Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - August 2005

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.


Writing the editorial at this time of the year, I once again fall back on the journalists’ maxim that August is the silly season for news. So I make no apology for introducing a long-held theory of mine which readers may consider fanciful if not downright silly.

For many years I was privileged to be engaged in a profession where mental and manual skills went hand in hand. This combination of mind and physical demands proved an excellent antidote for blotting out ongoing worry, stress and sometimes pain in my private life. I contend that this balance between mind and manual can benefit the visually-impaired chess player over his/her sighted opponent. The sighted player tends to sit very still while pondering the position and only touches a piece when making a move on the board. The visually-impaired player is repeatedly and continually handling the board, feeling the pieces, judging the potential of certain squares and examining the dangers of sinister long diagonals. All this manual and tactile activity required necessitates streams of information to and from the brain: the touch receptors and motor instigators in the brain are working over-time! Worry, recent shock, back pain and even toothache are all diversions to concentration. I maintain that the flow of impulses to and from the brain make for an ideal if temporary block to unwelcome distractions.

To quote a possible example. About two years ago in the first round of a BCA tournament I was drawn against a sighted and much higher-graded player. Unfortunately, his car had just been involved in a dangerous and unnerving brush with a lorry. I could tell that my opponent was naturally uptight; and after seventeen moves he offered me a draw. Needless to say using today’s phrase, I “bit his arm off!” Does this prove my theory? What do readers think?

Well, that’s enough theorising. In this magazine, please take a fresh look at the additions and alterations to the committee page and personnel. We acknowledge a generous donation just received. Hans Cohn serves up another rich slice from the menu “Analysing with the Computer”, and Hans also alerts us to some essential reading he has contributed to the cassette library. The AGM tournament, Haaksbergen, and our team’s very favourable performance in the 4NCL are all well reported. Finally, don’t miss the urgent plea for more members to have a go at tournament play.

If you want your next Gazette to be even better than this one, please send me your contributions by 23rd September.

Peter Price.