In a game in which blind people can use a disability to their advantage, 12 chess players will have the opportunity to display their skill at the U.S. Blind Chess Championships in Pittsburgh. The two-day tournament held at the Holiday Inn by the Pittsburgh Airport will host blind chess players as they compete for a top prize of $400 on October 10th and October 11th.
Spokeswoman for the U.S. Chess Federation, Joan DuBois says that blind players take advantage of their disability in competition.
“One thing unique with those who are blind is they can block out visual distraction so they really are kind of in their own little world,” Dubois says. “They visualize the board in their mind.”
Similar to a regular tournament, the players have 135 minutes allotted on their game clock but unlike a regular game of chess, players must audibly announce their move to the other player. The tournament uses a specialized board with alternating raised spaces, and the pieces feature small marks on the top to identify the color.
Dubois says that participation has decreased since the economic downturn has raised the cost of travel, but that some of the participants expected to play are at the certified level of Master, a highly-skilled player just under a Grand Master.