Raphael Johannes Zimmer Wins World Junior for the Disabled

FLORIDA (USA) – Raphael Johannes Zimmer from Germany wins the 1st FIDE World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled with a perfect score of 7/7 points.

(Back; l-r) William J. Broich, Chief Arbiter; Steve Lampkins, Arbiter; Martha Underwood, Deputy Chief Arbiter; Phiona Mutesi; Griffin McConnell; GM Thomas Luther; Raphael Johannes Zimmer; Natasha Morales; Jesus Adrian Barrios Chamorro. (Front; l-r) Wasswa Sharif Mbaziira; Dorian-Dumitru Draghici; Paul Tortajada and Samarth Jagadish Rao. Photo copyright Dora L Martinez


Raphael Johannes Zimmer (Germany) and Wasswa Sharif Mbaziira (Uganda). Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

GM Thomas Luther and the Champion Raphael Johannes Zimmer (Germany). Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

(l-r) Samarth Jagadish Rao (India); Jagadish Rao (India); Zbigniew Pilimon. Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

WIM Natasha Morales (Puerto Rico) and FIDE Social Action Commission Councillor, Paris Klerides (Cyprus). Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

The Top Blind Player in the 1st FIDE World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled was Natasha Morales (Puerto Rico) and the Top Physically Disabled Player was Samarth Jagadish Rao (India).

(l-r) Hector Aristides Barrios Jara; Jesus Adrian Barrios Chamorro (Paraguay) and Phiona Mutesi. Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

In the first edition of this World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled; eight (8) players from seven (7) countries participated in a 7 round robin tournament. Side events included an International Open Tournament, which was held in the same playing hall to promote inclusion and a master training chess camp.

IO Beatriz Marinello interviews Griffin McConnell (USA) Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

IO Beatriz Marinello, Dorian-Dumitru Draghici (Belgium) and Phiona Mutesi. Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

Paris Klerides, FIDE Social Action Commission Councillor interviews Paul Tortajada (USA). Photo copyright Dora L Martinez

This historic event gave the organizers and the families an opportunity to learn how to even the playing field for players with disabilities. Players from Belgium, Germany, India, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Uganda and the USA participated in the event.

Congratulations to all of the players!

The Second Edition of this tournament will take place in the United States in 2018.

Here are the Final Standings:


  1. One suggestion for the 2018 tournament organizers: Purchase a display ad to run in the Chess Life magazine and/or Chess for Kids insert.

    The 2017 event only appeared as a Tournament Life Announcement in the “Regional” section under the state of “Florida”, so persons and schools who do not normally travel to Florida for a chess tournament (other than the K-12 Grade Championships held in December) were likely unaware of the “1st FIDE World Junior (U20) Chess Championship for the Disabled”.

    P.S. I hope the players and their families made new friends and social media followers.

  2. Congratulations to Mr. Zimmer for sweeping the field, which, if I can estimate from FIDE and US ratings, was impressively strong. This looks like a promising start for this tournament.

    • Yes, Raphael Zimmer has a FIDE rating of 2115 (at his age, no doubt still rising!) and 4th-place Natasha Morales is a WIM.

      Were there any Deaf player entrants?

      If not, one suggestion for the 2018 organizers which would not cost FIDE anything is to contact large schools such as Gallaudet University (for the deaf) in Washington, D.C. and provide them with a flyer-pdf. With nearly 1,900 undergraduates, I would think there would be at least several incoming freshmen plus returning undergrads who’d meet the Under-20 requirement and have chess tournament experience.

      Hope the 2017 players and their families made new friends at the tournament and were able to visit at least one of the nearby Kissimmee/Orlando attractions.

  3. This event was well planned and Griffin really enjoyed competing in it! Congratulations to Raphael who not only swept the field with his play but was also a true gentleman, Griffin has a new friend in chess. We will be back next year!!!

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