CHESS IRELAND - Braille Chess Association of Ireland


Updated 9/5/00
I am grateful to Phillip Doyle for sending on the following information about the Braille Chess Association of Ireland. In addition to the introduction that follows, Phillip has written a fascinating history of blind / braille chess in Ireland. Also included is a text file with 84 top games by BCAI members and the supplement to the FIDE Laws of Chess dealing with blind and partially sighted players

Links added 09/05/00
United Kingdom Braille Chess Association
United States Braille Chess Association

10/12/99: Philip Doyle reports: "Latest news file contains a very interesting game from the talented young English player, Chris Ross, who is studying in Germany. Chris has annotated the game beautifully and it was played against a 17-year-old girl who is obviously very talented too."

... Philip has also sent on a circular from the International Blind Chess Association and an article entitled 'Chess in the Mediterranean'.

The Braille Chess Association of Ireland was established in 1985 with the aim of promoting Chess among the blind and partially sighted. The BCAI is affiliated to the International Braille Chess Association, the Irish Chess Union and Irish Blindsports.

The BCAI organises teams and individuals to represent Ireland at international level. At home we hold our own Irish Championship and this is used as a basis for team selection. In addition to the Championship, there is a very successful international Tournament with players coming from many parts of the world to participate. These events alternate and in millennium year it will be the turn of the Open Tournament.

As well as the major events there are junior and quick-play competitions and sometimes friendly matches against some of the Chess Clubs, usually outside of Dublin. We also produce a bi-monthly magazine on cassette consisting of extracts from the Irish Chess Journal together with news of domestic and international events from the world of Braille Chess.

The annual subscription to the BCAI at present is just £2, WITH £20 FOR LIFE MEMBERSHIP. For further information contact Secretary Larry Currid, 157 Killala Road, Dublin 7. tel: 01.8681314 (home) or PRO, Philip Doyle, tel: 01,4072300 (office), fax 01.4072333, email:

Many Irish players are also members of the British Braille Chess Association, which organises a variety of tournaments, both Over-the-Board and Correspondence and these events are suitable for all standards. The BCA has a Braille library of Chess books as well as a more extensive cassette library, which contains information on all aspects of the game. In addition to their quarterly Gazette which appears in several formats, the BCA also produces several other periodicals on cassette.

At present the annual subscription is £5, with £50 for life membership. The BCA'S Secretary is Stan Lovell, 7 Coldwell Square, Crossgates, Leeds ls15 7hb. tel: 0044.113,2600013.

The International Braille Chess Association organises the team Olympiad and # World Cup and the World Individual Championship and these are held at four-yearly intervals. In addition, there are European, under 21, Women's and correspondence Championships. Further information about these can be obtained from the International Braille Chess Association.

President Delfin BurdĦo Gracia Avenida de Villajoyosa 97 15ĝ 28 B Edificio Gadner E 03 016 Alicante Spanien Tel.: 0034 (9)6/5.152.503 Fax: 003465.140010 Autotel.: 0034(9)08/666.457

General secretary Hans-Gerd Schaefer Breslauer Str. 12 D 63571 Gelnhausen 2 Deutschland Telefon, -fax: 0049/605.168.127

The blind player uses an adapted board, with the white squares slightly lower than the black. Each piece has a peg at the bottom, which is inserted into a hole in the centre of the square on which it stands, so that it remains steady while the position is being examined manually. Also one set of pieces have small dots on the top, so that they can be distinguished from the other set. Opponents use separate boards and call the moves to each other. At international level, where there is no common language, the German Algebraic notation is used, and this involves learning about twenty German words. In addition, a club player may use a Braille Chess clock and a small tape recorder or Braille device for noting moves. Chess sets, clocks etc can be purchased from the National Council for the Blind, 45 Whitworth Rd., Dublin 9. tel: 01.8307033. Chess literature is available in Braille, and to a greater extent on cassette, although the choice is not as great as one would like. Many Chess computers and Chess programmes for PCs can be used successfully by blind players with the aid of a synthetic voice. Currently, e-mail is being adopted as a new and exciting medium for playing Correspondence Chess. Partially sighted players require good lighting plus a large easy-to-see Chess set. Low vision aids are also useful when it comes to reading small print in Chess books.

Chess is said to be one of the few sports where blind people can compete independently and on equal terms with their sighted counterparts and while this assertion may be largely true certain disadvantages should not be overlooked.

(a) The fact that a blind player takes longer to survey the position on the Chess board;
(b) The difficulty of knowing precisely how much time is left on the clock;
(c) The shortage of available information on the latest developments in Chess;
(d) The difficulty of getting to tournament venues which are often off the beaten path and the problem of mobility during the event;
(e) On the rare occasions when it happens, not being able to observe the antics of an unscrupulous opponent.

Despite these obstacles, blind players often reach very high levels in Chess, with some even attaining Master standard. If you know of a visually impaired Chess player anywhere of the world who might benefit from the information in this page, please be sure to bring it to their attention.