International Braille Chess Association

                  History of the Organization

         Compiled and Equiped with Combinding Texts by

                      Hans-Gerd Schaefer

                  Translated by Julie Leonard


                        C h a p t e r    III

                        The Member Countries

The national chess organisations that made the most significant
contributions to the formation of an international association
of blind and partially sighted chess players were the "Deutsche
Blindenschachbund" (DBSB) in West Germany, together with the
appropriate section of the Blind and Partially Sighted
Association in East Germany and the British "Braille Chess
Association" (BCA).  For this reason it may be of interest to
the reader to look at the development of these associations in
greater detail.  The development of associations in other
countries, such as, for example, Russia, Spain, Hungary,
Switzerland and Lithuania, will also be described.


The chapter on Russia, formerly part of the USSR, is a quite
exceptional one on account of the sheer scale of the numbers
involved.  Relatively little is heard from Russia concerning
chess for the blind, despite the fact that there are
considerably more blind chess players there than in the rest of
the world put together.  Here are a few articles from the
"INFORMATIONSBLATT" (Information Circular).

Information Circular 3 64-65 - Article by J. Krebca
(Czechoslovakia) - In Russia chess is given pride of place by
the sighted and the blind alike!  In practically all of their
large cities the All-Russian Blind Association, "VOS", runs
workshops for the blind to which a group of blind chess players
is usually affiliated.  This fact alone explains the unusually
high number of approximately 11,000 blind chess players in

Of course, many blind people also play against the sighted and
have already achieved great successes.  Accordingly, a young
blind chess player, Gimadeyev, managed to finish on equal points
with a sighted regional champion in the Stavropol district and
qualified for the national championships.

In October 1963 International Grandmaster Korchnoi gave a
simultaneous display on twenty-five boards at the Leningrad
Blind Chess Club.

In 1964 the All-Russian Blind Association, "VOS", organised the
qualifying event for the National Blind Chess Championship.
Sixty-six chess players from 43 chess groups were entitled to
play.  Divided into six groups, battle commenced in six of this
vast country's towns.  The top two players from each group would
qualify for the national championship.  A further four players
were presumably added to these twelve so that sixteen
competitors took part in the final.

Neither was women's chess neglected.  Thirty-five ladies from
thirty blind chess clubs competed in three groups for victory
and a place in the finals.  The top four players from each group
took part in the National Women's Championship, amongst them the
latest Women's Champion N. Larionova from Gorky.

Information Circular 1 1981 - The semi-finals of the 14th
All-Russian Blind Association Team Championship were held at the
end last year.  It was played in five groups of twelve teams
each.  A separate venue was provided for each group.  Only two
teams from each group are entitled to a place in the finals,
which will take place in Stavropol this autumn.  The reigning
Team Champion will also compete.  When working out the
composition of the groups, great care is taken to ensure that
the strongest teams do not meet one another in the early rounds.

The finalists are Bashkir, Bygorod, Voronezh, Ivanovo,
Kuybyshev, Leningrad, Moscow (Region), Moscow (City), Omsk,
Rostov am Don and Stavropol.

In the USSR, National Championships are held in addition to the
Championships of the All-Russian Blind Association.  The
National Championship was held last year in September and
October.  One team from each of the fourteen republics of the
USSR took part in this competition.  The surprise winner was the
team from Alma-Ata (Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan), ahead of the
team from the Ukraine and the original favourite Moscow (City)
who tied for second place.  (Heinz Reschwamm)

Information Circular 2 1981 - This time the traditional
International Match between the USSR and Yugoslavia was held in
Ulci on the Adriatic from the 2nd to the 8th of October.  The
team from the USSR attained an unexpectedly convincing victory
with 15.5 to 8.5 points.  Only the six best players from both
countries take part in this event.  Here are the individual
     1    Krylov - Baretic ............ 2.5 - 1.5 Points
     2    Rudensky - Djukanovic ....... 2.5 - 1.5 Points
     3    Gimadeyev - Negovanovic ..... 3.0 - 1.0 Points
     4    Strokov - Cabarkapa ......... 3.0 - 1.0 Points
     5    Strishniev - Avram .......... 2.5 - 1.5 Points
     6    Guzinin - Dragun ............ 2.0 - 2.0 Points
The next tournament of this type will once again be held in the
USSR on the Black Sea.

