Stephan Anton Popel

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Stephan Anton Popel

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Komarniki, Ukraine
Death: December 27, 1987 (80)
Fargo, North Dakota, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Reverend Mykhailo Popiel and Olha Kalynsky
Husband of Valentyna S. Shapowal
Ex-husband of Wiera Ochrymovych
Father of Private; Private and Private
Brother of Illarij Damian Popel; Marian Popel; Bohdan Popel and Daria Popel

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Stephan Anton Popel

Stephan Popel (15 August 1909 - 27 December 1987) was a philologist and chess champion of Lviv, Paris and eventually, of the Ukrainians in North America (USA and Canada). He was born in Komarnyky, Turka county, Ukraine and died December 27, 1987 in Fargo, North Dakota, USA). Stephan was born into a priest's family to Rev. Mykhailo Popiel and Olha Kalynsky.

Stepan Popel was the nephew of an early master, Ignatz von Popiel (1863-1941), and took a liking to chess at an early age - he played in his first tournament at age 12. He went on to became the best chess player in the region and is now regarded as one of the important masters of pre-World War II Europe. Stephan was one of the founders of the Towaristvo Ukrainskykh Szakhistiv (Ukrainian Chess Club) in Lviv in 1926. In 1931, he earned a masters degree in French and Latin language and literature from the University at Lviv. He also acted, during WW II, Greek-Catholic Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky's personal secretary until 1944. He used the pseudonym A. S. Sulyma.

In 1929, Popel won a championship of Lviv, followed by Kaufman, Friedman, Piotrowski, etc. In 1929 and 1934, he was a member of Lviv team at 1st and 2nd Polish team championships. In 1934, he was a member of Polish team at Correspondence Olympiad. In 1935-1936, he took 9th at Correspondence Championship of Poland.

In 1943, Popel published his handbook "Pochatky Shakhista" (Introduction to Chess) in Ukrainian at Krakow. In 1943, he tied for 1st with Myroslav Turiansky at Lviv (GG). In 1943, he won at Sambor (GG). In 1944, he won at Sanok (GG). Because of the Red Army's approach, he did manage to avoid deportation to Siberia or any worse fate during the Soviet occupation (e.g., that of Vladimirs Petrovs). Joining the westward exodus in 1944, Stepan Popel wound up in Krakow. In 1944, he drew a match against Fedor Bogatyrchuk at Krakow (2 : 2). At the end of war, he escaped to the West. Finally, he came to France.

In 1950/51, Popel won at Hastings (Premier Reserve Major). In 1951, he won a championship of Paris. In 1951/52, he tied for 4th-6th at Hastings. In April 1953, he won a championship of Paris. In 1954, he won a championship of Paris. In 1954, he took 4th at Saarbrücken. In 1954/55, he played at international tournament at Paris. In 1955/56, he took 2nd at Hastings (The Premier Reserves Major).

In 1956, Popel was authorized to migrate to the United States. As an American master, he won three times the Michigan state championships of 1957, 1958, and 1959. He also won the North Central Open at Wisconsin in 1957, where his young competitor Bobby Fischer took 6th place. In 1958, he took 4th at North Central Open, and took 6th at Western Open. Both those events were won by Pal Benko. Around 1960, Stepan Popel became a professor of French language and literature at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He continued to enter tournaments, and he became eleven-time North Dakota champion (from 1965 to 1980). In 1966, he took 2nd at a championship of Ukrainian Sport Centrale of America & Canada. In 1969, he won a championship of USCA&C. In 1970, he took 3rd at North Central Open. Popel played the US Open at Lincoln 1969, Atlantic City 1972, Chicago 1973, Columbus 1977. In 1986, he tied for 5th-8 th at a championship of USCA&C. The event was won by Orest Popovych.

He married a second time with Ukrainian Valentyna Shapowal, and had a daughter Olha and two sons Volodymyr (pasynok) and Oleksa. He had a large library on chess topics (500 items), and was a collector of French literature. He was a teacher of languages and spoke a multitude of languages - Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and English. He led a modest lifestyle, ate very little, and on occasion allowed himself a glass of cognac as a luxury. He never learned to drive a car and did not even try getting a driver's license.

Stephan Popel was a very friendly and cheerful individual. His hair reminded people of a grey little Albert Einstein. This physical similarity became a constant joke among his friends. When someone mentioned to him that he looked like Einstein, Popel would immediately answer: "not Einstein, but Zweistein."

Popel died in 1987, and is buried at Fargo, North Dakota. But his childhood town hasn't forgotten him. In 1996, the now Ukrainian city of Lviv hosted their first International Chess Tournament in memory of Stepan Popel.

Encyclopedia of Ukraine: Stepan Popel was born August 15, 1907 in Komarnyky, Turka county, Galicia and died December 27, 1987 in Fargo, North Dakota. Chess champion and philologist. He graduated from Lviv University (Masters PHIL, 1931; Master JUR, 1938), taught French and Latin in a Lviv gymnasium (1930-39), and was a professor at the Lviv Pedagogical Institute (1939-1941) and Lviv Technical Institute (1941- 1944). He was personal secretary to Metropolitan Andrej Sheptytsky (1929 - 1944). In 1928 he won the Galician chess tournament in Lviv and became the champion of Lviv (1930) and Ukraine (1944). He wrote "Pochatky shakhista" ( Beginnings of a Chess Player,1943). As a postwar refugee in France (1946-1955) Popel won first prize in 14 of the 18 international Western European chess tournaments in which he took part, and was a three-time champion in Paris and four-time champion in England. After emigrating to the United States in 1956, he was a chess champion in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, and North Dakota (five times).

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Stephan Anton Popel's Timeline

August 15, 1907
Komarniki, Ukraine
December 27, 1987
Age 80
Fargo, North Dakota, United States