by

John Bain

Coronavirus Strikes! See below.

In March 2020, 36-year-old Irina Krush contracted coronavirus and fiercely battled and beat it.

Irina Krush was born December 24, 1983 in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine). Her father taught her to play chess at age five.

Also at 5 years old, Irina moved with her family from Odessa to the United States–in a wave of Jewish emigration from the USSR–and settled in Brooklyn, New York.

In Brooklyn, Irina attended P.S. 254, where she learned English, and later she went to Edward R. Murrow High School.

At 6 years old, she won her first tournament at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan, and took home a $20 check. She now teaches at the club!

At 14 years old, Krush won the 1998 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship to become the youngest U.S. women’s champion ever.

She went on to win the championship on six other occasions as well–in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Irena Krush 15 years old at chessboard in high school chess club

Irina krush 15 years old at chessboard in high school


In 2013, Irina earned the Grandmaster title.

Irina Krush earned Grandmaster title in 2013

Irina Krush after earning Grandmaster title in 2013

Coronavirus Strikes! What happened?

In recent years, Irina’s focus shifted from competitive chess to teaching. After the last class she taught at the Marshall Chess Club in early March before getting sick, a student told Irina she was not riding the subway home for fear of the coronavirus.

It was the first time that Irina began to consider the implications of the disease in the United States.

Then on March 12, Irina fell sick. By March 17, she developed breathing problems. The next day, she went to urgent care at the Community Hospital in Brooklyn–not far from where she played chess as a child–and tested positive for COVID-19. She spent two days in the hospital.

She returned home, still feeling miserable, and on March 22 she developed severe breathing problems that left her in agony. She could barely sleep–having to sleep sitting upright to alleviate the chest pain.

Fearful that she might not survive, she reluctantly returned to urgent care that night.

“I didn’t want to just die at home alone,” she said.

Irina Krush staring at camera at chessboard in park

Irina back at chessboard recovered from COVID-19

In the days that followed, Irina began to think about the similarities between her ordeal and a very challenging chess game, how everything she had learned through chess was helping her–like staying calm, moving quickly in a difficult situation to prevent further damage and maximizing her chances.

“It’s not just a disease,” she said. “It’s a life trial. Chess players know what it’s like to be in a bad position, to suffer. I realized it was going to be a long game, with no easy victory.”

Recovered now and with her health improving daily, in May 2020, Irina Krush played for the USA team in the FIDE Online Nations Cup.

On Saturday, July 11, 2020, Irina is schedule to play in the “4th Unruly Queens All-Female Online Chess Tournament,” consisting of 9 Rounds, Game 3 minutes + 2 seconds a move blitz chess!


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Chess Tactics For Students
An instructional workbook containing 434 carefully selected problems presented in worksheet format.

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