Information Circular 2 1982 - The semi-finals of the Team
Championship took place in Orenburg in October.  Out of the
twelve teams competing, those from Perm and Voronezh have
qualified for next year's Team Championships.  The Individual
Championship of the All-Russian Blind Association was held in
May in Krasnodar where twenty-one players competed in an
all-play-all.  Anatoly Gimadeyev from Stavropol finished the
tournament victoriously on 15 points and became the new
champion.  Only half a point behind was the young contender from
Leningrad, S. Smirnov, followed by Krylov (World Blind Chess
Champion), Strokov and Alpert, all from Moscow, in joint third
place on 14 points.  Fellow chess enthusiasts Rudensky and
Kulakov occupied the next places with 12.5 points.  Taking part
in this event were an International Master, five Masters, nine
Master Candidates and six USSR Class I players.
                                  From a report by
                                  Paul Erös, Budapest (Hungary)


Little information has been passed on from the countries that
belonged to the USSR for forty years or more.  There was indeed
a certain degree of individuality and they even held
competitions amongst themselves or occasionally with foreign
teams.  However, chronicles give only sparse information, as for
example in the following report from Lithuania:

At the beginning of July 1952, a Lithuanian team took part in a
friendly tournament for Baltic teams for the first time.  The
event took place in Tallinn.  The team members were: Antanas
Ruginis, Bronius Petrokas, Napoleonas Kuolys, Viadas
Kraucevicius, Gabrielius Stankevicius and a sighted chess
friend, Jonas Kliunka.

For the first time in the history of the Soviet Union a blind
lady chess playeré Ingaunyt Stasé earned the title of Master.
The award "Sports Champion of the USSR" was bestowed on her.

On the 19th of April, 1992 the chess section of the Lithuanian
Union of Blind and Partially Sighted Sportsmen became a member
of the International Braille Chess Association (I.B.C.A.)


The national organisation for the blind and partially sighted in
Spain, O.N.C.E. (Organizacin Nacional para Ciegos Espaoles),
was founded in the town of Burgos on the 13th of December 1938
as a consequence of the Spanish Civil War.  It was primarily
aimed at taking care of the war blind.  To this end the
organisation was granted certain privileges.  It was given and
still holds, a lottery license.  Additionally, O.N.C.E. owned
various production centres for the manufacture of brooms,
wickerwork and confectionery.  Today, O.N.C.E. is a real
commercial empire.  Although O.N.C.E. has invested its profits
in numerous enterprises like, for example, TV-Tele 5, Travel
Agency 2000, sports equipment, supermarkets, dry cleaning, Radio
Onda Cero and others, 80% of its income (currently about 385
million Pesetas per annum) still comes from the lottery "CUPON
PRO CIEGOS".  The majority of the workers and all of the
directors are blind.

Amongst those blinded in the Civil War there were, of course,
some high-ranking officials.  General Francisco Franco was
greatly in favour of the idea behind O.N.C.E. and exempted the
organisation from having to pay tax on its lottery sales, which
is a privilege that it still enjoys today.  Right from the start
O.N.C.E. was economically strong enough to be able to help all
the blind and to provide appropriate positions for the important
high-ranking officials.  Naturally, in the late 1930's a chess
section of O.N.C.E. was brought into being in Madrid.  From the
very beginning, chess was the best-loved leisure pursuit amongst
the blind.  This was all the more true when the game began to be
played seriously within the sports association and became fully
competitive.  In 1944 the chess section of O.N.C.E took part in
the Open Team Competition that was played in regional clubs.
There, the best players, Ramon Bosch Climent and Juan Fiter
Rocamora, a passionate chess theoretician with many
international connections, proposed publishing the Braille
magazine TABLERO DE AJEDREZ.  It is still produced today and is
an important means of maintaining contact and exchanging
information for the blind chess players in Spain.  Today,
O.N.C.E itself not only organises the Federacion Madrilea de
Ajedrez, but also other blind chess clubs in Murcia, Tarragona,
Algeciras, Ingenie, Cantabria, Las Palmas, Saragossa, Tenerife,
Alicante and Barcelona.  Led by Lucio Baigorri and highly rated
players like Jesus Ugena and Vernando Vargas, the O.N.C.E. team
from Madrid soon reached the highest regional category.  Even
isolated blind chess players who were members of sighted clubs
immediately joined in the competition.  This was also the case
in Murcia, where Antonio Hierro played in the Casino de Murcia
Club's team and in San Sebastian where, José Maria Lavin took
part in "REY ARDID" with his club's team.

