Irina Krush has earned the spot as the highest-rated competitor in this year’s tournament, and the highest rated female in the United States. Since earning the title of Grandmaster in October 2013, she has entrenched herself as the figurehead of elite women’s chess in America by winning the U.S. Women’s Championship an incredible seven times.
Born in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine) in 1983, Irina learned to play chess at age five, immigrating with her parents to Brooklyn that same year. Krush attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where she participated in one of the top high-school chess teams in the country. It has been a rapid climb for Irina since then, including exceptional showings in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Chess Olympiads, as well as a gold-medal performance in the 2013 Women’s World Team Championship -- a result Krush called the best of her career. In addition to her chess studies, the 2008 Samford Chess Fellowship recipient enjoys tennis, reading, writing, yoga and music. Krush has a degree in international relations from NYU, though she is currently concentrating on chess. She is also an author and has dedicated her time to writing several articles for Chess Life and USChess.org. Her article based on her experience earning her grandmaster norm in 2013 was named “Best of U.S. Chess.” In the past two years, Krush competed in both editions of the Cairns Cup, an elite women’s tournament at the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Anna has been a dominant force on the US Women’s chess scene since she emigrated from the Ukraine in 2003. Born in Mariupol, Ukraine (USSR) in 1978, she won the Ukrainian Women’s Championship in 2001. Since then, she has also added four US Women’s Championships to her title list. Since her first victory in 2006, Zatonskih and Irina Krush dominated the Championships, passing the title back and forth until IM Nazi Paikidze took her first title in 2016. 2009 was a particularly notable year, where Anna blew the field away on her way to a score of 8.5/9.
Zatonskih represented Ukraine in the 2000 and 2002 Olympiads, as well as in two European Team Championships, scoring a silver medal for her board in Batumi 1999. She has really helped bolster Team USA since 2004, aiding their silver medal run in 2004. Her best performance was perhaps in 2008, scoring a gold medal for her board in Dresden 2008 to lead the team to a bronze medal. She also won an individual silver medal for board 1 at the World Team Championships in 2017.
At just 17 years of age, Carissa Yip has quickly become one of the top female players in America. Known for her creativity over the board, Yip has been on a record-shattering pace ever since she learned how to play the game from her father at age 6. Three years later, at age 9, she became the youngest ever female player to reach the Expert level. Two years later, she broke the record for youngest female to achieve the title of National Master at the age of 11 years, 5 months, and 18 days. Along the way to Master, she set the record for youngest female player to beat a Grandmaster for her win against GM Alexander Ivanov in the New England Open a few days before her 11th birthday. In 2019, she took clear first at the Girls’ Junior Championship with a score of seven out of nine, defending her title from 2018. This year, she competed at the 2020 Cairns Cup where she defeated players such as Women’s World Champion GM Wenjun Ju, 2019 Cairns Cup Champion, GM Valentina Gunina, and GM Irina Krush.
Annie Wang started playing chess when she was five, after being introduced to the game at a simultaneous exhibition in a nearby park. In 2017, she won the Girls U-16 section of the World Youth Chess Championship with a score of 10.5/11. Her other accomplishments include placing second, after an exciting playoff against IM Nazi Paikidze, at the 2018 U.S. Women's Championship and earning a bronze medal at the 2016 World Youth Chess Championships. In 2014, at the age of 11, Annie broke Irina Krush's record for the youngest female national master in the US; later that same year, she won the North American Youth Chess Championships for girls under 18, despite being only 12 at the time. Throughout the last few years, Annie has been promoting chess by running a free chess program for kids at a local library and volunteering in numerous chess-related activities. Today, Annie lives in Los Angeles, California, where she attends high school. Outside of chess, she plays the piano and enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her friends.
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan started playing chess at eight after her father took her to the Chess Olympiad games in 1996. There she met Grandmaster Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest female player of all time and the only woman in the tournament. She was soon playing competitively among the top players in her age throughout Europe and eventually competed in five Olympiads, earning a bronze team medal for the United States in her first appearance. Tatev has also competed for the U.S. team at the Women’s World Team Championships.
