Soundarya’s world silver medal may throw some light on blind chess in India

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Chennai, Aug 25 (IANS) Blind chess players are not weak and a team representing the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) had even drawn with a strong Indian team in the general Olympiad, said a top official.

Citing the silver medal won by Soundarya Pradhan in the World Junior Individual Chess Championship for the blind and visually impaired held in Poland a couple of days back, he said India is making a mark at the world level.

“We request the Indian government to recognise the All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB) and provide financial assistance for the players to participate in the international tournaments,” Charudatta Jadhav, President IBCA and AICFB told IANS.

He said Soundarya, who hails from Padampur in Bargarh district of Odisha, won the silver medal after winning the last three rounds. One of his victims was the second seed and higher rated Aeichstaedt Mirko with an ELO rating of 2,190 about 400 points higher than the Indian player.

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He said Soundarya is a totally blind chess player who is also academically brilliant and has been admitted into the National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur.

The silver medal of Soundarya is the 12th measure medal won by an Indian in a short span of time. The other medals include winning the Asian Championship title two times, bronze medal at world junior championship, individual gold medal in team championship are among the major achievements of visually impaired and blind players, Jadhav said.

He said IBCA has a membership of 72 countries.

Speaking about the blind chess players in India, Jadhav said there are more than 10,000 players with AICFB.

“There are 227 internationally rated blind/visually impaired chess players in India,” Jadhav added.

He said the AICFB has an annual budget of about Rs.20 lakh out of which the central government gives about Rs.10 lakh.

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“The government assistance is sufficient only to send a team to participate in one international tournament. The players are also chipping in their bit to participate in the international tournaments,” Jadhav said.

He said corporates like Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, ONGC, Tata Group, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India and others sponsor the game.

According to AICFB, with the help of the coach and International Master (IM) Sagar Shah several camps for the training of the players were held for Soundarya and Aryan Joshi to play in the Poland tournament.

The players were sent to participate for two grandmaster tournaments to sharpen their skills and to prepare for the World Junior Championship, AICFB said.

“Indian players play under their national flag and when they win medals, national anthem is played. But the country should also assist the players,” Jadhav appealed.

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(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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