The International Braille Chess Association Asia-Pacific Chess Championship for the visually challenged was inaugurated on the 22nd of March 2017, and was held till the 31st of March at Manipal Academy of Higher Education. The inauguration ceremony was graced by the presence of Mr Prakash Jayaramiah, the vice-captain of the Indian cricket team for the blind, and Mr Samarth Rao, a class 10 student who has won medals at Chess tournaments for the physically disabled at an international level.
Dr Vinod Nayak, the Secretary of the Sports Council, after welcoming the guests, spoke at length about the tournament and how it came to be hosted by Manipal Academy of Higher Education. The event was formally inaugurated by Mr Charudatt Jadhav, Vice President of the International Braille Chess Association, and Dr H.S. Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
The country launched a chess software for the visually challenged, which is now used across the globe. However, he lamented the lack of support provided by the government. “Chess is one of the only sports where the visually challenged are on par with those who are sighted”, Mr Jadhav said. “The visually challenged do not need sympathy, they need opportunities”, Dr H.S Ballal, Pro-Chancellor MU, added.
The competition saw participation by players from India, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. The proceedings of each match were transcribed for a live radio programme that was being broadcasted internationally - by Mr Chandrashekhar Gokhale, an International Master and coach of the Indian team. The competition was fierce, with Kishan Gangolli, of India, coming out on top - continuing his 4 year winning streak.
The organisers at the closing ceremony exuded contentment as the packed hall was briefed about the numerous firsts achieved during competition - the dedicated internet radio for blind chess and the special written address by the Prime Minister of India being particularly noteworthy achievements.
Charudatta Jadhav, Vice President of the International Braille Chess Association, expressed his satisfaction at the competition’s conduction in his address. He also expressed his desire to make the championship at Manipal Academy of Higher Education an annual affair. The Adani Group, a sponsor of the championship, was represented by Kishore Alva who assured the tournament of the group’s support. The ceremony concluded following a line-up of various speeches that preceded the distribution of hampers to the participating countries and prizes to the winners.