Visually impaired chess champion bats for ‘talking chess board’

Salih prides himself on being Kerala’s first chess player to receive a rating from the international chess federation (FIDE) by competing with sighted players.
Visually impaired chess player Mohammed Salih engaged in a game of chess at Premier Chess Academy in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. (Photo | Vincent Pulickal)
Visually impaired chess player Mohammed Salih engaged in a game of chess at Premier Chess Academy in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. (Photo | Vincent Pulickal)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The use of a ‘talking chess board’ in competitions will help visually impaired chess players compete effectively with sighted players, Mohammad Salih, the silver medal winner at the third Asian Para Games 2018, has suggested. Salih, a visually impaired chess player from Kozhikode, was speaking at an interactive session here on Tuesday at the Premier Chess Academy where he joined as a brand ambassador.  

Salih prides himself on being Kerala’s first chess player to receive a rating from the international chess federation (FIDE) by competing with sighted players. According to Salih, the conventional chess board has two major limitations. A visually impaired person would not be aware of his sighted opponent’s moves unless the latter declares it or conveys it through notation. Also, the sighted player can retract his or her moves after realising the mistake, which a visually impaired player may not notice. 

“The electronic talking chess board, on the other hand, would announce whenever a piece is lifted from the chess board and placed elsewhere.  Also, it would help a visually impaired player keep track of the time more effectively,” Salih said. He added that adopting such modern technologies would greatly enhance the game of chess. 

Salih also stressed the importance of children practising chess at an early age as part of improving their intellectual faculties. Practising chess for a brief period every day would help professionals concentrate better, he opined. 

Salih also recollected how chess had given him many opportunities in life. He said he was able to travel extensively, meet many people and visit national and international venues, all thanks to the game. 
Holding the Tricolour at the Asian Para Games, hearing the national anthem being played out at the event and receiving a cash prize of `15 lakh from Prime Minister Narendra Modi were the proudest moments, he said.

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