‘Visual impairment is not an obstacle to play chess’

The national level championship drew enthusiastic reponse from visually challenged players from across the country.

If they try, visually impaired are no less than anybody, (sic)” says Soundarya Kumar Prathan, 12, the youngest player from Orissa, among the visually challenged participants. A four day rated National Level Open Chess Tournament for blind was conducted at Kanteerava Stadium from 1 – 4 January.

The Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) or World Chess Federation is an international organization that connects the various national chess federations around the world and acts as the governing body of international chess competition.

The tournament was conducted to mark the Louis Braille Day by Samarthanam Trust, along with All India Chess Federation for the Blind. The tournament had 71 visually impaired players from 11 different states across India.

The tournament had both men and women participants with no separate categories. Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, a Bangalore based NGO, funded the tournament along with free boarding and lodging facilities for the players.

The tournament was aimed at providing a platform for the visually impaired in the field of chess. “Chess is one game where visually impaired players can compete with normal players,” says Devaraj, Head Master, Samarthanam School.

“Such competitions builds in qualities like advance thinking, strategic thinking and confidence among the players. These things help them further in life too,” says Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar, founder, Samarthanam.

“My son has participated in various chess tournaments in our State but its the first time outside,” says Guntha Jagannatham. He was accompanying his son, Guntha Sai Krishna, for the tournament from Andhra Pradesh.

“Wish to play with Vishwanathan Anand one day,” says 18-year-old, Sai Krishna. He also added that if there is commitment towards the game and confidence to play, anybody can win.

“There are lot of strong players around,” says Ashwin K Makwana, 27, Gujarat, the winner of the tournament. He received a cash prize of six thousand rupees. He also added that he was surprised to see so many young players in the tournament who had taken up chess seriously. Makwana is also the current National Champion under All India Chess Federation for the Blind.

The Tournament had two players from Karnataka. The second place was taken by 19-year-old Kishan Gangolli, Karnataka. He received a cash prize of Rs. 4500. “I tried very hard but could not reach the first place,” he said. Gangolli had also participated and secured 6th place in the U-19 World Chess Olympaid in 2011. ⊕

Deepthi M S
12 Jan 2012

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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