In the 1950's there was a radical change in blind chess.  A new
generation of players left the O.N.C.E. schools.  The most
important names were those of Jesus Ariste, who played for the
"REUS DE AJEDREZ" club and became a member of the Spanish
Olympiad team, and Delfin Burdo Gracia, who, in the course of
his long and brilliant career, won the titles of "Campéon
Provincial" (Provincial Champion) in Aragon Jaém and Alicante.
On several occasions he took part in the finals of the
"Campéonato de Espaa de Ajedrez Individual" (Spanish Individual
Championship) and was also the Spanish O.N.C.E. Champion and a
member of the Spanish Olympiad team for twenty years.  These
days he is a FIDE Arbiter and the president of the I.B.C.A..

The first "CAMP`EONATO DE ESPAA DE AJEDREZ" tournament for the
blind was announced in the 1960's.  At the early tournaments
people did not give much thought to public sponsorship.
Therefore, in order to safeguard the future of the most
important blind sport in Spain, whose long-term development was
still uncertain, the chess players received only limited
logistical assistance at first.

Up until 1978 our players reached the Finals of the "CAMP`EONATO
DE ESPAA".  From 1970 it became free to enter and tournaments
were played according the Swiss System.

In 1986 O.N.C.E. established the Sports Association Negociado de
Deportes, which organised the oldest blind sport in Spain from
then on.  In 1986 Spanish blind chess celebrated their tenth
individual championship, which was held in Las Palmas.
Thirty-six players took part.  Until September 1988, when 104
players appeared at the event, the number of competitors in the
Individual championship was unrestricted.  Thereafter however,
the huge numbers made it necessary to hold qualifying events for
national tournaments.  So in 1990 it was agreed that fifty-four
players would be promoted from the qualifying stages.  The
"CAMPEONATO DE ESPAA for the blind" has since developed into a
very demanding tournament of a remarkably high standard.

The second chess team championship for the blind and partially
sighted was arranged by the Organisation des Negociado de
Deportes in 1987 and since then the event has taken place every
other year, alternating with the individual championship.  The
O.N.C.E. Team Cup was established in 1994 and is run on a knock
out system.  Likewise, according to the information from the
organisers, young players have competed in a very challenging
annual tournament since 1994.

Alongside the internal competitions, the main thrust of the
development of Spanish blind chess was towards participating in
international events.  These efforts bore fruit both in terms of
the integration of the blind people as well as for the game of
chess.  Every year the players take part in more than ten
international open tournaments in Spain.  Spanish blind chess
has even provided the impetus for new competitions on an
international level: the 1st WORLD CUP, the strongest team event
organised by the I.B.C.A., was contested in the old royal town,
Segovia (Spain) in 1990; the first European Championship, an
open competition with a number of invited players from the
member organisations, was held in 1995 in Benasque, Huesca in
the Spanish Pyrenees.


Year  Winner       Region     Year  Winner       Region
1979: Barcelona .. Alicante   1991: Barcelona .. Tenerife
1987: Madrid ..... Santander  1993: Barcelona .. Majorca
1989: Madrid ..... Linares    1995: Madrid ..... Valladolid

                         O.N.C.E. CUP
Year  Winner       Region     Year  Winner       Region
1994: Valencia ... Tudela     1996: Madrid ..... Algeciras

                   Individual Championship
Year Winner    Runner-up     Year  Winner    Runner-up
78:  Burdio .. Fiter          88:  Sabanez . Rubio
80:  Burdio .. Ugena          90:  Martinez  Palacios
82:  Enjuto .. Burdio         92:  Durban .. Martinez
84:  Martinez  Rubio          94_  Enjuto .. Palacios
86:  Rubio ... Martinez       96:  Durban .. Martinez


Delayed until after the Second World War, local blind chess
clubs were founded in Copenhagen in 1947 and then in almost all
large cites in southeastern Europe.  For example, the "Wiener
Schachrunde" (Viennese Chess Circle) was set up in 1952 and the
Zagreb club in 1956.  On an international level the inaugural
dates are generally a little later.  The Swiss Blind Chess
Association was founded in 1958 and the Austrian one in 1970,
although there had already been national championships in
Austria in 1951 and 1955.

I have drawn my information about the British BCA chiefly from
a document, which was compiled and published by a member of the
BCA and temporary secretary of the I.B.C.A., Jack Horrocks, on
the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the BCA in 1982.