Tatev is a formidable competitor. At the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship, she played stunning chess and managed 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 Goddess Chess Fighting Chess award, which was selected by former Women's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk. This will be her 12th appearance at the U.S. Women’s Championships.
Yu was born in Ithaca, New York and started playing chess in first grade, attending an after-school chess class. After the school finished its chess sessions, Yu wanted to continue her interest and asked her parents to find a coach. This simple request launched Yu’s chess career. They took her to group chess lessons and tournaments for kids, but didn’t realize how talented she was until that coach informed them.
Today, the 18-year old lives in Ashburn, Virginia. Her well-rounded interests include playing the flute and piano, listening to music, drawing, and playing sports. She becomes a better player through competition in tournaments where she can think through difficult challenges as she encounters them. Yu holds a FIDE rating of 2273 and has participated in three World Youth Chess Championships. In 2014, Yu took home a gold medal at the World Youth Championship in the Girls U12 section. She was the first American to do so in 27 years. She has also won the National Girls Tournament of Champions three times, and competed on the U.S. Women’s Olympiad team for the first time in 2018. Last year, Yu had an unbelievable performance at the US Women’s Championship; scoring 10/11 points and winning the tournament by a wide margin.
Thalia started playing chess in Cuba, but in 2014 she moved to the United States seeking better chess opportunities. She has won such tournaments as the Susan Polgar Fundation Girls Invitational and KCF US Girls Championship. More recently Thalia has had good results at Carlos Torre Open, North American Open and Continental Championship. She is a Woman International Master, and is a familiar face at the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Emily started playing chess competitively at a young age. She notably won the U.S. Junior U8 Championship (Open section) in 2010, the 2012 Pan-American Youth Championships (U10 Girls), and the 2016 North American U20 Girls Championship. She also won the Girls’ Junior Championship in 2016. Outside of chess, Emily enjoys swimming and playing the piano. In the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, she finished in a tie for second behind Carissa Yip. This will be her third appearance at the U.S. Women’s Championship.
As a teenager IM Derakhshani placed first in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the Asian Youth Chess Championships. Derakhshani officially changed her federation from Iran to the United States in 2017 after a controversy arose about her refusal to wear a hijab while she played for the Iranian national team under the Iranian Chess Federation. Currently, Derakhshani is a student at Saint Louis University where she studies biology, and is an accredited journalist for FIDE.
Ashritha learned to play chess at the age of 7. At 13, she became a national master under the training of Bulgarian Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov at the NorCal House of Chess. In 2015, she took first place in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship with a score of 6.5/9. The very next day, she flew to Colombia for the 2015 Pan-American Youth Chess Championship where she earned bronze through a tie-break.
Other accomplishments throughout her career include becoming All-Girls National Champion U12 in 2012, and All-Girls National Champion U15 in 2013. She has played in the World Youth Championships four times from 2012-2015, and is now a veteran at the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.
Sabina Foisor has been a chess dynamo since age 4. While her parents have been her biggest chess influence, she says her favorite players are Garry Kasparov and the late Bobby Fischer. Her main goal in chess is to become one of the top 20 women players in the world. When not playing or training for chess, she likes to travel, read books, watch movies, and hang out with friends. "Of course I can manage to balance chess with other things," she says. She has many heroes outside of chess, including her family, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud. After listing those three she added, "I will stop here because the list would be too large." Foisor has competed in every US Women’s Championship since 2009, and held the title of 2017 US Women’s Champion. She has also become a staple of the U.S. Women’s international team in both the World Team Championship and the World Chess Olympiad, competing in every Olympiad since 2010.
Martha Samadashvili is a Woman FIDE Master. She enjoys reading and writing, and is a two-time Geography Bee school Champion. She started to play chess in 2012 when she was 8 years old. In 2013 Martha became North American Youth Champion GU10. In 2014, she won the North American Youth Chess Championship GU12, giving her the WFM title. The same summer, she became the Pan American Youth Chess Champion by winning all nine games in the GU10. She became a National Master at the age of twelve in 2017. In the summer of 2017, she also competed in the Match of the Millennials in Saint Louis. In 2018, Martha won the NY State Girls Championship, making her the State Champion.