Popiel Stepan (1907-1987), a chess player and a Romanist born in Turszczany region (Galicia), till 1944 lived in Lwow, where he was a pedagogue and (1929-1944) a personal secretary of the archbishop Andrij Szeptyckij. In 1944 he left Lviv for France and USA (since 1961) where he was a professor of French language and culture at the North Dakota University.
In 1928 he was 1st at the Ukrainian chess turnament of Lviv and Galicia, in 1930 he won the City of Lviv tournament and in 1944 he was 1st at the tournament of Ukraine. In 1946-1955 he took part in eighteen international chess tournaments of Western Europe winning as 1st fourteen times (the tournament of Paris and the tournament of England). In USA a champion of Michigan, Ohio Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and five times champion of North Dakota)

Enciklopedia ukrainoznawstwa, tom 6, s.2263, HTSZ 1970, reprinted in Lviv 1996 , in Ukrainian




One of the best chess masters from Galicia of the pre-World War II period, Stepan Popiel was born on 15 August 1907 in the village of Komarniki in Boykivshchina in the family of Michail i Olha (nee Kalinski).

He learned to play chess at a young age and participated in his first tournament at the age of twelve. In 1931 he graduated  from the University in Lviv with a master's degree in French and Latin philology. He taught languages in a high school in Lviv. In 1950's and 60's he taught in a public school in Detroit and was a professor of French and French literature at the University of North Dakota in Fargo.

He was one of the founders of the Society of Ukrainian Chess Players in Lviv, he defended honor in the first and second command championship in Poland, the best chess player in Western Ukraine, winner of the tournament of the best chess players in Sambir in 1943 and in Sjanok in 1944.

After the war he successfully played many international tournaments, three time he was champion in Paris (1951, 1953 and 1954). For a while he was a trainer to the best French woman chess player, Mrs. Shod Silan.

In 1956 he crossed over to the USA where he captured first place in tournamens in several states: Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota. In an open championship of the USA in Oklahoma City played against future world champion Bobby Fisher.

He took active part in the chess lives of Ukrainians in America and Canada, in 1969 he won the championship of УСЦАК.

Married Valentina Shapoval in 1948, had two children - a daughter Olha, who is a doctor, and a son Oleksa. Knew eight languages: Ukrainian, Polish, French, German, Russian, English, Greek and Latin. Authored a book "Beginning of a Chess Player" published in 1943 in Lviv.

A gentleman in the finest understanding of the word from his earliest years, with a Parisian demeanor, a gracious host - this is those who know Stepan Popiel describe him.

Weakened by sickness and an operation he died in his 81st year of life and was buried in Fargo. The memory of this wonderful person is written in the history of Ukrainian chess, to which this tournament in Lviv is witness to his honor.

The first tournament in memory of S. Popiel, which was held in Lviv in December 1996 was won by a native of Lviv, Andrij Maksimienko.

From information on II International Chess Tournament in memory of professor Stepan Popiel
Lviv, 22 Sept. - 1 Oct. 1999


/translation courtesy of Mr. Modeste Sobolta/


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