Commentators & Arbiters
Live Broadcast Commentators
GM Yasser Seirawan
2677 (USCF) | 2620 (FIDE)
4-time U.S. Champion
Yasser Seirawan is a four-time U.S. Champion and former World Championship contender. Born in Syria, Seirawan’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 7 years old and settled in Seattle. He picked up the game of chess at age 12, and, at 13 Seirawan became the Washington State Junior Chess Champion; by 1979, he won the World Junior Championship. He went on to dominate the American chess scene, winning the U.S. Championship title in 1981, 1986 and 1989 and then again in 2000. Seirawan continued to play in major world-class events, including serving 10 times as a member of the U.S. team at the World Chess Olympiad, until his retirement in 2003. Seirawan came out of retirement in 2011 to play in the U.S. Championship, which was held in Saint Louis and followed with a stunning performance at the 2011 World Team Championship, where he earned an individual silver medal for his performance on board four. Seirawan is a highly respected teacher, commentator and author and has written several books including Chess Duels, the 2010 Chesscafe.com's book of the year.
WGM Jennifer Shahade
2301 (USCF) | 2322 (FIDE)
2-time U.S. Women's Champion
Jennifer Shahade is a chess champion, author, commentator, and poker player. For her the essentials of life involve chess and art. As an author of multiple chess books and writer for Chess Life, Shahade has communicated her passion for both to a broad audience, and has been a strong advocate for greater female participation in chess. Her over-the-board chess career was just as successful. She is a two-time U.S. Women’s Champion winning in 2002 and 2004. Her first book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport (2005), intertwined autobiographical elements with the stories of great women chess champions, past and present. Shahade also co-authored Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess (2009). Shahade’s Play Like a Girl! Tactics by 9 Queens (2010) is the first book solely featuring combinations that are all executed by female chess champions. Always a viewer favorite, Shahade returns to the Saint Louis Chess Club to add her perspective to this year’s broadcast commentary.
GM Maurice Ashley
2459 (USCF) | 2440 (FIDE)
Millionaire Chess Organizer
Through chess, Maurice Ashley has not only made history as the first and only African-American International Grandmaster in 1999, but has translated his talents to others as a three-time national championship coach, two-time author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor and motivational speaker. Ashley now works as a Research Affiliate at MIT’s Media Lab to bring the benefits of chess and other classic games to a wider educational audience through the innovative use of technology. Ashley’s book, “Chess for Success” (Broadway Books, 2005), crystallizes his vision of the many benefits of chess, particularly for at-risk youth, and he continuously spreads his message of living one’s dream to universities, businesses, chess clubs and non-profit organizations around the globe. His app, “Learn Chess! With Maurice Ashley,” has been sold in over 30 countries, and he has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities and community groups for his work. In the fall of 2011, Ashley toured six Caribbean nations to bring chess, books and technology to kids in the region. Ashley also works with the Saint Louis Chess Club scholastic initiative to bring the educational benefits of chess to area students.
Live Audience Commentators
GM Alejandro Ramirez
2659 (USCF) | 2574 (FIDE)
Alejandro Ramirez has become a frequent face the Saint Louis Chess Club, through roles as both the Club’s Resident Grandmaster and as a player in the nation’s elite events. Ramirez was inspired by the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer when he was four years old. 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 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. Ramirez studied video game design at the University of Texas at Dallas, earning a master’s degree in Arts & Technology. He currently serves as the chess coach for Saint Louis University and works as super-Grandmaster, Fabiano Caruana’s, second. His personal familiarity with both fields of the 2019 U.S. Championships, coupled with his outstanding, plain-talk understanding of the King’s game, makes Ramirez an outstanding commentating option for the live audience at the 2019 U.S. Chess Championships.
GM Eric Hansen
This charismatic and sporty Canadian became a Grandmaster in 2012 and has been a rising star in the chess community since. His internet presence on YouTube and Twitch, chessbrahs, involves himself and other titled players playing chess online for fun. Hansen’s online chess fame has given him many devoted fans and followers. In 2007, Hansen became a National Master, and placed second in the 2008 World U-16 Championships. Later that year he became a FIDE Master, and by 2010 he earned the International Master title. He tied for first in the 2011 Canadian Championship and won the 2012 Canadian Open. Other accomplishments in Hansen’s career include him qualifying for two World Cups and becoming a member of the Canadian National Team, representing Canada in the 2012 Olympiad and putting up another spectacular performance at the 2016 Olympiad. Hansen is also a member of the PRO Chess League team, the Montreal Chess Brahs, who reached the final four in their first season.
Franc Guadalupe | Chief Arbiter
Francisco (Franc) Guadalupe is a US Chess National Tournament Director and the only USA FIDE International Arbiter Category A, which is the highest arbiter category under FIDE. From October 2010 to August 2016, he held the position of FIDE Zonal President for USA. From June to October 2013, he held the position of US Chess Interim Executive Director and from May 2014 to December 2017 he was the US Chess Director of Events. On January 2019, Franc, once again, assumed the duties of FIDE Zonal President for USA. Franc was the Deputy Chief Arbiter for the 2006 and 2010 U.S. Championships and well as the Chief Arbiter for the 2013 and 2017 U.S. Championships. He was also the Deputy Chief Arbiter for the 2016 World Chess Championship Match in New York City between World Champion Magnus Carlsen and the Challenger, GM Sergey Karjakin. Franc, who received the 2009 US Chess Tournament Director of the Year award, has also been the Chief Tournament Director for many National events including SuperNationals IV and V, and the 2010, 2011 and 2013 U.S. Open. Franc is originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico and spent over 23 years in the U.S. Army. His wife Bonnie also served for 12 years. The Guadalupes reside in one of the suburbs of Houston, Texas.
Grant Oen | Deputy Arbiter
Grant Oen lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is the Assistant Director of the Charlotte Chess Center. He is the youngest National Tournament Director and International Arbiter in the United States, and also holds the titles of International Organizer and FIDE Instructor. He has directed at hundreds of chess tournaments, including the World Open, Millionaire Chess Open, SuperNationals, and the K-12 National Championship. In 2019, he will direct the U.S. Championships, U.S. Collegiate Rapid and Blitz, FIDE North American Junior (U20) Championships, U.S. Masters Championship, U.S. G/10, G/30, & G/60 Championships, and the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship. Grant also works for US Chess as the FIDE Events Manager. He has been a US Chess representative at FIDE Congresses, Olympiads, World Youth, and World Cadet Championships in Turkey, Spain, Greece, and the Republic of Georgia. He also serves as a Councillor on FIDE’s Technical Commission.