By Ben Olson
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.
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 sandpointidaho.gov/parksrecreation, 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.
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