AIR jockey designs chess board for visually impaired players
Stuti Shukla : Mumbai, Mon Jun 17 2013, 01:01 hrs

That only 1,500 out of the 5,000 registered blind or partially blind chess players in India are active due to poor access to specially designed chess-boards, was a constant cause of worry for Pankaj Athawle. Having witnessed the woes of visually challenged chess players for years, the 35-year-old sports commentator launched ‘Vision 64’ on Friday — an initiative to design and manufacture such boards for Indian players as per international standards.

Named so because of the 64 squares on a chess board, the 90-day project — that went live on June 14 — aims to collect Rs 5 lakh through a crowd-funding website called and make 1000 such chess boards available to visually impaired chess players across India.

Athawle, who works for All India Radio’s Rainbow FM channel, had received contributions totalling Rs 10, 000 till Sunday. While he is currently relying on social media sites and personal blogs to spread the word, he hopes to rope in cricketers to urge people to donate.

“Chess is the only game where a visually challenged person can compete with a sighted person on an equal footing without any change in rules. This bridges the gap between the able and the disabled,” said Athawle.

He was deeply disappointed at the state of infrastructure available with sports associations. The only chess boards for the visually challenged persons currently available in India are wooden, heavy, large in size, expensive, cumbersome to carry and limited in number.

“Chess requires constant practice. But in the present scenario, players can practise only at associations. The need of the hour is to make available light-weight foldable boards that players can have at their homes and carry around. Having spent over four years interviewing these players as part of my job, I felt it was a pity that such boards are not available in India,” said Athawle.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: ,