Cemil Can Ali Marandi
Cemil Can was born in Ankara at 1998. He achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 19 and has a peak FIDE rating of 2552. He has uniquely won the European Youth Chess Championships five times, once in each age category. Additionally, he has represented Turkey in the 2012 Istanbul Chess Olympiad. Cemil Can currently resides in Saint Louis where he is a junior studying Computer Engineering at Saint Louis University. He has been an active member of the SLU Chess Team since September 2016, and competed on the Saint Louis Archbishops team this year, who have qualified for the Pro Chess League Finals.
Evgeny Shtembuliak was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1999, and his introduction to chess came from his mother when he was 6 years old. Throughout his chess career, he has won a number of different tournaments. Evgeny won at the Ukrainian Championship for the first time in 2007 in his age category. He placed second in the European Chess Championships 3 times in the under 8, 10, and 12 categories. In 2018, he earned his last GM norm by winning the GM section of the 2018 Saint Louis Invitational and became a Grandmaster. Now, he is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in marketing at Texas Tech University.
The International Master title is an achievement in chess that can elude serious potential chess professionals for years. Some never achieve the title, but Brandon only needed the month of June to score all three of the required norms. To achieve this, he traveled from Charlotte to New York and finally to Philadelphia with only a few days of rest in between each event. Brandon then set his sights on the GM title, scoring his first norm in February. Now, he will look to achieve his second norm here in Saint Louis.
Born and raised in New York City, Kassa learned to play chess at the age of five and has been passionate about the game since. Having never had a coach or formal instruction, he has always learned most by playing, losing, and making adjustments-- certainly a product of the old adage "try, try again!"
At 15, Kassa became the youngest African American National Master in history, a mark that has since been broken. In 2010, Kassa became a Fide Master, and in 2014, he became an International Master. The same year, he switched federations and became a member of the Danish federation, where he also holds family ties as a dual-citizen.
After graduating from Duke University in 2015, Kassa worked at Codecademy, a tech startup that teaches millions of people how to code. Earlier this year, Kassa left this full-time position to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a Grandmaster. He achieved his first GM norm in Charlotte in 2018.
Brian Sebastian Escalante Ramirez
Brian Sebastian Escalante Ramirez (September 20, 1999) is an International Master with a 2460 FIDE rating who was born in Tarapoto, Peru. His first sign of interest in chess was at the age of 5 years when he saw his father and brother playing the game, and his father taught him the basics of chess. Soon after, Brian started training with his first coach, Jose Luis Chong Sanchez, and playing in scholastic tournaments. In 2011, he started competing in international tournaments such as the Pan American Youth Chess Championships and World Youth Chess Championships. In 2014, he achieved the Fide Master title by winning the under age 15 section of the Pan-American School Chess Championship. In 2017, he got his IM title and his first GM norm by winning the gold medal in the Pan-American Junior U20 Chess Championship. In 2018, he competed in the tiebreaks of the American Continental Championship, but did not manage to qualify for the World Cup. Currently, Brian is a freshman at Webster University, majoring in Management. He dedicates all of his accomplishments to his family, who have always supported him throughout whole chess career.
Denes Boros is originally from Budapest, Hungary and now resides in St. Louis, Missouri. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and currently plays individual and team events, while also coaching. Denes is also very active on social media (twitter), and as a chess journalist (American Chess Magazine, US Chess); he was a special commentator for the Carlsen-Karjakin World Championship Match held in New York, for the New York Times. Boros came third in the Hungarian Junior Championship at age of 14, and was U16 Olympic Champion in Denizli.
Justin started to play chess when he was seven years old. In 2015, just three years after the start of his chess career, he became a USCF National Master. He has previously played well in Saint Louis, winning the 2017 Saint Louis Invitational after defeating IM Torres Rosas and scoring his first IM norm. Justin then went on to score a second IM norm at the 2018 World Open and came back to Saint Louis to score his third and final IM norm by winning the IM section of the Saint Louis Invitational. Besides chess, Justin enjoys math and music.
