The 10th IBCA PanAmerican Games for the Blind and Visually Impaired took place in Mexico City, Mexico, from October 23-29, 2022. Organized by the IBCA and the Mexican National Network for the Blind with chief organizer Mr Benito Enrique Hernández López, the competition brought together 54 participants representing 13 federations from North, South, and Central America. The players used specialized Braille chess boards, talking clocks, and voice recording equipment.
Located at Utopia Meyehualco, part of the Centro de recreación en la Ciudad de México, the playing venue allowed the participants to enjoy excellent playing conditions in outdoor patios protected from sun and wind. On a rest day, the organizers kindly offered free excursions to the Museo Nacional de Arte, the Mexican national art museum that features a unique collection of Mexican art from the mid-sixteenth century, and to the Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe, an outstanding social and cultural phenomenon that receives more than 20 million pilgrims every year, making it the most visited Marian precinct in the world, surpassed among the Catholic shrines only by Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Titles and medals were contested in four categories. The Totally Blind / Women section witnessed the triumph of Columbian ladies:
Gold Medal Yolima Franco Perez (COL)
Silver Medal Maribel Yepes Bermudez (COL)
Bronze Medal Leidy Tatiana Contreras Sandoval (COL)
Similar domination was demonstrated by Columbian players in the Totally Blind / Open section:
Gold Medal Fredy Alexander Jaimes (COL)
Silver Medal Saulo de Jesus Torres (COL)
Bronze Medal Fernando Daza Samboni (COL)
In the Visually Impaired / Women section, the trophies went to representatives of three different countries:
Gold Medal Leidy Johanna Bautista Chiquillo (COL)
Silver Medal Jessica T. Lauser (USA)
Bronze Medal Eunize Nikol Espinosa Toala (ECU)
Finally, in the Visually Impaired / Open section, two players from Venezuela made the podium:
Gold Medal Harlen Jose Otero Munelo (VEN)
Silver Medal Henry Monterrey (VEN)
Bronze Medal John Mike Rosales (COL)
The closing ceremony on October 29th featured Ms Clara Brugada Molina, Mayor of Iztapalapa, Ciudad de Mexico; Ms Diana Tsypina (Canada), IBCA 2nd Vice-President; Mr Fernando Daza Samboni (Columbia), IBCA Continental Representative for the Americas; Ms. Yolanda Nuñez, Secretary General of the Mexican National Network for the Blind (RENAC México); Mr Javier Pelalta, Head Principal of Sports; Ms Diana Elizabeth Taylor Sanchez, Head of Linguistic Services; Ms Lidia Rodriguez, Secretary of Inclusion and Wellness; authorized representatives of municipal agencies in charge of tourism and the affairs of the disabled.
The ceremony started with a live rendition of the Mexican anthem and continued with traditional songs and dances performed by Iztapalapa artists. Then, Mayor Clara Brugada Molina thanked all participants and officials for coming to Mexico City and reminded them of the rich history of the place that was founded by the Aztecs as Tenochtitlan. For seven days, the most populous city in North America opened its heart to disabled players. She highlighted the excellent collaboration between the IBCA, the organizers, and local authorities that made it possible for the participants to meet in Iztapalapa in person and enjoy chess.
The IBCA 2nd Vice-President Ms Diana Tsypina thanked the authorities of Mexico City and Iztapalapa, the local organizers, and the IBCA América Board members for all the hard work they put into this important competition. Fair play and good sportsmanship were shown by everyone. The event set new participation records both in the number of players and the number of federations represented.
Ms. Tsypina reminded the audience that such a well-attended PanAmerican competition was yet another milestone in executing the IBCA strategic development plan for 2021-25. The IBCA and its national members – the organizations specifically established for the promotion of Braille chess for the blind and visually impaired – productively work in 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.
Chief Arbiter Gustavo Vargas Cortez announced the official results. The dignitaries presented the players with medals and trophies. The winners were met with huge applause. The national anthems of Columbia and Venezuela were played.
The next IBCA PanAmerican Games will be held in Guatemala.
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.
Information and photos are provided by the IBCA América, the Mexican National Network for the Blind, and Alcaldía Iztapalapa.