventually persuaded to give up the queen without any harm occurring.

All good things must come to an end though and all too soon the tournament was over.  Below is a list of the tournament prize winners:

In joint first place with 4 points were Stan Lovell and George Phillips.  Stan won the Open trophy and George won the Challengers trophy.

In joint second place in the Open on 3.5 points were Richard Murphy and Colin Chambers

On three points were Norman Andrews, Mark Hague and John Osborne.  Mark and John were joint second in the Challengers section.

On 2.5 points was Tony Lawton, who won Grading Prize A.

On 2 points were Malcolm Jones, Bittor Ibanez, John Fullwood, Phil Rafferty, Neda Koohnavard and Gill Smith.  Phil and Neda shared Grading Prize B.

On 1 point was Lea Ryan.

On the Sunday evening, the BCA members who did not go home, were able to have a delicious meal and then relax in the bar, where we were privileged to meet a few of Stan Lovell’s family members who came to the hotel to visit Stan.

I can honestly say a good weekend was had by all.  Well done to the organisers, chess players, hotel staff and family and friends for all your support!

Editor’s note: I asked Stan if he’d like to provide a game for the gazette.  He replied, “The following seems appropriate, as it is my Round 2 game against George, who finished level on points with me.  It's interesting, as I gained a piece and then, with some strong battling by George I had to concede the draw.”

White: Stan Lovell v Black: George Phillips

1. d4 b6  2. Nc3 Bb7  3. e4 e6  4. Nf3 d6  5. Be2 g6  6. 0-0 Bg7  7. Bg5 Ne7  8. Qd2 h6  9. Bh4 g5  10. Bg3 Ng6

11. Rfd1 0-0  12. h3 Nd7  13. a4 a6  14. Qe3 Qe7  15. Re1 f5  16. exf5 exf5  17. Qxe7 Nxe7  18. Bc4+ Kh8

19. Rxe7 Rad8  20. Be6 Bc8  21. Bxd7 Rxd7  22. Rxd7 Bxd7  23. Rd1 f4  24. Bh2 Re8  25. Kf1 Bf5  26. Ne1 c5

27. Ne2 c4  28. f3 d5  29. Bg1 Bd7  30. Nc3 Be6  31. Rd2 Rb8  32. Re2 Bg8  33. Bf2 b5  34. axb5 axb5

35. Re7 b4  36. Nb1 b3  37. c3 Ra8  38. Rxg7 Kxg7  39. Na3 Rb8  40. g3 Be6  41. Kg2 Kg6  42. g4  1/2-1/2

16th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

The 16th BCA email tournament got underway on the 1st of March.  There are 20 participants on this occasion.  We have divided these into five divisions with 4 players in each division, based on BCA grades, performance in previous email tournaments where applicable, and where possible, incorporated promotion and relegation.  Because there are four players in all divisions half the players will have two whites, and the other half will have two blacks, dependent on the seeding. 

We are two-thirds of the way through this event and we already have two outright winners.  Colin Chambers has won Division 2 and will be making a quick return to Division 1.  Eamonn Casey managed to win Division 3.  Here is the composition of the divisions and the results so far:

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

Jones lost to Doyle

Burnell beat Jones

Burnell drew with Doyle

Armstrong lost to Jones

Current scores: Burnell and Doyle 1.5/2, Jones 1/3, Armstrong 0/1

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

Chambers beat Prasath

Chambers beat Fullwood

Walsh drew with Chambers

Fullwood drew with Walsh

Prasath lost to Fullwood

Current scores: Chambers 2.5/3, Fullwood 1.5/3, Walsh 1/2, Prasath 0/2

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

Clayton beat Elbourn

Casey beat Clayton

Gailans beat Elbourn

Elbourn lost to Casey

Casey beat Gailans

Current scores: Casey 3/3, Clayton and Gailans 1/2, Elbourn 0/2,

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

Ramm lost to Highsmith

Smith beat Ramm

Smith lost to Highsmith

Current scores: Highsmith 2/2, Smith 1/2, Ramm 0/2

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

Flood beat Harrington

Jodhan beat Flood

Koohnavard beat Harrington

Current scores: Jodhan and Koohnavard 1/1, Flood 1/2, Harrington 0/2

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

David Mabbs writes:

It was a pleasure and a privilege, to judge the Best Game of 2021.  Throughout the year, I resisted the strong temptation to preview some of the entries - I thought it best to save them up until Christmastime, in order to have them all fresh and current in my mind.  I played through them in random order.

