The Gazette

February 2024


Registered Charity Number 263049



Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People.


BCA Website Address:



User Group Email Address: (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.



Honorary Members

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



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





Editorial 3

Forthcoming Events. 4

All Under One Roof 5

Treasurer’s Report 6

Membership Secretary’s Report 7

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery. 7

Hotel Hunters. 7

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition. 7

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report 8

How Good is Your Chess?. 8

IBCA World Individual Chess Championship 2023. 9

19th BCA Email Tournament 13

2023 International Autumn Tournament 14

An Irresistible Attraction! 17

Castle Chess 22nd Fareham Congress, 13th to 15th October 2023. 18

Letters to the Editor 18

ECF Ratings. 19

Personalia. 20

Puzzle from Mark. 21

RIP Julia Scott 21

Tribute to Julia Scott 22




Regular readers of the gazette will be unsurprised that my theme for this editorial is the Chinese New Year, which starts on the 10th of February and is the Year of the Dragon, the mightiest beast in the Chinese zodiac!  It is highly revered as it symbolises nobility, honour, luck and success.  Mythology tells how Dragons can control wind and rain as they soar through the skies.  They aid farmers by bringing fine weather, plentiful harvests and prosperity.

By contrast, in many western traditions, dragons are evil and ferocious.  Legends even celebrate slaying dragons, St. George style, as depicted on the George Cross medal that features on the state flag of Malta.

Wales, on the other hand, proudly displays a magnificent red dragon on its flag.  The dragon symbol is ancient and has been used as a symbol of strength in Britain down the ages.  Early Britons carried it into battle against the Romans, then the invaders took it for themselves.  In the 5th century, Welsh kings used a dragon emblem to show their authority, and later, Alfred the Great adopted it to represent Wessex as his army fended off the Vikings.  There was a dragon on the coat of arms of Henry VII and most other Tudor monarchs.  One thing they all seemed to have agreed on is that a dragon could help defeat your foe, or at the very least give them a good fright!

Chess players sometimes get a scare from the Sicilian Dragon, said to have been named because the pawn structure d6 e7 f7 g6 h7 resembles the spines on a dragon’s back.  Curiously, we also have the less common St. George Defence.  Those with far better chess brains than mine may debate which is more powerful!

In China, people born in a Dragon year are said to be courageous and daring.  In this issue you can read about two fearless members who took to the sky and flew (by plane, not dragon) to Greece to face fierce chess opposition!  Also, two members who have grasped the scale of the challenge we face in finding new venues have written about their adventures as they seek to help.  You can find out who’s clawing their way up the rating list too.

Famous Dragons include Charles Darwin, Bruce Lee and John Lennon.  From the chess world there is Alexander Alekhine, who was born on Halloween in the autumn of 1892.  In these pages you’ll find a report on our autumn tournament which tells how members attempted to outwit one another with monstrous attacks and serpent like cunning!  In Personalia there’s a message from a member who lives on an island where it is not dragons but the mountains that breathe fire!  Finally, we say farewell to a wonderful lady whose fundraising for the BCA was a roaring success and whose impact cannot be overstated.

Nowadays there is a red dragon on Somerset County Council's flag, but I would like to reassure members attending the Chess Theme Break that they are unlikely to encounter dragons in Weston-super-Mare.  My own favourite dragon is none of the above.  He’s a magic one called Puff, from the 1963 song by Peter, Paul and Mary!

The May issue deadline is the 31st of March.  The penalty for missing it is to be cast into a dragon’s lair!  (Smile!)

Julie Leonard

Forthcoming Events

Booking Conditions and Procedures

All bookings must be made through the named event organiser.  The organiser will confirm the amount to be paid to the BCA and will notify the Treasurer to expect this payment from the entrant.  Only when full payment has been received will the booking be complete.

When booking, please supply the organiser with the following:

1.     Name/names of everyone the booking is for.

2.     Dates of arrival and departure.

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

4.     If you will be bringing a guide dog.

5.     Any special dietary requirements.

6.     Any special requests: For example, a preference for bath or shower or a need for a walk-in shower; a preference to be near the lift or stairs; a need for support in case of a fire alarm at night.

7.     Consent for your name, dates booked, room type and any special requirements to be sent to the hotel.

8.     An emergency contact number.  This is important as otherwise it puts a great responsibility on the organiser if an emergency arises.  The organiser will keep this information confidential and destroy it after the event.

If you are taking part in the chess, please also give:

9.     Consent for your forename, surname, club, results and gender to be sent to the ECF for rating purposes.

10.  The section you would prefer to play in if you are under the rating limit for the Challengers.

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

The Treasurer will acknowledge receipt of your payment and let the organiser know.  You may pay in either of these ways:

Cheques payable to Braille Chess Association should be sent to the Treasurer.

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 you should inform the Treasurer when the payment has been made.

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

Bookings can only be cancelled and payments refunded within the time limit set in the conditions by the hotels.  Members may consider it advisable to take out holiday insurance to cover themselves.

The BCA reserves the right to exclude from its events anyone whose behaviour towards participants and tournament organisers was unacceptable or who is currently serving a time ban for cheating.

Friday 15th March to Sunday 17th March 2024:  AGM Weekend Chess Congress in Memory of Peter Gibbs

This will be held at The Hilton Leicester Hotel, Leicester. The AGM will take place at 20.15 on Saturday evening, 16th  March.  We shall also aim to enable members to join in via an online platform if they prefer.

This is a new hotel for the BCA and we are sure that members will find it very satisfactory. The hotel has a fitness centre and swimming pool. It is located about 4 or 5 miles from Leicester Railway Station and close to junction 21 of the M1 for anyone travelling by car. There is a lot of green space around the hotel which should make it very suitable for guide dog owners. It is also within easy walking distance of Fosse Park Shopping Centre.

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

Please state when booking which tournament you would like to enter – subject to eligibility.

Rooms will be available on the Friday afternoon from 15.00 with dinner that evening at 18.00.  Likely start times for the five games are 20.00 on the Friday evening, 09.45 and 14.00 on the Saturday and 09.45 and 14.00 on the Sunday, but these times might need to be changed depending on discussions with the hotel.  The rate of play is likely to be 90 minutes for each player for all moves. Any player can request a half point bye in any one of the first four rounds or a delay in the start of their game in round 1 of 30 minutes.

Any enquiries about the Hotel or the tournament should be sent to John Osborne or Phil Rafferty. Phil is happy to discuss any enquiries over the phone, but requests that you call from the early evening onwards, due to work commitments.

To enter, please send your accommodation requirements to John or Phil, with a copy to our Treasurer Gill Smith.  The closing date for entries is Friday 2nd February 2024.

The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast for members and associate members is £65 per person per night in a single room and £55 per person per night in a double or twin room. This is also the cost for those wishing to stay Sunday night.  For example, 3 nights in a single room is 3 times £65 and if playing chess, add the £10 entry fee, making £205.

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

Saturday 22nd June to Saturday 29th June 2024: BCA British Championship in Memory of Graham Lilley

This will take place at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.  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 event will be played over 7 rounds with one round each day.  Round 1 will be played on the Saturday evening (probably commencing about 7.00 PM), with subsequent rounds played Sunday to Friday during the day.  The rate of play will be all moves in two and a half hours per person.  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, with the Challengers’ section being limited to those whose grade or estimated grade is below 1450.  If it is only possible to hold one section, there will be separate prizes for those graded below 1450.  If a sufficient number of lady players enter and the majority of them are in favour of having a Ladies’ Championship, they will compete for the Julia Scott Trophy.

The cost of dinner, bed and breakfast to members and associate members of the BCA is £57 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast in a single room (£399 for the week), and £48 per person per night in a shared room (£336 for the week). Note that there is a car parking charge of £10 per day payable direct to the Hotel on arrival.

The closing date for bookings is 10th May 2024.  Bookings accepted after that date, at the discretion of the organiser, will be subject to a late booking fee of £10 per person. 

All enquiries and bookings should be sent to the organiser Steve Burnell.

All Under One Roof

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.  (See list of officers for Tony’s contact details.)  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.  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.

Guy Whitehouse has compiled the following list of mainstream tournaments that are “All Under One Roof” i.e. the accommodation and chess playing room are in the same hotel.

47th Blackpool Congress, 9th – 11th February 2024, Imperial Hotel, Blackpool.

