Meet the Commentators

Grandmaster Ben Finegold and FIDE Master Aviv Friedman are back once again to entertain the fans with live commentary and analysis  of the 2012 U.S. Junior Closed Championship. 

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 miniature.

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.

FM Aviv Friedman is a well-known coach and author, and he has worked with a number of the competitors for the U.S. Junior Championship at various chess summer camps and instructional venues throughout his career. 

In 2009, Aviv won the USCF Scholastic Service Award and was later awarded the FIDE Senior Trainer title -- the highest title FIDE bestows on coaches. He has been the U.S. Youth team coach and head of delegation in many world events for almost 20 years including:

  • The 1999 Pan-American Youth Championship, where he was the lone coach for seven players, resulting in five gold medals and one silver medal.
  • In 2002, coached Dmitry Schneider to a gold medal at the Pan-American Junior Championship.
  • In 2005, coached Alex Lenderman to a gold medal at the World Under 16 Championships. 
  • Coached teams that received approximately two dozen medals in several other World Youth and Pan-American Youth competitions.

Aviv also helped improve the standards of international scholastic tournaments by showing leadership in protesting the inadequate conditions at the 2005 WYCC in Belfort. (see Aviv’s letter eventually led to FIDE issuing sanctions to prevent this from occurring in the future.  

He He has written numerous articles about scholastic chess for Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids. 

In 2008, Aviv started the Schein-Friedman Scholastic Recognition Project, which awards scholarships annually of over $10,000 to leading juniors.