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Chess is a magic tool
given to mankind
By Chessmaster Aleksandr Kitsis

"The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by chess, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions."
Benjamin Franklin


"What is Chess for you?" My last column ended with this question. After posting the article, I investigated the question myself: What is Chess for me?

I learned to play at the age of five and chess has been part of my life ever since. There have been a number of milestone moments in my life: getting into university, being hired for my first job, getting married, the birth of my first child and of my second, moving from my home country half-way across the globe, etc.

At each of these moments, I would put my chess pieces away, truly believing that I am grown-up and the game would have a rather limited place in my life. Yet, every time my passion for chess was reborn like a Phoenix from the ashes.

As a youngster in my home country, of Moldova, I joined my first chess club in kindergarten. At that time I was just a novice player, but by the time I reached middle school I had become the coach for our school team.

Later, while attending university I was asked to play and coach the university team, I could not turn the offer down. After graduating and getting my first job as an engineer I was approached by a local chess official asking for help with a new development in education.

The new development was implementing a chess-in-school program; this program implemented chess as a daily part of the students' curriculum. Thus, in my spare time, I became a school-chess teacher.

At that time, I was among the first school-chess teachers in the former USSR and, perhaps, one of the first school-chess teachers in the world.

Several years later I immigrated to the U.S. Without any American work experience, business connections, or knowledge of the English language, my first instinct was to teach chess (after all any chess player can understand the language of chess!).

People around me, including fellow chess players, talked me out of that idea; I was told that chess was not popular here and I would not be able to make a living off of it. I was recommended to put my engineering degree and experience to use.

So, I had my engineering degree evaluated and went to school (JCU) for my MBA. In the interim, I got a job as a production worker, was promoted to engineer, and then to engineering manager. In 2002, in the midst of a market downturn, the company I was working for decided to eliminate our engineering group.

Again, I was at an important crossroad in my life: should I search for a new job and tie my fate to the wellbeing of someone else's enterprise or should I start a venture of my own?

(to be continued)

chessmaster@clevelandseniors.com




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