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Isabelle Choko


by John Bain

Isabelle Choko survived Auschwitz–the Nazi extermination camp, became a successful chess player and eventually won the French Women’s Chess Championship.

Isabelle was born in Lodz, Poland on September 18, 1928, as Izabela Sztrauch Galewska. In 1940, the Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Lodz including 12-year-old Isabelle and her family. The Nazis de-possessed them of their wealth, and forced them into a ghetto that the Nazis had set up. Imprisoned in the ghetto, they suffered from hunger and illnesses–and Izabela’s father did not survive.

Isabelle Choko black & white portrait looking at the camera

Four years later in 1944, the Nazis sent Isabelle and her mother to the Auschwitz extermination camp, and then to the Bergen-Belsen camp.

Isabelle’s mother died in the Bergen-Belsen camp. During the Bergen-Belsen camp’s existence, approximately 50,000 persons died there, including Anne Frank. In addition, after liberation another 13,000 former prisoners, too ill to recover, died. Most of the victims were Jews.

Isabelle barely survived the Bergen-Belsen camp herself while suffering from typhus. Amazingly, the adolescent Isabelle found the strength to survive by helping her fellow prisoners–values that her parents had instilled into her during the darkest of times.

Weakened by typhus, she was saved by an American army doctor after the British liberated the Bergen-Belsen camp. At that time, 16-year-old Isabelle weighed only 55 pounds.

The French Chess Champion!

Isabelle Choko seated at chessboard behind the white pieces black & white photo.

The American doctor sent her to Sweden to convalescence and regain her health before joining her uncle in Paris in 1946.

When Isabelle
 arrived to her uncle’s home in Paris in 1946, she pursued chess, and eventually became the French Women’s Chess Champion in 1956 at 28 years old.

French Women’s Chess Champion Isabelle
Isabelle Choko at simultaneous exhibition 1955

In her new life in France, Isabelle promoted chess as well being a spokesperson on behalf of the millions of victims murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Isabelle Shares Her Stories

Isabelle Choko elderly in skirt and maroon top

In France Isabelle built a new life, encouraged by the values of her parents. In Paris, she met Arthur Choko, married him, and had three children.

She continues to honor her parents and the millions of other Jews exterminated during the Holocaust–also known as the Shoah–by evoking their memories, their lives and telling their stories.

Isabelle Choko in fur coat color portrait

Isabelle Choko

1956 French Women’s Chess Champion

Born: September 28, 1928

Lodz, Poland

Learn to Play Chess
Isabelle Choko Plays Chess!

The Path to Chess Champion Can Begin Here

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Beginner’s BookChess Rules For Students

Chess Rules For Students workbook

Chess Rules For Students is a workbook for students learning the game of chess and for beginning students returning to the game. No previous knowledge of chess is necessary. Parents unfamiliar with chess will find this booklet a valuable guide to their child’s new interest.

Chess Rules For Students is designed with students, coaches, and parents in mind. Reading level is appropriate for grade-school use. All major rules of chess are covered, and algebraic notation worksheets are included. Each page is in easy-to-use worksheet format.

A student-friendly Answer Key makes self-correction fun!

Beginners & Intermediate Book – Checkmate! Ideas For Students

Checkmate! Ideas For Students

Checkmate! Ideas For Students is a workbook for beginning and intermediate students. Checkmate! covers the tactics used in checkmate attacks with clear explanations, diagrams and arrows to pinpoint the key features.

Unlike many other basic checkmate books, Checkmate! categorizes the checkmates by the tactics used to force the checkmate–like Pins, Sacrifices, Removing the Guard, Attraction, Clearance and Attacking Flight Squares–rather than only the checkmate pattern itself.

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Intermediate & Advanced BookChess Tactics For Students

Chess Tactics For Students workbook

Chess Tactics For Students is a workbook containing 434 carefully selected problems in worksheet format. Chess Tactics has been extensively field tested with elementary, middle-school, and high-school students over a four-year period.

This book is ideal for independent seat work as well as for homework and classroom instruction.

The worksheet format and Answer Key enable self-correction with minimal dependence or direct help from a chess teacher, coach, or parent.

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Chess Rules For Students Workbook
An instructional workbook designed for students learning the game of chess. Click here to learn more!
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Checkmate! Ideas For Students
An instructional workbook containing tactics in worksheet format used to checkmate--like Pins, Sacrifices, Removing the Guard, Attraction, Clearance, and Attacking Flight Squares!
Checkmate In Three Prize
Chess Tactics For Students
An instructional workbook containing 434 carefully selected problems presented in worksheet format.

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