Grandmaster Yury Shulman

Yury was born in Belarus (former USSR) in 1975. His first formal chess lesson was at age 6 with renown chess coach Tamara Golovey. He started lessons with IM Albert Kapengut at age 12, and  subsequently studied under World Championship contender Boris Gelfand.  Shulman completed undergraduate studies from the State Academy of Sports in Belarus.

Yury achieved his grandmaster title in 1999 and Shulman moved to the United States in 1999 to attend  University of Texas at Dallas (“UTD”) a three-time national championship college team.  Yury also received his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in Finance from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Shulman has remained among the top U.S. chess players since moving to the country. On May 21, 2008, Shulman won the 2008 US Chess Championship. He also tied for first pace in the 2001 World Open, was runner up in the 2006, 2010, and 2011 US Chess Championships. He also tied for third place in the 2007 US Chess Championship and qualified for the 2007 FIDE world championship. A summary of Yury’s many accomplishments can be found at the Yury Shulman Chess School website. Yury also uses chess to promote many philanthropic causes.

He founded Chess Without Borders, a not-for-profit organization, which seeks to promote learning through combining chess education with service and philanthropy.

Grandmaster Josh Friedel

Josh Friedel was born and raised in Goffstown, New Hampshire. He learned to play chess at age three. At age six he became a student under NM Hal Terrie and entered his first tournament that same year. It was an adult tournament, and thus as the lowest rated he got a first round bye and proceeded to lose the next three games. While his result was not atypical for a new tournament player, his enthusiasm for the game was not diminished by his lack of success.

At age 8 Josh won the NH Amateur (U2000) Championship, having the lowest rating in the open section. The next year he won the National K-3 Championship in Tucson, AZ. As a junior, he was often at the top of his age group, competing in the US Cadet (3 times), Junior Closed (twice), Denker, and World Youth (3) events. He won numerous New England tournaments as well as the US Open Expert Section in 2000 at age 13.  After reaching the master level at age 14, Josh worked with GMs Larry Christiansen, Gregory Kaidanov, and Alex Goldin. He made IM at age 18 and GM just before his 22nd birthday. Thus far in his young chess career, Josh has been state champion of New Hampshire three times and twice of California. He has also won or tied for first in several open tournaments across the United States, including the Pan Am, Eastern, St. Louis, National, American, and North American Opens.  Josh has played in five U.S. Closed Championships. At the 2008 event in Tulsa, he tied for fourth and scored his final GM norm.  

Josh also has competed in numerous international events.  He represented the US at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games, as well as at two Continental Championships (2009 and 2011).  Also in 2009, by tying for 6th at the US Championship is St. Louis, Josh qualified to compete at the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.  In the same year he also won the Toronto Open with a perfect 5/5 score and the Edmonton International with 7/9.        


Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich

Dmitry Gurevich was born in Moscow in 1956. He immigrated to the USA in 1980. He was awarded the GM title in 1983. He won the US Open in 1988 and 2009, and tied for first in 1994. Gurevich has also had especially good results at the National Open in Las Vegas, sharing first place on numerous occasions e.g. 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997, and 2005. He has been a regular finisher at the top of North American events as well as a regular participant in the U.S. Invitational Championship.

Dmitry's favorite players of all time include Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. His advice to developing chess players is simple: "Play and study. Study and play." Dmitry has lived in Chicago since 1988 and has been a powerful force on the local chess scene both as a player and top trainer to many up and coming players.

Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov

Mesgen is currently the number one rated player in his homeland of Turkmenistan. He has represented his home country in the 2006 and 2008 Olympiads and will do so again in 2010. Mesgen also has represented Turkmenistan in multiple World Youth Championships. In 2009 he was the IL State Co-Champion along with one of his Chicago Blaze teammates. Mesgen became an International Master in 2007 and achieved his Grandmaster title in 2009.

International Master Florin Felecan

Born in Romania, Florin became a multiple time Romanian Junior Champion. He moved Illinois in 1997. Also a multiple participant in the World and European Youth Championships his best results were a 1st place tie in European Championship, Romania, 1994 and 7th place in the World Championship, Germany, 1992. While in the US, he won the Denker High School Championship in 1998 and in 1999 served as one of the four world advisers in the Kasparov versus the World match. After a period of absence he returned to over-the-board chess tournament in 2008-2009 achieving his IM title completely through participation in the North American Masters and tied for first at the 2009 Illinois State Championship. Florin is currently aiming for a better season with the Chicago Blaze and attacking his GM title as well.