There are five sections: the Lancashire Open, the Imperial Major U2050, the Intermediate U1850, the Minor U1700 and the Standard U1550.  For further details contact the Congress Director Bill O’Rourke.  Website

5th Simon Bartlett Memorial Congress, 1st – 3rd March 2024, The TLH Victoria Hotel, Torquay.

This is a five round Swiss with four sections: a FIDE rated Open, - and ECF U1975, U1750 and U1600.  Organiser John Constable.  

24th Castle Chess Fareham Congress, 15th – 17th March 2024, Lysses House Hotel, Fareham.

This is a six round Swiss in which a player can take two half-point byes.  The grading bands are an Open with a Premier U2001, a Major U1901 with an Intermediate U1701 and a Minor U1601 with a Challengers U1401.  For more details contact Mark Shaw or Tony Corfe.

2nd FIDE-rated 4NCL Easter Congress, 15th – 18th April 2024, Mercure Daventry Court Hotel, Daventry.

This is a seven round Swiss with three sections based on FIDE ratings: an Open, a U2000 and a U1700.  For further details contact Mike Truran.

Dorset Centenary Congress, 19th – 21st April 2024, Bournemouth Carlton Hotel, Bournemouth.

This is a five round Swiss with four sections: an Open, a Major U1900, an Intermediate U1700 and a Minor U1500.  Contact Ian Clark for further details.

4th Cornwall Spring Congress, 3rd – 5th May 2024, Falmouth Hotel, Castle Beach, Falmouth.

This is a five round seeded Swiss with three sections: an Open, a U1900 and a U1600. Email the tournament organisers Colin and Rebecca Gardiner for an entry form.

Treasurer’s Report

Since the last Gazette our fundraiser, Carl Concannon, has helped us to raise £9,750.  We are very grateful to him.

If you are shopping online, please consider using 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. 

The year-end accounts for 2022 to 2023 are with the accountants for the annual independent examination of accounts.  By the time you read this I expect their review to have been completed.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Membership Secretary’s Report

Two new members have joined this quarter.  Mahmood Kahn from Llandudno has joined as a life member and Stephen Pendleton from Hoo, Kent has joined for five years.  Anton Emery and Malcolm Jones have now become life members.  This is extremely good value at only 50 pounds.  At the upcoming 2024 AGM I will be stepping down as Membership Secretary, although I will still be assisting my replacement by undertaking the task of updating the membership spreadsheet which is tricky even for someone with computer experience.

Mark Hague

Millennium Club, the BCA’s monthly lottery

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

Recent Millennium Club winners:

October: Moira Whittle, number 20.

November: Chris Ross, number 10.

December: Mike Murphy, number 24.

Gill Smith, Treasurer

Hotel Hunters

John Osborne writes:

In my first article Phil and I were just leaving the hotel in Reading, which we found was not suitable for a chess tournament.  Phil kindly treated me to lunch and we then set off to the station and suddenly my guide dog, Vixen, decided to poo on the pavement.  Phil kindly helped me to pick this up but within seconds a lady from a local shop (who had a personality like Mrs Thatcher) ran out of her shop to tell us that we had missed a bit!  Phil popped on his glasses and was able to find a tiny morsel of poo the size of a pea!  How she saw that from inside her shop, we will never know.  This was now the icing on the cake and Vixen had made a statement that Reading would not be suitable for a tournament.  We than found a book shop and enjoyed some leisure time before catching the train back to London.

What next?  Phil had some links in Leeds but we felt that this might be too far north.  Shortly after, someone recommended Bristol.  I chose a hotel in central Bristol and had a very good call.  The welcome on the phone was first class and there were two potential hotels that would be available.  When the gentleman suggested that Phil and I could come and sample the menus, this sounded very appealing!  After closer scrutiny I discovered that one of the hotels was about to have extensive redevelopment.  Also, again there were no good facilities for the guide dogs.  On the other side of Bristol at the other hotel there was availability but only an underground car park where dogs could go to the loo.  Also, I was told that it was a rather insalubrious area!  That certainly did not sound right for our members.  With regret I decided to move on to a new area but feel that this city could indeed perhaps host a chess tournament in the future.

Shortly after this I was invited to a birthday party in Lichfield.  I stayed at the Hedgehog Hotel, which was lovely but too small for a tournament.  However, I really liked the area which was classy and delightful.  It did have a Harrogate feel about it and would be a good place to go.  A beautiful cathedral sitting behind the river and a very nice town.  To be continued.

David Hodgkins Memorial Annual Best Game Competition

As last year drew to a close, our judge, Norman Andrews, was still considering which game to declare our best one of 2023!  Norman is planning to announce the winner at the 2024 AGM Weekend in Leicester and the game will be published in the May 2024 gazette.

Each year we ask a someone new to judge the Best Game Competition and I’m delighted to say that Norman Wragg has accepted the challenge of being our judge for 2024!

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 2024.  Any eligible games that are published in the gazette are automatically entered.  Other games can be sent to Norman either directly or via a committee member.  The 2024 competition is open!

Julie Leonard

Correspondence Chess Director’s Report

Paul Benson writes:

The BCA Correspondence League 2024-25 has started with an increase in participants compared to the previous cycle.


Premier - Group Leader Paul Benson

Phillips 1 - 0 Crombie, English Opening, 36.

Scores: Philip Doyle 3-4, George Phillips 2.5-3, Alec Crombie 2-4, Guy Whitehouse 1-3, Malcolm Jones 0.5-4.

Challengers - Group Leader Paul Benson

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

BCA LEAGUE 2024-25

Division 1 - Group Leader Paul Benson

Players: Glenn Crawford, Alec Crombie, Voldi Gailans, Malcolm Jones, George Phillips, all 0-0.

Division 2 - Group Leader Paul Benson

Players: Marilyn Bland, Maria Dod, Mike Flood, Eric Gallacher, Eleanor Tew, all 0-0.

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

How Good is Your Chess?

Gerry Walsh’s monthly “How Good Is Your Chess?” training, held over Zoom, continues to grow in popularity!  In these sessions students are taken through the opening moves of a game and then asked to predict the succeeding moves for one side or the other.  Points are given to those who guess correctly, and sometimes fewer points are given for other moves.  Recordings of recent sessions are available for anyone interested in finding out about this type of training.  I highly recommend these sessions to players of all standards!

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 suggesting moves at each stage of the game.  There is no criticism of individuals' suggestions, and anyone is free to suggest any possible move.

At the end of each month, I will send a note to the user group, reminding everyone of the next session and asking for names of those interested in taking part in the next session.  (Please email the Gazette Editor or Audio Librarian if you have not yet joined the user group and would like to do so.)  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.

Voldi Gailans


A very high scoring session was run on the 27th of October and the group had the pleasure of welcoming Malcolm Jones for the first time.  Nene Clayton got a massive score of 32!  Mark Hague was just behind her on 30.  Lea Ryan and Voldi Gailans notched up 26 points apiece, Abi Baker and Gill Smith finished on 23, with Richard Harrington just behind them on 22, then Eleanor Tew with 14 and Malcolm Jones with 12.

On the 29th of November, the game under scrutiny was an excellent demonstration of how white can play against the Benko Gambit.  Abi Baker got the highest score of 19, very closely followed by Mark Hague on 18, Lea Ryan on 17 and Nene Clayton on 16.  Richard Harrington scored 12 and Gill Smith 8. 

On the 27th of December Steve Bailey was welcomed for his first session, which he very much enjoyed.  Mark Hague scored 22, Gill Smith got 16, with Nene Clayton and Richard Harrington just behind her on 15, followed by Steve Bailey on 14, then Abi Baker, Eleanor Tew and Voldi Gailans on 13.

Well done everybody!

Editor’s note: Grateful thanks to Mark Hague and Gerry Walsh for supplying information about recent sessions.

IBCA World Individual Chess Championship 2023

Gary Hogan writes:

A few months after surprisingly finishing joint second with Steve Burnell in my first tournament in Harrogate, I received an email inviting me to represent the BCA at the World Championships in Rhodes.  I obviously jumped at the chance!  Although nervous, I was determined to do everything I could to improve and to represent the BCA in the best way possible.

Owen Phillips offered to be my coach and I eagerly accepted.  We had had a really interesting draw in Harrogate, where Owen had won the tournament, and I was looking forward to learning all I could from him.  Owen was a very keen coach and we were in contact almost every day.  I also played a lot of puzzles on and watched YouTube videos from Gotham Chess and John Bartholomew.  I entered a rapid play tournament in Greater Manchester but it was a bit too much too soon.  I scored a draw and five losses from six games and learned that I had to be mentally tougher.  I wasn't treating each game in isolation so one loss would lead to another.  But it was a good learning experience and I felt I had prepared as well as I could before the tournament.