Quite soon, I recognised an entry as being very deserving of a Best Game prize.  Shortly afterwards, another even stronger entry displaced it.  Later, yet another game appeared, even better.  And - so it went on!  I was very impressed indeed at the quality of the entries.  It was evident that our players were at the top of their game, and everyone concerned should be justly proud of their performances.

Congratulations to all, but there can be only one prize-winner: this year it is Peter Gibbs for his fine win over Malola Prasath Thittanimuttam in the fourteenth e-mail tournament.   As White, Peter seized the centre early on, and gained a strong spatial advantage to contain the Black pieces to the back two ranks.  Then came subtle intermediate moves mixed with a barrage of sacrifices to force Black's resignation on move 25.  A flawless and model game.

Editor’s note:

David played through a total of twenty games to find the winner.  I’m sure everyone will join me in thanking him for his meticulous work and careful considerations!

It was not going to be possible to give the trophy to Peter at our Skype AGM this year, so I had the honour of presenting it to him in person at the Chess Theme Break in Bournemouth.  Peter was warmly congratulated and applauded by all who were there!

Now here is the game, with annotations kindly supplied by Rod Macdonald.

14th BCA Email Tournament

White: Peter Gibbs

Black: Malola Prasath

ECO: E76 - King's Indian Defence, Four Pawns Attack

1. d4 Nf6  2. c4 g6  3. Nc3 Bg7  4. e4 0-0  5. f4 d6  6. Nf3

[This is the main line in what is known as the Four Pawns Attack in the King's Indian Defence.  White immediately builds up a large pawn centre in order to gain a spatial advantage.  Black first develops his pieces, then tries to attack White's centre by means of the pawn advances ... e7-e5, ... c7-c5 or ... f7-f5, depending on circumstances.  This formation has never attracted serious interest in high-level play, although Alexander Alekhine used it three times in the 1924 New York City tournament with a score of +1 -0 =2.  Danish grandmaster Bent Larsen also occasionally experimented with the Four Pawns Attack.

The main line continues with 6.  ... c5 7. d5, when Black can attack White's centre with the pawn sacrifice 7. ... b5, or the quieter 7. ... e6.  The latter can transpose into the Modern Benoni.]

6. ... Na6!?

[The modern alternative to the main line, 6. ... Na6!?, aims at sacrificing a pawn with 7. ... e5 and going into tactical complications.

Black first develops one additional piece before reacting in the centre.  The idea is to bring in the push e7-e5 instead of the main line c7-c5.  This is a gambit in which Black hopes to take advantage of the slight underdevelopment of White forces in order to win back the sacrificed pawn or to directly attack the white king.  The move ... Na6 is designed to eventually post the knight on c5 (once the d4-pawn has left) in order to attack the e4-pawn.  An important difference between this move and Nbd7 is that Na6 does not block the queenside bishop.]

7. e5

[7. Bd3 is also worth a try.]

7. ... Ne8  8. h3

[8. Be2 is more common here.]

8. ... c5  9. d5 e6  10. Be2 Nac7

[A novelty.  On the other hand, 10. ... f6 11. 0-0 Nac7 12. Be3 b6 13. Qd2 fxe5 14. fxe5 dxe5 15. Bh6 exd5 16. Nxe5 Bf5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. cxd5 Nd6 19. Rae1 Qh4 20. Rf4 Qg3 21. Bg4 Rae8 22. Ne2 Qxe1+ 23. Qxe1 Rxe5 24. Bxf5 Nxd5 25. Qd2 1-0, in 38 moves, as in the game I. Rausis (2496) - P. Jirovsky (2351), Hamburg 1999 (R. Sander)]

11. 0-0 b6

[11. ... b5 12. Nxb5 exd5 13. cxd5 leaves White with a decisive advantage.]

