On This Day In History: Reginald Bonham’s Achievements In Blind And Sighted Chess – On Jan 31, 1906

Reginald Walter Bonham was born on January 31, 1906 in St. Neots, Huntingtonshire, England.

Bonham was the most famous British blind player ever. He was known for his extraordinary achievements in both blind and sighted chess.

Like others in his family, Bonham was born with deficient eyesight, which deteriorated further, so at the age of 16, he entered Worcester College for the Blind, where he was an excellent pupil from 1922 to 1925 and developed a passion for the sports of rowing and chess. In Oxford, he eventually became University Chess Champion as well as a finalist for the Oxford rowing crew.

In 1929, Reginald Bonham returned to Worcester College for the Blind and became a teacher of Mathematics and Braille. At the same time, he was a coach at rowing, amateur dramatics, chess and bridge.

After founding the International Braille Chess Association in 1951, Bonham became the Blind World Chess Champion and the Correspondence Blind World Champion, winning this competition on the next five occasions in 1957, 1959, 1961, 1964 and 1966.

Bonham’s memory was phenomenal. He had no difficulty taking on ten players at once blindfold, as it was; and he was able to keep the moves of a score of correspondence games in his head, without recourse to a board and men.

Bonham was a great man with brilliant mind and a great teacher.

He wrote two interesting books in co-operation with R.d. Wormald: Chess Questions Answered and More Chess Questions Answered.

Bonham died on the 16th March 1984 at the age of 78.

He’ll be remembered by blind and sighted chess players alike for his achievements and great passion for teaching, his energy and his generosity.

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