Leonid Kucheruk from Vinnytsia has the calendar matrix in his head

The Ukrainian Leonid Kucheruk has a penchant for calendar days. He knows the day of the week for any date in his head. He is just as fit in chess, with history and politics.

Do you know what week day May 5, 2032 will be? Leonid Kucheruk only needs a few seconds to think about the answer: it’s a Wednesday. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 100 years in the past or in the future – he has mastered the system of counting calendar days like no other. With this ability, he inspires his fellow people and can confidently be called a city original from Vinnyzja in central Ukraine. “Unikalʹnyy” can also be heard several times from his colleagues – unique.

Random conversation arouses interest

Kucheruk’s interest in calendar days came rather casually, he says. In 1998 he exchanged with friends and they wondered what day January 1st, 2001 would be; a monday. “That’s when I started counting the leap years, too,” he says. Because therein lies the challenge. But he understood and internalized this matrix of numbers. He likes to prove that, asks about the birthdays of his guests and gets started:

With “hard work” anyone can actually learn this counting system, says Kucheruk. However, he limits: “You have to work on it every day.” That’s why he’s always happy about new tasks and challenges.

Passion for chess

Another passion for him is chess. He particularly likes the opening moves, but he was also visibly enthusiastic about the course of the big games over the past few years. He plays the sequences immediately, as if he was playing the sequences at high speed in his head. Almost as if he had a photographic memory. But: Kucheruk is blind, so he doesn’t see the chessboard. “I imagine the chessboard and draw from the memories,” he explains and adds: “To be honest, I’m not a good chess player.” Nevertheless, he has already taken part in city championships, competed against other blind and sighted players.

Kucheruk also likes to deal with his subject history, in 2004 he obtained a diploma as a teacher for this. He is also well versed in politics. With the “Bobina” (Бобина), a tape recorder with reels, the 40-year-old began to educate himself with audio before the time of the cassette recorder. “Nowadays, learning is easier because technology is more advanced,” he says.

Work in the library

Since there was no opportunity for him to work as a teacher at the time because of his blindness, Kucheruk now works at “Inva-Inform”, a center for people with disabilities that is part of a public library in Vinnytsia. Here he prepares audio books on USB sticks, for example, which can then be borrowed. Even more, he inspires the customers and colleagues with his skills.

A vision for the world

What would be written in a history book ten years after the conversation, on Wednesday, May 5, 2032? “That the world has gone mad,” begins Kucheruk. It is currently in transition and in a frightening epoch – in a philosophical sense on the edge of an age. “Unfortunately, people are like insects that are sacrificed for a great change,” he continues. What he means is that humankind is apparently not able to live without war and in peace.

For this dark chapter, he does not want to look at Ukraine in isolation. Even if the war is mainly taking place here and Ukrainians are the direct victims of the Russian attack. “I’m afraid that the world will eventually disappear,” he says; air alerts and explosions around him seem to bother him less after more than 70 days; Ukrainians are very adaptable, he says, echoing a phrase that is often said.

But Ukraine feeds numerous other countries that are now threatened by hunger as a result of the war. In addition, there are global geopolitical, intellectual, economic and environmental aspects. “It is important that there is peace in the world,” emphasizes Kucheruk. The fact that he doesn’t look at Ukraine as a single entity is also due to his blindness, he says.

“If you can’t see anything, it’s easier to focus on multiple things.”

Disclosure: Accommodation and meals in Vinnytsia were paid by third parties. This had no influence on the choice of topics.

Post published on20. May 2022

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