12. Be3 Qe7  13. Qd2 Bb7  14. Bf2

[Better is 14. Rad1 Rd8 15. Bf2, with a very strong advantage for White.]

14. ... Rd8?

[An interesting idea is 14. ... f6!? 15. Bh4 Qd7, leaving White with a moderate advantage.]

15. Rad1

[15. Bh4 keeps an even firmer grip: 15. ... f6 16. Rae1 b5.]

15. ... dxe5?

[15. ... f6 is better, but after 16. Bh4 Kh8, White firmly in control.]

16. Bh4

[16. fxe5 makes it even easier for White: 16. ... exd5 17. Bh4 g5 18. Bxg5 f6 19. exf6 Bxf6 20. cxd5 Kh8 with an overwhelming edge for White.]

16. ... Bf6

[16. ... g5 doesn't get the cat off the tree: 17. Bxg5 f6 18. fxe5 exd5 19. exf6 Bxf6 20. cxd5 is very strong for White.]

17. fxe5 Bxh4  18. d6 Qd7

[18. ... Nxd6 is one last hope: 19. exd6 Qf6 is still strong for White.]

19. Nxh4

[19. dxc7? is a blank shot: 19. ... Qxd2 20. Nxd2 Nxc7 is decisive for Black.]

19. ... Na6

[19. ... Nxd6 is not the saving move: 20. Qxd6 Qxd6 21. exd6 all but wraps it up.]

20. Qg5 Nb8

[20. ... Nb4 does not improve anything: 21. Bg4 Ng7 22. Rf2.]

21. Bg4 Kg7

[21. ... Ng7 is not much help: 22. Qf6 or 22. Qh6.]

22. Nd5!

[Deflection: e6.]

22. ... h6  23. Qe3 h5  24. Nxg6!

[Mate attack.]

24. ... hxg4  25. Nge7 1-0

Don’t forget that the 2022 competition is already open and Paul Benson is our judge for this year!  All BCA members, including associates, can enter games, which must have been played in a BCA event or for a BCA team during 2022.  Any eligible games that are published in the gazette are automatically entered.  Other games can be sent to Paul either directly or via another committee member.  If you’re especially pleased with a game from the Spring Chess Congress in Derby or the 16th Email Tournament don’t be shy about sending it in!

Ex-Champing at the Bit 06

P. Benson (Eng) - D. Baretic (IBCA Executive, 2295), 5th IBCA World Individual, Hastings 1982.

That curious "IBCA Executive" status occurred because there was an uneven number of entrants so a member of the IBCA Executive was invited to enter to avoid byes, Baretic is actually from Yugoslavia.

This time we have a personal "David versus Goliath" battle, White estimated Elo 1880, Black Elo 2295.  This is Round 11, the final round.  Is this of importance?  It could be.  No adjournments, play starts just after breakfast and continues unbroken until completion of the game.

1. d4 c5

Ouch!  Black shows immediate fighting spirit.  Any thoughts of a quick draw and set about preparing for departure on the following day are smashed, this is a battle to the death.

2. d5 Nf6  3. Nc3 d6  4. e4 g6

Recommendations on how “Mismatched Gladiators” should approach the early stages of the game were given in

the previous Ex-Champing article.  White, some 400+ Elo points lower, should seek activity without fear of giving up material to grab the initiative.

5. f4 Bg7  6. Be2 a6  7. Nf3 O-O  8. O-O Qc7  9. e5

This might be active but most likely too early, perhaps more preparation is required for such a committal move?

However, factors other than the actual position are in play.  Black has had a much tougher set of opponents and could be double the age of White, maybe tiredness might influence matters?

9. ... Ne8  10. e6

Having started the hand-to-hand fighting White must just keep punching until open lines are created for pieces to invade.  Often easier said than done.

10. ... fxe6  11. dxe6 Bxe6  12. Ng5

White has cleared the central light squares, it is vital for the e2 bishop to find activity to justify the pawn sacrifice.

12. ... Qd7  13. Bf3

With the serious threat of 14. Nxe6 Qxe6 15. Bd5 pinning and winning the black queen, easily prevented, but it will consume a defensive tempo.

