FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
WASHINGTON – The longest and most difficult chess game was against Covid-19. The story of Irina Krush, 36, born in Odessa in Ukraine, but a citizen of Brooklyn since she was five, reminds a little of the famous scene of the “Seventh Seal”, Ingmar Bergman’s 1958 film. The Knight (the actor Max Von Sidow) challenges Death to chess, while the plague rages in an imaginary Middle Ages.
Irina started playing, even before learning to read. His family had just moved to New York, fleeing, with other Jews, from the country that was then part of the Soviet Union. At six, he tells the New York Times, the girl wins her first tournament at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan, the club where she now teaches with the title of “Grand Master” recognized by Fide, the International Federation of discipline.
Irina, it can be said, grows among towers, pedestrians, standard bearers. Her father, a librarian, took her to Asser Levy Park in Coney Island, one of those open spaces also popular in New York, where players challenge and scramble the public with worn chessboards and vintage chronometers.
Irina had to stand up on tiptoe to move the pieces, but often bent those men with a grim appearance, they too fled the USSR and therefore, one might say, chess players by birth.
Stories from the time of the pandemic
A star in America
Today, young woman, she is a star in her environment. He won the American national title, women’s section, for seven years. Last time in 2015. And since then he has alternated teaching competitions.
On March 12, 2020 he feels unwell. Cough, breathing difficulties. New York has not yet been fully hit by the emergency. He turns freely, without any precaution. On 18 Irina has not yet recovered. He comes to the emergency room of the Community Hospital in Brooklyn, one of the structures that will be overwhelmed by the infected within a few days. A very hard test begins. In and out of the hospital for a few weeks. As she says on Facebook: “I have seen exhausted doctors. But I didn’t want to die at home alone … This isn’t just a disease. It is a test of life. Chess players know what it means to be in a bad situation, they know what it means to suffer. I understood that it would have been a long game, without a difficult victory ».
Like the Bergman Knight
So Irina, a bit like Bergman’s Knight, led the virus to measure itself on its soil. She shielded herself with her chessboard. In April he takes part in the Online Nations Cap, an important international tournament. It hasn’t healed yet. She lost the first game and, worse still, on 5 May she was hospitalized again. But in the end his conditions as ions improve, as does his lucidity. Play nine games, drawing six and winning one: enough to bring the US team to the final against China.
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