Owen invited me to stay at his home in London the night before flying to Rhodes and his wife Nathalie cooked a delicious meal.  The journey was pleasant until we got to Rhodes and Owen’s bag didn't arrive!  Trying to register the baggage as lost was quite chaotic but it eventually arrived two days later.  Luckily Owen had been organised enough to pack spare clothes and essentials in his hand luggage.  The hotel was 5 star and on arrival we found out that we would be all inclusive thanks to the Greek chess authorities!  However, we didn't take full advantage of the cocktails until the closing ceremony.

My first game was against a very strong Spanish opponent.  I played the London and lost a pawn early on, followed by another.  I think I was slightly outclassed by a player who Owen thought was underrated.  My second game was against a player from Moldova.  I played a Benoni which was equal until I made a blunder which lost a whole rook and after that I couldn't recover.  I couldn't get away with lapses in concentration like that at this level.

Round 3: Gary Hogan v Jeroen Makkinje (Netherlands)

1. d4 Nf6  2. Bf4 e6  3. e3 d5  4. Nd2 c5  5. c3 Nc6  6. Ngf3 c4

This restricted my space and I was a bit suffocated.  In the past I had dealt with this move straight away by playing b3 but during this championship I decided to get my king to safety before opening up the position.  This meant putting my bishop on e2 rather than the preferred d3.

7. Be2 Bd6  8. Ne5 Bxe5  9. Bxe5 Nxe5  10. dxe5 Nd7  11. Nf3 O-O  12. O-O f6  13. exf6 Qxf6  14. Qc2 Nc5

15. Nd2 e5  16. b3 Bf5  17. e4 Nxe4  18. Bf3 Nxd2

I felt I was under a lot of pressure but saw an intermezzo check to gain a pawn before recapturing the knight.

19. Bxd5+ Kh8  20. Qxd2 cxb3  21. axb3 Rab8  22. Rxa7  Now I just had to try to keep the position together.

22. … Qb6  23. Ra3 Be6  24. c4 Rfd8  25. Rd1 Rd7  26. b4 Rbd8  27. Rd3 Bxd5  28. cxd5 Qb5  29. d6 Qc6

30. Rd5 e4  31. b5 Qc4  32. Qd4 Qc2  33. Qd2 Qb3  34. Qd4 Qc2  35. b6 Rf8  36. Qd2 Qc6  37. Qd4 Qc2

38. Qe3 Rfd8  39. h3 Qc6  40. Qd4 Re8  41. Re5 Rxe5  42. Qxe5 h6  43. Kh2 Qxb6  44. Qe8+ Kh7  

45. Qxd7 Resigns.

Round 4:  Josef Polnar (Czech Republic) v Gary Hogan

1. d4 c5  2. e3 cxd4  3. exd4  A Benoni defence with an early exchange on d4.

3. … Nf6  4. Nf3 g6  5. Be2 Bg7  6. O-O O-O  7. Be3 b6  8. c3 Bb7  9. Nbd2 d6  10. h3 Nbd7  11. Re1 e5

12. dxe5 dxe5  13. Bg5 Qc7  14. Bb5 Rfe8  15. Qe2 e4  16. Nd4 a6  17. Bxd7 Qxd7  18. Bxf6 Bxf6

19. N2b3 Rad8  20. Qe3 Be5

With my bishops on long diagonals pointing at my opponent’s king I felt I was on top.  My pawn on e4 was getting in the way but if I could just move the queen and push the pawn, the position would open up to my advantage.  However, I overlooked a pawn as my mind was focused on the attack.

21. Ne2 Qc7  22. Rad1 Qc4  23. Rxd8 Rxd8  24. Qxb6 Qd5  25. Qe3 Bc7  26. g3 Qf5  27. Qc5 Qd7  28. Kh2 Bc8

29. Ng1 Bd6  30. Qe3 Bb7  31. Nd4 Bc5  32. Nge2 Bc8  33. Rh1 Bb7  34. a3 Qd5  35. b4 Ba7  36. a4 Rc8

37. Rc1 Kg7  38. a5 Rc7  39. h4 Bc8  40. Kg1 Bg4  41. Nf4 Bxd4  42. Nxd5 Bxe3  43. Nxe3 Bd7

When my attack fizzled out, my opponent was a pawn up and pushed his pawn majority to win the game.

44. Kf1 Bb5+  45. c4 Ba4  46. Ke2 f5  47. Nd5 Rc6  48. Ke3 Bb3  49. Kd4 Kf7  50. Rc3 Ba2  51. b5 axb5

52. cxb5 Rd6  53. Rc7+ Ke8  54. Re7+ Kd8  55. Re5 Kc8  56. Kc5 Rxd5+  57. Rxd5 Bxd5  58. Kxd5 Kb7

59. Ke5 Resigns

From this game I learned that even when attacking I must still guard pawns that may appear insignificant at the time but ultimately can win the game.

Round 5:  Gary Hogan v Ikromalieva Sabokhat (Uzbekistan)

1. d4 c5  Another Benoni!  This time as white.

2. d5 e5  3. c4  Previously I had played Nc3 before playing c4 and brought my bishop to either e2 or d3.  On this occasion however, I followed Owen’s advice to play c4 before Nc3 and to fianchetto my bishop on g2 so that it is well placed for when the position eventually opens up after an f4 pawn break.

3. … d6  4. Nc3 Nf6  5. e4 Be7  6. g3 Nbd7  7. Bg2 Nb6  8. b3 O-O  9. Nge2 Bd7  10. O-O Kh8  11. f4 exf4

12. Nxf4 Ng4  13. h3 Ne5  14. Qe2 f5

I had remembered opening principles and thought I didn’t have enough influence in the centre so I activated my bishop on b2.

15. Bb2 Qc8

After the opening I found myself in a decent position but my opponent had a strong knight on e5 and I was struggling to dislodge it.

16. Kh2 Rf6  17. Nd1 fxe4  18. Qxe4 Rh6  19. Nf2 Bf5  20. Qe3 Bf6  21. Qe2 Qd7

I continued to increase my influence in the centre.

22. Rae1 Re8  23. Qd2 g5  24. Ne2 Qg7  25. Rh1 Nf3+  I felt like I was defending for my life!

26. Bxf3 Bxb2  27. Nd4 Rxe1  28. Rxe1 Qxd4

My rook is in a strong position and my opponent is vulnerable on the back rank.  I needed to infiltrate and hunt down the enemy king, while ensuring that I was safe from checks.

29. Re8+ Kg7  30. Qxg5+ Bg6  31. Ng4 Rh5  32. Qe7+ Bf7  33. Qf8+ Kg6  34. Qxd6+ Kg5  35. Re5+ Qxe5

36. Nxe5 Bxe5  37. Qxe5+ Kh6  38. Bxh5 Bxh5  39. Qf6+ Bg6  40. Qf8+ Kh5  41. Qf4 Nd7  42. h4

My opponent resigned just before mate.


Round 6: Jan Boer (Netherlands) v Gary Hogan

1. d4 Nf6  2. c4 c5  3. d5 g6  4. Nc3 Bg7  5. e4 d6  6. Be2 O-O  7. f4 e6  8. Nf3 exd5

From previous study, Owen and I were aware that in a King's Indian set up, my opponent liked to play e5 on move 9 rather than take on d5.  We’d played through a few positions before the game and things went roughly to plan.

9. e5 dxe5  10. fxe5 Ng4  11. Bg5 Qa5  12. Nd2  This was unexpected.  I could see he might attack my queen next but felt there were plenty of squares to retreat to if that happened.

12. … Nxe5  13. Nb3

I think I took about 30 mins for the next move as I was thinking my queen was trapped.  I was trying to work out a way in which I wouldn't lose material but it seemed inevitable I would lose something.  The plan I devised would have me lose a knight and have a losing position, however, I managed to get a check in to force my opponent to move his king and lose the right to castle.  This meant that even though I was a knight down, his rook was still ineffective on h1 for a while. 

13. … Qa6  14. Nxd5 Bf5  15. Nxc5 Qa5+  16. b4 Qa3  17. Bc1 Nd3+  18. Bxd3 Bc3+  19. Kf1 Bb2  

20. Bxb2 Qxb2  21. Bxf5 gxf5  22. Ne7+ Kh8  23. Nxf5 Nc6  

I felt I had to get my pieces out quickly and attack to have any chance. 