In England the earliest chess activity can be traced back to the
year 1902.  The name F. H. Marick is associated with the Braille
Chess Club at this time.  In around 1910 the club had some
thirty members.  Until the end of the 1920's the Braille
newspaper "PROGRESS" published a supplement on the subject of
"Chess" that contained games, information and a problem section,
edited by F. H. Marick.  Then in the summer of 1931, Ernest A.
H. Eaton initiated the formation of a countrywide organisation.
On the 15th of October the idea became a reality.  One of the
eleven founder members was Reginald Walter Bonham.  In 1934 he
was instrumental in producing the "Braille Chess Magazine" that
contained, in essence, contributions from the various chess
magazines.  Bonham remained the editor of this publication for
twenty-five years.  Blind chess clubs of the type that were
emerging in Germany at this time and then again after the second
world war, either did not exist in Great Britain or were
restricted to the schools for the blind, as was the case in
Worcester.  English schools attach great importance to equipping
pupils for life in the community and working on communal
projects.  Therefore, the blind chess club for former Worcester
pupils in London that was founded in 1952 was the only one to
last for any length of time.

In Germany the development of chess progressed very slowly at
first, as is often the case with central organisations.  The
text that follows illustrates this point.  The sections of it,
which refer to Germany, have been drawn from a report on the
10th Jubilee of the German blind chess association in the year
1961.  The overview of the development of the I.B.C.A.
originates essentially from the Information Circular 2/83 and
was published for the 25th anniversary of the I.B.C.A. by Heinz
Reschwamm, who at that time was in charge of correspondence
chess and was responsible for editing the Information Circular.
I have taken these documents, and added, expanded and
extrapolated certain points.

At the end of the nineteenth century, E. Kull (Berlin) had
already written the first chess textbook for the blind and had
also had the first blind chess set made.  For a time progress
was hindered by the World War of 1914-18, but afterwards,
assisted in no small way by the involvement of those who had
lost their sight in the war, the positive developments were
revived once again.  Organised chess for the blind in Germany
came into being on the 2nd of February 1924 when the first chess
club for the blind was formed by chess inspired pupils at the
Chemnitz School for the Blind.  This club still exists today.

In 1929 chess societies were established in the Schools for the
Blind in Kiel and Düren.  The Kiel society continued to exist
even after the closure of the school for the blind and is now

The first chess supplement appeared in a Braille magazine on the
1st of January 1926.  It is particularly worth mentioning that
in Leipzig in 1936 the first chess newspaper containing news of
chess for the blind was produced.  Today it is turned out on a
large scale and appears monthly under the title  "Schachbrücke"
(Chess Bridges) in the Leipzig Central Library for the Blind.
Above all, it delights its readers with its up-to-date articles
and chess theory supplements.

In Saxony, chess for the blind was clearly blossoming in the
hands of the former pupils of the Chemnitz School for the Blind.

The result was the establishment of a union of blind
correspondence chess players from that area in 1936.  The blind
and partially sighted were discovering correspondence chess for
themselves.  There was already correspondence chess activity
here before the nationally and internationally organised over
the board tournaments.  Broadly speaking, these were actually
informal groups of pen friends that had found one another
through and were now held together by their enjoyment of chess.
Both before and after the Second World War it was suggested time
and time again that groups of chess enthusiasts should be
established on a regional and national level.

Esperanto provided the most important international links that
helped chess to gain international status.  As early as 1921 the
first congress of blind Esperanto speakers was held in Paris.
The association's publication "ESPERANTA LIGILO" was even
expanded to include a chess appendix, KORIERE, which it kept for
decades.  In fact, it reports that after the Second World War,
the German section of blind Esperanto speakers was
re-established in Munich in 1951.  Yet even before that,
sufficient copies of the Braille magazine, "ESPERANTA LIGILO",
produced in Sweden by Mr Harald Tilander, were finding their way
into occupied Germany.  From the 1st of January 1951 blind and
partially sighted chess players in international correspondence
chess groups, were playing in the first international
correspondence chess tournament.  A few German players from each
of the occupied zones took part.  It is also reported that the
International Congresses of Esperanto Speakers were often asked
to hold chess tournaments.  The last of these took place in

In 1955 the first preparatory body for international over the
board matches was set up.  It became an international effort,
which finally extended beyond correspondence chess in 1958.
Here I refer, for example, to the extract from the Austrian
Blind Chess Association's "Announcements" in the previous
chapter, which identifies seven founder organisations.  Here is
another short text from the 3rd I.B.C.A. President, Dr. Aren

                        Chess and the blind
Chess was already being nurtured in the first schools for the
blind and as a consequence of this it became a much-loved game
for many blind people.  In the 1930's competitions were already
being held on a national level.  Correspondence chess was the
pacesetter for international competitions and the first
competition for the blind was announced in 1951.  It was logical
that discussions then turned to forming an international chess
organisation.  In 1958 the idea became reality in the shape of
the International Braille Chess Association.  Understandably,
correspondence chess remained the primary activity at first, and
Individual World Championships were held.  Team competitions,
the so-called Correspondence Chess Olympiad, followed later.  In
1961 the first Blind Chess Olympiad was held in Meschede (West

                    Two additional notes:

1.   The founding of the "Fédération Internationale des Echecs"
     (F.I.D.E.), whose president for twenty-five years was the
     unforgettable Dutchman, Alexander Rueb, dates from the 20th

    of July 1924.  Only nineteen member organisations took part
     at the start.  Today more than 150 countries belong to

2.   German chess players also made a contribution to the idea
     of founding a World Chess Organisation: together with
     representatives of the All-Russian Chess Union, they put in
     a request for this at the Congress of the "Deutschen
     Schachbundes" or DSB (German Chess Union) in Mannheim in
     1914. Sadly, amongst all the upheaval and confusion of the
     First World War, this idea was once again discarded.

The first worldwide correspondence chess association, the
"internationale Fernschachbund" (ISFB), was set up in 1928.
Therefore, F.I.D.E. is the older of the two organisations.
Correspondence chess is a very interesting form of the game.
Many of our great chess masters were and are skilled
correspondence players.  It is said of Mikhail Tal that as a
young man he often played up to a hundred correspondence games
at one time.  People who send off their moves by post, after
thinking about them for two to three days, can use every
theoretical principle available to them, and can explore all
possible variations: those that lead to a dead end as well as
those that result in a supposed winning position.  This is where
the disadvantages of being blind have far-reaching effects.
Consider for a moment that chess literature, which is relatively
easily available to a sighted opponent, is only of use to a
blind or partially sighted player once it has been transcribed
into Braille.  Also bear in mind how much a blind or partially
sighted chess player must pay for this literature and how much
room it takes up.  Braille books are not only very expensive,
but also very cumbersome.  The use of computers will perhaps
reduce the amount of space needed, but will certainly not
decrease the cost.  It is decidedly true that to a certain
extent a player retains the knowledge gained and preparations
devised during intensive concentration on correspondence chess
games for use in over the board games.  Correspondence chess
experience gives a player a good theoretical grounding, which is
intended to save a lot of thinking time during the game.

In addition to the valuable incentives emanating from Saxony,
the intensive chess activity in the schools for the blind in
Kiel and Düren also had a beneficial effect on the further
development of chess for the blind in Germany.  In the early
1930's, teams from both schools were already competing regularly
in sighted tournaments.  Their many successes made an important
contribution to enhancing the reputation of blind chess players
in particular as well as of blind people in general.

On the 11th of October 1943, in the middle of the Second World
War, the Westphalian Blind Chess Association was founded thanks
to the authoritative co-operation of the brothers, H. and F.
Uekermann.  The members competed in correspondence chess

1948 saw the return of direct encounters between chess
enthusiasts in the form of the "Three Towns Challenge" involving
Chemnitz, Leipzig and Halle.  This was the first inter-regional
event in German blind chess after the Second World War.

In the very next year the first blind chess championships of the
then Soviet-occupied zone of Germany were held in Wernigerode

There was also plenty of chess activity in West Germany.  Once
again it was the Westphalian chess enthusiasts who forged ahead
with their efforts to establish a blind chess organisation is
West Germany.  They were led by Hermann Uekermann (Herfort), who
later became one of the initiators in setting up the I.B.C.A.,
its vice-president and then the second president from 1972 until
his all too early death in autumn 1977.  Finally they achieved
their goal.  In 1951 seventeen blind and partially sighted chess
players from virtually every part of West Germany accepted an
invitation to the first German Chess Championship for the Blind
in Stukenbrock (District of Paderborn).  West Germany was
initially a state-like structure made up of the zones occupied
by the three so-called Western powers, the U.S.A., Great Britain
and France.  During the tournament, on the 2nd of May 1951, they
founded the "Deutschen Blindenschachbund" or DBSB (German Blind
Chess Association).  In doing so they laid the foundation stone
for a national blind chess organisation, which, alongside the
British one, would become one of the most active in the

The Spaniard, Juan Fiter, one of our best correspondence chess
players, was a member of the I.B.C.A. committee for many years.
He died in September 1981.  Fiter finished in the top three in
all of the recent World Correspondence Chess Championships in
which he took part.  In the 11th Championship of this type he
even became the Blind Correspondence Chess World Champion.  He
was not only the editor of the Spanish Blind Chess newspaper,
but also an official in the Spanish authorities for the blind.

Information Circular 2 1982 - There was a strong entry of
twenty-nine players in the Spanish National Blind Chess
Championship which took place in Cordoba from the 24th to the
31st of January.  There was a lot riding on the result for the
winner would be entitled to take part in the 5th World Blind
Chess Championship in Hastings.

