Through a search engine term about Visual Impaired chess players, I’ve decided [back in 2009!] to create an entry about Chess for Visually Impaired Chess players. You can also read about Cecil Vosloo, South Africa’s champion.
How Visually Impaired Play Chess The Chess Board of 64 squares has the following modifications:
- All the Black squares are raised about 3-4 mm above the white squares. By feeling the squares, the player is able to determine whether the square is a black or a white one.
- Each of the squares on the Board has a hole in the centre so that the pieces can be fixed in these holes.
- Each of the pieces has a downward projection (nail) at the base, which fits into the hole in the squares on the Board, thereby fixing the piece securely on the board.
- All the Black pieces have a pin fixed on their heads helping the player distinguish between a white and a black piece.
The players therefore, by feeling the raised or the lowered squares can figure out whether the piece is on a black or a white square. By feeling the shape of the piece, they can determine whether the piece is a Pawn, Rook, Bishop, Knight, Queen or King. The touch of the pin on the pieces helps the player from distinguishing a white piece from a black one. The player is therefore able to have a clear picture in his mind of the position on the Board. He is now ready to take on any opponent, sighted or otherwise. After making every move, the visually impaired person is required to announce the move aloud, so that his opponent comes to know of the move. Instead of writing the moves on a Score Sheet, the visually impaired player writes the moves in Braille or records the moves on a tape recorder.
A little while ago, – in 2009 to be honest! -I did a search on visually impaired chess players on the web, as someone found my blog through a search engine term linked to visually impaired chess players. I came across Cecil Vosloo, a visually impaired chess player from South Africa on a site where he left some details about himself. I contacted him and he’s sent me some more info about himself. Visually impaired people have always been closed to my heart. As a student, and later as a teacher, I worked with visually impaired children and met Mariette, a High School student, who loved chess. We played many games – during the evenings when I did study duty in their hostel and I was always amazed by her bubbly personality, despite her visual disability. She tried to remember the layout of the chess board and where every chess piece was after each move. She had to observe the board from my point of view and from hers! That must be quite difficult, as you need to remember where both players pieces are and what your opponent tries to do and what you want to do!
On the site where I found Cicel, this was his personal message: My name is Cicel Vosloo. Born and bred on a farm, my dream was to become a farmer. This wasn’t to be though, because, whilst fighting a neighbour’s fire, my face was was terribly burnt, resulting in the loss of my sight. My initial anger gave way to the realisation that God provided me with a challenge, that, with His support I would be able to meet. Whilst attending a college for the blind, I started playing chess. In 2007 I won the national chess competition, which gave me a new lease on life.Currently I am ranked the number two South African Braille Chess Player and am honoured to be invited to represent South Africa in the Braille Chess Olympiad, an international event, in Greece in October 2008.
Via email Cecil sent me the following in October 2009:
Well, where do I start? I like the outdoors, BBQ’s and South Africa’s sunny weather. For me personally, I enjoy chess very much. I had been playing blind cricket for about three years, for the Gauteng club, but due to all sorts of interests, I’ve decided to quit. I had been playing chess since the beginning of the 2000’s and it came as an amazing surprise as how much you can actually learn from chess, how many friends you make and the respect you are treated with. It is not always easy to get around to get to clubs, and then of course the transport problem when you need to play tournaments far from home. It was my first time at an Olympiad in 2008, it was mind blowing -the tricks the guys pull for a win, amazing, but of course all in the rules. South Africa is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to blind chess.
Since Greece I played in 6 tournaments: January – Piet Roberts Open – 3.5/6 sighted March – Gauteng Open – second April – Top Eight – forth June – Kolonade – first June – Louis Braille Open – second August – SA Nationals – third.
I did contact Cecil again, as this entry got ‘lost’ as one of my 100+ drafts! So Cecil has now updated me with more info about him and his chess whereabouts.
July 2011 update: In 2010 I played in the sighted S.A. Open, got four wins, two draws out of nine games. In 2011 I won our blind Top Eight tournament. I won the Gauteng Open and also took part in the Commonwealth Chess Tournament which was recently held in South Africa. I got 5 points out of 11, it was a very tough tournament, 699 players took part. It was a great experience and I’m now working on getting into the team for next years Braille Olympiad. Next month is our blind S.A. tournament and I’m aiming to do well there too.
Update 27/7/2011 from Rista: Chess South Africa: SA Open 2010 4 wins, 2 draws out of 9 rounds, which was stunning. He was the only blind player in this tournament. SA Braille Closed – [Top 8] 2011 – Cicel scored 6 out of 7, he won 5 games, 2 draws. Gauteng Braille Open – Again Champion! Commonwealth and SA Open 2011 – Cicel was awesome in this tough tourney. He won the first prize for Visually Impaired players. The Braille SA Championship is 13 – 14 Aug. Cicel is a favourite to win. The Top 8 will get invited next year April to the closed championship where a decision will be made about who to present South Africa internationally and they will get to go to India. Click HERE for the results of the Braille tournament where you can see Cecil’s photo as the Champion.
Chess games I played recently [not Cecil!]. These chess games are really nothing to get excited about. The only reason why I get excited about it is because it is of my less good games – especially the game on the first link- and I also put in a lot of conditional moves in this game as my opponent was one of those very slow movers, whilst I wanted to finish the game in real time…very impatient me. [lol] I got near to the end very excited, as I put 6 complete moves in as conditional moves [just out of frustration to get the game done!] and when I logged back on, it was all done. You will see how many pieces I offered and also how unnecessary I lost my one knight! I played black and the Philidors defence as opening in this game. I offered many pieces near to the end as I knew it would be a win for me. Have fun playing through it! Click HERE to play through the second game I played. Click HERE to play through the first game against this same player [links will open in a new window]. In this game I was more focused too and played – as in many other games – the Kings Pawn opening. The last move – Qb7+ isn’t active in the pgn-viewer, although you will see the move [for some reason it prefers to stay inactive].