San Juan Predators’ import GM Moskalenko reflects on Ukraine war

MANILA, Philippines – You can take the man out of his country, but you cannot take his country out of him.

Chess Grandmaster Viktor Moskalenko left his country of Ukraine in 1999 to move to Spain. While Moskalenko has acquired Spanish citizenship, his homeland is never too far from his thoughts more so now in the light of the Russian invasion.

“Like most conscious people, I am against any war,” stated Moskalenko, who played for the San Juan Predators in the inaugural season of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines. The Ukrainian-Spanish chess master is expected to be back this coming second conference to once more play for San Juan.

“Nobody has the right to kill.”

The Grandmaster has learned to filter the news coming in and around Ukraine. “I follow the events from various sources. It is obvious that all of them lack truth and objectivity. Also there is too much fake news. I try to filter the information.”

Born in the sea side city of Odessa, which is also the third most populous city in Ukraine, Moskalenko knows the duality of its citizenry all too well.

“I was born and raised in Odessa when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. My mother is Russian and my father, Ukrainian. And this mixture is ubiquitous in both countries,” he explained.

“Chess was very popular and well developed in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). I fell in love with the game right away. It was my childhood’s magical world.”

“Life is arranged in such a way that one’s own position and quality is not always important. Thanks to chess, people learn to see the trajectories of other pieces. From childhood, our world teaches us to fight for material things. But in chess, one of the main concepts is the sacrifice of material. There are famous games of the Masters with a lot of sacrifices of different pieces. They are called ‘Immortal games.’ I am happy that I also played enough beautiful and combinational games.”

“Today, people have to learn how to sacrifice as well as to reset themselves from defeat or from artificial mental programs imposed on them.”

Eventually, Moskalenko left Ukraine in 1999. “I did not really like my life in a country where everything was limited, but then there was no choice. So I moved to the hometown of a Spanish aristocrat of Catalan origin — Jose de Ribas — who became the founder of Odessa.”

Today, Ukrainian government officials as well as military analysts believe that the impending Russian attack on Odessa will be a crucial phase of the war. The taking of Odessa means that Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea will be cut off and the southern part of the country will be in Russian hands.

“Personally, I still have friends in Odessa as well as in Ukraine,” Moskalenko said. “And I immediately offered help to all those in need. I would advise the civilian population to leave temporarily as soon as possible. The main thing is to save lives.”

As disturbing as the war has become with all its worst case scenarios, Moskalenko tries not to be a slave to its negativity.

“Fortunately, I still work in a lot of chess activities,” he shared. “I write books, give lessons around the world, and play in different tournaments. This protects me from the constant negative flow of information in the media.”

“I want to believe in a happy ending,” Moskalenko hoped of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. “We must learn to appreciate every day and every moment of our lives. This is enough to be happy.”

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