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Before I begin, I'm not asking about people playing "Blindfold chess", but those who are actually blind.

Reading through the FIDE rules of chess like any good player should, I've previously noticed the section containing rules for players who are visually handicapped. I never really paid this any attention before other than to note how difficult it must be to both learn the game (containing as it does complex spatial movements and a large amount of information to be kept in the head if it cannot be seen) and to study it (most learning resources being books that are probably nowhere near popular enough to be made 'accessible').

Just recently I started thinking about this, and I'd like to know a bit more about this aspect of the game, but information is rather hard to find. To begin with, How strong are the strongest blind chess players in comparison to those without disability? Ideally we'd be talking about people using the same scale (i.e. theoretically entering the same 'ordinary' tournament with perhaps minor allowances for the games of the disabled person, and needing to have comparable Elo ratings, etc.), though if there's a separate rating system that information would be useful too.

On a related note, Have there been any blind players notable for their strength or players they have faced?

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    Albert Sandrin – bof Apr 5 '18 at 19:45
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    The strongest blind players are at about IM strenght, if I'm not mistaken. – Scounged Apr 5 '18 at 20:27
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I believe Stanislav Babarykin is the current (or former) world champion among blind chess players and his rating is around 2350.

In my country India, arguably the strongest (blind) player is Darpan Inani (rated 2041).

So while the current strongest blind chess players are not in the GM category, it is also the case that there are very few such players.

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According to this link, the World Blind chess championship includes IM-strength players.

A separate rating system isn't used but one cannot accurately compare ratings from two different player pools.

According to this link, the 2009 Blind US champion was a USCF Expert.

Roughly, I'd say being blind costs 600 rating points. Why? An USCF Expert is around 2100, the USCF National champion is about 2800, so subtraction gives 700. Similarly, a super-GM has about 450 more ELO points than an IM (2400 vs 2850) 700... 450... call it 600...)

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  • How do you arrive at 600? – bishop Sep 20 '15 at 22:56
  • @bishop ...edited. – Tony Ennis Sep 21 '15 at 0:05
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    I don't think your methodology of arriving at -600 is entirely sound :). You would normally expect a larger pool of players (i.e. non-blind players) to have higher extremes than the smaller pool. Perhaps more interesting would be to compare the average elo of blind chess players against non-blind peers (i.e. players that invest similar time/effort into the game)? Put another way - an IM strength player would be a top 10 (maybe even top 5) player in South Africa, yet I would be surprised to learn that there are a higher number of blind chess players in the world than chess players in SA. – firtydank Sep 21 '15 at 9:38
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    Yeah, with the same argument you could say that being from Belgium costs 300 points. – BlindKungFuMaster Sep 21 '15 at 11:11
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At the 15th IBCA Chess Olympiad for Blind and Visually Impaired Chess Players 2017, the best player was the polish GM Marcin Tazbir (2525 in April 2018).

Here is the list of the 10 best rated players in this event.

  1. GM Tazbir Marcin 1122452 2514 POL POLAND
  2. Smirnov Alexey 4168437 2427 RUS RUSSIA
  3. IM Tuka Oleg 14114453 2407 UKR UKRAINE
  4. IM Pakhomov Alexey 4129016 2350 RUS RUSSIA
  5. FM Dimic Pavle 937428 2349 SRB SERBIA
  6. FM Babarykin Stanislav 4101898 2332 RUS RUSSIA
  7. IM Meshkov Yuri A. 4107101 2328 RUS RUSSIA
  8. FM Suslov Evgeniy 24149411 2313 RUS RUSSIA
  9. IM Nikac Predrag 908975 2308 MNE MONTENEGRO
  10. FM Magnusson Jorgen 1700880 2290 SWE SWEDEN
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I played a blind player with a high expert rating in the 1970s. He said that going blind cost him about 200 rating points. His play was very strong but then he would miss things that I don't think a sighted player would.

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