Press conference with the International Committee “Silent Chess”
KARLOVICH: Dear ladies and gentlemen, let me welcome our guests, the President of the International Committee “Silent Chess” Mr. Michelle Visco and the General Secretary of the Committee Mr. Rafael Pinchas. We are all aware that chess is also played among deaf people. So, we would like to know more about your committee and it’s activities.
VISCO: The International Committee "Silent chess" was founded in 1949 in Denmark. There were four founders of the Committee: Norway, Denmark, Finland and Holland. The President of the Committee was from Holland and in 1953 he organized the first World Chess Championship for deaf chess players.
Our Committee is totally volunteering organization. We have our Statutes. We work with those federations where they have deaf chess players. I am the 6th President of the Committee since the beginning. I am from Italy.
This is not my first Chess Olympiad. First time the team of deaf players participated in the 2002 Chess Olympiad. In one month, in September, we will organize the World Chess Championship for handicapped people in 7 categories: women, men, open, deaf, blind, juniors and seniors. The Championship will take place in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
There are 35 federations which belong to the International Committee “Silent Chess”. There are much more federations all over the world who have deaf chess players. But we cannot contact them. For instance, we have no contacts with the federations from Africa or South America. It is very difficult to get any contacts. But we would like to help these federations so that chess would be developed among deaf players as well.
KARLOVICH: We know that Rafael Pinchas is the head of the team of deaf players who participate in this Olympiad. We would like to ask him to say how the things are going on with the tournament. And also how did the players from your team perform in the previous Olympiads as well.
PINCHAS: Our team started to participate in the World Chess Olympiads in 2002. So, this is our fifths Olympiad. Since 2002 the best result was in 2010. We got the 48th place among 140 federations participants of the Olympiad.
This year we have very good teams. Our team played against the team from Cuba in the previous round and we managed to make a draw. The Cuban team got the 4th place in the previous Olympiad, so you see how good we are.
Let me thank the Organizing Committee of the World Chess Olympiad and FIDE leadership for letting us participate in the competition. This is very important for us. Chess is the only sport where deaf people can compete against normal people on the same level.
There are a lot of sports, like volleyball, basketball or football where deaf people also participate. But only chess is a sport where deaf participants come so close to the level of the normal people.
Our deaf world is very big. We have four chess players who were deaf and achieved fantastic results in the competitions among healthy people. One of the outstanding chess players is very famous in the chess as well as the non chess world. It is the Armenian grandmaster; the many times folded World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian.
KARLOVICH: Our next question is: we know that there must be special conditions which would help deaf chess players train chess. What problems do deaf players face when they train and play chess? What could be done to help deaf players to have comfortable conditions to work?
PINCHAS: Unfortunately deaf chess players face a lot of difficulties. The main problems are not only the facts that they don’t hear or speak. They just don’t have any conditions and chances to prepare themselves for the competitions.
For instance we did not have any training camps before this Olympiad which could help us to be prepared in a proper way. Plus, they don’t have any coaches or trainers. Also, if they show good results, they don’t get any prices, benefits or financial support from government or sporting organizations.
It means that on reality we are amateurs who compete against chess professionals. So, International committee “Silent Chess” tries to help deaf players to play and have a possibility to participate in the tournaments.
We try to help deaf chess players to make impossible. We are really in need of financial support. We receive just a moral support from FIDE. But we need more. We do hope that we will receive some financial support from FIDE or other organizations. There are many deaf children who are eager to play chess but we cannot help them. That is why we have only 35 federations which belong to our Committee.
KARLOVICH: I do hope that the voice of deaf chess players will be heard by the World Chess Federation or other chess organizations. And the financial support would be received soon.
The International Committee of Silent Chess website