The ECF is delighted to announce that Surrey player Owen Phillips has been appointed as ECF Manager for Accessible Chess. This is an important appointment for the federation, and means that Owen will be looking to support chess colleagues with various forms of impairment, be it blindness/visual impairment, deafness, wheelchair bound, special needs-related, or other impairments.
You can find further details of the ECF’s support for accessible chess at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/accessible-chess/
Owen has been involved in competitive chess for most of his life having learnt to play at 6 and played in his first tournaments and league chess at 9. Owen has played top board for many clubs, the Civil Service and for the European Commission and been Gwent County Champion. He played in the Glorney Cup and has played in the British and European Championships and in the Gibraltar Masters. He was also a strong correspondence player before the advent of strong computer engines made that obsolete for him. He is an English Regional Master, and has coached numerous British Junior Champions. Owen has also had many roles in clubs including team captain, club secretary or treasurer, and club webmaster, and has captained various Surrey county teams, including taking Surrey’s Open team to their first national title in 54 years.
Perhaps more importantly he has had many roles in the area of Accessible Chess. As an Associate Life Member of the Braille Chess Association for the last 11 years, Owen has done a lot of coaching and guidance work for the BCA, which encourages and supports blind and visually impaired players in the UK. Owen has also met and played several of the best deaf Chess players in the UK and knows how very much chess also means to them.
In his new role Owen will be in regular contact with the various bodies representing the disabled chess communities, and will also be looking to find out from chess clubs all around the country how many such members they have and how they can be supported to participate in over the board and online chess at all levels.
Club secretaries are invited to complete the form at https://britchess.wufoo.com/forms/ecf-accessible-chess-form-202324/ to help with the information gathering exercise. Data captured from individual clubs will be treated in strict confidence and will be held on an anonymised basis.
Owen has just returned from the IBCA Braille Chess World Championship in Rhodes where he was supporting the main British competitor and Witney club member Gary Hogan. Owen has posted a number of reports covering our participation in this top level event which have also appeared in the October ChessMoves.