U.S. to Field Chess Team at 2019 Winter Deaflympics

U.S. to Field Chess Team at 2019 Winter Deaflympics

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The United States will enter a team in the first-ever Deaflympics to include chess as a sport. 

Sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the 2019 Deaflympics, to be held at three locations in northern Italy in December of this year, will host hundreds of athletes from over two dozen countries competing in six sports: alpine skiing, chess, cross country skiing, curling, ice hockey, and snowboarding.  

The Deaflympics is the only IOC-sanctioned games that are organized, directed, and participated in by members of the community they serve. All Deaflympics athletes are required to provide documentation of a hearing loss of 55 dB or greater to the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD)--the main governing body for the Deaflympics and other World Deaf Championships.

The first Deaflympics, then known as the International Silent Games, were held in Paris in 1924. This event was the first international sporting competition for people with disabilities. These days, thanks to deaf human rights and empowerment movements, the deaf community is widely considered a linguistic and cultural minority rather than a disabled group. 

The Deaflympics chess competition, to be held at the Hotel Aurora in Chiavenna, Italy from December 13-20, 2019 will consist of two events: a nine-round, four-board, team tournament with a time control of Game in 90 minutes with a 30-second increment and an eleven-round individual blitz tournament at Game in 3 minutes with a 2-second increment. 

Meet the Players

Abraham Glasser image: Rochester Institute of Technology

Board 1 Abraham Glasser

Abraham is a Ph.D. student in Computing and Information Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, and a researcher at the Center for Accessibility and Inclusion Research. His research investigates technologies for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. He learned how to play chess at around age 3 and has been playing locally at the Rochester Chess Club since 2004. Abraham started playing in national-level chess tournaments in 2006, and has been the United States Deaf Chess Champion since 2011. In 2018, he played in his first international deaf chess tournament in Manchester, UK, and is really looking forward to the 2019 Winter Deaflympics in Italy!

Oscar Petrov image: Sofia Petrov

Board 2 Oscar Petrov

A high school student in Washington state Oscar writes:

"When I started playing chess at about age seven, I did not really know that I was forming a lifelong passion. Since then, I have competed both nationally and internationally, representing the United States at the Pan American Youth Championships in Costa Rica in 2017. What is most gratifying about playing chess is that you can walk into a big room with total strangers who do not speak the same language, but by the end of the tournament you have made many new friends and have lasting memories. I am really excited and looking forward to being part of U.S. Deaflympics chess team!"

Branton Stewart image: Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Board 3 Branton Stewart

Branton Stewart has a Bachelor’s degree in Government with a minor in Business Administration from Gallaudet University. His has a wealth of experience gained from volunteer positions at both the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Branton's service includes: four years as the Vice Chairperson for RID Deaf Caucus Member Section, NAD delegate for Georgia and New York during four NAD conventions, President of the Empire State Association of the Deaf, and involvement with several organizations in Atlanta, New York City, Rochester, and Southern California which primarily focus on improving the quality of communication for Deaf Interpreting, Interpreting, and Deaf communities. He was also appointed to the RID Board of Directors as interim Deaf Member at Large in fall 2013, and he is currently the chairperson for the RID Deaf Advisory Council (DAC). Branton predicts that the U.S. Deaflympic Chess Team will, "Shock the world!" in Chiavenna.

Dr. Byron Bridges inage ASLTA

Board 4 Byron Bridges

Born deaf to deaf parents and growing up with a deaf sister, Dr. Byron W. Bridges has used American Sign Language (ASL) as his primary language throughout his life. Dr. Bridges earned his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Deaf Studies at California State University of Northridge, Masters of Arts (MA) degree in Linguistics from Gallaudet University, and a doctoral degree (Ed.D) in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Dr. Bridges' passion for ASL and deaf culture has prompted him to become heavily involved in deaf sports including chess, deaf clubs, deaf fishing groups, and state/national deaf organizations. He has played and taught chess in the Deaf community and especially enjoys teaching Deaf children how to play chess.

Dr. Bridges co-authored the book, Deaf Tend Yours.  He has written video scripts and produced over 80 deaf-related videos and DVD's.  He is a nationally-known teacher and lecturer in ASL and sign language interpretation.  Dr. Bridges has been in the field of ASL linguistics, interpreting, and post secondary teaching of ASL as a second language for 30 years.  He was a certified deaf interpreter (CDI), earning the certification through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.  Dr. Bridges currently is a coordinator for Teaching ASL (TASL) at the University of Northern Colorado.

Coach Dan DeLuca

Dan has degrees in Aerospace Engineering (BS) and Education of the Deaf (Ed.M) both from Boston University. A teacher of the deaf and former principal at Maine's only school for the deaf, Dan is now a professional sign language interpreter. 

Dan is a World Chess Federation (FIDE) Instructor, US Chess Senior Tournament Director, Vice President of the Maine Chess Association, and editor of the award-winning website ChessMaine.net.

"I am honored to represent the United States as coach of the U.S. Deaflympics Chess Team."

Please help support the U.S. Deaf Chess Team by making a donation to our GoFundMe page.

Thank you!