Quite surprisingly, the winner was Roberto Enjuto, just twenty
years old, who scored 6.5 points and finished ahead of the
previous champion, Burdio, on 6 points.  Joint third to fifth
were Rubio, Lopez and Florencio with 5.5 each and Garcia was
sixth on 5 points.

It was pleasing that so many young chess enthusiasts took part
in this competition.

The 6th Spanish Team Championship of December 1995 illustrates
how much is currently done for blind chess by Spain,
specifically by O.N.C.E., the Spanish organisation for the
blind.  Nine blind chess clubs were represented at the event -
two teams from Madrid and as many as three from Barcelona.  Each
consisted of four players and most teams also had a reserve.  On
top of that, each team brought its own coach with them.  Madrid
"A" won with 35.5 board points, ahead of Barcelona "A" on 33.5
and Valencia on 28.  Yet the result of this encounter, which
takes place every second year, is of secondary importance.  Of
greater significance is the fact that the playing of chess, as
a means of helping to integrate the blind and partially sighted,
benefited from this event.

Smaller countries like, for example, Hungary, often have to
battle with the same sort of problems but on a different scale
- everything seems to be compressed into a small number of
decades or even years.  Before the Second World War there were
already a few Braille chessboards in Hungary that had been
manufactured specifically for the blind, but only on their own
initiative at first.  However, chess tournaments for the blind
and partially sighted were still unheard of.  Organised chess
for the blind did not begin until the end of the 1940's.  Chess
enthusiast, Joszef Zich, a music teacher at the Vakok
Iskol...ja school for the blind, started organising the Chess
Circle for the Visually Handicapped in Budapest in 1952.  It was
here that the first national blind chess championship was held
in 1954.  In the border town of Szombathely the idea of matches
between blind and partially sighted chess teams had been around
since the beginning of the 1950's.

The music teacher, Jzsef Zich, a gifted organiser and himself
an excellent chess player, had chessboards made for the pupils.
As he himself was partially sighted he was able to play in the
Hungarian team at the 3rd Blind Chess Olympiad in Weymouth
(Great Britain) in 1968 and at the 4th in Pula (Yugoslavia) in

Jzsef Miskei, an official from the state government in the
capital, who brought with him an interest in and a dedication to
both chess and the blind, arranged for young chess players at
the school to participate in the championship held by the
Pioneers.  He was an honorary co-worker in the Hungarian Chess

Eventually, all these activities and endeavours led to the
founding of the first blind chess club in Budapest in 1950.  In
the initial phase it consisted of a dozen players at most.
Money was short so the privilege of being able to play chess was
restricted to those who could afford to buy their own board.
Nevertheless, further blind and partially sighted chess clubs
were established in the region, specifically in Zagreb, Novi
Sad, Ossijek, Subotiza and Zombor.  They often engaged in
competitions with one another.  It was still difficult to make
progress at this time, but slowly but steadily things improved.
In the hands of the association for the blind, chess activity
continued to develop.  From 1967 onwards, blind and partially
sighted chess players from Hungary were often invited to
Czechoslovakia, Austria and once even to Romania.  In the
Comecon countries, as they were known at the time, a growing
interest in safeguarding social diversity became evident and
this was also encouraged by the State.  After two years the
chess scene was livened up by the introduction of its own chess
newspaper and a chess coach.  1956 saw the appearance of the
first chess clocks that had been specially designed so that the
blind could operate them without any assistance.  They were
manufactured by the "Hungarian Optical Factory" (MOM).  At this
time the chess club in Budapest already had more than thirty
members.  The membership peaked in 1960 when it stood at about
sixty.  The first match between teams from Budapest and
Zsombathely took place that year.  On the recommendation of the
influential party functionary, Zolt n G bor, a Hungarian team
was granted the opportunity to take part in the 2nd Blind Chess
Olympiad in Kühlungsborn on the Baltic (East Germany) in 1964.
For quite some time Zolt n G bor attended various blind chess
events in Hungary with interest and commitment.  Visually
handicapped chess players in Hungary owe him a great deal.  The
reports inserted here are drawn from the I.B.C.A. Information
Circulars 1964-65, 1981 and 1982.  (Edited by Heinz Reschwamm.)

Information Circular 3 - 1964-65 - "As has been the case every
year since 1954, the National Championship was again held in
1963 and 1964, after the preliminary qualifying rounds.  In 1963
the highly sought after title was won by our chess colleague
Dénes, but in 1964 it was fellow chess enthusiast Auffenberg who
became the National Champion.

