Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2002

Sponsored by the employees of the John Lewis Partnership including Waitrose
Edited by Peter Price
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

PROFILE - Mark Kirkham.

I live in Sheffield and have done so for the whole of my 22 years. I went to Tapton Mount School for the Blind (less than three miles from my home) and then went on to Tapton Comprehensive at the age of 12. I have just completed a mathematics degree at Sheffield University and am now in the rather scary process of job-hunting. I like statistics and so hope to get a job using figures but I'm still a bit vague about this.

I joined the BCA when I was a boy and used to play in the Under 21 Championship. I now enter tournaments whenever I can and have experienced a degree of success in the Minor section. I should really consider entering the Open in future. However, given that I have been playing chess since the age of about seven, I'm nothing like as strong a player as I feel I ought to be. I thoroughly enjoy the way in which BCA tournaments are played and controlled and I have found people to be very friendly and helpful. I much prefer over-the-board games to correspondence chess as I have more of an adrenalin rush when in the physical presence of an opponent and also due to the time factor. I accept though that correspondence chess allows people the opportunity to play against players they would not otherwise come up against. Hopefully e-mail and internet chess will mean that these chances c My chess went through something of a lull for a few years until I started at university where I joined what was then a thriving chess club. I made a number of great friends there and captained a team for three years in the Sheffield and District League. Teams consist of six players with each player having one hour to make 30 moves. The clocks are then put back 15 minutes for the completion of the game. During my time in charge we were relegated twice but promoted in between! Sadly, the club is now in decline as students seem to prefer to devote their leisure time to less brain-demanding exercises.

I am a very keen cricket follower and like to play the game with friends when the weather is fine. I also like most other sports and a wide variety of music which I listen to mainly on the radio. I have an elder sister who lives in Bristol; my mother is a ward sister at a cancer hospital and my father is a prep school teacher.