Commentators & Arbiters

Live Broadcast Commentators

GM Yasser SeirawanGM 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's book of the year.

WGM Jennifer ShahadeWGM Jennifer Shahade
2301 (USCF) | 2322 (FIDE)

2-time U.S. Women's Champion

Jennifer is a two-time US Women’s Chess Champion, the Women’s Program Director at US Chess and  a frequent commentator for the Grand Chess Tour. She has hosted the US Chess Championships since it first came to Saint Louis in 2008, when she chaired the organizing committee for the first several editions, setting the tone for a new era in US Championship history. She hosts the award-winning Ladies Knight podcast on the US Chess network, and The GRID, a chess-inspired poker show that won the 2019 Global Poker Award for Best Podcast.

Through her advocacy, appearances and media work, Jennifer has pushed gender equality in chess for her entire career. She is the author of Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, and Play Like A Girl. She also produced the short documentaries Girls in Chess and the Magic of Chess, which highlight the diversity of our great game. Jennifer is also the MindSports Ambassador for PokerStars and serves on the board of the World Chess Hall of Fame. She creates chess related art with her husband Daniel Meirom, including hula chess and Not Particularly Beautiful.

GM Maurice AshleyGM 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.

Cristian ChirilaGM Cristian Chirila
2624 (USCF) | 2536 (FIDE)
MIZZOU Chess Coach

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 for the University of Missouri (Mizzou) Chess Team.


Chris Bird
Chief Arbiter
International Arbiter
National Tournament Director​

Chris Bird is an International Arbiter (awarded 2010) and US Chess National Tournament Director (awarded 2012). Chris has been the Chief Arbiter for numerous Sinquefield Cups, as well as the US Championship, US Women's Championship, SuperNationals VI, Las Vegas International Chess Festival and at numerous other events across the US. Chris has directed at more than 300 events over the past 20 years and most recently was the Chief Arbiter at the online version of the 2020 St. Louis Rapid and Blitz. As well as being an arbiter, Chris's full-time role is as the FIDE Events Manager for US Chess. Chris is also a former President and Board Member of Nevada Chess, Inc. and former General Secretary and League Secretary of the Hull and District Chess Association in England.