The 2023 IBCA European Team Championship for the Blind and Visually Impaired took place from April 19-30 in Genova, Italy. Organized by the IBCA and the Italian Amateur Blind Chess Association (A.S.C.I.d.), with the chief organizer Bersan Vrioni, the event brought together 14 national teams from all parts of Europe. The participants used specialized Braille chess boards, talking clocks, and voice recording equipment.
The playing venue was located at the Tower Genova Airport Hotel, which allowed the participants to enjoy excellent playing conditions indoors and to take advantage of recreation breaks in sunny weather outside. On a rest day, the organizers kindly offered a free excursion to the Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno, which has been widely praised by Mark Twain and Friedrich Nietzsche and was called “one of the wonders of the world” by Ernest Hemingway. The Pantheon, galleries and colonnades with hundreds of monuments epitomize the extraordinary art of the 19th and 20th centuries in Liguria, especially the tradition of realistic funereal sculpture. Among the tombs in the classical gardens are those of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand and other heroes of the Risorgimento.
Team titles, medals, and board prizes were contested.
The final results:
Champion – Team Serbia (FM Pavle Dimic, CM Damjan Jandric, Stefan Janjic, Mile Bjelanovic, FM Avram Sretko, Stefan Mitrovic; captain Nikola Ivanovic) – 15 match points, 25.5 game points;
Silver medal – Team Poland (GM Marcin Tazbir, IM Jacek Stachanczyk, IM Piotr Dukaczewski. Ryszard Suder, Michal Wolanski, Andrzej Migala; captain Janocz Zyla) ) – 14 match points, 23.5 game points;
Bronze medal – Team Ukraine (Vladyslav Kolpakov, Igor Shepelev, WIM Lubov Zsiltzova-Lisenko, Ivan Yatsishin; captain Oleksandr Frantsuzov) – 13 match points, 23 game points.
Individual board prizes were won by players from eight countries, with gold medals awarded to:
1st board GM Marcin Tazbir (POL)
2nd board CM Damjan Jandric (SRB)
3rd board Stefan Janjic (SRB)
4th board Mile Belanovic (SRB)
Reserve board Roberto Clemente Llamero (ESP)
The closing ceremony held on April 29th became a huge celebration for Braille players and their supporters. Non-seeing players, their accompanying persons, captains, coaches, officials, and spectators gathered in the sumptuous hall at the Tower Genova Airport Hotel that was exclusively adorned with beautiful posters and the flags of all participating nations.
Several dignitaries attended, including Alessandra Bianchi, representative of the City of Genoa; Antonio Micillo, Representative of the Italian Olympic Committee for Liguria; Diana Tsypina (Canada), IBCA 2nd Vice-President; Rafaele Di Paolo, FSI Regional President; Cristina Minerva, the UICI National Councilor; GM / IO / FST Roberto Mogranzini, member of the FIDE Events Commission; Bersan Vrioni, President of A.S.C.I.d.; Luciano Romanelli, Chairman of the Blind Union of Liguria; Franco Pugliese, Comite Genova Senze Barriere; authorized representatives of municipal agencies in charge of tourism and the affairs of the disabled.
The ceremony started with a live rendition of the Italian anthem. The A.S.C.I.d. President Bersan Vrioni highlighted the excellent collaboration between the IBCA, the organizers, and local authorities that made it possible for the participants to meet in Genoa in person and to enjoy chess. He thanked the international team of arbiters and assistants for disabled players for their hard work that made it possible to provide necessary accommodation conditions for persons with disabilities and to hold the competition in accordance with the highest FIDE and IBCA standards.
Alessandra Bianchi conveyed the best wishes from the Government of Liguria and thanked all participants and officials for coming to Genoa, She reminded them of the rich history of the place that was the capital of one of the most powerful maritime republics for over seven centuries and became one of the largest naval powers of the continent. For twelve days, Genoa, the capital of the Liguria Region, opened its heart to the disabled players.
Antonio Micillo, Representative of the Italian Olympic Committee for Liguria, remarked on the existing synergies between the IBCA, the Italian Paralympic Committee, and the national organizations for the disabled. Events like the Genoa championship play an important role in the social integration of people with disabilities.
The IBCA 2nd Vice-President Diana Tsypina thanked the authorities of Genoa and the Liguria Region, the local organizers, the FSI, the UICI, and the A.S.C.I.d. members for all the hard work they put into this important competition. Non-seeing players demonstrated bravery, focus, discipline, and a high level of maturity. Every participant showed fair play and good sportsmanship. The strongest players won their matches and games in an exemplary manner.
Diana Tsypina reminded the audience that during the championship, the IBCA held an important meeting. Participants offered valuable suggestions aimed at improving the governance and helping the Association to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world. The IBCA and its national members – the organizations specifically established for the promotion of Braille chess for the blind and visually impaired – work in harmony with respective countries’ governments, NGOs, national Paralympic Committees, the International Blind Sports Federation, FIDE, and other international associations as partners respecting each other’s core areas of expertise and advancing the goals set in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and similar documents.
Cristina Minerva, the UICI National Councilor reflected on the importance of government and societal support for players with disabilities and described how advanced Italy has become in this direction.
Chief Arbiter Vadim Tsypin (Canada) announced the official results. The dignitaries presented players and teams with medals and trophies. The winners were met with huge applause. The national anthem of Serbia was played.
The closing ceremony was followed by a sumptuous reception generously offered by the Italian hosts. Players, officials, and accompanying persons in all delegations received memorable gifts, souvenirs, and bottles of excellent Ligurian wine.
(Information and photos provided by the IBCA and the Genova Senza Barriere Organizing Committee)
The International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) is the supreme body responsible for chess for the blind and visually impaired. The IBCA is part of the International Blind Sports Federation and an Affiliated Member of FIDE. Founded in 1958, the IBCA has grown to more than sixty countries on four continents. Its major competitions include the Blind Chess Olympiad and the Blind World Chess Championships.