Chess players of Shevchenko Park



Chess players of Shevchenko Park are notable residents of Kyiv; without them, it is impossible to imagine the capital's central park. Walking there, you can always see men of all ages playing chess or backgammon and communicating. Journalists of the “Humans of Kyiv” managed to meet two men and talk about the park and their love of chess.


Volodymyr: My name is Volodymyr Volodymyrovych, I am from Kyiv. Shevchenko Park is very dear to me - I don’t only play chess here but also remember my childhood, my life and meet people I have known for a long time. It is an iconic place.



Mykola: Volodymyr Volodymyrovych plays chess well. I come here when I have free time, and there are no urgent domestic matters. I live nearby - 3-4 stops by trolleybus or bus.


The monument of Shevchenko was built in 1939, and the park has been named ever since. Chess tables are the merit of the late mayor of Kyiv - Oleksandr Omelchenko. Before, it was an awkward place. Everything was falling apart. And he offered to make paths out of bricks, put everything in order, and create this place with chess tables. It happened when Ukraine had already become independent.


Volodymyr: I think people have played chess here since the university's foundation in 1834. This place has always been a center of intellectuals.

Previously, this park could not be like that (points to another part of the park, where people play backgammon and cards). It was improper. If someone saw a man with a cigarette here, they took him by the collar and drove him away.

After the start of a full-scale invasion, far fewer people come here. We were here all the time, even in March and April. I was here when there were no people at all. Nobody and nothing, only air sirens. It wasn't scary. If I were younger, I would still think… But this is my city, where I was born, which raised me.


I love chess and checkers but don't play cards or backgammon. In that other area, they play backgammon and have tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays. I remember earlier times when masters and champions were coming to this part and held chess competitions. You can’t see such intellectual meetings held in other parks, only here.


​​Mykola: Sorry for the interruption, Volodymyrovych. Here, two years ago, there were tournaments for children and adults. The Chess Federation of Kyiv carried it out, providing prizes for participants. But I didn't play then.




I love chess and checkers but don't play cards or backgammon. In that other area, they play backgammon and have tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays. I remember earlier times when masters and champions were coming to this part and held chess competitions. You can’t see such intellectual meetings held in other parks, only here.


​​Mykola: Sorry for the interruption, Volodymyrovych. Here, two years ago, there were tournaments for children and adults. The Chess Federation of Kyiv carried it out, providing prizes for participants. But I didn't play then.






There are different categories of players. Some play out of curiosity, and some play for money. There are different rates.

Volodymyr: Do you see that they play with the clock? They can bet for 20 hryvnias. They put the clock on for 5 minutes and play. Before the covid times, a company of 5 women came here. Among them was Rita - an iconic woman. She could sit down to play with any chess player. And that was serious.


This park is very much associated with chess. Ask the older people, and they will tell you that champions used to come here. People who have achieved a lot in chess started playing in this park.


Mykola: People say that chess players also gathered in the Hydropark, but I don't know if anyone is playing this year. And there is no arranged place to play. And here in the park, it is convenient. I don't even know how many people come here… When I worked on the European Square, after work, I often passed this place and stopped here just out of curiosity.

Interest in the game always depends on the level. Many people come on occasion: to play chess and talk with interesting people. We often discuss political issues.

I'm not such an avid player; I don't play for money and don't stay up all night. Usually, people bring their chess.


​​It would be convenient if there were a rental. For some reason, nobody is interested in this. It would be nice if you could rent chess.

Volodymyr: Once I went to Holosiivskyi Park, the authorities bought chess and clocks. You could pay 5 cents and take chess. There were also competitions held there. It was back in the '60s. It was when I lived there.



I am a leading specialist in welding at the Paton Institute. I had worked at the Institute of Cybernetics. At that time, Kyiv was the center of world cybernetics. I taught many people about this specialty. As an intellectual, I am attracted to similar people.


I have lived on Olimpiyska for 15 years, then moved to Holosiivskyi Park, where I lived for another 30 years, and now I live here, near Palats Ukraina.


​​Mykola: And I am an educator. I was in education all the time. I graduated from the Faculty of Philology, worked at the school, and taught in the Kyiv region. My specialty is teaching the Russian language and literature.




I was a school inspector for a long time. I checked the institutions, sat in the classroom, and performed the whole range of issues related to the organization, content, and results of the educational process. Now I live in the Pechersk district. When transport didn’t go (during the war - Ed.), it was a little more complicated, I rarely came here. War is war - explosions everywhere, and it’s scary, you know.


Volodymyr: It's not as scary as it's sad. That’s our capital and war… People from all over the world came here. And unexpectedly, it all started here…


Mykola: When it all started, it was a bit difficult with the products. But then the situation stabilized.


Volodymyr: Well, there is no salt, but there is sugar.



Mykola: Why do I love Kyiv? Well, I've been living here since 1967. After the army, I entered Shevchenko University. After that, I worked in the region for some time but later returned to Kyiv. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't live here. Something attracted and always magnetized us.


Volodymyr: We love the city because we are real citizens of the planet. Kyiv is my home.







The material was created by:

Authors:

Transcriber and Interviewer:

Olexandra Vlasyuk

Bogdana Gorban

Proofreader:

Photographer:

Sofia Kotovych

Khrystyna Kulakovska

​Translator:

​Tonya Smyrnova


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