Sergey Matsenko was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia. He is a GM elect, with a FIDE rating of 2561. He has two bachelor degrees in Law and Engineering from South Ural State University. He is currently pursuing a master degree in Industrial engineering at Texas Tech.
Pavlo is originally from Kiev, Ukraine. Today, he is a Computer Science major at Texas Tech University and member of the Texas Tech Chess Team. His most notable achievements include winning the bronze medal in European Youth Championship U10 in 2008 and an individual bronze medal in World Youth U16 Olympiad in 2014. Pavlo was also the prize-winner of the Southwest Class Championship 2017, American Open 2017, and top scorer at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship 2017.
Mark Paragua is a Grandmaster born in Manila, Philippines and currently living in New York City. He was the 1998 World U-14 Rapid Champion. Paragua was also a member of his national chess olympiad team on four separate occasions (2002,2004,2006 and 2012). He was a World Cup qualifier in 2004, 2005 and 2013. Paragua was also the 2005 co-champion Asian Zonal at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Akshat is an 18-year old US Chess Grandmaster who has been living in Saint Louis with his family since 2016. Akshat is a former US Junior Champion, National High School Chess Champion, and the National K-9 Champion. He is also the #1 ranked junior Quick-rated/Rapid chess player in the US since 2014. More can be learned about him on his blog AkshatChandra.com, which chronicles his journey to a Grandmaster.
Djurabek Khamrakulov was born in Samarkand,Uzbekistan. His father taught him to play chess at just five years old. Djurabek was the Uzbek Championship winner three times (2008, 2009, 2013). He was also a member of the national Uzbekistan team at the World Chess Olympiad in 2008 in Dresden ,Germany, 2010 in Khanta Mansisk,Russia, and 2012 in Istanbul,Turkey. Outside of national tournaments, Djurabek has won several international tournaments in Spain, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Turkey. He is currently an International Master, but he has 2 GM norms. Almost ten years ago, he was in peak form and had 2554 FIDE rating. Now, Djurabek hopes that this “10 year anniversary” at the Saint Louis Norm Congress will be his lucky charm and he will receive his third GM norm.
Daniel Gurevich started playing chess at age 5 and won his first national title at age 6. He also won SuperNationals twice, earning a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas by winning the K-6 section in 5th grade. In 2015, Daniel won the Georgia State Championship and became an International Master. The next year he shared first place at the 2016 International Barbera Open with 7/9 and earned a GM norm a month later with an undefeated score at the Olomouc GM Invitational. Daniel is currently a Presidential Gold Scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology, triple majoring in Physics, Math, and Industrial Engineering.
Advait learned how to play chess at 7 years old and played his first tournament at 8. He has won the past 4 Oklahoma state championships and won the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions two years in a row in 2014 and 2015. Today, Advait is an IM with 2 GM norms, and he received one of his norms from the 2017 UTD Fall tournament where he won with 7/9 and a 2700+ performance rating.
IM John Bartholomew is a professional chess coach from Eagan, MN. He is a former National Junior High (2001) and National High School (2002) champion and played for several championship teams at the University of Texas at Dallas. John works with students around the world, runs a popular YouTube channel, and co-founded the chess learning platform Chessable.com in 2015. His goal is to become a Grandmaster and continue sharing his passion for the game.
Denes Boros is originally from Budapest, Hungary and now resides in St. Louis, Missouri. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and currently plays individual and team events, while also coaching. Denes is also very active on social media (twitter), and as a chess journalist (American Chess Magazine, US Chess); he was a special commentator for the Carlsen-Karjakin World Championship Match held in New York, for the New York Times. Boros came third in the Hungarian Junior Championship at age of 14, and was U16 Olympic Champion in Denizli.
Stavroula Tsolakidou was born in 2000 in Kavala which is located in northern Greece. She started playing chess at the age of 8, and a year later she won the Greek U10 championship in the girls’ section. She won the national women’s championship in 2017. Stavroula considers winning the world championship for girls U14, girls U16, and girls U18 in the years 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively are her greatest achievements. She won the Woman Grandmaster title in 2016. Stavroula lives in Kavala and is about to finish her last year in high school.
International Master Joel Banawa is currently one of the ACE Arizona State Champions and a former Southern California State Champion. He won many local tournaments both in Arizona and Los Angeles. He was also a successful scholastic player winning multiple nationals in the United States and in the Philippines. He is the owner and head trainer at Rising Phoenix Chess Academy producing national champions, national masters, and state champions.
Luis Torres was born in Mexico City, Mexico. He has represented Mexico in the World Olympiad and in several World Youth Championships. He became an International Master in 2013. His most prestigious achievements include finishing runner-up in the Mexican Absolute Championship, winning the North American Youth Championship-U14, and consecutively becoming National Youth Champion of Mexico. He also represented Texas Tech in 2014 and 2017 Final Four Editions.
Aaron is currently a FIDE master needing 12 rating points and 1 IM norm for the title! He has won many Oregon junior state championships and have attended the World Youth, the North American Youth, and multiple other national scholastic events. Since entering college, Aaron have won the Chicago Class Championships and made two IM norms (at the 2016 SPICE Cup and the 2017 Chicago Open).
Tatev Abrahamyan started playing chess at 8 after her father took her to the Chess Olympiad games in 1996. There she met Grandmaster Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest woman player of all time and the only woman in the tournament. Tatev is a formidable competitor. At the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship, she played her heart out to a fantastic 7/9 score, which would usually be enough to net first place, but actually put her in a tie for second place, half a point behind Irina Krush. Tatev's strong play and fighting qualities in 2010 earned her the 9 Queens/goddess chess fighting spirit award, which was selected by former Women's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk. At the 2011 U.S. Women's Championship, Tatev turned in a remarkable performance, falling just short to Anna Zatonskih in the playoff finals to finish in second place. That same year, Abrahamyan graduated from California State University Long Beach with a double-major in psychology and political science. Tatev is still a strong competitor at the U.S. Women’s Championships and is often a crowd favorite. She is also a regular journalist for Grand Chess Tour tournaments and teaches chess in California.
Tansel Turgut is a FIDE Master. He was the 1997 Louisiana State Champion and the 1998 Michigan State Champion. Turgut is also a ICCF Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (rating: 2614), which makes him the highest rated correspondence chess player living in the U.S. Outside of the chess world, Turgut is an Interventional Cardiologist at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
Qiyu Zhou is an on and off amateur chess player and pole vaulter depending on her school schedule , but she demonstrated her chess talent at a very young age. At the age of 5, she won the Finnish Youth Chess Championship U10-open. In 2008, she won the silver medal in the World Youth Chess Championship U8-G, which drove her to become a world champion one day. She realized her childhood dream of becoming an U-14G world chess champion in 2014. Her North American Chess Champion for U18-G in 2015 awarded her the WIM title. In 2017 she played in the Women's World Chess Championship after won the Canadian Women's Zonal in 2016. She is now focused on pursuing her passion in academy and pole vaulting.
Joshua Colas became a National Master at age 12. At age 13, in August 2012, he was ranked #1 in the nation among his age group. He has won the NY City, NY State and National Championship several times. He is also a member of the SPICE team at Webster University.