Two time Olympian, women’s FIDE master, teacher and an active player for more than 30 years
Ivona started playing chess when she was eleven years old in her native Poland, and became a professional competitor at the age of fourteen. At fourteen years old, she moved from Cieszyn, her family’s hometown, to Warsaw to represent a prestigious Polish chess club “Polonia Warszawa”.
In 1980, she immigrated to the United States and became a member of the U.S. Olympic Team, which played in Greece in 1984 and in Dubai in 1986. She was a top contender in several U.S. Women’s Chess Championships.
In the late 1990’s Ivona developed “Chess for Success,” a comprehensive chess learning program to improve academic skills and self-esteem for Southern Californian children.
I was introduced to chess at age 11 and was immediately fascinated by the Queen’s power. I moved her a lot on the chessboard, but when someone captured her I lost interest in that game. I was a young girl in a small town in post WWII Poland, living with a domineering mother and strict teachers in a male dominated society. I felt powerless and restricted. And here was the Queen, more powerful than the King himself, free to move in all directions on the chessboard, and it was with her that I identified. I wanted her power and her freedom. And I got it! Playing chess became the only place I felt safe, powerful, in charge, and self-confident. Just like the pawn, who slowly and diligently moves from one side of the chessboard to the other, where it is promoted to become Queen, so my life’s journey took me from a chaotic childhood to be who I am today. It was my Heroine’s Journey. My life was saved by tapping into the energy of Queen.
After playing in tournaments from age 11 to 14, representing my small town chess club, I was discovered by “Polonia Warszava,” a prestigious chess club in Poland. I was brought to the capital for training and soon competed in tournaments all over the Eastern Block and in Sweden.
Coming to the U.S. at 22, I qualified to be on the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team and played in Dubai, UAE and Thessaloniki, Greece, as well as in other international tournaments.
In 1999 I founded a chess program for children and have since taught chess to thousands of children in Los Angeles schools and privately.
Having found myself by playing chess in my teenage years and sustained by it for the rest of my life, my goal is to teach chess to girls, as young as five, and to women of any age who may have wanted to learn to play chess and didn’t. I trust that learning chess will empower women and girls to achieve greater success and fulfillment in their career, vocation, education, and personal lives.
Ivona’s warmth and natural rapport with children make learning and playing in tournaments an experience that while challenging is great fun for all. Her students range from K – 12. The program is designed to stimulate the mind through the art and sport of playing chess. Students learn problem-solving techniques, the importance of strategy and tactics and improve academic performance.
Each Summer Ivona holds chess camp with intensive playing, practice tournaments, and problem-solving. Beginners learn all the basics and advanced players move to the next level.
As a Tournament Director and Organizer Ivona brings excitement to all the events that she directs. With raffles, refreshments, and special themes these are great events for children and their families.