24. Nd3 Qf6  25. g4 Rad8  26. Rb1 Nd4  27. b5 Nxf5  28. Qf3 Draw agreed

My opponent hadn't seen the threat and from nowhere I was suddenly in a much better position.  I worked out I would be a piece up!  However, I only had 6 minutes left on the clock and my opponent offered me a draw.  I think I was looking at the game as a whole instead of assessing the current position and for most of the game I had been losing so a draw seemed like a good result, especially considering how little time I had left.  I took the draw.

Five minutes later when going up to my room, I thought “What have I done?”.  I feel I should have carried on and pressed for the win.  It wasn't certain but I was in a good position.  I will put that down to inexperience.  (My first OTB game was in Feb 2023).

Round 7: Gary Hogan v Miroslav Madjeric (Croatia)

1. d4 d5  2. Bf4 c6  3. e3 Bf5  4. c4 e6

The London System.  My opponent’s bishop is outside the pawn chain and I thought I would go for the weak b7 pawn with my queen.

5. Qb3 Qb6

Black offered an exchange of queens to defend his pawn but I knew that in these positions it's advantageous to make your opponent initiate the trade so I pushed c5 more or less forcing it.

6. c5 Qxb3  7. axb3 Nd7  8. Nc3 Ngf6

On these occasions the “London Bishop” on f4 becomes very strong.  I created a retreat for my bishop, if required, and pushed the b-pawn.  I became aware of this type of play only a few months ago, when I played a friendly against one of our best players on a normal club night in Witney.  I played as black and he absolutely strangled me.  I couldn't move any of my pieces!  Afterwards he explained how to play the position and I went straight home to study it.  This was how I played my round 7 game.

9. h3 Be7  10. Nf3 O-O  11. b4 Ne4  12. Nxe4 Bxe4  13. Nd2 Nf6  14. b5 h6  15. bxc6 bxc6  16. Ba6 Rac8

Black blundered the exchange in an already weak position.  A White win was only a matter of time and focus.

17. Bxc8 Rxc8  18. O-O Bd3  19. Rfd1 a6  20. Ra3 Be2  21. Re1 Bb5  22. Nb1 g5  23. Bh2 Bd8  24. Nc3 Bc4

25. b3 Bd3  26. Rd1 Bb5  27. Nxb5 axb5  28. Rda1 Ne4  29. Ra8 Resigns

I was feeling confident after this game.

Round 8: Ari Tonteri (Finland) v Gary Hogan

1. e4 c6  2. d4 d5  3. Nc3 dxe4  4. Nxe4 Nf6  

I thought my opponent might play e4 and I had been studying the Caro Kann the night before and most of the morning.  I was thinking it may turn into a Panov attack or a Tartakower defence.

5. Qd3  I have played against this before and felt that my only real option was to trade knights, queens then bishops.  Anything else seemed like giving my opponent an advantage.

5. … Nxe4  6. Qxe4 Qd5  7. Bd3 Qxe4+  8. Bxe4 Be6  9. Nf3 Bd5  10. Bxd5 cxd5  11. Bf4 Nc6  12. O-O-O e6

13. Rhe1 Be7  14. Kb1 O-O  15. Re3 Rac8  16. Rb3 b6  17. Re3 b5  18. h4 h5  19. Ree1 Bf6  20. Bg5 Bxg5

21. hxg5 g6  22. Ne5 Nxe5  23. dxe5 Rc4  

Trying to get an advantage in the endgame, I focused on taking a Black kingside pawn and it became a pawn race.

24. Rd3 Kg7  25. g3 Rg4  26. f4 Rh8  27. Rf1 Rc8  28. a3 Rc4  29. Re3 h4  30. b3 Rd4  31. gxh4 Rdxf4

I had less than two minutes for the last twenty moves and after four hours of play I was struggling to call out the moves in German, write them down, decide what I wanted to move and ensure I wasn't making a mistake.  This was my first OTB time scramble.  My heart was beating 100 mph and my hands were shaking!

32. Rxf4 Rxf4  33. Rh3 Re4  34. Rc3 Rxe5  35. Rc7 Rf5  36. Rxa7 e5  37. Rb7 e4  38. Kc1 d4  39. Rd7 e3

40. Kd1 Rf4  41. Ke2 Kf8  42. Ke1 Ke8  43. Rd5 Ke7  44. Rxb5 Kd6  45. a4 Rf2  46. Rb6+ Kc5  47. Rf6 Rxc2

48. Rxf7 d3

With two connected pawns on the third rank, protected by a rook, I was sure I was going to win but my nerves got the better of me.  Without thinking clearly, I pushed my pawns, calculating that, after promotion, my rook and new queen would be defending each other.  They weren't!

49. Kd1 e2+  50. Ke1 d2+  51. Kxe2 d1=Q+  52. Kxd1 Rb2  White wins

I was devastated.  A win would have put me on 4.5 points going into the last game and I threw it away.  In the end I thought that I can only learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again.  Costly lesson though!

Round 9: Anatolijus Novikovas (Lithuania) v Gary Hogan

My opponent had drawn with Vladyslav Kolpakov (2238) in round 1 so I knew that, on his day, he could be a really good player.  Owen and I decided I would play the Hippopotamus opening.  I hadn't even heard of it before the morning of the game but it is relatively simple to learn with clear plans and ideas, so I was happy to give it a go.  My opponent played the London System and once he had castled, I started moving my pawns and pieces towards his king.

1. Nf3 e6  2. d4 b6  3. Bf4 Bb7  4. e3 d6  5. Nbd2 Nd7  6. h3 Ne7  7. Bd3 g6  8. O-O Bg7  9. e4 h6  10. c3 g5

11. Bh2 Ng6  12. a4 a5  13. Nc4 Ba6  14. Qe2 O-O  15. Qd2 Nf6  16. Ne3 Bb7  17. Qc2 Nh5  18. Rfe1 Nhf4

19. Bf1 Qd7  20. Bxf4 Nxf4  21. g3 Ng6  22. Bg2 f5

I felt I had a better position and hoped to pile on the pressure.  I swapped off the bishop guarding his king.

23. exf5 exf5  24. Nd2 Bxg2  25. Kxg2 Rf6  26. Kh2 f4 

Trying to open White’s defences.  In retrospect I think I should have moved some more pieces closer to the action before pushing this pawn, as ultimately what looked like a good attack after taking on g3 lost its potency after I was forced to swap both rooks on the f file.

27. Ng4 fxg3+  28. fxg3 Rf5  29. Rf1 Raf8  30. Rxf5 Rxf5  31. Rf1 Rxf1  32. Nxf1 Qf7  33. Nge3 c5  34. Nf5 Bf8

35. N1e3 Qe6  Draw agreed

The position was quite equal, although I would say my opponent's pieces were more active.  I offered a draw and my opponent accepted so I finished on four points from nine games.

Looking back at my performance I am proud of what I achieved.  I let my inexperience show on at least three occasions and I hope I won't be making those kinds of mistakes in the future.  I really enjoyed my time in Greece.  The tournament organisers, hotel staff and other competitors contributed greatly to an amazing experience.  Finally, I would like to thank Owen Phillips who taught me so much during my time out there.  He was also terrific company, and we had a great time away from the chess board, especially during the closing ceremony when we could relax with a few well-earned Cuba Libres.

19th BCA Email Tournament

Philip Doyle and Eamonn Casey write:

Our 19th BCA Email tournament has drawn to a conclusion.  Congratulations to the winners of all four divisions, and especially our Division 1 champion, Bill Armstrong, who is the outright winner of the top division for the first time since he joined our number a few years back.  A special mention also for Phil Gordon, Anton Emery and Mike Flood, who all achieved perfect scores in their respective divisions.  We would like to commend the participants on the standard of the game scores sent to us.  This and the sporting nature of the tournament makes our task a lot easier.

Our next email tournament is due to commence on 1st March 2024, so look out for the announcement on the user group around the 2nd week of February.  Please spread the word among your chess playing BCA friends, as we are always on the lookout for new participants.  The results are below.

Division 1

Doyle beat Casey

Burnell beat Casey

Casey lost to Armstrong

Burnell beat Doyle

Armstrong drew with Doyle

Armstrong beat Burnell

Final standings:  Bill Armstrong 2.5, Steve Burnell 2, Philip Doyle 1.5, Eamonn Casey 0.

