Sofia to host VIII World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually Impaired


Between July 20 and 31 Bulgaria’s capital Sofia is to host the VIII World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually-Impaired. This will be the first world chess championship for people with visual impairments in this country.

So far Bulgaria hosted a European athletics championship for people with impaired vision in the remote 1983, the Chairman of the Bulgarian Sports Federation Sport for the Visually Impaired People, Dr Ivan Yanev told Radio Bulgaria. The federation is the chief organizer of the championship.

We came up with the idea to host the World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually Impaired in 2015 when our federation was confident that it had the necessary resource to organize such a large forum and received the support of the Union of the Blind in Bulgaria, the state institutions and the Sofia Municipality, Dr Yanev went on to say.

In 2017 Bulgaria was selected by the International Braille Chess Association to host the VIII World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually Impaired. The sixteen best-performing teams at the Chess Olympiad will participate at the world championship.

The teams come from countries with strong traditions in this sport. Russia, Poland and Ukraine are the best three teams. In Dr Yanev’s words, chess in these countries has become a religion. The other participants are from Germany, Spain, Azerbaijan, India, Venezuela, Italy, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Macedonia, Slovenia,  Romania and Turkey. Each team has 4 titulars. Some of them are completely blind, others are visually impaired. The chess for people with impaired vision has its specifics, Ivan Yanev explains.

Each visually-impaired person needs a special tactile board to play chess. The black squares are protuberant and the white squares are concave. The black figures are marked with bump dots which allow the visually impaired to tell the figures. The older chess sets are equipped with small nails. In the past, the visually impaired people used braille clocks during their game and they measured the time by touching the tactile hands.


However, we have already introduced electronic speaking clocks. Moreover, we managed to buy 40 speaking clocks from Spain thanks to the support of the Bulgarian Ministry of Youth and Sports. Before we bought them we had negotiated with the manufacturer to have the Bulgarian language installed, together with Russian, English and Spanish, Ivan Yanev specifies.

СнимкаThe VIII World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually Impaired will be broadcast online at The referee team is formed entirely by international FIDE referees headed by Dr Radislav Atanasov who teaches chess at the National Sports Academy. A commentary studio in English will be also launched. Chess-masters will watch all games and some of the chess players will be invited to the studio for interview. Rasim Nizam is undoubtedly one of Bulgaria’s best chess players. Hopefully he will be constantly in the focus of the media.

Rasim Nizam lost his vision in an accident at the age of 24. He was the first Bulgarian with impaired vision who received the recognition International Master of Sports. Rasim Nizam won many Republican and Balkan chess titles. In 2015 he earned bronze medal at theWorld Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually-Impaired in Seoul. In 2017 Rasim Nizam ranked 6th at the World Chess Championship for Disabled People in Dresden.

Rasim Nizam

We will watch the games of all Bulgarian chess players with interest. Let us wish good luck to the Bulgarian boys at the forthcoming VIII World Team Chess Championship for Blind and Visually-Impaired in Sofia. Their ambition is to place in the top 6.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: private library

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