BCM, October 1944
In view of the Merrick Memorial, some recollections of the Braill Chess Club may be of interest. That Club
was the first attempt at organised Correspondence play among the Blind. It
was founded by Mr. Merrick in 1902 and
continued until the outbreak of war in 1914. I think the peak period was
about 1910, when there were some 30 Members, including 2 of Mr. Dawsons (Braille Composers), W. M. Brown and T.
Salthouse. Brown and the late C.
H. Spenser were the strongest players the
In it's first years the games were
mostly friendly, with an occasional knockout tournament. "Inside"
matches, such as Coast versus
Inland and North versus South were tried but were not a great success.
"Outside" matches proved much more popular. There was a Tournament Game of 54 games which lasted a
year and then ended in a draw. The 48-hour rule was rather a pius
aspiration and I do not remember that a penalty was ever enforced. Towards the end there was talk
of adjudication but it met with
some opposition and no decision had been reached when the Club ceased.
At the beginning the annual report was
hand-written and circulated but
later it was stereotyped. Later still, there were Gazettes which were in the nature of interim reports.
One notable achievement was a Braille
Chess library comprising a number
of volumes transcribed by Mr. Merrick and some of the Members. These volumes were typical of the
Chess literature of the time and
although they would now be considered outdated,
they had a value beyond the imagination of readers of this Magazine.
Mr. Merrick made an ideal Secretary
and was specially interested in
beginners. Yet he would have been the last to deny the help he received from his members, for
instance, "outside" Matches were pioneered by the late T. S.
Faulkner when he was Match Captain
and it was Faulkner who suggested the
Gazette and there was Miss Merrian who organised the presentation to Mr. Merrick on the 10th
anniversary of the Club's foundation.
I retain many happy memories of these
days, though looking back they seem experimental. Yet it is surprising how
much of Mr. Merrick's practice has passed into the Braille Chess
Association and how many of his ideas
we have developed. We publish a report
and 2 Gazettes annually. The 48-hour rule is a fact and numerous penalties
have been enforced. Our Tournament
games are limited to 6 months. Our Tournaments overlap and the "roundless"
Tournament, which we have used for many
years was another of Merrick's ideas. We
have established adjudication,
which if not popular, has at least been
excepted. We even have the nucleus of a Chess library, although that is of far less importance now
than it was 40 years ago,
especially in view of the fine collection provided by the Student's Library and the Chess
publications of the RNIB, but much of what we have done has been inspired
by Mr. Merrick's earlier efforts and it is doubtful whether there would be today a Braille Chess Association, had
there not previously been a
Braille Chess Club.
Ernest Day H. Eaton