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Lisa Lane

Marianne Elizabeth Lane Hickey (born April 25, 1938 in Philadelphia) is an American former chess player. Her combination of good looks and chess-playing ability made her an international celebrity, even though she never achieved the title of chess master. Her photo appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, making her the first of only two chess players ever to appear on its cover (the other was Bobby Fischer, in 1972). There were articles about her in Look, Newsweek, The New Yorker and many other magazines.

Early life

Born in Philadelphia, Lane never knew her father, a leather glazer. As a child, she and her sister Evelyn lived with various neighbors and their grandmother while their mother held down two jobs. In 1957, while attending Temple University, Lisa struck and killed an elderly woman while driving her mother's car (Lane was not charged); this, and the end of a love affair, set Lane into a depression.

After investing her remaining savings in a Philadelphia bookstore, Lane began playing chess at local coffeehouses and "winning all the time," she said. After coaching by master Attilio Di Camillo, Lane won the women's championship of Philadelphia in 1958 and took her first U.S. Women's Chess Championship in 1959 at the age of 21, just two years after she began playing the game. She held this title until 1962, losing it to Gisela Kahn Gresser. Lane had an Elo rating of 2002, a low expert rating, from the United States Chess Federation as of the end of 1961. In 1963, Lane opened her own chess club, The Queen's Pawn Chess Emporium in New York City. In 1966, she shared the U.S. Women's Chess Champion title with Gresser.

Lane has been married twice; first to Walter Rich, a Philadelphia ad man and commercial artist, from 1959-61, then to Neil Hickey, editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review, since 1962. Both Lisa and her husband were friends of Bobby Fischer and assisted Fischer in some chess articles. (Despite her friendship with him, Fischer was not impressed with Lane's, or any woman's, chess playing abilities: "They're all fish. Lisa, you might say, is the best of the American fish.")

Later life

According to two-time U. S. Women's Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade (author of Chess Bitch, a book about women chess players), Lisa quit the game partly because she was annoyed with being identified as a chess player. "It got to be embarrassing, constantly being introduced as a chess champion at parties." On her fame, Hickey said, "I guess I was good copy. I don't think the things I did in chess forty years ago are the most important things in my life."

In the 1970s, Lane and her husband opened a gift shop called Amber Waves of Grain (now called Earth Lore), in Pawling, New York.