Jim Thoune Wins US Blind Championships


Thoune-Hajric, Photo Boyd Reed

The U.S. Blind championship was won by Jim Thoune of Bowling Green, Kentucky, ahead of Al Pietrolungo of Pittsburgh.  Thoune beat the highest-rated player, Agan Hajric, in round 2, and drew with Pietrolungo in round 3.  Hajric withdrew.  Pietrolungo then lost to Henry Olynik in round 4, a game for which Olynik won the upset prize.

The tournament was organized by Rick Varchetto and directed by Boyd Reed.  Reed, who is better known for directing at much larger tournaments, welcomed the somewhat more relaxed atmosphere at the U.S. Blind.  A crew of volunteers served as game overseers, making sure that each player played his opponent’s move correctly on his own board; the volunteers also kept written scores, since the players’ own Braille scores or tape recordings would not have been easy for yours truly to include in this article.  As in past years, the Myers family arranged for lunches and dinners for players and volunteers.

Find full crosstables here and a video interview of US Chess Director of Blind Chess Joan Dubois here. 


  1. I did not withdraw from the tournament. I was forced to leave the tournament by the assistant director himself, Boyd Reed, after I accused him of rigging the entire game. If the game was played fairly and by fairly it would’ve been ME playing against Al Pietrolungo in the 4th round. I would’ve came in second place. So I find it funny that this whole article is based on lies and making it look like I didn’t even have a chance to win. I left the tournament because I didn’t appreciate being screamed at by Mr. Reed himself when he didn’t like the fact that I asked him why he didn’t go by the rules and have me play against the person I’m SUPPOSED TO PLAY WITH.

  2. I don’t bother with this tourney, I’m over 2100, legally blind, which the rules allow for. It would be an unfair advantage for me. I can see the pieces and need zero assistance. Shame they never changed the rules.

    • Sir, I think that if you had had to encounter the late Al Sandrin over the board, you would not be too concerned about unfair advantages for players who are less than completely blind.

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