Although Andrew is one of the field’s youngest players at age 14, he has already been competing in tournaments for seven years. Shortly after he began, Andrew rose to the top of his age group - achieving the National Master title just a couple months after turning 11. Recently, he became an International Master after reaching 2400 and scoring his final IM norm here in Saint Louis at the 2018 Saint Louis Invitational. Outside of chess, Andrew enjoys playing basketball.
International Master Joel Banawa has a peak rating of 2521 USCF and 2407 FIDE. He is one of the current ACE Arizona State Champions and was a former 2010 and 2006 Southern California State Champion. Joel is a very experienced coach that has produced National Champions, United States World Championship Representatives, State Champions, and top ranked kids in the nation. He has worked and earned from the best trainers and players in the world such as International Grandmaster and former number 7 in the world Michael Adams, and former US Champions Gregory Kaidanov and John Federowicz. Joel is one of the few players in the United States that has won two championships in two different states.
Olivier Kenta Chiku-Ratté is a 19 year-old FIDE Master from Montreal, Canada. Olivier represented Canada at the World Youth Chess Championship 2011. In 2015, he earned both his first IM norm and the FM title. In January 2019, he earned a second IM norm at the Montreal Winter Chess Classic. Olivier recently crossed 2400 and is eager to become an International Master.
Gauri is a 26 year old FIDE Master who currently works as a full time chess coach in Chicago. In his childhood years, he won several national junior championships. He won the Under-7 Indian Nationals in 2000, U-9, U10, and U-11 British championships in 2002, US Junior Open in 2005, and the National K-12 Quick Chess Championship in 2006. He holds five International Master Norms and is looking to complete his IM title. In his spare time he enjoys reading, singing, staying up to date with current events, investing, and travelling.
Keaton Kiewra is an International Master with two Grandmaster norms and professional Chess Instructor. He grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska where he was the Nebraska State Chess Champion for nine consecutive years. He also won six National Scholastic Titles during that time. Kiewra then moved to Dallas in 2005 to attend UTD on a Chess Scholarship. Since graduating in 2009, he has made his living as a full time Chess Instructor. He moved to San Diego in 2013 and is the founder and manager of the San Diego Surfers team for the PRO Chess League. Kiewra is very proud to have some extremely successful students who have won National Scholastic Titles, represented the U.S. at World Youth Championship events, and been consistently ranked toward the top of their age group nationally.
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan started playing chess at eight after her father took her to the Chess Olympiad games in 1996. There she met Grandmaster Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest female player of all time and the only woman in the tournament. She was soon playing competitively among the top players in her age throughout Europe and eventually competed in five Olympiads, earning a bronze team medal for the United States in her first appearance. Tatev has also competed for the U.S. team at the Women’s World Team Championships.
Tatev is a formidable competitor. At the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship, she played stunning chess and managed a fantastic 7/9 score, which would usually be enough to net first place, but actually put her in a tie for second place, half a point behind Irina Krush. Tatev's strong play and fighting qualities in 2010 earned her the Goddess Chess Fighting Chess award, which was selected by former Women's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk.
Eric Rosen is an International Master originally from Skokie, Illinois. He learned the rules of chess from his older brother at the age of 7 and competed in his first tournament at age 8. By age 9, he won the Illinois 3rd Grade State Championship. Over the years, Eric worked with a number of coaches who helped him tremendously. These have included Tamara Golovey, GM Dmitry Gurevich, GM Yury Shulman, and GM Mesgen Amanov.
In 2011, Eric won the K-12 National Championship in Nashville, TN with a 7/7 score. From 2015-2017, competed for Webster University SPICE under the direction of former World Women's Champion, Susan Polgar. In 2017, Eric graduated from Webster University in 2017 with a B.A. in Interactive Digital Media.