International Master Angelo Young

IM Angelo Young is a gifted chess player from the Philippines. He holds a record of earning 3 IM norms and the title in 21 days. His first major accomplishment was the 1993 Missouri Open where he tied for 1st with GM's Dlugy and Kaidanov. He also tied for 3rd in the 1996 World Open as the only untitled player ahead of numerous Grandmasters.

A full time chess instructor and owner of the Touch Move Chess Center in Chicago he is also a great guru in developing young chess players in Illinois. A 7-time Illinois State Champion, he learned the game of chess at the tender age of 9 years from his older brother. Angelo is also capable of playing blindfold chess with up to 5 advanced opponents.

Aside from the many events throughout his career that he has won one of his most notable accomplishments is being undefeated in two seasons with the Chicago Blaze and being named to the All-Star team for Board 3 in the US Chess League.

FIDE Master Jim Dean

Jim is a four time Indiana State Champion, an FM, and earned an IM norm in 2006. Jim is also a full time chess instructor and faculty member at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Jim enjoys and excels at  the team format, having been a member for six championship squads in the U.S. Amateur Team North/Midwest since 1996 and was part of the team that captured the national title in 1996.  Jim also competed for UTDallas in the 1990's on chess scholarship in the early days of that program. Jim also tied for 1st place U2400 in the 2010 US Open in held in Irvine, California.

National Master Eric Rosen

Eric is a senior at Niles North High School in Skokie. He began playing chess when he was 7 years old and has many scholastic championships to his credit. As a youngster he worked with renowned trainer Tamara Golovey, the childhood chess coach to both GM Yury Shulman and GM Boris Gelfand.

Eric's recent accomplishments on the chess board include winning the 2011 US National High School Championships, the 2009 U.S. Junior Open Championship, and tying for first in the U2300 rating group at the 2009 U.S. Open, where he also earned his National Master title. Eric also led the Niles North Chess team to the Illinois High School Chess Championship in 2010. Also in July, 2010, Eric competed in the US Junior Closed Championship in St. Louis, the most prestigious tournament in the country for the nation's top ten players under age 20. Although he was the lowest seeded player in the competition, he scored an even 4.5 out of 9, and attained a 2450 performance rating for the tournament.

Eric currently studies chess with GM Dmitry Gurevich. His favorite chess book is Chess Lessons by Artur Yusupov, and he most admires the play of Anatoly Karpov. . Outside of chess, Eric also enjoys tennis, soccer, ping pong, bowling, and photography.


National Master Gopal Menon

National Master Gopal Menon achieved his NM title in late 2010. He is also considered to be one of the top bullet chess players in the nation having climbed to the top spot on the ICC 1-minute list in 2011 as well as achieving a blitz rating well over 3000.  Among contemporary players, Gopal admires Shirov and Morozevich because of their imagination and willingness to take risks, as well as Svidler for his positionally aggressive style,  and finally Carlsen, for his fashion sense. He aspires to achieve his IM and GM titles  and do so in America as well as bringing the shirt-tie combo back into style for tournament play.

Away from the chess board, Gopal's interests include vegan cooking, philosophy, sociology, experimenting with music and film, Alison Mosshart, blogging, and reading.

NM Sam Schmakel

Sam Schmakel is a sophomore at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago.  Sam learned how to play chess when he was six years old and has won numerous scholastic titles and events.  Sam's very first teachers were and still are Tamara Golovey and Leonid Bondar.  GM Dmitry Gurevich is Sam's teacher, mentor and good friend.  Sam credits much of his success is owed to these three people.

Sam's most recent accomplishment was earning the title of National Master in the summer of 2011.   Sam is the current State and National Freshman Champion. Sam also led the Whitney Young High School chess team to capturing their first ever state championship in 2011. Additionally, Sam finished in second place in the 2011 National High School Blitz Championship playing a critical role in Whitney Young's first place finish in the  2011  National High School  Blitz Championship.

Sam enjoys the playing style of Alexander Morozevich. Sam has also played league baseball and football for the past six years.  Sam plays the tuba for the Whitney Young Wind Ensemble which will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York February, 2012.