Division 2

Fullwood beat Jones

Gailans drew with Fullwood

Jones beat Gailans

Jones lost to Gordon

Gordon beat Gailans

Fullwood lost to Gordon

Final standings:  Phil Gordon 3, John Fullwood 1.5, Malcolm Jones 1, Voldi Gailans 0.5.

Division 3

Emery beat Ramm

Emery beat Elbourne

Elbourne lost to Ramm

Ramm lost to Bland

Bland drew with Elbourn

Bland lost to Emery

Final standings:  Anton Emery 3, Marilyn Bland 1.5, John Ramm 1, Tony Elbourne 0.5.

Division 4

Smith beat Harrington

Flood beat Smith

Harrington lost to Flood

Smith beat Lukwesa

Lukwesa lost to Flood

Lukwesa lost to Harrington

Final standings:  Mike Flood 3, Gill Smith 2, Richard Harrington 1, Lukwesa Matapo Kalumba 0.

Here’s a game sent in by Bill Armstrong.  He described it as having an opening novelty, plenty of tension throughout the game and some inventive play to achieve the endgame win!

Armstrong v Burnell, Division 1

1. e4 c6  2. e5 d5  3. h4 e6  4 d3 c5  5 Nc3 Ne7  6 Nf3 Nec6  7 Bf4 a6  8 d4 cxd4  9 Nxd4 Nxd4  10 Qxd4 Nc6

11 Qd2 Bb4  12 a3 Qa5  13. Ra2 Bxc3  14 Qxc3 Qxc3  15. bxc3 Na5  16. Be3 Bd7  17 Bb6 Nc6  18 f4 Ne7

19 Bd3 Rc8  20 Kd2 Bc6  21 Bd4 Bd7  22 h5 h6  23 g4 Nc6  24 Bb6 Ne7  25 a4 0-0  26 g5 Nf5  27 Bxf5 exf5

28 Bd4 Rc4  29 gxh6 gxh6  30 Rg1+ Kh7  31 e6  If  31 ....Bxe6  32 Bf6   offered as a continuation

31. ...    Rxd4+  32 cxd4 fxe6  33 Rb2 Bc6  34 a5 Rf7  35. Rb6 Re7  36 Rg6 Re8  37 Kc3 Rg8  38 Rxg8 

Continuation offered  If 38 .... Kxg8 39 Rxc6 bxc6  40 Kb4 

38. … Black resigns.

And now a Division 2 game, selected by Philip Doyle.

Fullwood v Jones, Division 2

1. d4 Nf6  2. Nf3 d6  3. Bf4 h6  4. h3 Nbd7  5. e3 c6  6. c3 Qc7  7. Nbd2 e5  8. dxe5 dxe5  9. Bh2 Bd6

10. Nc4 Ne4  11. Nxd6+ Qxd6 12. Qxd6 Nxd6  13. Nxe5 Nxe5  14. Bxe5 Nf5  15. g4 f6  16. Bc7 Ne7

17. 0-0-0 Nd5  18. Bd6 b5  19. e4 Ne7  20. Bg2 Bd7  21. Rhe1 Nc8  22. e5 Nxd6  23. exf6+ Kf8  24. Rxd6 Be8

25. Bxc6 Bxc6  26. Rxc6 gxf6  27. Rxf6+ Kg7  28. Rf5 a6  29. Re7+ Kg6  30. h4 h5  31. Re6+ Kg7  32. g5 Rhf8

33. Rxf8 Rxf8  34. Rxa6 Rxf2  35. Rh6 Rf4  36. Rxh5 Rg4  37. g6 Kxg6  38. Rg5+Rxg5  39. hxg5 Kxg5

40. Kc2 and White went on to win.

2023 International Autumn Tournament

Written by James Connors

Writer's Foreword:

Having had the pleasure of arbiting at Bournemouth for the BCA this summer, I was very excited to be invited back a second time to play in the Autumn Tournament at Solihull in 2023.  I had thoroughly enjoyed my time at the 90th anniversary event at the same venue in 2022 and scored well with 3.5/5 that time.  So, I was very much hoping to perform at a similar level and enjoy the weekend as much as last time!  And who knows, perhaps even win the last coveted 90th anniversary mug in the raffle for use at home as my current one is my office mug, so that I can proudly showcase my affiliation with the BCA to everyone at work!

Main Report:

A year on from the BCA's 90th anniversary, it was a warm welcome back to Solihull with 21 players and three guide dogs prepared to occupy the chess room and battle it out over five rounds at the board across the weekend.  We also welcomed many other attendees - families and friends of players from near and far.  It was lovely to have a number of BCA stalwarts in attendance but also to have some newer members who hadn't attended all too many events before.

Once again, there was both an Open and Challengers’ trophy but these were merged into a single section.  And with a classic pairing of Gerry and Julie as arbiters, and Richard Murphy lined up as steward, we all looked in safe hands!

Round 1 took place on the Friday night, so very understandably, a few players took a half point bye having made long journeys.  But most players took part, and 9 games were held.  As is often the case with a Swiss round 1, there were some quite large rating gaps between players, but many games were still very competitive.  In the end though, each result went the expected way.

Roll on Saturday morning and Round 2 certainly made things more interesting.  With a handful of interesting draws, several of the higher seeded players found themselves already trailing.  After an impressive draw from Ian Blencowe against the significantly higher rated Tristram Cole, only Owen Phillips, Gary Hogan, Norman Wragg and I made it through to 2/2.  Meanwhile, in the Challengers’ section, Gill Smith secured an impressive victory over John Fullwood.

Round 3 on Saturday afternoon then saw no end to the excitement, with Owen defeating Norman to lead the pack on 3/3 while Tristram kept pace with a win to move back to 2.5/3.  Ian Blencowe's flying start was held back by a draw in a strong effort by Olle Engstrom from Sweden, despite Ian receiving the downfloat.  Meanwhile, in the Challengers’ section, Mark Hague impressed with a win over George Phillips to move to 2/3 and was joined by Mahendra Galani from Austria who defeated Gill to also move to 2/3.  Saturday's round ended with a very intricate and chaotic position between Gary Hogan and James descending into a time scramble, with James finding a trick to join Owen as leader with 3/3.

After an evening of Gary Hogan regaling us with a fascinating account of his experiences in Rhodes, followed by time to catch up with old friends and a good night's rest, Sunday morning came around.  Number 1 seed, Owen and number 5 James remained the only perfect scorers and were of course paired on board 1, with Owen taking the white pieces.  An interesting game followed, which ended in a draw and the full game, along with notes from Owen, is provided below.  Meanwhile, across the rest of the pairings, Tristram caught back up with the leaders with a win over Bill Armstrong, after safely navigating a challenging endgame, and Ian Blencowe continued an impressive streak of results after a draw with Norman Wragg.  In the meantime, Colin Chambers continued to mark an impressive return to BCA chess after recovering from surgery over the summer with a win, as well as a win for Olle Engstrom to take them both to 2.5/4.  In the Challengers’ section, all results went as expected and Mark, Mahendra, John Fullwood and Malcolm Jones all went into the final round tied at the top on 2/4.

Round 5 came about after an exciting but tiring weekend in the chess room, and perhaps expectedly, several quick draws were agreed including between Tristram and Owen leaving them on 4 points apiece to watch as James blundered a rook in ten moves out of the opening against Ian Blencowe.  And despite James clawing back to a losing but tricky Rook vs Knight endgame that lasted nearly 90 minutes, Ian found the correct sequence with his rook in the end to continue an impressive weekend of results and move to 3.5/5.  He was also joined by Gary Hogan who between the three of them, shared 3rd place. Owen and Tristram were both crowned winners but by tie break, Owen took the trophy for the Open section.

In the Challengers’, of the four leaders, only Mark Hague secured a win in the final round, leading to himself being crowned as Challengers’ Champion with 3/5.  Mark was delighted because he’d never won a BCA trophy before!  One of his games from the tournament is also included below. Meanwhile John Fullwood secured a draw to take joint second with Abi Baker, who having gone into round 5 on 1.5 points, took a very impressive round 5 win against Gary Wickett to sneak back up towards the top of the Challengers’ and join John on a score of 2.5/5.

Many people stayed for the Sunday night.  In the evening there was an impromptu soirée with music, singing and jokes.  The contributions included a Russian song and poem by Natasha Hogan, aged 3, who was supported by her mum, Alyona.

