GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz dies at 43

7/16/2006 – Born in Latvia, but Polish by nationality, he was a great chess talent in his teens. But his career was interrupted when he was imprisoned for refusing to join the Soviet Army. In 1986 he moved to Poland and later took residence in the US, becoming one of the most active tournament players in the world. Aleksander Wojtkiewitz died on July 14th 2006. He will be sadly missed.

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Aleksander Wojtkiewicz was born on January 15, 1963, in Latvia, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. His name was originally spelled Vojtkevic, and he was Polish by nationality. He showed an early talent for chess, becoming a master at the age of 15.


Aleksander Wojtkiewicz in a recent picture (by Phillip R. Smith)

But his chess career was interrupted when he became a member of a human rights organization in Latvia and refused to join the Soviet Army. He was jailed for two years by the Soviet authorities, but received amnesty after the meeting of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev at the end of 1986. He moved from Riga to Warsaw, Poland, and started to play chess again at the age of 24. He won two Polish Championships before took residence in the United States.


Aleks Wojtkiewicz' personal data on Playchess.com. His last login was on July 10th, 2006.

Aleks was one of the most active tournament players in the world, while also teaching and training on the side. In 1999 he was one of Alexander Khalifman's team, and helped him win the 1999 World Championship in Las Vegas. He played in tournaments all over the world, usually with great success, and won the annual $10,000 first prize for Grand Prix chess tournaments in the United States several times. He won or tied for first in the last five tournaments he took part in: the Columbus Open, the World Open in Philadelphia, the National Open in Las Vegas, the Kentucky Open and the the DC Action Championship, all in 2006.

Aleks Wojtkiewicz died on July 14th 2006 of liver problems. He was 43. He will be missed by friends and colleagues.

Addendum

We received the following message from Elizabeth Karnazes of San Francisco, California:

Dear Chess Friends, as Woit's close friend and attorney of many years, people are asking me about his passing. I have spoken with Woit's physician and the medical examiner. Woit did not die of liver failure or alcoholism. He died of a perforated intestine, and massive bleeding. If he had been helped sooner, he would have lived. He had lost so much blood by the time the ambulance was called, it was too late to save him. Some people, myself included, have been upset by Woit's obituary stating he died of liver problems. We would all appreciate a correction.

Finally, Woit was very concerned about his mother and often sent her money to live. It was his dying wish that someone would take care of his mother. Donations for Woit's mother, Tamara, can be sent to the Alexander Wojtkiewicz Memorial Fund care of Law Offices of Elizabeth Karnazes P.O. Box 4747 Foster City, CA 94404 (650) 345-9200. Thank you for your help.

Elizabeth Karnazes


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