13. ... Bf7  14. Nxf7 Rxf7  15. Bg4 e6  16. Re1 Nc7

It seems that Black is holding onto the pawn while blocking out the white g4 light square bishop.  Inspiration required here by White, test of "Tactical Event Horizons" now placed on both players.

17. Nd5 Qd8

Probably the best of the retreats, capturing is poor:

(A). 17. ... exd5 18. Bxd7 Rxd7 and Black only has a bishop, knight, pawn for the queen, this must strongly favour white.

(B). 17. ... Nxd5 18. Bxe6 Qc7 19. Qxd5 Nc6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7 21. Qxd6 Black is an exchange plus pawn down for no compensation.

18. Nxc7 Rxc7

Clearly 18. ... Qxc7 19. Bxe6 regaining the pawn plus winning an exchange on f7 was not going to happen for White.

19. Bxe6+ Kh8  20. f5

White has regained the pawn with the bonus of a kingside light square initiative.  Surely a success for the “Chess For Tigers” recommendations for “Mismatched Gladiators” as given in the previous Ex-Champing article?

20. ... gxf5  21. Qh5 Nc6  22. Bxf5 Qg8

Preventing mate on h7, White cannot increase the pressure without reinforcements.

23. c3 Be5  24. Bh6 Qf7  25. Qxf7 Rxf7  26. Rf1 Bg7  27. Bxg7+ Kxg7

Mutual desire that the middlegame should not continue is the reason for the recent liquidation.  White has the slightest of plusses, a bishop versus a knight with a pawn structure imbalance across the board.  Nowhere good enough to win by force, but as it stands presently Black needs to be a little more careful than White.

28. g4

At last, White in a position which needs good judgement makes a mistake.  This advance of the g-pawn only helps to create a target, though this is not at all obvious at the moment.  Instead 28. Rad1 was both good and easy to find.  Lesson: Play simple positions simply.  Now Black shows how an Elo 2295 player earns their rating points.

Observe how the forthcoming coordination of the remaining units maximises their potential.  White in contrast just shuffles until a serious problem emerges.

28. ... Re8  29. Rad1 Rd8  30. Rf2 Ne7  31. Be6 Rxf2  32. Kxf2 d5  33. Kg3 Kf6  34. Re1 Rd6

Setting White a test, which arriving in self-imposed time-trouble, becomes a critical moment in the game.

35. Bf5

White must lose a pawn somewhere but perhaps this is the worse option?  Instead 35. g5+ Kxg5 36. Bh3 keeps the minor pieces on which would give White better chances of salvaging something from the game.

35. ... Nxf5+  36. gxf5 Kxf5  37. Kf3 d4  38. cxd4 cxd4  39. Rd1 Ke5  40. Ke2 Rh6

Time-control reached, no adjournment, 16 moves per hour to the end of the game without external expert advice on how to play.  Black is a central passed pawn up which when combined with every piece being better than the white equivalent must surely mean Black is winning?  If so then White can only drag matters out by making it difficult for Black to progress.

41. Rh1 Ke4

There must be several ways for Black to handle this position.  A different approach is to squeeze White with 41. ... Rh3 which keeps the h1 rook inactive, a much easier game to play.  Black then places a pawn on h4 followed by marching the king towards g2 dislodging the white h1 rook.  After the white h2 pawn falls the black h4 pawn will quickly cost White a rook.  White can stop all this by immediately marching the king to g2, but Black then has Rd3 with Rd2+ to be neutralised.

42. Kd2 d3  43. h4 Rc6

With the chance to squeeze the kingside gone, Black instead tries for activity with the rook.  Fine, but in turn the white rook now gets activity as well, threats at both ends of the board must be calculated by each player, hard work ahead now.