In the end, the weekend saw an absolutely outstanding set of chess matches once again plus good food and lots of fun socialising!  And a great deal of thanks was owed to Richard, Gerry and Julie for all of their hard work too in the chess room as well as to Freya for raising £160 with the raffle and all the others who helped across the weekend.  But most importantly, thanks must go to John Fullwood, who put in a great deal of organisational work to make the weekend a great success and a pleasure to attend!

Writer's Afterword:

And so, I once again scored 3.5/5 at Solihull, so I can’t complain too much, although after scoring 3/3 by the end of Saturday, I can't deny I'd gotten my hopes up for a first BCA event win!  But regardless of results, what a fantastic event it was, and so absolute thanks must go to those who organised it!  I had a great time and it was wonderful to see so many attendees some I'd met before, and some I hadn't and to enjoy five excellent games of chess against five players I hadn't played last year.

Richard Murphy took home that coveted final 90th anniversary mug at the raffle before then thrashing me in a game of scrabble for good measure.  Although, mysteriously, for the third event running none of my raffle tickets were drawn.  (I've got my eyes on you Freya!).  But in all seriousness, it once again was a fun way of raising funds thanks to Freya's work as well as to all those who brought some fantastic prizes.

I cannot wait to do it all again and hope to see many of you again at the AGM tournament in Leicester in March!

Here are the final placings and prize winners!

On 4 points: Owen Phillips and Tristram Cole.  They finished joint 1st/2nd in the Open and Owen won the Open trophy on tie-break.

On 3.5 points: James Connors, Gary Hogan and Ian Blencowe.  James and Gary each got a share of 3rd prize in the Open and Ian won Grading Prize A which was of higher value.  Ian's portion of 3rd prize was cascaded down to the next score group.

On 3 points Norman Wragg, Bill Armstrong, Colin Chambers, Olle Engstrom (Sweden) and Mark Hague.  Norman, Bill and Colin shared Ian's portion of 3rd prize.  Olle won Grading Prize B, which was of higher value.  Mark won first prize in the Challengers, again of higher value, and also received the Challengers trophy.

On 2.5 points George Phillips, Abi Baker and John Fullwood.  Abi and John shared 2nd/3rd prizes in the Challengers. 

On 2 points Mahendra Galani (Austria), Malcolm Jones, Gill Smith, John Osborne and Tony Lawton.  Gill, John and Tony shared Grading Prize C. 

On 1.5 points Gary Wickett

On 1 point Phil Rafferty, who won Grading Prize D

On 0.5 point Lea Ryan

Congratulations to all the prize winners!

Round 4: Owen Phillips v James Connors (with comments by Owen)

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5  A Falkbeer Counter Gambit-nasty stuff for White!

3. exd5 Qxd5 This surprised me I was expecting the more normal e4 Nf6 or exf4.

4. Nc3 Qe6 5. fxe5 Qxe5+ 6. Qe2

I figured that having gained a few tempi and an extra central pawn plus having an open f file should allow me to gain something.  Although his bishops can rush out into the game!

6 ... Qxe2+  7. Bxe2 Nf6 8. Nf3 Nc6

9. Nb5 Nb4  A very feisty move!  I was happy with this as I felt I am not going to analyse all the complications of us each going for each other's rooks, rather I’d simply misplace the knight by defending and then riposting.

10. Bd1 Na6  11. O-O Bc5+ 12. d4 Bb6 13. Re1+ Be6

14. Ng5 O-O-O 15. Nxe6 fxe6  16. c3 Rd5! An excellent move by James, played after a good deal of thought.

17. a4

Alternatives were:

A 17. c4 Rxd4  18. Nxd4 Bxd4+ 19. Be3 Bxb2 20. Rb1 Ba3 21. Bf3

B 17. c4 Bxd4+ 18. Nxd4 Rxd4 19. b3 Nb4

C 17. c4 Bxd4+ 18. Nxd4 Rxd4 19. b3 Rhd8 20. Bf3 Nb4

None of which appealed to me!  So back to the game and my 17 a4 James replied:

17... c6 18. Na3 Re8  19. Bb3 Rdd8  20. Bf4 (or 20. Bxe6+ Kb8 21. Bf4+ Bc7 22. Bg5)

20. ... Nd5 21. Be5

Again, the alternative didn't look better 21. Bg5 Rd7 22. Nc4 Bc7 23. Ne5 Bxe5 24. Rxe5 Rf7

21. ... Rd7 22. Bc4 Nb8 23. Bd3 g6  24. Nc4 Bc7 25. Rf1 Bxe5 26. Nxe5 Rde7 (26... Ree7)  27. Rae1

I was seriously considering here 27. Nf7 when Rf8 loses material when after 28. Ng5 Nd7 29. Nxh7 Rxh7 30. Bxg6 Rfh8 31. Bxh7 Rxh7 32. Rae1 should have been at least equal and I felt maybe more difficult for Black to hold.  Equally I felt there were more dangers for me in such a line and besides he had 28... e5 29. dxe5 Nd7 which looked equalising.

Back to the game and after 27 Rae1 James played the natural 27. … Nd7 and my pressure quickly dissipated!

28. Nf7 Kc7 29. a5 e5 30. dxe5 Nxe5 31. Nxe5 Rxe5  32. Rf7+ R5e7 (or else 32... R8e7 33. Rxe5 Rxf7 34. Re8)

33. Rexe7+ Rxe7  34. Rxe7+ Nxe7 35. Kf2 Kd6 36. Ke3 Ke5 37. Bc4 b6  Draw agreed

We agreed a draw as we could both see that as long as Black could swap off the pawns on the Q wing then he could simply draw by sacrificing his Knight for my g pawn when even if White was left a Bishop and pawn up it would be a rook pawn of the wrong colour and Black simply could draw by placing his King on h8!

Round 5: Mark Hague v Malcolm Jones

Mark writes:

This very long but interesting game decided the winner of the Challenger U1400 group.  At the end, I only had a minute left on my clock before I checkmated Malcolm, hence some of my last moves were rather desperate!

1. d4 Nf6  2. e3 d6  3. Be2 Nbd7  4. Nc3 e5  5. dxe5 dxe5  6. Nf3 Be7  7. 0-0 h6  8. b3 c6  9. Bb2 g5  10. Qd2 Qc7

11. Rfd1 Nf8  Black playing Nf8 signals the Black Lion by Malcolm

12. a4 Ng6

13. Ba3 Bxa3  My idea was to weaken Black’s control of the dark squares and get a rook lift.

14. Rxa3 Bd7  15. Rda1  Rd8  16. Qc1 e4  17. Nd2 h5  18. Ndxe4 Ng4  19. Bxg4 hxg4

20. g3 Nh4  My coach pointed out that if Malcolm had played Ne5 instead his game would have gone up to +4 pawns for Black and in all probability, I would have lost!  With Black having played Nh4, I must take the Knight but luckily, I do have Knight that can move to g3 afterwards, which should save my skin!

21. gxh4 Rxh4  22. Ng3 Ke7  23. Qf1 Rdh8  White Queen to the rescue!

24. Qg2 Rxh2  25. Qxh2 Rxh2  26. Kxh2 Qe5  27. Nce2 Qf6  28. Kg1 Be6  29. Rd1 Bd5  30. e4 Be6  31. c4 Qh8

32. Ra2 Qh3  33. Rad2 f6  34. Rd3 Qh8  35. Nf5+ Bxf5  36. exf5 Qc8  37. Ng3 a6  38. Re1+ Kf8  39. Re6 Kf7

40. Rdd6 a5  41. Rxf6+ Ke7  42. Rfe6+ Kf7  43. Rf6+ Ke7  44. Rde6+ Kd7  45. Rf7+ Kd8  46. Rf8+ Kc7

47. Rxc8 Kxc8  48. Re7 Kd8  49. f6 c5

50. Rh7 I missed a really easy mate in three here!  Nf5 and push the f pawn.

50. … Ke8  51. Nh5 Kf8  52. f7  Ke7  53. Ng3 Kf8  54. Nf5 g3  55. fxg3 g4  56. Kg2 b6  57. Kg1 b5

58. axb5 a4  59. b6 axb3  60. b7 b2  61. b8=Q++

An Irresistible Attraction!

