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.