Andrey Baryshpolets is from Kyiv, Ukraine. He represents Texas Tech University, which won the Pan-American Intercollegiate championship in 2015. He was also the Ukrainian champion under 18 in 2008, winner of Golden State Open 2017, Delhi Open 2015, prize-winner of Benasque 2016, and A.Margaryan memorial 2013.
Robert Hess is a former U.S. Junior Champion, the 2010 Samford Award winner, the runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Championship, and a three-time member of the U.S. National team. After graduating with a degree in History from Yale University in 2015, he has continued to be involved with chess. He is a known chess analyst and commentator and was the coach of the U.S. Women's team at the 2016 Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. Outside of chess, Hess serves as Chief Operating Officer of The Sports Quotient, a statistically-based sports site he co-founded.
Not coming from a family of chess players, Francesco started playing competitive chess at age 8 in France, with the Grenoble Chess Club, “Échiquier Grenoblois”. Francesco was both Champion of France and Champion of Italy in the U10 category in 2009, and went on to be Champion of Italy in the U12 and U14 categories, winning the title each year that he played the Italian Youth Championships. Francesco gained his FM title in the 2009 European Chess Championship, arriving 1st ex-aequo (3rd on tie-break) in the U10 category.
In November 2014, Francesco completed his IM norms and gained his first GM norm playing in Bad Wiessee, Germany. In august 2015, at age 16, Francesco completed his GM norms and achieved the title of International Grand Master, winning the 2015 Wien International Chess Open in Austria.
In November 2015, Francesco finished 1st ex aequo (4th in the tie-break) in the 2015 UTD Fall FIDE Open and in March 2016 he finished 7th in the 2016 Reykjavik Chess Open. He is currently Blitz and Rapid Chess champion of Italy.
Alejandro Ramirez has become a frequent face the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, through roles as both the Club’s Resident Grandmaster and as a player in the nation’s elite events. He currently serves as the chess coach for Saint Louis University and is recruiting its inaugural team to start play in Fall of 2016. He became FIDE Master at the age of 9, an International Master at 13, and earned his Grandmaster title by the age of 15. That achievement set Ramirez as the first Centro-American to earn the elite title and, at the time, the second youngest grandmaster. A competitor in the last three U.S. Championships, Ramirez displayed some of his finest chess in May 2013, when he pushed reigning champion Gata Kamsky to a playoff for the national title. He drew the first two playoff games with Kamsky before losing an Armageddon game where he had 19 minutes and 45 seconds against Kamsky's 45 minutes.
Ioan-Cristian Chirila was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1991. He was introduced to chess at the age of five by his father, and by the age of 13, took 9th place at the 2004 Romanian Men’s Chess Championship. Cristian dominated the Romanian Junior competitions, won the prestigious World Youth Championship U16 in 2007, as well as tied for first place in the 2008 edition. In 2010 he started his higher education pursuing a Political Science diploma at the University of Texas at Dallas. After graduating in 2014, he has won multiple open tournaments in the US, his last success came late last year when he win the U2550 section of the Millionaire Open. He is currently the Head Coach and resident GM at Bay Area Chess.
Akshat is a 17-year-old Grandmaster who recorded one of the fastest rises in the history of chess when he went from a starting rating of 1548 to a Grandmaster rating of 2500 in under 5 ½ years. He started playing chess at the age of 9 ½ years. Akshat was the 2015 US Junior Chess Champion, as well as the National High School Chess Champion and the National High School Blitz Champion. Since the age of 14, Akshat has remained the highest ranked Junior Rapid Chess player in the country. In August 2016, Akshat moved with his family to Saint Louis to pursue Chess professionally. More can be learned about him from his blog QuestToGM.com, which chronicles his journey from an amateur to a Grandmaster.
Cemil Can Ali Marandi
Cemil Can was born in Ankara at 1998. His current FIDE rating is 2495. He has a unique achievement of winning the European Youth Championships five times. Additionally, he has represented Turkey in the 2012 Istanbul Chess Olympiad.
Grandmaster Ben Finegold learned the rules of chess at age 5 and received his first USCF rating at age 6. GM Finegold's first major tournament win came in 1989 when he finished in a tie for first-place at the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. Also in 1989, Finegold scored his biggest victory to date with a win against Boris Gelfand at the Euwe Memorial tournament in Amsterdam, Holland. He obtained his first IM norm at the event, gained 40 FIDE points and eventually earned the title of International Master in 1990. In 1991, Finegold won his first major international, Swiss-paired tournament in Antwerp, Belgium. From 1988 to 1992, Finegold lived in Brussels, Belgium. He returned to the U.S. in 1992 and, in 1993, he was awarded the Samford Chess Fellowship. In 1994, Finegold finished in a six-way tie for first place at the U.S Open in Chicago, and then in 2002 he finished in a first-place tie with eight players at the World Open in Philadelphia where he secured his first GM norm. He won the Chicago Spring Invitational in 2005 to earn his second GM norm, and then achieved his third GM norm at the 2009 Spice Cup Chess Festival in Lubbock, Texas.
Irina Krush won the U.S. Women’s Championship seven times from 2012 - 2015. Krush has entrenched herself as the figurehead to elite American women’s chess play by earning the title of Grandmaster in October 2013. America's only active female GM says she doesn't spend much time contemplating her current chess success or failures -- "I'm more attached to my future accomplishments." Born in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine) in 1983, Irina learned to play chess at age five, emigrating with her parents to Brooklyn that same year. Krush attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where she participated in one of the top high-school chess teams in the country. It has been a rapid climb for Irina since then, including exceptional showings in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Chess Olympiads, as well as a gold-medal performance in the 2013 Women’s World Team Championship -- a result Krush called the best of her career. In addition to her chess studies, the 2008 Samford Chess Fellowship recipient enjoys tennis, reading, writing, yoga and music. Krush has a degree in international relations from NYU, though she is currently concentrating on chess. She said she enjoys the challenge of playing other Grandmasters most: "When you beat a strong GM, that's when you feel like you can play chess.
Irene is Indonesia's first Women Grandmaster and female International Master. She won the Asian Championships twice which entitled her to play in the 2015 and 2017 Women's World Championships. With one GM norm in hand, she is subsequently aiming to complete the title after graduating from her Master's degree program at Webster University last December.