Irina Krush has earned the spot as the highest-rated competitor in this year’s tournament, and the highest rated female in the United States. Since earning the title of Grandmaster in October 2013, she has entrenched herself as the figurehead of elite women’s chess in America by winning the U.S. Women’s Championship an incredible seven times. Born in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine) in 1983, Irina learned to play chess at age five, immigrating 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 is also an author and has dedicated her time to writing several articles for Chess Life and USChess.org. Her article based on her experience earning her grandmaster norm in 2013 was named “Best of U.S. Chess.” In the past two years, Krush competed in both editions of the Cairns Cup, an elite women’s tournament at the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Carissa Yip is one of the top female chess players in America. Known for her creativity over the board, Yip has been on a record-shattering pace ever since she learned how to play the game from her father at age 6. Three years later, at age 9, she became the youngest ever female player to reach the Expert level. Two years later, she broke the record for youngest female to achieve the title of National Master at the age of 11 years, 5 months, and 18 days. Along the way to Master, she set the record for youngest female player to beat a Grandmaster for her win against GM Alexander Ivanov in the New England Open a few days before her 11th birthday. In 2019, she took clear first at the Girls’ Junior Championship with a score of seven out of nine, defending her title from 2018. This year, she competed at the 2020 Cairns Cup where she defeated players such as Women’s World Champion GM Wenjun Ju, 2019 Cairns Cup Champion, GM Valentina Gunina, and GM Irina Krush.
Anna has been a dominant force on the US Women’s chess scene since she emigrated from the Ukraine in 2003. Born in Mariupol, Ukraine (USSR) in 1978, she won the Ukrainian Women’s Championship in 2001. Since then, she has also added four US Women’s Championships to her title list. Since her first victory in 2006, Zatonskih and Irina Krush dominated the Championships, passing the title back and forth until IM Nazi Paikidze took her first title in 2016. 2009 was a particularly notable year, where Anna blew the field away on her way to a score of 8.5/9. Zatonskih represented Ukraine in the 2000 and 2002 Olympiads, as well as in two European Team Championships, scoring a silver medal for her board in Batumi 1999. She has really helped bolster Team USA since 2004, aiding their silver medal run in 2004. Her best performance was perhaps in 2008, scoring a gold medal for her board in Dresden 2008 to lead the team to a bronze medal. She also won an individual silver medal for board 1 at the World Team Championships in 2017.
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.
Paikidze was born in Irkutsk, Russia and has been playing chess since she was four years old. Even at an early age, it was clear Paikidze would soon become a powerhouse player. Raised in Tbilisi, Georgia, Paikidze quickly collected prolific wins at the highest levels of international youth chess play. By the time she was 16, Paikidze had won four European Youth Chess Championships and medaled in the World Youth Chess Championship an astounding six times, including two gold-medal finishes. In 2006, Paikidze moved with her family to Moscow, Russia, which allowed her to participate in Russian tournaments. While she continued to represent Georgia in international events, she seized the initiative to combat some of Russia’s best, winning both the Moscow Women’s Championship and the Moscow’s Open Women Tournament, and finishing fourth in the Russian Women’s Chess Championship. With continuous strong play, Nazi achieved her Woman Grandmaster title in 2010 and her International Master title in 2012. Nazi transferred to the USCF in November 2016 after moving to the U.S. and is currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2016, she started teaching lessons on ChessUniversity.com's Prodigy Program chess course.
Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova is a chess Woman Grandmaster, earning that title at 16. She was born in Uzbekistan and has been playing chess since 5 years old. In 2009, she won triple gold at the Asian Girls' Championship, with gold medals in Classical, Rapid, and Blitz. In 2011, Gulrukhbegim won a bronze medal at the World Youth Chess Championship in the U12 section. In 2015, she won the Asian Girls Championship in the U20 section. She won the 2018 Uzbekistan Women Chess Championship. Gulrukhbegim played for Uzbekistan in 2 Women's Chess Olympiads (2016, 2018). in 2019, She moved to the U.S. and joined the chess team at University of Missouri. She is currently a Junior at the school majoring in Business with an emphasis on Marketing.
Katerina Nemcova is a Czech and American chess Woman Grandmaster. She was women's Czech champion in 2008 and 2010. She came second in the World Youth Chess Championship of 2007 and won the European Youth Chess Championship of 2008. Nemcova switched to the American chess federation in 2013 and competed in the 2017 Women's World Championship in 2017. In 2019, she was the coach for the U.S. team during World Cadet Championship. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona.
Thalia started playing chess in Cuba, but in 2014 she moved to the United States seeking better chess opportunities. She has won such tournaments as the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls Invitational and KCF US Girls Championship. More recently Thalia has had good results at Carlos Torre Open, North American Open and Continental Championship. She is a Woman International Master, and is a familiar face at the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Now living in Saint Louis, MO, Sharevich has played for both the Lindenwood and Webster University Chess teams, and had an impressive showing in December’s 2014 and 2015 Pan American Intercollegiate Championship. This past year also saw Anna selected for her first Chess Olympiad--for team U.S.A.--already boasting a great deal of experience in Olympiad play, having contributed to the Belarusian team in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Sharevich also was a member of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, the 2014 champions of the U.S. Chess League.
Ashritha learned to play chess at the age of 7. At 13, she became a national master. In 2015, she took first place in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship with a score of 6.5/9. The very next day, she flew to Colombia for the 2015 Pan-American Youth Chess Championship where she earned bronze through a tie-break. She has played in the World Youth Championships four times from 2012-2015, and this year will be the fifth appearance in the US Women’s Championship. Currently, she is a senior studying at University of California, Berkeley and is majoring in Applied Mathematics and Data Science. She is an active member of the Chess Club at Berkeley, and was part of the runner up 2021 USATW Team, UC Berkeley Team A. Her hobbies include baking, playing the piano, painting, and singing.
Sabina is a Romanian-American chess player, born to a chess family with both her parents being International Masters. She learned to play chess at around 4 years old and soon after started competing in national and international competitions. She won numerous national titles in both Romanian and European championships in her age category. She was awarded the title of Woman Grandmaster in 2007 and a year later she received a full scholarship to go to college in the United States. She holds a BA in Modern Language and Linguistics and has a Masters in Intercultural Communication from UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County). Starting with 2010, Sabina has been a part of USA's Women Olympic Chess Team at five consecutive Olympiads (2010-2018) and four Women's World Team Championships (2013-2019). Her biggest achievement to date is winning the US Women’s Championship in 2017. Aside from playing chess professionally, Sabina has been coaching players of all levels for the past nine years. In 2020, together with Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi, she co-authored the book : “Sherlock’s Method” which is meant as a working tool for club players who seek an overarching way to train themselves before tournaments.
Megan Lee is a chess Woman International Master. She completed her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design with a minor in Art History. Most recently, she won the 2020 Washington State Championships and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. Other highlights include winning the 2013 North American Youth U18 Girls Championship and the 2009 Kasparov All-Girls Nationals Championship. Outside of chess, Megan runs two small businesses, an embroidery shop and a lifestyle brand, Snippet Studios. She also enjoys playing board games, skating, clam digging, and making things.