During the penultimate fifth round of the first FIDE Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities, one of the most active FIDE Commissions and the organizing force behind this significant event in chess life held its meeting.
Members, councillors, and friends of the Players with Disabilities Commission (DIS) gathered in Crowne Plaza Hotel on February 3, 2023, in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Some of the players participating in the Chess Olympiad joined the meeting to contribute their ideas and provide feedback. In 2023, DIS Commission welcomed 11 new members, seven of them were in attendance and presented new approaches related to chess players with disabilities.
One of the main topics of discussion was the ongoing Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities, the flagman tournament of the commission. This tournament is held for the first time, and this presents a unique learning opportunity. Taking into account the current experience of organizers and players, changes were proposed for future editions of the event. The Commissions will take into consideration all proposals. One of the main aims is to accommodate the certain needs that different disabilities present and do it in the best possible way. The system for team registration shall be improved too. To facilitate this process, it is proposed that every National Chess Federation appoints a point-of-contact officer who can provide support specifically for chess players with disabilities and register their team in cooperation with any local organizations for such players.
GM Thomas Luther, DIS Chairman, and Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Deputy Chair of FIDE Management Board
The commission has great plans for the future. Later this year, in August, it aims to organize the Individual World Championship for People with Disabilities. The Polish Chess Federation is interested in hosting the event and has submitted a bid which is now going through the necessary procedures.
Another 2023 initiative is to organize the workshop “Equal Opportunities” and “Sensitivity Seminars”. The latter is a new idea introduced by DIS member James Infiesto, who offered to volunteer and assist. In sharing his experience with these types of seminars in his country, he provides a valuable contribution to the DIS Commission. The Sensitivity Seminar will focus on talks and lectures dedicated to various disabilities, all in one venue. The goal of this seminar is to improve understanding and interaction between chess players with different disabilities — a chance to better understand the needs of others when attending events like the Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities.
“We want to do our part in helping provide better conditions and equal opportunities in chess for players with disabilities. We are on the right track, but there is still a long road ahead of us. The Olympiad for People with Disabilities, organized every two years, will be our event to connect, inform, celebrate and educate the chess world on the needs of chess players with disabilities,” were the words with which Nikos Kalesis, DIS Secretary, finished his report on the meeting.
In attendance were: DIS Chair, GM Thomas Luther (Germany), Secretary Nikolaos Kalesis (Greece), Kema Goryaeva, Councillor Dora Martinez (USA), Councillor James Infiesto (Philippines), Member Serpil Turgay Seckin (Turkey), Member Handenur Sahin who is playing on Board 1 for Team Turkey, Member Natasha Morales Santos (Puerto Rico) who is also playing in Team FIDE, Member Dominique Dervieux (France), Member Rahman Mallick Masudur (Bangladesh), Phillip K Gardner (England), Member Piotr Dukaczewski (Poland), Member Tapiwa Gora, Member Andrei Gurbanov, Ewa Kamierczak.
Photos by Mark Livshitz