“Frank Kutnicki’s Chess Corner (Club)” Debuts At Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem…Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Unit!

By Adina Kutnicki

A year before the pandemic upended everyone’s life during the spring of 2020, this writer initiated a chesed (compassion) project at Jerusalem’s Sha’are Tzedek Hospital. It was at this particular juncture in time that Frank Kutnicki’s Chess Corner (Club) was born. A labor of love. Housed under the wings and banner of Chaiyanu….
“Chaiyanu is an organization in Israel servicing over 600 families who have a child battling for their lives against cancer. Our mission is to impact every family on a day to day basis providing them with the support they so desperately need….”,  this collaborative effort enhanced the lives of some young courageous souls – if only for a brief respite during their in-patient treatments, or while receiving their follow-up, after-care protocols.
And whereas in-person lessons and tournaments were held pre-covid at the unit’s cheerful, fully-stocked, and well-maintained rec room, it was during the pandemic that safety protocols mandated a switch to virtual lessons and tournaments.
But even though it became very challenging to do so – after all, an already isolated child benefits greatly from the in-person interaction and attention which the chess teacher provides; coupled with an added bonus of normalcy, as well as a ‘friendly air of competition’ and excitement that the lessons and tournaments generate – the hospital staff cooperated with all of the changes to ensure that their charges still looked forward to the arrival of the cheerful chess teacher, despite all of the twists and turns. As Theodor Herzl coined: “If you will it, it is no dream.” A team effort. We were down, but not out!!
Still yet, but for the expertise and adaptability of Jeruchess (Israel’s premiere Chess Club, under the auspices of its Founder, Alon Cohen), none of the program’s initial (and future) success would have come to fruition. As always, credit should be given where credit is due.
Fast forward to the here and now…
Alas, to kick off 2023, Frank Kutnicki’s Chess Club (Corner) has been given the green light to resume face-to-face lessons. To said end, a decision was made to ‘gift’ the kiddies at Hadassah Ein Kerem’s Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Unit an opportunity to benefit from the same project, perhaps, with some special features of its own. Time will tell.
Speaking of credit, as inferred, this project’s success rests upon a shared endeavor….with the chess teacher in the forefront. As such, a huge shout-out is given to Larry: the newly on-board (twenty-something) well-qualified chess leader, who, most significantly, possesses a kindness of heart. While an admirable trait in general, this attribute is a must, that is, when teaching/interacting with children who are under extreme physical and emotional distress.
Larry, thanks for all of the bureaucratic (and hospital required) hoops you went through, that is, in order to gain permission to join the blessed programming at Hadassah’s Pediatric Onco Unit. A ‘lesser’ mortal would have run for the hills! Most admirably, your determination to lift the spirits of these kiddies warms this heart, too. As it happens, a can-do attitude is a driving force at this end.
Still yet, before the project’s raison d’etre (as described here) is examined, some uplifting news for 2023 reached these ears, that is, via the recognition that teaching chess to hospital-bound children is valuable to both their mental and physical well-being — namely, the oft-studied nexus between mind and body.
As a result, the Shlomo Tyran Foundation (courtesy of the President and Director of Elad Software Systems Ltd.) is duly on board with additional chess lessons to beef up its benefits. Yes,Frank Kutnicki’s Chess Corner (Club)finds itself in very esteemed company! Heart-warming.
Onto the genesis of this most worthwhile project,
This project is designed to enrich the lives of the children during their hospitalization. The intention is, through the game of chess, which is known as  fun, challenging and confidence building, the players will find some relaxation, peace and comfort. Adina Kutnicki began the project HERE 
As to its ‘namesake’, though the late Frank Kutnicki, z”l (who was a highly-ranked chess player) was not a grandfather in his lifetime, there is no doubt that he would have been so pleased to know that his warm embrace envelops the children in this project we have developed for them. And, with it, the knowledge that the children will grow stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
In Hebrew below:

פינת השחמט של פרנק קוטניקי

פרוייקט זה בנוי להעשיר את חיי ילדי חיינו, תוך כדי זמנם בבית החולים. הכוונה היא שתוך כדי עולם השחמט, משחק שידוע ככיפי, מאתגר ושבונה ביטחון עצמי

 השחקנים החדשים ימצאו קצת הרגעה, שלווה ונחמה
הפרוייקט התחיל דרך עדינה קוטניקי, אפשר לקרוא על מהותו באנגלית כאן
למרות שפרנק קוטניקי (שהיה שחקן שחמט), ז”ל, לא היה סבא בחייו, אין ספק שהוא היה מאוד מסופק
בידיעה שהחיבוק החם שלו סביב ילדינו בתוך הפינה החמה הזו שבנינו בשבילם
Overarchingly, may a merciful G-d grant these children a speedy recovery!!
POSTSCRIPT: a brief video/audio clip will be added in the beginning of March to highlight the project. Stay tuned.

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