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.” Most recently, Krush competed in the first ever elite women’s tournament at the Saint Louis Chess Club, the 2019 Cairns Cup, where she placed third.