Both before and after the championship, the inter-town matches,
that had quickly become a tradition in their own right, were
held against blind chess groups from Zsombathely and Miskol.
The Budapest Blind Chess Club was fortunate enough to win every
time.  Paul Erös writes, "Even when competing against our
sighted chess friends, our teams fought with great success in
the various sections."

In the latest Budapest Club Championship there was a tie between
Dénes and Fauszek for the title of Club Champion.

A two-year long international correspondence chess match was
held against Czechoslovakia (at the time this was a union of two
states: Slovakia and the Czech Republic).  Hungary won with 7.5
points to 4.5.

Also, we managed to win an eight board international
correspondence match against West Germany that lasted for nearly
two years, by 10 points to 6.

Our greatest success was undoubtedly the participation of a
Hungarian team in the 2nd Blind Chess Olympiad, where it
somewhat unexpectedly finished in second place!
                              From a report by J. Dénes"

The "Monday Championship", in which blind and partially sighted
people from the capital, Budapest, have already achieved
admirable success, has been in existence since the middle of the
1980's.  From 1954 until around 1971 a great variety of chess
activities were held in the two towns of Szombathely and Miskol
and naturally also in Budapest, where a large proportion of
blind people live.  These included, above all, the individual
championship, as well as team competitions, which led to matches
being held twice a year for a while.  Additionally, a national
championship was held on an almost regular basis at this time.
Sadly, this event has tailed off a little in recent years.
Since 1963 chess players and track and field athletes have been
working together in the sports circle.  Tandem riders, goalball
players and mountain climbers joined them slightly later.  But
unfortunately, there was a gradual decline in chess in the whole
country.   Not until a few years later did Hungarian blind chess
establish itself firmly in the sports circle alongside the other
sporting activities for the blind and partially sighted.  Here
are some further extracts from the I.B.C.A. Information
Circulars of 1981:

Team competitions against sighted clubs were held from the
start, but the best results were not achieved until the 70's and
Information Circular 1 1981 - In this year's Individual
Championship, in which nineteen players took part, Paul Erös
triumphed once again.  It was an extremely hard-fought battle!
With 8.5 points, Er"s successfully defended his titles of
National and Club Champion, closely followed by fellow chess
enthusiasts Nemes and Rév, with 8 points apiece and Dénes on 7.5
points.  From the 29th of May to the 2nd of June, the Budapest
Chess Club visited Zagreb where a team of Croatian players
defeated them by a relatively convincing margin of 10.5 points
to 5.5.

Information Circular 2 1981 - A Hungarian team visited Varna
(Bulgaria) from the 12th to the 16th of September and was
defeated by 11 points to 9.  Only a few weeks earlier Hungary
had played host to an Austrian team and somewhat surprisingly,
had also been defeated by them, by 11 points to 9.

After a short illness, Joszef Zich died very unexpectedly at
the start of December.  Our fellow chess enthusiast, Zich, was
a teacher of music at the Hungarian school for the blind in
Budapest and a very active member of the blind chess club there.

He represented his country as a delegate at the 5th I.B.C.A.
Congress in Medulin, Pula (Yugoslavia).  He was one of the most
loyal followers of correspondence chess and had participated in
the I.B.C.A. correspondence chess tournaments for many years
where he had had great success.

Information Circular 1 1982 - On this occasion Paul Erös was
unable to retain his title in the Hungarian Individual
Championship and finished in joint second place with Rév on 7.5
points each, just behind Nemes on 8.5 points.  Auffenberg came
fourth on 7 points.  However, another competition was held to
determine which of the top three would take part in the 5th
Blind Chess World Championship and this was won by Er"s.

Information Circular 2 1982 - At the Individual Championship,
which ended on the 20th of December 1982, Rév finished on 10
points in front of Er"s, 9.5, and quite unexpectedly Auffenberg,
with 8.5.  All three were unbeaten.  Fourth and fifth were
Bathyny and the previous year's champion, Nemes, on 8 points
each, followed by Dénes on 7.5 and Kovac on 7 points.  The next
six players followed after a substantial gap.
           From a report by P. Erös, Budapest

In 1985 the Hungarian Blind Association in Szentendre
established a new chess tournamenté the IRIS Cup, which has
since become a regular event, having been held every second year
in varying formats and with varying participants.  At the first
tournament, which was won by Yugoslavia, two Hungarian teams
were amongst the twelve four-man teams taking part.
Additionally, there were teams from Poland, West Germany, East
Germany, Holland, Finland, England, Austria and Bulgaria.

