Priyanka Bhakta, the 8-year-old who loved chess

8/27/2003 – It's a heartwrenching picture. An eight-year-old battling leukemia, determinedly playing chess when her stamina and doctors allow. In April Priyanka Bhakta won five of seven games at the Minnesota State Chess Tournament, collecting computer hardware for her skill as well as her courage. On Monday Priyanka succumbed to her illness. More...

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Priyanka Bhakta, 8-year-old who loved chess

Nolan Zavoral of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis tells the story of Priyanka Bhakta, who smiled her way through the leukemia that ended her life Monday at Fairview-University Medical Center in Minneapolis. Priyanka spent most of her final year in hospitals, keeping pace with her second-grade class with tutoring, and playing chess when her stamina and doctors allowed.

"She was always smiling -- I mean always smiling," said Jim Maxwell, coach of the chess club at Glen Lake Elementary, in Minnetonka. "She had a recurrence [of leukemia] awhile back, but to look at her, you'd never think she had a problem like that."

Priyanka was featured in a Star Tribune story in April, during the Minnesota State Chess Tournament, where she won five of seven matches and collected computer hardware for her skill as well as her courage. She was, in fact, on a three-day furlough from the hospital, after her parents had carefully weighed the risks of exposing her weakened immune system to a public gathering.

"But she wanted to come here and play so bad," her mother, Leela Bhakta, said then. "There was no way we couldn't bring her."

The full story is to be found on the Star Tribune Web Site. A free login registry is requried.


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