Irene Kharisma Sukandar is eviscerating her opponent with brutal precision. She looks on at the chessboard with characteristic calm. On occasion, she buries her forehead in the palm of her hand, betraying not a hint emotion.
But there was no chance. Her opponent had made mistake after mistake and she had pounced each time. The match that started as a scandalous yet puzzling chess feud had ended with an international grandmaster defeating a retired salesman.
Naturally, there was more to this story.
Despite its lofty reputation abroad as a game of intellect, chess had never taken off as a professional sport in Indonesia. Skillful players such as Utut Ardianto and Susanto Megaranto emerged from time to time, but scant funding and lack of public interest meant Indonesian chess had never truly threatened the world’s el...
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