Ossip Bernstein Saved His Life By Playing A Game of Chess

Ossip Bernstein was a Russian chess player who found himself targeted by the Bolsheviks in 1918,

After the First World War, the October Revolution, and during the Russian Civil War in 1918, he fled to France. In 1918 he was arrested in Odessa by the Cheka (Bolshevik secret police), and ordered shot by a firing squad because he was a legal advisor to bankers. As the firing squad lined up, a superior officer asked to see the list of prisoners’ names. Discovering the name of Ossip Bernstein, he was asked whether he was the famous chess master. Not satisfied with Bernstein’s affirmative reply, the officer made Bernstein play a game with him. If Bernstein lost or drew, he would be shot. Bernstein won in short order and was released. He escaped on a British ship and settled in Paris. Bernstein was a successful businessman. He earned considerable wealth before losing it in the Bolshevik Revolution, earned a second fortune that was lost in the Great Depression, and a third that was lost when France was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940. Bernstein was exiled in Paris, only to be driven to Spain by the Nazis because of his Jewish origin.

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