Information

Sam Sevian

grandmaster sam sevian
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2645
Residence: 
Boston, MA
Age: 
14
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Samuel Sevian is the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship Wildcard and an American chess prodigy. He set previous records as the youngest American Expert and the youngest American National Master in history, and currently stands as the youngest American International Master in history. Last November, he continued his record-setting climb by becoming the youngest American Grandmaster in history, earning the coveted title at 13 years, 10 months and 27 days -- and also the sixth-youngest GM in world history.

Sevian has maintained his status as one of the most-promising Juniors in the country, fully realized since he became a U12 World Champion in Maribor Slovenia in November 2012. He is a product of the Young Stars - Team USA program, a joint partnership between the Kasparov Chess Federation (KCF) and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to find and train the country's top emerging chess players. Sam received intensive training with legendary World Champion GM Garry Kasparov, which he said was a big contributing factor to his recent success.

"The KCF helped me enormously," Sam said. "First, it was Garry's camps held in Saint Louis and New York where we got to train with the Champion himself, and of course long and frequent training sessions with GM Alexander Chernin, who helped me grow."


Alisa Melekhina

FM Alisa Melekhina
Title: 
FIDE Master
Rating: 
2320
Residence: 
New York, NY
Age: 
23
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

A woman of many talents, FM Alisa Melekhina is a ballerina, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a budding entrepreneur -- and one of the strongest female chess players in the United States. Emigrating from Crimea, Ukraine, Melekina's family spent her early childhood growing accustomed to their new life in the United States. It was during this time that Alisa's father first taught her chess and, by the time she was seven, Melekhina was already participating in her first tournaments. In less than three years, she was succeeding in prestigious international tournaments, including top-10 finishes in World Youth and Junior Chess Championships.

Since then, Alisa has been a regular competitor in national and international events, placing third in the World Open U2400 Section and being crowned the first female Pennsylvania State Champion.  The 2015 U.S Women’s Champion will mark the sixth time she has competed for the title.

Alisa achieved her FIDE Master rating in 2011, the same year she began attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  While it only took her two years to graduate, Alisa admits that the law school workload paid its toll on her chess studies.  While she continues to stay busy with her own entrepreneurial endeavors and a full-time position at a New York law firm, Alisa has recommitted herself to chess.  Now, Alisa strives toward her ultimate goal of achieving Grandmaster status, and this year's U.S. Women's Championship should prove to be a great next step.

Katerina Nemcova

women's grandmaster katerina nemcova
Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2356
Residence: 
St. Louis, MO
Age: 
24
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

WGM Katerina Nemcova is a Prague-born, Czech chess champion who currently attends Webster University in St. Louis for her Masters in Public Relations. Learning to play chess at age four in the Czech Republic, she won her national youth championship in eight different age categories on her ascent, topping out as the Czech Women’s Champion in 2008 and 2010.

As a representative of the Czech Republic, Katerina is a three-time Olympic player (2008, 2010, 2012) and a gold-medalist as the second board in the European Women's Team Championship in 2007. Katerina transferred to the USCF in 2013, and while she attended UT-Brownsville for her undergraduate degree, she competed for Rio Grande Ospreys in the U.S. Chess League. Last year, Katerina’s first attempt at the U.S. Women’s Championship was a great success, finishing an impressive fourth place.

Katerina is the product of a chess-playing family, the third of seven siblings, all of whom were taught chess and encouraged by chess-playing parents. Four Nemcova girls, including Katerina, have earned Czech youth champion titles.

“My father always had us all practice together, it was always a nice family moment -- not just like ‘practice,’ but always a lot of fun with my siblings,” Nemcova said. “I’ve always had my best performances in team events -- I just feel like more people is more fun, the collectiveness of the whole event. I’m used to fighting together with my siblings; I like people around.”

Viktorija Ni

WIM Viktorija Ni
Title: 
Women's International Master
Rating: 
2300
Residence: 
Chicago, IL
Age: 
24
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 


WIM Viktorija Ni learned chess at age of seven from her mother, Polina, who possesses an expert rating at chess. Since then, it has been a steady climb for Ni now entrenched among the top-15 female players in the United States.

Ni received her WIM title in 2010, earning her final norm at the 19th Chicago Open. After representing her native country Latvia in the 2008 and 2010 Chess Olympiads, she switched to the USCF in 2011 and has since competed in three U.S. Women’s Championships. Her best finish was fourth place in 2012.

Ni is the wife of GM Yury Shulman, and together they live in Barrington, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. She favors the Sicilian defense and the Queen’s Gambit, and she hopes her solid play will result in another favorable result at this year’s U.S. Women’s Championship.  Ni has worked as a chess coach through Chess without Borders since 2010, and in her free time she practices yoga.

Apurva Virkud

NM Apurva Virkud
Title: 
National Master
Rating: 
2260
Residence: 
Troy, MI
Age: 
16
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

When Apurva Virkud learned the game from her first-grade teacher, she was hooked. She took a few classes, joined chess clubs and became Michigan’s Individual Children’s Champion for 4th and 5th Grade by age 11. Today, after nine years of honing her skills, the 16-year old is ready for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.

Now a high-school junior from Troy, MI, Virkud holds a FIDE rating of 2127 and already has many championship wins under her belt, including the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational Chess Tournament in Lubbock, Texas with a perfect 6-0 score. She also tied for first place at the first National Girls’ Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin in 2013, and last July tied for first in the U.S. Girls Junior Invitational.

"I like the problem-solving aspect of chess. It opened up so many opportunities for me, and I've traveled to many countries and met some great friends through chess," said Virkud, who has traveled as far as Turkey and Brazil for international competitions.

