Meet the Players: GM Yury Shulman

GM Yury Shulman, off to 2.5/5 start, is hoping to secure his second U.S. Championship title.

By Brian Jerauld

How would you say that having a degree in business has influenced your strategies in chess, or vice versa?

 I would say that being a GM helped me to get my MBA. I realized how to solve problems in the school projects by simply applying logic to it. The MBA helped me to understand that I should only do the things I am good at - playing and teaching chess, organizing chess events and never invest in anything else - like stocks and bonds!

You were already a Grandmaster before moving to the U.S. in 1999. How is championship chess different from Europe to North America?

I would say the chess playing level is similar in both parts of the world. I would just mention that I see the main difference in organization. Apart of the U.S. Championship and some other great tournaments, the level of chess tournament organization in general is incomparably higher in Europe rather than in the U.S. One round a day, opening and closing ceremony, equipment, friendliness of organizers, desire to make players feel welcome - those are just a few points which make European tournaments more desirable. Of course at the U.S. Championship we have all of it and more :) 

You’ve also been involved in the Olympiad, both as a player and coach. Could you tell us about those experiences? And is the Olympiad like any other chess tournament, or was there a different approach?

The main difference between being a coach and a player is the point that when I am a coach of the U.S. team - we always beat Russia and when I am a player, we always score otherwise! Of course the Olympiad is an amazing opportunity for young players to play against the strongest players in the World. It is a great event and a very nice social experience since one can meet so many of his old and new friends. 

Tell us about your Chess Without Borders program. What would you like to happen with chess in education in the future?

Chess Without Borders combines chess and philanthropy. We helped people around the World through chess, by donating chess sets and teaching kids and adults how to play. In addition to it we helped people who are even not so much involved in chess. One can find more information on I think the idea of involving chess as a part of curriculum in schools is a great idea. Chess after all is gymnastics for the brain. 

How much longer do you plan to play competitively? Do you have chess plans in your future, after competition? Do you think you will write more books on chess.

I would like to play chess at least for enjoyment and to keep my mind exercised. I am not sure when I will retire or if I'll retire at all, but as long as I enjoy playing, I will be participating in tournaments. As for the book. Book... Hmmm... A great idea! So far I completed only one book "Chess! Lessons from a Grandmaster." But it is also available in ibook version on!-lessons-from-grandmaster/id589939284?mt=11 

I am planning to work on a second part of it where we would teach 1000-1300 rated students.