In the past the Queen functioned as adviser to the King, with limited range of motion, one square diagonally at a time. In the Renaissance she evolved into the most powerful piece on the chessboard. In her book, The Birth of the Chess Queen, Marilyn Yalom calls her “An icon of female power,” and asks: “How did she come to dominate the chess board when in real life women are almost always in a position of second power?”
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 enduring strict teachers in an old world patriarchal 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. Like the pawn, who patiently 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 turbulent childhood to be who I am today. This was my “Hero’s Journey.” My life was saved by tapping into the energy of the Queen…who had once been but a pawn.
After playing in tournaments from age 11 to 14, representing my small town chess club, I was discovered by “Polonia Warszawa,” a prestigious chess club in Warsaw. 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 in Los Angeles and have since taught chess in private lessons and in public and private schools to thousands of children and their parents.
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 education, career, vocation, leadership capacities, and personal lives.
“Over the years, Ivona’s chess camp has been the highlight of summer for my three children—a girl and two boys. The only downside is that they now beat me on a regular basis! Most importantly though, the skills and strategy they’ve learned at chess camp have taught them to think two moves ahead in other areas of their lives as well.”
~ Beth Osisek
“The best part, of course, is that Ivona is the kind of wonderful teacher every parent hopes for — deeply knowledgeable, infinitely patient, and a genius at knowing exactly how to balance all the parts of the program that make it such a positive learning experience.”
~ Nina Shimonovitz Owner – Translation Bureau
“I have watched Ivona teach chess for years; volunteering at preschool and chess camp so I could enjoy her uniquely patient and uplifting way of teaching children. It’s one thing to be a female chess champion (a huge fete) and another to have the passion to teach in a way that empowers. I’m thrilled Ivona is combining her skills and passion to create her lifelong dream— a program for girls and women.”
~ Judith Rivin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
By giving me your e-mail, you’ll receive a PDF with a visual representation of the very basics of chess.