Sighted go players who struggle to master the game of go may be surprised to learn that many blind people in Japan know how to play go, and that there are clubs with blind players who meet on a regular basis. Last Fall, Bay Area Go Players Association board members Roger and Lisa Schrag traveled to Japan and met with Mr. Fumio Miyano (second from right in photo) of the Japan Go Society for the Visually Impaired in Osaka, Japan. The Society produces special 9×9 and 19×19 go sets and Braille go books so that blind and visually impaired people can play go. Black and white stones can be differentiated by feel, grid lines are raised, and the stones fit into holes in the board so that they will not move when a player touches them to read the board position.
The Japan Go Society for the Visually Impaired also hosts an annual international go tournament for blind players. There are some strong go players out there who are blind. Nakamaru Hitoshi of Japan and Song Jung-taek of Korea, for example, each are rated at 5 dan.
The Society has provided Bay Area Go Players Association with a special 9×9 go set and Braille go materials. “If you have a blind or visually impaired friend in the San Francisco Bay Area interested in learning to play go, we now have the necessary equipment to teach them,” says Roger Schrag; contact him for details and to make arrangements.