Julie Leonard writes:

While observing a game being played on a magnetic set with concealed magnets at our Autumn Tournament in Solihull, I witnessed something rather odd.  A bishop was captured and was duly placed lying down on the table at the side of the board.  The bishop rolled around on the hard surface of the table until its base was near an unoccupied corner square.  To my amazement, the magnetic attraction was so strong that the bishop was pulled up onto the corner square, where it now sat, perfectly upright, for all the world as if it belonged there!  Luckily, I was able to remove the accidentally reinstated bishop without disrupting the game.  I strongly recommend that players with this type of set should place captured pieces well away from the board, ideally in a separate box or bag!

Castle Chess 22nd Fareham Congress, 13th to 15th October 2023

Tony Elbourn writes:

On this occasion I was the only member of BCA to attend the Fareham Castle Chess Congress.  I had several difficulties getting to the event, but still had a good tournament.  My score was two wins, two draws and two losses, a total of 3 points in the U1601 section.  My first draw was very fortuitous as I was struggling to avoid defeat against a much stronger player (1571 to my 1317).  However, he overlooked a rook move which allowed me to get a perpetual check.

On the Sunday morning I discovered that some VI players are held in quite high esteem.  I was engrossed in my round five game and at one point I was not aware that my opponent had quietly left the board to get a cup of coffee.  In his absence I took a pawn and pressed the clock.  When he returned, I announced my move again and was sure that he repeated it, but he must have omitted to make my move on his board.  A couple of moves later he used the pawn I had taken to make a capture, which I naturally queried.  We agreed that the Arbiter should be called.  Rapidly we explained the situation and I think that initially Tony Corfe was going to ask us to work through the game to the point where the discrepancy had occurred.  Then Tony asked me “Can you go back a move?” and said to my opponent, “Watch this!”  After retracing three moves, we were happy with the position and the game continued.  After much use of my king and a knight, I queened a pawn but had to be careful that my opponent did not stalemate me so I allowed him to queen on b8 and promptly swapped off the queens.  I then queened on the H file and was happy to accept my opponent’s resignation. 

Some four or five years ago, again at the Castle Chess Fareham Congress, my opponent had moved my pieces incorrectly on two occasions and both times I traced back to where the mistake had occurred.  As I was recapping the game my opponent realised that the error had been his and despite me urging him to continue the game he promptly resigned. 

Tony Corfe’s comments at this year’s event made me wonder whether he had come against similar situations where a VI player had been able to trace back a game for a few moves without reference to the recording of the game.  This must be an ability that I have acquired over many years, although I must admit that I cannot readily recall all the moves of a game! 

Editor’s note: Congratulations to Tony on a fine performance all round! 

Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: The November 2023 gazette prompted so many readers to write to me that I thought their comments should be shared so that people know their articles were read and enjoyed.  As editor, I’m just the one who puts all the articles together for each issue.  Without contributions from the members the Gazette wouldn’t exist.  So don’t forget, when people pay kind compliments to the Gazette they’re really praising all of the contributors!

Dear Julie,

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed this quarter's magazine.  Well done!

I thought Steve Burnell's article on etiquette was a model of clarity and measured advice.

Generally, it is good to see the association in such good heart.

Alec Crombie

Dear Julie,

Thanks for the latest edition of The Gazette, again most interesting!

Chess Etiquette: Belgium and Holland seem to be the only countries in the world where there is a custom of offering your opponent something to drink at the start of the game!  Not doing so is unfriendly!

To Mary Lea:  Be proud of yourself: You lined up with all the chess teachers, going back 1,400 years, keeping the game alive and changing people’s lives!

Gary Hogan too may be proud, taking the trouble to represent UK at the World Championship!

Here are a couple of book recommendations:

In 2010 Colin Crouch published “Why we lose at chess”.  Colin talks about 60 positions where he went wrong.  One normally only shows won games!  Everyman Chess Series.  ISBN 978 1 85 57 44 636 4

“Check and Mate” by Ali Hazelwood.  A love story between the daughter of a grandmaster and a world champion. ISBN 978 1-4087 2761-4


Hugo Roman

Morning Julie,

Now that I have read the latest Gazette from cover to cover, I shall have my breakfast.

Well done,

Gerry Walsh

Hi Julie

Following your piece in The Gazette, I purchased and read John Moore's book about Tony Lawton.  Please pass on to Tony that I enjoyed the book very much and was grateful for all the insights and the honesty.  Respect!

Best wishes,

David Mabbs


ECF Ratings

Here are the January 2024 ECF Ratings for BCA members.  The ECF publishes Standard (S), Rapidplay (R) and Blitz (B) ratings for both Over the Board (OTB) and Online (OL) chess, provided a person has played enough games in each category.

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

Andrews, Norman OTB S 1558, OL S 1709

Armstrong, Bill OTB S 1621

Bailey, Steve OTB S 1176, OL S 1939

Baker, Abi OTB S 1083, OL S 1516

Baldwin, Paul OL S 1770

Bland, Marilyn OL S 1476

Blencowe, Ian OTB S 1614, OTB R 1512

Borg, Anthony OL S 1803

Brown, Geoff OTB S 1783, OTB R 1670, OL S 1750, OL R 1974

Burnell, Steve OTB S 1811, OL S 1995

Carr, Matthew OTB S 1755, OTB R 1647, OTB B 1674, OL R 1700

Casey, Eamonn OTB S 1505, OL S 1887

Chambers, Colin OTB S 1558

Chambers, Duncan OTB S 1677, OL S 1607

Chapman, Gordon OTB S 1444

Cholij, Mark OTB S 976

Clayton, David OTB S 1452

Clayton, Estelita OL S 1750

Cloudsdale, Peter OTB S 1823

Codina, Teresa OTB S 1221, OL S 1665

Cole, Tristram OTB S 1850

Connors, James OTB S 1703, OTB B 1594

Cuthbert, Jim OTB S 1049

Dickinson, Peter OTB S 1560

Elbourn, Anthony OTB S 1338, OL S 1824

Elbourn, Irene OTB S 682

Engstrom, Olle OTB S 1507, OL S 1908

Fisher, Colin OL S 1920

Fullwood, John OTB S 1248, OL S 1698

Gailans, Voldi OTB S 1308, OL S 1339

Galani, Mahendra OTB S 1340, OL S 1759

Gordon, Philip OTB S 1471

Graff, Ben OTB S 1732, OTB R 1743, OTB B 1697, OL R 1646, OL B 1737

Hague, Mark OTB S 1344, OL S 1738

Harrington, Richard OTB S 666, OL S 1386

Highsmith, Simon OTB S 1225, OL S 1698

Hogan, Gary OTB S 1767, OTB R 1336, OL S 1555

Ibanez, Bittor OTB S 1273, OTB R 1069, OL S 1711

Jenkins, John OTB S 1347

Jones, Malcolm OTB S 1235, OL S 1800

Kalumba, Lukwesa Matapo OL S 1630

Khare, Shubhransh OTB S 1148, OTB R 1318

Kirkham, Mark OTB S 1490, OTB R 1526, OL S 1498

Koohnavard, Neda OTB S 1245, OL S 1799

Lawton, Tony OTB S 1080, OL S 1665

Levens, David OTB S 1726, OTB R 1694

Lovell, Stan OTB S 1629, OL S 2034

Murphy, Richard OTB S 1581, OL S 1925

Musson, Tim OL S 1665

Osborne, John OTB S 1100

Phillips, George OTB S 1433

Phillips, Owen OTB S 1964, OTB R 1917, OL S 1959, OL R 1840, OL B 1759

Prasath, Malola OTB S 2028, OTB R 2044, OTB B 1989, OL S 2087

Rafferty, Phil OTB S 951

Ramm, John OL S 1534

Ross, Chris OTB S 2207, OL S 2193

Rugman, Dan OTB S 1399, OL S 1702

Ryan, Lea OTB S 857, OL S 1537

Shimwell, Efe OTB S 1663, OTB R 1577

Smith, Gill OTB S 1102, OL S 1682

Soszynski, Marek OTB S 1848, OTB R 1843

Tew, Eleanor OTB S 693, OL S 1284

Tinti, Jacopo OL S 1743

Triay, Jose Ignacio OL S 1504

Walsh, Gerard OTB S 1598

Waters, Roger OTB S 1573, OTB R 1447

Whitehouse, Guy OTB S 1652

Wickett, Gary OTB S 1359, OL S 1588

Willis, Graham OTB S 1701

Wragg, Norman OTB S 1713, OL S 1747


Congratulations to Gary Wickett who got a win on board four in his debut county match for Staffordshire U1450 against Worcestershire.  The match was played in Stoke.  As the Worcestershire side was five players down, Gary’s captain very generously suggested the game should be played over 7 boards.  His generosity was rewarded as Staffordshire won 6 games to 1.

