Though visually impaired since birth, Mohammed Salih did not let his disability come in his way and became a national level chess player. He can play against renowned players with perfect vision and defeat them too.
“I want to be known as famous chess player and not a ‘blind chess player’. I can play as well as other sighted people. Then why to add ‘blind’ to my name?” says Mohammad Salih who is 100 percent visually impaired since birth.
Born in a family of an economically poor background, Salih’s ailment was not news in the family as his father and two sisters too had a similar condition. But this did not demotivate him as he went ahead to become a national level chess player with international FIDE rating of 1463.
He has not only bagged several medals in chess championships for the blind but also has the ability to play against 10 chess players with perfect vision simultaneously. Salih did not attend school till the age of nine due to his disability. He then attended a special school till standard six and later got admitted into a regular school. He is currently pursuing LLB and is the sole bread winner of the family.
“My interest in chess started when I was in school but I could not get proper training due to financial constraints. I learnt everything by practicing on my own or by playing with my friends,” he says.
Salih’s remarkable memory comes in handy while playing the game. He memorizes the opponent’s moves and the position of the chess pieces on the board. He diagrammatically visualizes how the board looks like after every move of his opponent and then plans his move.
“A lot of time used to get wasted in this. I have to re-touch the board to get an idea what move my opponent has made. This puts me at a disadvantage when it is a time-based competition,” he says.
Though filled with incredible talent, Salih’s disability comes in the way of his earning the basic necessities for his family. Unable to get a stable job, Salih somehow manages to run his house by training other kids in chess. “I want to teach more kids and start my own academy. I cannot do that all on my own. I need an assistant too but I don’t have enough funds for that,” he says.
Today, Salih wants to play more challenging games and wants to perform at a larger stage where he can display his true calibre. “I want to show people that I am not less than anyone. Teach me any work and I will be able to do it just as well as a ‘normal’ person would do,” he says.
Salih never let his disability come in the way. Rather, he used it as an opportunity to make a name of his own. “He is fearless. He travels alone, goes everywhere and is able to perform tasks perfectly and even better than others,” says Deepu, Salih’s friend.
This Kerala based talented chess player looks up to Vishwanathan Anand and wants to play with him some day.
“I want to make a name for myself and teach this game to other kids. This is possible through the chess academy that I want to establish, where I can use my experience to improve memory and thinking power of upcoming players,” he says.
Watch this video to learn more about Salih’s incredible journey and dreams:
Salih has started a fundraising campaign on Milaap to give shape to his idea of opening a chess academy. Contribute to his cause and help him live his dreams. The funds will be used to open the academy which will provide a stable income to his family along with creating many young chess champions.