The organisation of the 8th Blind Chess Olympiad and the 9th
I.B.C.A. Congress in Zalaegerszeg in 1988 was undoubtedly a
proud moment for Hungary and the blind chess organisation there.

This event was financed by an unexpectedly generous response to
the national appeal made to raise funds for sending Hungarian
disabled sportsmen and women to the Paralympics in Seoul, South
Korea in the same year.  It is undoubtedly thanks to the
long-serving President of the Hungarian chess association for
the blind and partially sighted, Joszef Dénes, that this one and
only opportunity to finance the Blind Chess Olympiad was
recognised and seized upon.  The organisation of this event was
a memorable achievement for such a small country.


Switzerland - The Swiss Blind Chess Association was also founded
in July 1958.  At that time, Robert Gabriel, blind and severely
disabled but full of energy and ideas, was living in central
Switzerland high above Lake Lucerne.  He had a dream of forming
a Swiss Blind Chess Association.  On the 15th of December 1956,
Walter Müller and Max Winkelmann sought out R. Gabriel in
Selisberg.  They decided to arrange a correspondence chess
tournament in Switzerland at the start of 1957, in order to
generate interest in blind chess in their country.  Ten people
entered immediately.  Before long there were twelve of these
correspondence chess tournaments in Switzerland.  Encouraged by
this, the trio organised the first over the board Swiss Blind
Chess Championship in the July.  Sixteen players took part.  The
Swiss Blind Chess Association was founded at this event with
Robert Gabriel as the first president, Hans Sticher as treasurer
and Max Winkelmann as secretary and tournament director.  As
Braille chess literature was practically non-existent in
Switzerland, Max Winkelmann tried as early as 1960 to fill this
void with the world's first chess newspaper on tape.  It appears
quarterly and contains all sorts of information and theoretical
examples, as well as practical ones from national and
international chess events.  Also, in November 1960 the first
chess match between the Swiss Blind Chess Association and a team
from Southwest Germany was held in Freiburg in Breisgau.  Ever
since then, with only one small interruption, this event has
been taking place every autumn with the venue alternating
between Germany and Switzerland.  When Robert Gabriel died in
1961 at the age of only 34, Max Winkelmann became the 2nd
president of the Swiss Blind Chess Association, which has around
forty members today.

At the start of the 1960's Max Winkelmann became acquainted with
Hermann Ükermann, who was president of the DBSB (German Blind
Chess Association) at the time.  Switzerland entered one of the
seven teams that took part in the 1st Blind Chess Olympiad in
Meschede, Sauerland (West Germany) in 1961.  The I.B.C.A.
Congress of 1972 elected Max Winkelmann as treasurer, a task
that he and his very supportive wife took care of for twelve
years until he had to resign due to health reasons.

Admittedly, since the Congress in Weymouth, 1968, membership of
the I.B.C.A. is restricted to national blind chess organisations
only, as is the case in F.I.D.E..  However, the organisation's
constitution allows for three types of exceptions: honorary
members, which can be appointed by the I.B.C.A. Congress,
patrons of the I.B.C.A. and individual players, who wish to
compete at an international level, but have no national blind
chess association in their country.  Therefore it is important
for the I.B.C.A. to strive for more national member

The type of chess clock that was familiar to most people could
not be used by blind and partially sighted chess players.  From
the start, assistance from sighted chess colleagues was needed
in order to use the clock because the blind or partially sighted
player needed to ask someone how much time had been used.
Naturally, there were both clocks and alarm clocks for the blind
in existence, and by combining two of them, along with the
appropriate mechanism for stopping one clock and starting the
other, a chess clock for the blind was cobbled together.  For
sighted chess players, the usual timing device was the flag,
which when it fell, indicated unambiguously that an hour had
passed.  On the first clocks for the blind, however, the time
was deemed to have run out when the minute hand had clearly
moved past the twelve.  This solution could be described as
makeshift at best and many chess enthusiasts were concerned
about how the method for measuring time could be improved on
chess clocks for the blind.

At the first Blind Chess Olympiad in Meschede in 1961 the
English chess players unexpectedly presented an almost ideal
solution: a clock with two faces.  On top of a Plexiglass face
furnished with the usual markings, a second, larger hand is
attached to a lengthened shaft and rotated in conjunction with
the original one.  The clock face for the sighted, which lies
behind the Plexiglass, is in control of the dreaded flag that is
so vital for giving a precise measurement of time.  The clock
was tested and it proved effective.  Subsequently, further
developments even led to a flag which could be touched, so that
in respect of the chess clock, blind chess players of today can
even play lightning chess without a sighted assistant.


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