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Moves sharpened by mental acuity

A Correspondent
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Locking horns:Intense fight is on at the 17th State-level chess championship for the physically challenged.
Locking horns:Intense fight is on at the 17th State-level chess championship for the physically challenged.

Checkmating a physical challenge seems to have helped his game. He ran his fingers through the vacant, slightly raised black squares and felt the top of the pieces placed on the board. Gathering a quick mental picture of the position of the black pieces, he receded to plan the next move.

He and some 40 other visually challenged players are here for the passion for the game, to make intelligent moves and checkmate their opponents in the mind game.

Hosting the 17th Kerala chess championship for the visually challenged at Thalassery, which began on Sunday, the sports lovers in the town have joined hands to pay tribute to the game. The two-day championship, organised by the N.E. Balaram Memorial Sports Club, Thalassery, and the Kerala Chess Association for the Blind, has brought in people as young as 11-year-old Siddique from Kasaragod and as old as 62-year-old Rajan.

Kannur district is hosting the event for the fifth time since the association was formed in 1993. Clubs and other non-governmental organisations sponsor the event for the association, which trains students at the 16 special schools in the State in chess.

Those qualifying in the State-level championship will compete in the south zone meet. The national championship is next on the calendar.

“The world says we have a sixth sense instead of the sense of sight. We term it practice and training,” K. Sreejith, executive member of the association, said.

A. Agesh Kumar, secretary of the association, remembered the contribution of N.R Anil Kumar, a champion player from Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, to the training. The association has three players with World Chess Federation (FIDE) rating participating in the event.

Muhammed Salih, one of the FIDE-rated players, calls a challenge the time lag he experiences while competing with those with vision.

“The instant vision scan gives them a mileage over us, and possibilities of overlooking the pieces while feeling the board make it more challenging. Calculations of points are tougher too, but these are the same points which sharpen the memory and skill in the game,” he says.

Some 40 visually challenged chess players are vying for honours at a

State-level meet in Thalassery.

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