One of the sites I check everyday is the Chess Cafe. In the top left corner there is a listof those who were born, or died, on this date. I noticed that IM Boris Kogan died on this date 17 years ago. It does not seem like he's been gone that long.
I had the pleasure of knowing, and traveling to tournaments with Boris. The Legendary Georgia Ironman stuck Boris with the moniker of 'The Hulk'. Boris was a 'Hulk' when it came to chess in the South. Although he was in his 40's when he and his family managed to get out of the Soviet Union, and therefore, past his prime, he still played in several US Championships. GMs Larry Christiansen and Michael Rhode both told me Boris was GM strength and he proved it by finishing with an even score at the US Championships.
Boris was a professional chessplayer. I thought I knew something of the game until encountering 'The Hulk'. I was reminded of it today while reading Genna Sosonko's excellent article, Cafe Central and the Life and Times of Savielly Tartakower, in the 2010/6 issue of the best chess magazine ever to appear on this planet, New in Chess. Sosonko wrote: "Chess players are familiar with the so-called pearls of eastern wisdom that were dreamt up by Tartakower. One of the most well known of them goes: 'There are players who are weak and don't know that they are weak: these are ignoramuses-avoid them! There are players who are weak and know that they are weak: these are smart-help them! There are players who are strong and don't know that they are strong: these are modest-respect them! There are players who are strong and know that they are strong: these are the chess sages-follow them!
After spending very little time with Boris, I realized just how weak I was. That must be the reason he tried to help me. I will never forget the time The Hulk looked at me and asked, "Mike, why you play chess?" Why, indeed.