A chess championship for the blind started off here Friday, proving that the visually impaired are just as talented as the privileged and promising exciting close finishes and hitherto unseen talent. In its second edition, the All Bengal Chess Competition for the Blind, has drawn skilled chess players from several districts of the state to prove their mettle.
"Society is not aware that blind people are equally adept at doing a lot of things. They are equally talented. This championship is a way to create awareness that they are not behind anybody in talent," Debajyoti Roy, secretary National Institute of Professionals (NIP), the organisers explained.
"It also helps in confidence building and strategesing," said Roy, adding that there has been a surge in number of participants since the first leg last year.
Roy said the one-day tournament spread across five rounds, was open to players across all ages, and included many former all India champs. While the rules were the same, minor modifications of the chess boards were necessitated to aid the sightless in the matches.
The participants are allowed to feel the opponent's chess pieces to locate their positions on the board, that has got depressions and elevations to indicate positions of the black and white pieces respectively.
"Moreover, the pieces do not fall off or scatter away as there are tiny nails at the bottom through which they can be placed at appropriate squares that in turn have holes to fit in the nails," said Mishra.
To take it a step forward, Mishra said the organisation is collaborating with the apex chess body of the state - West Bengal Chess Association - to get the winners of the blind chess championships to match their skills with the mainstream players.