Meet the Commentators

The commentators for the 2012 U.S. Championship and 2012 U.S. Women's Championship are familiar to many. Grandmaster Ben Finegold and Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade will entertain tens of thousands of fans with their observations during some of the strongest events held in the United States each year.

Finegold, a naitive of Detroit, Michigan, moved to Saint Louis in 2010 when he became the resident grandmaster for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. His entertaining style, quick wit and unquestioned chess talent all add to the Championships.

Having been an international master for 20 years, Ben became a GM at the age of 40 after his sublime performance at the 2009 SPICE Cup in Lubbock, Texas. GM Finegold's track record includes many victories in events that include the 2007 U.S. Open, 2005 Chicago Spring Invitational, 2002 World Open, 1994 U.S. Open and 1989 U.S. Junior Closed Championship. In 1989, he defeated current world champion challenger GM Boris Gelfand in the following minature.

GM Finegold has served as a second and coach for GM Hikaru Nakamura at the 2011 Tal Memorial and the U.S. team at the 2011 World Team Championship in Ningbo, China. He is a regular contributor to many chess publications, including Chess Life Magazine and Chess Life Online and maintains an entertaining blog at

Born into a chess family, Ben has been playing competitive chess for over 35 years and has a brother and father who are both National Masters. His son Spencer is an expert and will soon become the fourth in the Finegold family to become a master.

Womens' Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a chess player, writer and editor for Chess Life Online. She won the U.S. Women's Championship in 2002 and 2004, the former being the strongest Round Robin women's field to date in U.S. chess history.

In 2004, Jennifer's first book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport was published. The crisp writing, original interviews with players like Judit Polgar and Zhu Chen, and controversial title gave her a lot of media attention, including coverage in Reader's Digest, the New York Times, NPR radio, and Time Out New York. Besides her numerous reports in Chess Life Magazine and Chess Life Online, Jennifer's writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Games Magazine, the L.A. Times, New in Chess, and Foreword Magazine. Jennifer graduated in 2002 from NYU, with a degree in comparative literature. Jennifer also contributed to Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess (Spring, 2009.)

Jennifer was also born into a chess family. Her brother Greg is an International Master and organizes the U.S. Chess League and the U.S. Chess School, while her father Michael is a three-time Pennsylvania State Champion. Jennifer was the manager of the New York Knights team in the league and since moving to Philadelphia, has been a member of the Philadelphia Inventors.

In 2007, Jennifer co-founded a non-profit, 9queens , devoted to promoting chess especially to girls and women. You can read more about it in Chess Life 4 Kids or the Chess Life Magazine article Hip-Hop Variation.

Jennifer blogs on, and writes most and photographs much of the content for Chess Life Online. (bio courtesy

WGM Shahde deomstrates her aggressive style in the following victory against GM Gennadij Sagalchik from the 2002 U.S. Championship.