Since graduating, Eric has spent his time teaching chess, traveling the world, and pursuing a number of creative freelance projects. Eric also actively produces educational content on Twitch and YouTube and has a growing online following. In 2018, Eric defeated Magnus Carlsen in an online bullet game and consequently appeared on the Front Page of Reddit. Eric now lives in St. Louis, Missouri just a few blocks away from the STL Chess Campus. Learn more about Eric at https://imrosen.com/
Aaron Grabinsky started playing chess relatively late at the age of 11. He also spent his entire childhood in a town of 4,000 inhabitants on the southwest coast of Oregon. However, these inhibiting factors did not prevent him from climbing to 2200 USCF in just under five years and being the top-rated junior in Oregon for the entirety of his high school years. The main reason for Aaron’s rapid improvement in such undesirable (for chess improvement, at least!) life circumstances was the fact that there was a very active chess club in his town and the manager of the club, Dr. Nancy Keller, was (and still very much is!) a true chess fanatic who was willing to take Aaron to countless tournaments all around the US where he gained invaluable experience and improved tremendously. Aaron also read a few chess books, but his main training came from countless hours of online speed chess and over-the-board tournament play. His favorite openings are the French Defense, London System, and Grand Prix Attack.
Aaron is currently a 4.0 student studying Mathematics and Computer Science at Webster University after winning a chess scholarship to attend the school as a sophomore in high school. Since coming to St. Louis for college, Aaron has managed to earn all three of his International Master (IM) norms and only needs a handful of rating points to break 2400 FIDE which will grant him his IM title. Aaron’s favorite hobbies include table tennis, Scrabble, and playing blitz and bullet on Chess.com (managing to fight successfully against many strong Grandmasters!). Some of Aaron’s greatest chess successes include winning the Master’s category in the 2016 US Open with 7/9; placing 4th in the 2016 North American Youth Championships with 6/9; and equal first in the 2017 Chicago Class Championships with 4.5/5. He also considers reaching 51 in Chess.com’s Puzzle Rush a notable accomplishment. Aaron has two sisters who enjoy needlework and 4-H, as well as a younger brother who is also quite skilled in chess. Since January 2016, Aaron has been a professional online chess instructor and has managed to share his love of the game with many satisfied students.
Luis Carlos Torres Rosas
Luis Torres is from Mexico City, Mexico. He has represented Mexico in the World Olympiad and in several World Youth Championships. He became an International Master in 2013. His most prestigious achievements include finishing runner-up in the Mexican Absolute Championship, winning the North American Youth Championship-U14, and consecutively becoming National Youth Champion of Mexico. He also represented Texas Tech in 2014 and 2017 Final Four Editions.
Aaron is a 20 year old FIDE master from New Jersey. Recently, he competed for the New York Marshalls in the PRO Chess League where he defeated numerous strong players including GM Eduardo Iturrizaga. He is one of the top 100 Juniors in the country and is looking to score his second IM norm here in Saint Louis.
Peter Giannatos grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before moving to Charlotte in 2001. Peter learned how to play chess at the age of 7, but did not compete in his first tournament until he was 13.
At the age of 27, Peter is currently ranked 6th overall in the state of North Carolina, with a rating of 2390 USCF and 2290 FIDE. Peter has been teaching for 8 years and has trained many championship teams and students.
Peter has a Bachelors of Science in Economics with a minor in Political Science from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte.
Ezra Chambers was born in Japan, raised in Florida and Burundi, East Africa, and now live in Pacifica, California. Chambers lived in Tokyo for the first ten years of his life and started playing chess in first grade. In Florida, he became interested in robotics and electronics and did his schooling and working at The Greenbot Company, a robotics company his Dad founded. From there, Chambers family moved to Burundi. He went to the school his dad started next to Lake Tanganyika. Chambers had the opportunity to play chess all over Africa, and received his Fide Master title in Tanzania. He then stayed for half a year in Israel before fully immigrating to the United States. Chambers quickly became a member of the Mechanics Institute and he hopes to take his chess even further in Saint Louis.
Rochelle started playing chess at the age of six. She won the gold medal in the 2016 World Cadet Chess Championship U10 Girls section. In 2017, Rochelle took first place in the National Girls Tournament of Champions. At age of 11, she earned her National Master title. Rochelle earned the WIM title and a WGM norm by winning the 2018 North American Junior Girls Championship. In 2019, Rochelle broke the record for the youngest ever player to represent the US in an Olympiad or World Team and celebrated her 13th birthday at the World Team Championship in Kazakhstan. With her success as a young player, she has been invited to participate in the Young Stars program, a chess training program coached by Garry Kasparov. She is currently ranked as the No. 4 female player under the age of 14 in the World as of April 2019 based on her FIDE rating.