Francisca García, from Malaga, is making her debut as the only Spanish player in the Women’s World Chess Championship for the Blind which began in the French town of Castelnaudary on Monday.
This is the first major competition for Francisca, 65, who loves to play as a form of entertainment – she combines it with acting and painting at ONCE centres for the visually impaired – and she was very excited about taking part. However, she told SUR she felt a sense of responsibility because she wanted to do well and this was the first time she would be facing great chess players from all over the world.
The championship is taking place at the Hotel Ibis Style in Castelnaudary, until 17 July. Coronavirus safety measures are in place as recommended by the Spanish Blind Sports Federation, bearing in mind that chess requires constant contact with the pieces and the boards.
Francisca began to compete with the Andalusian Blind Sports Federation about 12 years ago and at present she is the only woman in the region to do so. She said she was looking forward to the world championship because it would be a great experience, and one she will be sharing with her coach, Daniel Rivera, and Pablo Martínez, her assistant.
Chess has a long tradition among visually impaired people, because it is something they can do together with others who can see. They only need a few adaptations, such as the black squares being slightly raised so they feel different to the touch.
The black pieces also have a small bump on the top so they can be distinguished from the white ones. Every square on the board has a hole in the centre and the pieces have a small rod underneath so they clip in. This way, the players’ hands can touch all the pieces without knocking them over.
Games between blind chess players take place on two boards. Each player moves their pieces on their board so that, when doing so, they neither interfere with or are interfered with by the opponent. They also use audio chess clocks with earphones.