Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2012

Edited by Rebecca Blaevoet
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Lewis Jones

One day in mid-September, I received a phone call from Isabel Jones, requesting that her father’s name be taken off the Gazette mailing list. His name was Lewis Jones and he had died on September 4 of this year. He had been a strong supporter of the Braille Chess magazine and an avid chess player all his life, she told me. He routinely played chess by telephone, in his head, though in his later years he did play on a board. I began to enquire a little more about her father and discovered a remarkable life. He had attended Worcester College as a boy and Braille was ever his beloved form of communication.

Lewis and his brothers, from a farm near Dinas Mawddwy in the heart of Welsh-speaking Wales, were the subjects of one of the most notable Welsh-language titles of the 20th century, O Tynn y Gorchudd, The Life of Rebecca Jones. He was one of three brothers, all of whom were blind due to Norris Disease; and all three of whom made a sizable contribution to the cultural life both of their communities and for vision-impaired people in general. One brother transcribed Tolstoy into Braille; another was a Theologian and the vicar of his local chapel throughout his life; and Lewis had a vibrant, creative artistic life in Nottingham, far from Tyn-y-Braich, his family’s north-Wales home. He was especially interested in the way blind people process the world around them and in finding new ways to communicate external realities to those of us who, having no vision, so often have to rely on “sighted” categorisations to understand the world around us. Isabel said he always tried to eschew the epithet “extra—ordinary” insisting that we all just make the best of the life we’re given. I trust my few words go some way toward capturing a snapshot of the life of someone whom many of you knew much better than I.

Rebecca Blaevoet and Isabel Jones