44. Re1+ Kd4  45. Re7 Rc2+  46. Kd1 Rxb2  47. Rxh7 b5  48. a3 Rh2

Significant changes have occurred.  White has an active 7th rank rook plus an outside passed h-pawn, fine, but this has virtually zero chance of promotion.  Black can walk the king to capture the white a-pawn at the cost of the d-pawn creating connected passed pawns, very favourable.  How should each player proceed?  White needs to get the h-pawn as far as possible up the board, this is to tie down the black rook to defensive duties.  Black should get the king in front of the queenside pawns to find shelter from persistent checks by the white 7th rank rook.  Conclusion: Fritz and friends could casually crunch this to either a draw or a black win.  Humans can analyse so far and then must rely on judgement based on knowledge plus experience to reach a decision.  Your annotator classifies this as an “Optimists’ Draw/Black Win”, which translates to:  If I am White there might be a grovel-out line, it just requires perspiration plus inspiration to find it.  If I am Black the same work ethos will bring in the full point.  Both “Optimists” opinions cannot be correct, someone is going to be disappointed.

49. h5 a5  50. h6 Kc3

Creating a back-rank mate threat, white has no choice but to concede material.

51. Rc7+

Defensive shuffling fails as after 51. Ke1 d2+ 52. Kd1 Rh1+ 53. Ke2 d1=Q+ Black wins.

51. ... Kb3  52. h7 Kxa3  53. Rc3+ Kb4  54. Rxd3 Rxh7

Black is now winning by force, it just requires the correct technique, not easy to invent at the board and remember this game must be about 6.5 hours old.  White can only make it awkward for Black to advance the queenside pawns and hope Black makes a mistake.

55. Kc1 a4

Right idea.  It is the edge pawn that should be advanced first, this gives a square of shelter for the king on the edge file to the side of the inner pawn.

56. Kb1 Rh1+  57. Ka2 Rh2+  58. Ka1 Kc4  59. Rg3 Rd2

Strongly hinting Black knows how to force the win.  The attack plan is to place pawns on a3 and b3 which threatens a back rank mate.  Having the rook on the d-file means any defensive rook checks along the ranks can be blocked by the attacking rook.  There needs to be some dancing around with the attacking king and rook to win, the overall aim is to force a trade of rooks on the defensive back rank.  This requires some precise knowledge, it is extremely unlikely to be invented at the board.  Sometimes you need to call on home study to achieve the aim.  Same old story: "Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail."

60. Rh3 b4  61. Rg3 a3  62. Rg8

Not the best way to defend, but as previously stated, this is a forced win for the attack, all the defence can do is be annoying.  And since the attacking king is to be hit from the rear, it needs to block the annoyances with the rook, fairly easy.  Next play pawn b3 setting up a back rank mate threat which forces the white rook back into a passive posture.

62. ... Kb3  63. Rg3+ Kc2  64. Ka2 Rd3  65. Rg2+ Kc3  66. Rg8 Rd2+  67. Ka1 b3  68. Rc8+ Kd3  69. Rd8+ Kc2

70. Rc8+ Kd1  71. Rc3 1/2-1/2

After about 7.5 hours unbroken play it seems tiredness might have come to the rescue of White.  Both players believe White has snatched a draw, the analysis runs:

(A). 71. ... Rb2 if White had no rook this would be stalemate 72. Rc1+ Kxc1 stalemate should not happen, the black king must not capture under any circumstances.

(B). 71. ... Rb2 72. Rc1+ Kd2 the black king runs away but 73. Rd1+ Kc3 74. Rd3+ Kc4 75. Rd4+ Kc5 76. Rc4+ and White just keeps giving checks across the width of the 4th rank.

(C). 71. ... Rb2 72. Rc1+ Ke2 73. Re1+ Kf3 74. Re3+ Kg2 75. Rg3+ Kh1 76. Rg1+ Kh2 77. Rh1+ and so on.

A different approach from Black is clearly required.

(D). 71. ... b2+ 72. Kb1 and Black is losing the a-pawn which clearly both tired players assessed as drawn.

Incorrect judgement, Black has 72. ... a2+ 73. Kxa2 Rc2 and White dare not trade rooks, so 74. Rb3 Kc1 which crushes White.  If now 75. Rb8 keeping a double-control on the b1 promotion square, there comes 75. ... b1=Q+ which is a double check so 76. Ka3 Ra2+ mate is the shock line both tired players missed.

