Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Woman Who Made A Difference

As so often happens when I'm conducting online research, I came across this article about a chess femme of whom I've never heard while doing research on a totally different subject! I don't know how many people read it when it was first published, or how many people will read it here; I'm trying to find out more about the lady. Her story, I think, speaks volumes about the kind of lady she is. The article was originally published in 2005 at the "" website: Player was a trailblazer in women's chess By Michelle DeCrescenzoUNION-TRIBUNE COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER August 19, 2005 SOLANA BEACH – Alina Markowski delved into chess in the 1950s, at a time when women in the sport were uncommon. She heard remarks such as "You're a good player, for a girl." On occasion, she said, "You could see, if a player lost to me, how disgusted he was that he had lost to a woman."This stoked a fire within her to promote women in chess through writing articles, organizing women's teams and tournaments and volunteering time to help a number of chess organizations as secretary, treasurer and more. The 95-year-old Solana Beach resident's chess stories include the shortest win on record, a tale she volunteers with a chuckle. She said her competitor refused to play against a woman during a tournament in Milwaukee in 1973. He was faced with disqualification if he failed to make at least one move. After he sat down to make his move and then left, Markowski earned the win and boosted her ratings. All that changed, she said, when she moved to Escondido in 1975 and joined the North County Chess Club, where she was warmly received by members. "Usually when people get to be 65, they stop studying chess," said Michael Nagaran, the club's president. "She never stopped. She tried to learn as much as she could." Nagaran estimates he has played up to 100 games with Markowski. "She would always say something positive whether she won the game or lost the game," he said. "And she was always ready for another game." Markowski said that when she's playing, the game takes precedence over friendships. "You play for blood," she said. "But when the game is over with, you can congratulate your opponent." Markowski has played an integral role in bringing players – especially female players – together for tournaments. "As a chess player, I'm average, but my strong point was organizing," Markowski said. "I was most happy when I was organizing the women's teams." She recruited local female players to organize the first regional chess tournament for women. She was an active board member and lifetime member of the Southern California Chess Federation, and wrote articles on women and chess for the organization's publication, Rank & File. As well as belonging to the North County Chess Club, Markowski has been a member of the San Diego Chess Club. She has reached chess players through the mail as well. She has been active in correspondence chess, in which moves are sent by mail between two players. Markowski served as captain of a women's team for an international correspondence chess tournament. She chose the best five players from the United States to compete in a game that lasted several years. Markowski was introduced to postal chess by her husband, who died from cancer in 1971. During the end of his life, he was an active postal chess player, since he was no longer able to attend tournaments. After 30 years of involvement in the local chess community, Markowski played her last tournament game in June, and the North County Chess Club held a retirement party for her. Nagaran called her the "driving force" behind organizing the tournaments and said she will be greatly missed. When she reflects upon her years of dedication to chess, she said, "I look back with pleasure on them." I put a piece together on Ms. Markowski at Goddesschess.

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