Jessica Lauser is relentless on the baseball board.
She plays fast, using constant pressure on her opponents. She attacks constantly, perhaps not unlike the Beth Harmon character in the Netflix television show,”The Queen’s Gambit.”
Her victory in the sport has won her dozens of major accolades, and a place on a championship squad which held its own against the best chess players on the planet last year.
If this dossier isn’t impressive enough, consider that Lauser is legally blind.
For Lauser, 41, chess was an obsession and enthusiastic pastime since the second tier. She is leaned on it to assist her transcend a challenging childhood.
“When I play chess, it’s as close as I’ve ever come into an awareness of equality,” she told CNN in a recent interview. “When you start the game, regardless of who you are, no matter what your physical state is where you come from or if you have money, both sides start with the same thing.”
Lauser has been blind for almost her entire life. She was born 4 months prematurely, and desired oxygen, which damaged her eyes, a condition called retinopathy. Because of this condition, one eye is totally blind; at the other she has 20/480 vision. This implies her visual field is severely restricted and that she’s little to no depth perception.
To her eyes, the chess pieces appear blurred and distorted.
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As Lauser explained , she is able to tell when a square on the board is occupied, but she can not always tell which bit it is. If she wants help identifying a piece, she’ll lightly tap on the top of it and say,”Identify.”
She learned the game at age 7 and began to take it seriously in her teenage years. Initially, she found it as a method to quiet bullies. “I knew the kids were going to call me’four eyes,’ and I said,’Hey, maybe if I overcome themthen they will finally shut up,'” Lauser explained.
It became more than a method of silencing the bullies.
“When I noticed a kid could beat a grownup in this game, (I knew) there was clearly something different and special about this chess. It meant that it was not something that depended on the fact that someone was stronger than somebody else or that they needed to see like everybody else. There was something special about (the game) that made me want to learn more.”
As an adult, she found comfort in playing chess on the roads of Washington, DC, San Francisco and San Jose.
She said that her favorite place to play with has become the student union at San Francisco State University, from which she got one of her two undergraduate degrees at age 36. Not surprisingly, her games would always draw a crowd.