Chess mates
Family shares love, talent for game

By Susan Chaityn Lebovits
April 22, 2007

If you see more chess wizards emerging from the area, thank members of an extended family, transplants from the former Soviet Union.

Valery Frenklakh of Newton teaches chess full time; his son, Dmitry, is president of his college chess club; and nephew Roman Gankin is inspiring grade-school children to take up the game.

“Hard work is more important than talent,” said Gankin, a native of Belarus and an 18-year-old senior at Watertown High School.

Three afternoons a week Gankin runs afternoon chess programs for children in kindergarten through eighth grade at Morse Community School in Cambridge and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown.

“I try not to talk too much because their attention span, on average, is about 10 minutes,” said Gankin.

But that’s enough time for him to teach students to watch their pawns, and deliver a life lesson that he hopes will be carried out of the classroom: Never give up, even if you’re behind.

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