 For fun, Virkud enjoys playing the violin and piano, reading and spending time with friends. She is planning to go to college to study engineering, but will keep professional chess-playing in mind.  Her practice schedule is made up of one hour per day during the school year, and four hours per day over the summer.

Annie Wang

WIM Annie Wang
Title: 
Women's International Master
Rating: 
2266
Residence: 
La Canada, CA
Age: 
12
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

In March 2014, when she was 11, seventh-grader WIM Annie Wang became the youngest female chess master in the United States -- a record that had stood since 1996 when reigning U.S. women’s champion Irina Krush set it at age 12.

She was turned onto chess at the age of five, while attending a festival at a park near her home and observing a simul. Annie remembers: “I was interested in the toy-like pieces and started learning chess.” She has since compiled a number of impressive accolades, including an undefeated win in the U2100 section of the Annual Recession Buster Open in San Diego in 2013, and first place in the U18 Girls section of the North American Youth Chess Championship last June. There, she also earned her current title.

Now 12, Annie lives in La Cañada, California and, though her father is a numerical-modeling researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, his daughter’s chess talent far outpaces his own. When she isn’t playing chess, Annie enjoys reading and spending time with friends.

Jennifer Yu

WFM Jennifer Yu
Title: 
Women's FIDE Master
Rating: 
2227
Residence: 
Ashburn, VA
Age: 
13
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

WFM Jennifer Yu is well on her way to chess stardom after her recent gold medal at the 2014 World Youth Chess Championship in South Africa -- the only U.S. gold in the event and the first world title for an American girl since 1987.

Yu was born in Ithaca, New York and started playing chess in first grade, attending an after-school chess class. After the school finished its chess sessions, Yu wanted to continue her interest and asked her parents to find a coach. This simple request launched Yu’s chess career. They took her to group chess lessons and tournaments for kids, but didn’t realize how talented she was until that coach informed them.

Today, the 13-year-old lives in Ashburn, Virginia and is a pretty typical eighth-grader, aside from her immense chess talent.  Her well-rounded interests include playing the flute and piano, listening to music, drawing, and playing sports. Though she practices chess at least one hour per day and Skypes with Grandmaster Larry Christiansen for lessons, she ultimately becomes a better player through competition in tournaments where she can think through difficult challenges as she encounters them.

Yu holds a FIDE rating of 2166 and has participated in three World Youth Chess Championships, including last year’s gold medal event. At 10, she came in 11th place at the 2012 World Youth Championship in Slovenia, and in 2013 she placed fourth in the United Arab Emirates.


Nazi Paikidze

IM Nazi Paikidze
Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2342
Residence: 
Baltimore, MD
Age: 
21
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Her first time competing in the event, as one of the U.S. Chess Federation’s most-recent transfer, IM Nazi Paikidze is bound to make her presence known in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Championship by arriving with a resume full of international success.

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 Women’s Grandmaster title in 2010 and her International Master in 2012.

Nazi transferred to the USCF last November after recently moving to the U.S., where she now currently studies Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is a major asset to the traditionally powerhouse UMBC chess program, one of the Final Four schools of collegiate chess to compete in the 2015 President’s Cup.

Conrad Holt

grandmaster conrad holt
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2632
Residence: 
Wichita, KS
Age: 
21
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

It is no wonder how Grandmaster Conrad Holt came to be known as the “Thunder” Holt: His recent electrifying play—a first place finish at the 2014 U.S. Open, an appearance in the 2014 U.S. Chess League Finals as part of the Dallas Destiny, and another fine showing at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships—has established him as a player to watch in the upcoming 2015 U.S. Championship.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Holt made an early name for himself by winning the 2008 U.S. Cadet Championship and appearing in the 2010 World Open, and then earning his GM title at only 19 years old in 2012. Now 21, Holt currently attends the University of Texas-Dallas and is finishing up his undergraduate degree in Physics, also a member of the prestigious UT-Dallas Chess Team. Holt has helped lead the UTD squad to several President’s Cups, including a trip to the 2015 Final Four of collegiate chess held just before this year’s U.S. Championships.

Rusudan Goletiani

women's grandmaster rusudan goletiani
Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2312
Residence: 
Hartsdale, NY
Age: 
34
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

A veteran to the Women’s U.S. Championship, WGM Rusudan Goletiani was the 2005 U.S. Women’s Champion -- and the last to hold the throne since Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih began trading the title. Goletiani has continued to be a force with each appearance in the event, finishing third as recently as 2012.

As a U.S player in the 2008 Olympiad, Goletiani helped steer the U.S. team towards a bronze medal finish -- though she doesn’t dwell heavily on the past. When asked about important highlights in her chess career, Goletiani said that she appreciates each victory she achieves:  "Every accomplishment means a lot," she said.

Hailing from the country of Georgia, Goletiani made an impact on the chess community as a young girl, winning the World Championship for Girls in each U14, U16 and U18 categories. She moved to the U.S. in 2000, and since 2004 has been competing for the USCF. Though she has achieved a great deal, Goletiani won’t rest until she achieves her ultimate chess goal: Becoming a Grandmaster.

Outside of chess, Goletiani enjoys ping pong, reading and cooking. She is married with two children, but says she doesn't have much difficulty fitting the rigors of chess into her daily life.

"I wish I had more time for everything, but somehow I manage it all," she says. Goletiani considers the great Russian Grandmaster Alexander Alekhine her biggest chess influence, though she adds that outside of chess she admires “every person that works hard to achieve his or her goal."


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