CHENNAI: Just as this reporter was walking past Hall No.2 at the 44th Chess Olympiad venue in Mahabalipuram on Friday, he spotted Japan's Alex Averbukh enthralling his audience with kendama (a wooden game) skills.
The 40-year-old Alex, who did not feature in Japan's Round 1 contest against Djibouti, attracted a section of fans in front of the ‘Players Cloak Room’. The kendama ‘toy’ consists of a wooden piece, ball and string.
The game is about catching the ball either side of the ‘hammer’. “I like old games. With old games, you have to make sure simple things work. I think that I saw an article about it (kendama) and I was like ‘Wow! This is interesting’,” said Alex. When asked if he was amazed by the reception he received while performing his kendama skills, Alex replied: “In a way, no. It is fun to watch. I would love to make it popular here (the venue) over the next couple of weeks.”
Born in Ukraine, Alex works as an English teacher in Japan. “When I was young, the economic situation was not very good [in Ukraine]. So, I moved to America. After finding a job, I moved to Japan. I searched for an engineering job, but I currently teach English in Japan,” he added.
On how he manages both chess and teaching, Alex said: “I have some free time, so it works. The time I allot to chess may not be enough and I need to train more.”