Alyona Hogan passed her driving test on the 4th of December.  There was snow on the ground so driving conditions must have been tricky but that didn’t stop her.  Congratulations Alyona!

A message from Rod Macdonald in Hawaii:

“The time has come for me to say goodbye.  I am now 82 going on 100, and I haven't played a game - mine or anyone else's - in several years.  My thanks to everyone for a wonderful 50+ years' association with a fine group of pawn-pushers.  May you each find that final square of a Knight's Tour.”

Finally, a much-loved Honorary Member will be celebrating her 80th birthday on the 24th of March.  Celia Gibbs has contributed so much to our association, ranging from her magnificent work with her late husband, Peter, on the hugely successful Chess Theme Breaks, to the gorgeous crocheted blankets that she lovingly creates and donates as highly sought after raffle prizes.  Please join me in congratulating Celia on her milestone birthday and wishing her many happy returns!

Julie Leonard

Puzzle from Mark

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

November 2023 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Alexander Grischuk, Monaco, 23/3/2011


White: King b1, Queen e5, Rooks h5 and e1, pawns a2, c2 and d6.

Black: King f8, Queen d7, Rooks g8 and c5, pawns b2 and b6.

White mates in three moves.  As this is a tricky mate in three, I've given a couple of clues below.

Clue 1: This mate involves 2 Queen moves and a Rook move but not necessarily in that order!

Clue 2: Don't forget the white pawn on d6.

Solution:  1. Rf1+ Qf7 (forced)  2. Qe7+ Kg7 (forced)  3. Qxf7++

February 2024 Puzzle

Magnus Carlsen vs Viswanathan Anand, Zurich, 1/29/2014


White: King g1, Queen e5, Rook f1, Bishop b2, Knight f6, pawns a2, b3, c3, d2, g4 and h2.

Black: King h8, Queen d8, Rook a8, Bishop f8, Knight c6 and pawns a7, b6, c5, e6, g6 and h7.

White mates in three moves.  Solution will appear in the May Gazette.

This is definitely one of the hardest mates I've ever posted, so see below for clues!

1. The first move is not such a dim move after all!

2. The first move is a Knight move of course.

3. Of course, if White gobbles up your Queen your vengeance will be immediate!  Don't forget your rook on f1.

4. Your second move, if Black plays the expected Kg8, is a Queen check.

5. Use your rook to finish the job.

Mark Hague

RIP Julia Scott

Julia’s daughters, Diana and Helen, have written about Julia’s life:

Julia was born in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire on the 11th of October 1942 to Lesley and Clarice Kilsby.  She had four brothers and a sister.  On leaving school aged 15 she had wanted to pursue a career in nursing, but her parents insisted she should go straight to work to earn money.  Reluctantly, she became a secretary for a local electrical engineering company.  She started as a junior clerk but quickly progressed to be secretary to one of the partners.  From an early age Mum had shown ambition.  She took Pitman’s exams in typing and shorthand; Mum had exquisite handwriting and linguistic ability, and always berated us young children for our grammatical errors!

In her spare time Mum would pop down to the Salvation Army Hall where she enjoyed socialising, joining in with her favourite hymns and shaking her tambourine.  She wrote about her visits on a regular basis in her diary.

It was at work that she met her beloved Roy.  Julia had taken a shine to the handsome “Elvis” lookalike and told one of his workmates.  After that Roy rather awkwardly asked Julia out on a date.  They were a handsome couple.  Dad escorted Mum in his little red sports car or on the back of his motorbike to dances at the well-known Bletchley Park.  Mum’s sister was often sent with them to chaperone.  No funny business involved in the 1950’s!

They married at St Martins Church in Fenny Stratford on the 2nd of March 1963, Roy aged 23 and Julia aged 20.  Shortly before, Dad was offered a job as an electrical engineer with the East Midlands Electricity Board, based in Rugby.  Our parents moved to Rugby soon after their wedding and remained there for the duration of their lives.

Mum too found employment with the East Midlands Electricity Board in 1963, as a shorthand typist, then she worked at a caterers as personal assistant to the company manager.  Mum developed a passion for more elaborate food so went on a gourmet cooking course at Rugby College.  We all waited excitedly for the results of her labour.

We arrived in 1965 and 1968 and had such a happy childhood.  Dad sorted the entertainment, whilst Mum kept us fed and watered and kept tabs on Dad’s silliness!  On the surface Mum appeared the more sensible parent although she had a cheeky sense of humour and loved a practical joke, often at Dad’s expense!  Dad did impersonations.  Mum’s favourites were Frank Spencer “Mmmm Betty” and the two policemen from the Haribo advert.  No matter how often Mum heard it, she would have tears of laughter rolling down her face when Dad re-enacted the scene.

Mum moved to the Probation Service in 1975.  She frequently came home with gory tales of blood and trauma which she had had to handle.  Mum was often at the rough end of emotional outbursts by “customers” of the probation service.  In 1984 Mum changed jobs and became PA to the director of a charity offering care support to adults requiring nursing at home.  Mum and the director, Pat, became close friends and shared many a giggle.  

It was during her time at this charity that her career changed direction.  She started to be involved in fundraising.  This passion grew.  Mum and Pat organised a huge fundraising event at Rugby school in May 1987.  TV stars comedian Marti Caine and Jane Rossington, the actress who played Meg’s daughter in Crossroads, attended.

Mum put 100% into her work and her volunteering.  She became Secretary, then President, for the local branch of Soroptimists International.  They raised huge funds for the Warwickshire air ambulance.  Mum also supported the local Parkinson’s group and became the fundraiser for charities like British Blind Sport, Alstrom and the Braille Chess Association.  She must have raised over a million pounds for these charities.  Who’d have thought a girl who left school at 15 with barely any qualifications could achieve such great things.

Work took Mum to Downing Street when John Major was prime minister, and even more memorably to a theatre performance where she met Princess Diana.  Mum had a penchant for the finer things in life so was entirely at home with dressing up and attending such events.  We teased her about her “poshness” and accused her of being a “Mrs, Hyacinth, Bucket … Bouquet!” from the sitcom “Keeping up Appearances” with Dad as her “Richard”.  

Our parents enjoyed holidays and cruises.  They started their travel bug by visiting Jersey for their honeymoon followed by most European countries, USA, Canada, the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia to name but a few.  More recently, they took up bowls and joined the local club.  They were both keen to win and frustratingly for Dad, Mum seemed to always hold the upper hand.  In 1998 Mum became President of Warwickshire Women’s Indoor Bowling Association.  A busy lady, always seeking a new challenge.

Those who knew Mum describe her as a kind, hard working woman who always paid attention to her appearance.  As a family, we describe her as a loyal, strong, independent wife, mother, and grandmother.  We loved her for this.

Dementia is a cruel disease that took our Mum from us many years ago.  It did not, however, take away her cheekiness.  Even in her last few days, Mum would smile cheekily or give us the disdainful, “Mum” look!

Mum and Dad were the best of friends and now Mum, you can be reunited with your Roy.  Mum, you can nag Dad, and Dad you can keep telling those jokes to make Mum laugh.  Rest in peace the two of you.

Tribute to Julia Scott

Norman Wragg and Gill Smith write:

We were very sad to receive the news that Julia had passed away but it prompted us to think about the happy and successful times the BCA had with Julia.  She made a most remarkable contribution to the BCA, raising some £600,000 over a period of 20 years and making it possible for us to fund wide-ranging chess opportunities for our members.  Moreover, some of the charitable trusts with whom she established firm relationships are still making regular donations to us.  We are greatly indebted to Julia and sincerely grateful to her.

Julia was a lovely, warm and friendly person and we had some really nice times with her when she and Roy came to our events.  But when it came to fundraising she was determined and single minded in pursuit of our cause.  In 2014, we appointed her as one of our Honorary Members because of her exceptional service to our Association.  Julia was quite emotional when we made this award to her at our 2014 AGM.  She knew she would be receiving the award and had prepared a short acceptance speech but on the day she was too emotional to make the speech and so Roy read it out for her.  It was a moving occasion.

Gill and Paul Smith attended the funeral and had the pleasure of meeting Julia and Roy’s daughters, Helen and Diana.  They were made very welcome by the family and enjoyed learning more about Julia and her many roles and interests.