Gerry’s Chess Career: My First BCA Championship

Gerry Walsh writes:

So when Hastings finished I returned home thinking that was another chess tournament to add to my CV and I wouldn’t hear from the BCA again for some time, if ever.  How wrong can you be!  Before the end of the year I had a phone call from maybe Jack Horrocks or Sean O’Brien explaining a problem for the BCA.  The person who had been controlling BCA championships for a number of years had suddenly resigned.  He thought he should have been chief arbiter at Hastings and would not even consider being an assistant to Harry Golombek.

The next BCA Championship was booked for the Summer of 1983 in Doncaster College and an arbiter needed to be appointed rather quickly.  So, I agreed to do the event.   

We all seemed to arrive at lunchtime on the Saturday and were allocated our rooms in the residential blocks.  After dinner we ventured to the playing room for round one of seven.  As I recall, it went well.  However, with just one game left I was faced with a delegation of players whose games had finished.  They were protesting that the bar was not open.  I stressed that, although I had a lot of sympathy with their plight, my immediate priority was the Championship.  When the last game concluded I turned my attention to the bar and it was indeed shut.  There was no sign of it opening any time soon as it was turned 10pm.  I decided that my best option was to go in search of a pub and get some cans.

The College was very much on the outskirts of Doncaster thus there were no shops or pubs in the vicinity.  So off I went driving through the dark lanes of the Doncaster countryside until, lo and behold, I come across an oasis with lots of lights and music and of course alcohol.  It was nearly 10.30 pm and that was the normal time for pubs to close their doors, but I managed to park up and get to the counter to be served.  “What would you like?”, asked the barman.

My reply shook him just a bit.  “A hundred cans to take away, please!”  He sent for the boss, who questioned my sanity.  “Look,” I said to him, “I have forty blind chess players up at the college dying of thirst because some lunatic has not opened our bar.”

A call came from the end of the bar, “Don’t you call me a lunatic!”  He went on to explain that he was the barman in question and told me we would get our bar on the Sunday and rest of the week.  “That’s fine then but what about tonight?”  The boss said he didn’t have a hundred cans, only bottles.  “That will do!” I said.  I loaded four crates of 24 bottles into the boot of my car then drove back down the lanes and into the college grounds, where my headlights picked out the BCA membership who were thinking maybe I had deserted them.

Then I tell the troops that there were no cans only bottles, but never mind I recall that my belt doubled up as a bottle opener and all was well.  Each and every bottle was consumed and the next morning I took the empties back so I could retrieve my £80 deposit.  Henceforth the bar was open and we were entertained to some rather fabulous jazz from a group of young musicians.  I invite Stan to comment further.

The championship continued throughout the week and Bill Armstrong, playing in his first BCA event, came out the winner.  After that, BCA Championships became a regular feature on my calendar, taking place every two years. 

I have gone back to Hastings 1982 for a game, and it is by Michael Keane from Ireland.  I think there were four or five people with Michael.  One night I heard them in the bar having a heated discussion about the quality of cigars in Hastings.  The car driver had spent some time scouring Hastings for a decent tobacconist but to no avail and Michael was not impressed.  I then heard him say “There must be a supply of decent cigars because the lady who served my tea gave me an excellent cigar during the game!’’  In those days players were able to smoke at the board.  The lady serving the tea was actually my mother.  When she asked Michael what he wanted he requested a jug of cold water with ice, a cup of tea and a decent cigar, “if there is such a thing in this godforsaken town”.  Mam was able to get the first two items and came to me for the third because in those days I was a cigar smoker.  I watched as Mam delivered the water and the tea and saw Michael’s sad face, thinking there was no cigar.  After a pause, Mam put the cigar into his hand and a big smile resulted.  So, to calm down the discussion in the bar I handed over another cigar and told the driver where the tobacconist was on the outskirts of Hastings.

