Press "Enter" to skip to content

Turkish blind chess champ Muhammet Balcı targets European dominance

Muhammet Balcı, a Turkish visually impaired chess player from Bursa, is determined to checkmate his opponents at the upcoming European Championships in June after qualifying through the preliminary rounds organized by the Turkish Visually Impaired Sports Federation.

Born with congenital glaucoma, 23-year-old Balcı did not face issues with his vision in childhood.

However, he noticed a decline in his sight when he could not read his seventh-grade report card.

With his vision now reduced to over 80%, Balcı was encouraged by his family to take up athletics.

In 2016, he excelled in the Türkiye Athletics Championship, securing first place in the young men’s 400 meters and long jump and third place in the 200 meters.

Balcı also showed promise in judo, achieving third place in the 2019 Karaman and 2021 Ordu Türkiye Judo Championships for youth.

After completing his education at Bursa Fatih Anatolian Imam Hatip High School, Balcı ranked 398th nationwide in the verbal section of the 2019 Higher Education Institutions Examination (YKS), securing a place in Boğaziçi University’s History Department.

Despite his academic pursuits, Balcı continued his sports career in chess, rising to the national team.

Continuing his training under the Nilüfer Municipality Visually Impaired Sports Club, Balcı clinched second and third place in the 2022 Türkiye Chess Championships in Afyonkarahisar and Denizli, respectively.

He represented Türkiye at last year’s World Schools Chess Championship in Rhodes, Greece, finishing 51st.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Balcı recalled a turning point in his life when he finished seventh grade and realized his vision was deteriorating.

“After starting here, especially with our club’s former visually impaired master player, Mümin Aksu, I learned basic chess moves and then learned more technical aspects. I learned how to play professionally. I participated in tournaments with the lessons I received from him. I played in the youth category in 2016. I placed fourth in my first tournament, and the rest is history,” he said.

Looking ahead, Balcı expressed his ambition to excel in chess, aiming to become an indispensable player on the national team.

“I want to rank first in the general category in Türkiye and then achieve rankings at the national team level. The European Championship for the visually impaired will be held in June. The federation has not yet clarified, but a tournament is planned. They are planning to take the top three players with the highest scores from Türkiye. I want to compete there and represent my country, becoming one of the indispensable players of the national team,” he said.

More from SportsMore posts in Sports »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *