Turkish coach creates chess guide for visually impaired

Turgay Seckin Serpil aims to train volunteer instructors, place coaches in all visually impaired schools

Emre Asikci   | 31.03.2020
Turkish coach creates chess guide for visually impaired


A Turkish member of an international chess governing body has written a one-of-a-kind guidebook for visually impaired students.

Turgay Seckin Serpil believes the book, published in 2019, will greatly contribute to the training of future instructors and also help develop players with disabilities.

"My aim is to train volunteer instructors with the cooperation of municipalities and universities and to place coaches in all visually impaired schools,” he said.

“One of the biggest aims of chess for the disabled is to bring all athletes together nationally and worldwide.

"The book, the first in the world, is a guide for chess trainers, and a guide on how to approach the visually impaired and teach them to play chess," Serpil said.

The book was translated by the Turkish Chess Federation into several languages, including Russian, English, Spanish, German, French, and Arabic.

Serpil is a member of the disabled commission of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), and also an instructor at the federation since 2016.

"I started playing chess at the age of three under the guidance of my father, and was enthusiastic about playing chess throughout my school years, from elementary school until I graduated from university," he said.

Serpil said chess is a universal language, and the game helped him build cross-continental friendships.

"Chess is a fair game. A teenager has the same rights as a 60-year-old player. Chess enables them to behave in a mature way. A teenage boy or girl or old man or a woman knows they can lose if they underestimate their opponent.”

Respect your rivals

The 31-year-old writer also drew attention to the importance of mutual respect in chess.

**Photo by Dora Martinez

"Although they try to beat their opponent during the match, I always tell my students to congratulate them when the match is over," he said.

He cited Magnus Carlsen, the highest-ranked chess player in the world, as an example.

"Although he is considered the best player, his rate of winning classic chess matches is less than 50%," Serpil said.

"This means that even for the person who is considered the best player of our time, the rate of winning matches is not very high. Chess is not just about winning the match but playing a good game. Becoming motivated again and returning to a tournament after a defeat or carelessly losing a match makes the person resistant.”

Unforgettable moment

Serpil shared an incident he had last year in the Turkish capital Ankara.

"In the Confederation Cup held in 2019 in Ankara, our communication with a hearing-impaired player helped me understand the opportunities of chess in more depth.

"When he asked me a question about pairing rules in the tournament, I wanted to get in touch with sign language translators. But there was a problem: the athlete did not know the universal sign language.

"He was also unable to read lips as he didn’t speak English or Turkish, but our chess knowledge and game intuitions made us understand each other on the chessboard.”

Serpil said chess is a universal language that allows him to find a common denominator with people who grew up in completely different environments and countries.

"Chess is a sports that brings together all these disabled groups," he added.

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