Free (New Zealand) v Keane (Ireland) French

1 e4 e6, 2 d4 d5, 3 Nc3 Bb4, 4 Bd2 dxe4, 5 Qg4 Qxd4, 6 0-0-0 Nf6, 7 Qxg7 Rg8, 8 Qh6 Rg6, 9 Qh4 Rg4,

10 Qh6 Qxf2, 11 Bg5 Bxc3, 12 bxc3 Nbd7, 13 Nh3 Qf5, 14 Be2 Rxg2, 15 Rdf1 Qe5, 16 Bxf6 Nxf6,

17 Qxf6 Qxf6, 18 Rxf6 Rxe2, 19 Ng5 e3, 20 Nxf7 Rf2, 21 Rxf2 exf2, 22 Ne5 Bd7, 23 Rf1 Ke7, 24 Rxf2 Be8,

25 Rf4 Bg6, 26 Nc4 Rf8, 27 Rh4 Rf2, 28 Nd2 e5, 29 Kd1 Ke6, 30 c4 c5, 31 c3 b6, 32 a3 Kf6, 33 Rh3 Bf5,

34 Rh6+ Kg5, 35 Rc6 Bg4+, 36 Ke1 Re2+, 37 Kd1 Rxh2+, 38 Ke1 Rh6, 39 Rd6 Rxd6, White resigns    

Gray Matter Test

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

February 2022 Puzzle

Jon Hammer vs Magnus Carlsen, Halkidiki, 2003


White: King h1, Queen d1, Rooks a1 and e1, Bishop e3, Knight b3, Pawns a2, b2, c3, f2, g2 and g4.

Black: King g8, Queen b5, Rooks e4 and f8, Bishop g7, Knight e2, Pawns a7, b7, c7, d6, f7, g6 and h7

Black mates in 2 moves. 

Solution:  ... Qh5+ 

May 2022 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Nurlan Ibraev, Calvia, 2004


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

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

Find White’s winning move!  

The solution will appear in the August gazette.

A Debut Novel!

Congratulations to Alec Crombie, who has published his debut novel, "Become the Wind"!

Part of the Publisher's review reads, “Literature is packed with impressions of blindness, whether graphic or symbolic.  A handful of enduring characters has enriched our understanding and entertainment, yet most have been ill-informed or poorly imagined.  In many cases the character has been used to oil the mechanism of a wider plot, rendering the characterisation incidental.  What Alexander Crombie aims at in his debut novel, Become the Wind, is the inside story.  With the help of an engaging cast of characters, he succeeds in fusing pathos and insight with episodes of high drama, but without lecturing the Reader.  This after all is a novel with the imperative to turn the page!  For entertainment value alone, it is a must read.”

Alec told me that chess is a theme in the book and the BCA gets a mention!  What's more, Alec has very kindly said that if his book sells, he will offer the BCA a donation based on earnings.

"Become The Wind", by Alexander Crombie is available in digital form, priced £2.66.

A paperback version is also available from TSL Publications, priced £9.75. 

I’m part way through reading the book on my tablet and am enjoying it very much.  Please join me in wishing Alec every success with his book!

Julie Leonard


First there are some sad announcements.

Roy Scott, the husband of our former fundraiser, Julia, passed away on the 2nd of March, aged 82.  He was a tremendous support to Julia while she was working for the BCA, especially in latter years when Julia’s health began to decline.  We all have reason to be grateful to him.  A card has been sent to Julia and the family on behalf of the BCA.

Ludwig Beutelhoff, a German chess friend, died on Sunday 27th March, aged 74.  Ludwig worked hard to promote chess for blind people.  He was Chairman of the German BCA from 1998 to 2011 and he served as IBCA President from 2005 to 2017.  He came to Durham when the UK hosted the IBCA European Championships in 2007.  He also played in the Six Nations event quite a few times.  Messages of condolence have been sent to his widow, Christine. 

Now on to happier news.

Firstly, belated congratulations to Alec and Caroline Crombie on reaching their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the 8th of April.  We hope you had a wonderful time marking the occasion!  When asked for a quote for the gazette, Alec said, “Caroline and I met at evening class.  Caroline and her mother closed in on either side of me - I didn't stand a chance - I'm glad to say!  And we were married within six months, the joyful outcome, daughter Sarah and sons Duncan and Hamish.  Life has been a whirl ever since, though Caroline has still not had time to learn to play Chess!”

Finally, Denis Warren will be ninety years young on the 28th of July!  Denis, your many BCA friends send congratulations and best wishes for your big day.  Have a lovely time celebrating!