CHENNAI: Padmalakshmi, all of 10 years old, sits opposite V Lokesh, more than twice her age, the Braille chess set in front of her. Her pawns and her knight come out first, her fingers running across the board before each move, setting up a striking defence to Lokesh’s attack. “I lost the first round. It’s okay if I lose the other rounds too. I want to learn how they are playing,” she said.
Padmalakshmi was the youngest of the 75 participants who took part in the South India Chess Tournament for the visually impaired, organised by Nethrodaya. It was open to all age groups. The list of participants featured 23 rated players including the top seeded Kishan Gangolli. The annual competition that was restricted to players from Tamil Nadu so far has opened up to include players from all Southern states this time around.
“I like to ride a bicycle but I can only do it inside the house because I cannot see very well. So when I saw my brother took up chess, I decided to take it up too because there are no restrictions as such,” she said.
“The rules will remain the same and special chess sets are used to cater to the visually impaired,” said K Muthuraman, general secretary of the TN Braille Chess Association, who offers technical support to Nethrodaya for conducting the programme. Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the High Court of Madras, and the chief guest, said, “It is important to read about the legends of the game and unvderstand them. I’m sure one of the participants here will make it to the list very soon.” Founder of Nethrodaya C Govindakrishnan was also present.