Sebastian Predescu - Campionul provinciei Ontario - nu se lasa invins nici de leucemie

Submitted by ANdrei on Wed, 03/09/2005 - 11:36

Articolul de mai jos este din editia din 8 Martie 2005 a ziarului Ottawa Citizen (merita citit pana la capat)

Sebastian won't be beaten - by chess or leukemia

The Colonel By student has resumed his life after fighting off the high-risk
illness. And he's done it in style, besting all comers to take the Ottawa
and Ontario chess championships, Peter Hum reports.

In the past 14 months, Sebastian Predescu has been one tough teenager to
beat. Last fall, he won the Ottawa chess championship. Last weekend, he won the Ontario chess championship.
Most importantly, last year he bested a high-risk case of leukemia.
After regimens of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the first half of
2004, the 17-year-old, a top student in the International Baccalaureate
program at Colonel By Secondary School, seems to have put his life-threatening illness behind him to resume a life of academic and extracurricular excellence.
With a chessmaster's sang-froid, he says: "For me, (leukemia) wasn't that
much of a struggle. It was just a period in life where everything was put on hold." Sebastian's chess talents were apparent by the time he was in kindergarten. At age four, he had learned how the chess pieces moved, and when he was six, he was competing and winning medals in Canadian age-category championships.
Under the tutelage of Tom O'Donnell, an Ottawa-based International Master of
chess, Sebastian improved steadily and was of master strength soon after he
entered his teens.
In December 2003, he travelled to Mexico to compete in a tournament, but just
before he left Ottawa he noticed lumps on his neck. He went to the
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario on the day of New Year's Eve, and
after a bone marrow aspiration and lymph node biopsy, he was diagnosed with
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Sebastian was hospitalized for three weeks and treated aggressively with
chemotherapy.
"I was optimistic ... less worried than my parents," says Sebastian, who is
an only child.
The leukemia went into remission, but until August, he endured further
chemotherapy and radiation treatments that sometimes sapped his strength.
As well, because of his weakened immune system, Sebastian did not attend
school from January until last fall. However, he studied with a tutor, and
even wrote his Grade 10 exams during a hospital stay.
He managed to win a science award for his grade, and a top student award for
maintaining his grade average above 90 per cent in spite of his illness.
He returned to playing chess at a high-level tournament in Guelph. His play
there was spotty, and it may be that time away from the chessboard and side
effects from his treatment hampered his results.
But Sebastian regained his form when he won the Ottawa chess championship
last fall, competing against six other master-strength players.
"Because I play less often, I'm a lot more focused and into my games," he
says.
With that victory, he qualified for the provincial championships, held at the
RA Centre. Sebastian was an underdog, ranked eighth in a field of 12. On
paper, the favourites were three Toronto players, including Zhe Quan, even
younger than Sebastian, who represented Canada last year at the World Junior
Championships in India.
Sebastian says he was not confident about his chances, and had only set his
mind to preparing two weeks before the event - schoolwork and other
extracurriculars had until then been more important.
Sebastian's victory was a big surprise, said Roger Patterson, the organizer
and principal sponsor of the provincial tournament.
"I would have expected him to do well, but not to run away with the
tournament," Mr. Patterson said. "He played the class of the field and he
just beat them up. It was a convincing win."
Sebastian reeled off four straight wins, including two victories against
Toronto's chess co-champions. His fourth win clinched the tournament, and it
was a tense game that exhausted him.
His energies were spent by the time he played Zhe in the fifth and final
round, and he lost. But because Zhe had drawn an earlier game and won three
while Sebastian had won all his other games, Sebastian came first, taking
the $900 prize, and Zhe second.
Mr. O'Donnell says Sebastian is not likely to achieve the game's most coveted
title - Grandmaster. He simply has too many interests, the coach says.
However, Sebastian has the potential to become a "solid International
Master," Mr. O'Donnell says.
"If it happens, that's great," Sebastian says. But he is determined to
maintain his average - 97 per cent at last count -and be well-rounded,
rather than be maniacal about chess. In addition to chess, he debates, aces
national mathematics competitions and plays basketball. He hopes for a
university scholarship and perhaps a career in medicine.
For now, despite weekly chemotherapy treatments continuing until 2006,
Sebastian wants to broaden his horizons.
"When I was younger, chess was my main interest. Now I want to do other
things," he says. "As a teenager, I really started doing different things -
experiencing life."