Checkmate, mate

The 29th annual Lou Domanski Chess Festival returns to Sandpoint

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

Join fellow chess enthusiasts for a one-day chess tournament that harkens back nearly three decades in Sandpoint. 

The Lou Domanski Chess Festival tournament will begin at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 4 at the Sandpoint Community Hall, 204 S. First St. The tournament starts at 9 a.m. and usually concludes around 5 p.m. 

An exhibition chess tournament at the Silver Lake Mall, circa 1990. Lou Domanski is standing far right with his prodegies (the Reader publisher can also be found with a dumb smile on his face, two from the right in the back row.) Photo courtesy of Cassadie Spinney.

There are three divisions, splitting up players by age with differing entry fees for each. The elementary age division for grades 1-6 has a $5 entry fee, the middle school/high school division for grades 7-12 has an entry fee of $6 and there is also an open division with a $7 entry fee. Trophies will be awarded for winners of each division. 

Register online before Thursday, March 26 at, or visit Sandpoint Parks and Recreation offices at Sandpoint City Hall, 1123 Lake St. or call 208-263-3613.

Formerly known as the Sandpoint Chess Festival, the annual competition was renamed in honor of its founder and longtime coordinator Lou Domanski. 

Born in Poland in 1918, Domanski enlisted with the 18th Infantry Division Cadet Officers School as war loomed closer in 1938. He advanced to the rank of corporal warrant officer, and was initially captured by the Soviets, but escaped from the prisoner train. He was later captured again by the Soviets and sent to a slave labor camp until the Nazi German attack on the Soviet Union allowed him to be released.

In 1942 he reported to Glasgow, Scotland for intensive training at an Royal Air Force base. In 1944, he was promoted to the officer rank of aircraft commander, taking part in many airdrops to assist the Warsaw Uprising. Eventually his aircraft was shot down during a night mission over Hungary and he was captured for the third time by the Nazis and spent the remainder of World War II in captivity.

For his wartime efforts, Domanski was decorated with the Virtuti Military Cross, three times with the Cross of Valor, the Polish Air Force Medal, Gold Cross of Merit, the Home Army Medal and the September 1939 Campaign Medal. He was also decorated five times with various medals by the RAF.

Domanski moved to Sandpoint in 1988 and immediately started the chess program, which continues to this day and has undoubtedly taught thousands of North Idaho children how to play chess. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 92.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.