Have you ever watched a scene in any movie where a prisoner was offered to play and win the game against a warden or someone to escape? Well, today I am going to tell you the story of a man who had actually faced this kind of situation in his adventurous life. So read till the end and trust me you will definitely get the goosebumps after reading this.
Who was Ossip Bernstein?
This is the story of Ossip Bernstein, who was a chess master. After winning at the General Chess Federation of Berlin in 1902, he earned his master title. Then he began his journey of winning titles all over the place.
He worked as a financial lawyer for a living and it was this job that got him in trouble. Well, he didn’t commit any crime but what he did is, he counselled rich bankers and marked himself as an enemy of the people. Once the revolution broke out in 1918, he was arrested and about to face the firing squad.
Playing a game against death
As the squad lined up to shoot and take Bernstein’s life, the higher rank officer asked to see the list of prisoner’s names. He saw Bernstein’s name on the list and recognized Bernstein as a great Chess-master. The officer approached him and asked, “Are you the famous Chess-master Ossip Bernstein?”
Bernstein replied was obviously yes but I guess, anyone would have said yes if in a situation of immediately being shot 30 times. The officer needed to be sure so he told Bernstein to play with him a game of chess and if he won his life would be spared and if not then the punishment would be instant death.
If you could imagine the scene then it’s nothing less than a dying man playing a game against death. Btw, Bernstein beat the officer easily and he was released as a free man.
But his story hasn’t ended here
His life’s adventures weren’t quite over. Bernstein then fled to Paris completely penniless. His family went through perilous times as they tried to rebuild their lives but he with his family managed to survive. After a couple of decades, he noticed that Nazis were taking over France, and so it was time to flee once more, as he figured even chess skills wouldn’t convince Nazis to spare a Russian Jew.
He then took a decision and fled to Spain, the family had to hide in caves during the daylight hours to avoid the police and border forces. After two exhausting nights, they reached Spain, but Bernstein had a heart attack while making the journey by foot to Spain due to which the family was immediately arrested and separated.
Later his family was released and was allowed to stay in Spain through the intervention of some influential friends in Spain. They returned to Paris in 1945, Bernstein found that he was still quite good as he finished second in the 1946 tournament and continued his chess career.
At the end he died because of Chess
He had another heart attack a decade later and that one wasn’t from doing anything terrifying, he was just so excited because he was finally returning to Russia to play chess again. This time he never fully recovered and passed away after a few months.
I hope you find the life story of Ossip Bernstein’s interesting. Please leave a comment about how you feel after reading this.