For the blind, chess provides light at the end of the tunnel
Aug 02, 2013 – Pramita Bose

For them, failure is the first step towards success. The more they falter, the stronger their willpower grows, pushing them to rise higher in life. Hoping against hope, they walk through a tunnel’s darkness only to find light at the end of it.

It is this noble thought which has inspired National Institute of Professionals (NIP), an educational centre for the blind and disabled students, to host the second edition of All Bengal Chess Competition for the Blind early on Friday morning.

Inaugurated by ace chess grandmaster Dibyendu Barua at the ground floor office address of the Principal Director Of Audit in Kolkata’s Park Street, the rapid chess contest was held in five rounds followed by a prize distribution ceremony.

A group of 80 students from over a dozen different blind schools and organisations across the state took part in this interesting indoor boardgame. “From Nadia to Behala, a host of blind institutions from different districts of West Bengal have shown an eager participation in this witty braingame… You see, it’s all in the mind. And the third eye indeed plays the most powerful role in detecting things which the two physical eyes are unable to. So even if these kids seem to have defunct eyes, it is their vision that eggs them to fight back obstacles and keep sailing through all the way,” said Debajyoti Roy, secretary of NIP, which is a non-governmental body.

As a centre, the NGO takes care of disabled people with hidden talents and lend them an outlet to flower in public. “They just need a little encouragement and a proper platform to foster and flourish their skills. Many people who lead a normal life aren’t even aware of the potentiality of these differently-abled children. By the sense of touch, they achieve a lot which others are unable to in life. For instance, they feel the chesspieces to identify which is the king, queen or the horse and count the squares to move them ahead or topple over the opponent’s piece,” he notes.

It is true that chess is not just a sport, but also an art, and art does not need to have a triumphant winner and a disgraced loser. In today’s world, chess provides an opportunity for the visually impaired people to prove that they too can match the sighted, if not better them.

The playing technique of the visually challenged people is also quite similar with just a few differences here and there. For instance, visually impared players are permitted to touch the pieces of their opponents during the game, which is not allowed in an ordinary game with general candidates. And each board has small holes in it. The pieces have nails in the bottom so they can then be attached into the holes.

In Friday’s championship, there were some very exciting games and nail-bitingly close finishes.

Also imparting computer training through the DOS (Disc Operating System) software, Mr Roy elucidates that there is a voice prompter which dictates the weak-sighted to function accordingly. A couple of years ago in 2010 on December 3, which also marks the World Disability Day, the NGO gave a busload of pupils with poor eyesight, a never-before paragliding experience from Darjeeling to Labang.

Earlier, on January 24, 2014, at the city’s Mohor Kunja lawns, an Indo-Bangladesh cultural festival was hosted wherein a bevy of special students pitched in their creativity in art, music and dance. Besides, a painting exhibition was of late held solely involving candidates with special needs.

“We make the so-called physically challenged boys and girls indulge in a host of cultural activities including sports. And believe me, they emerge with flying colours, contending with the general category of healthy candidates,” informs Mr Roy.

Having tied up with Bengal Chess Association, he further cites a possibility of a focused chess-training workshop of two-three days, sometime soon in August.

“If they fare well in the workshop, they may land up with an opportunity to participate in the forthcoming state-level championships and compete with the normal candidates. Further if their undaunting passion for the game make them take a shine to the sport with enough seriousness to chalk out a professional career in the near future, then the authorities may even go that extra mile to send them abroad, spotting a latent spark in many of them. So that prospect is also not ruled out at any cost,” he augurs well for the students, sounding optimistic.

Thus, acting as a succour to sustain the promising future of uncountable John Miltons, Louis Brailles and Helen Kellers hidden amongst us in our society, NIP’s efforts really come as a commendable attempt in building their confidence, developing a competitive spirit in them and boosting their morale. Kudos!


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar