Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love and Chess

Happy Valentine's Day! A nice story about chessplaying couples:

From the Phillipines Sun Star online
Friday, February 15, 2008
Pestaño: Strongest chess-playing couples
By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

AS far as I can recall, there had never been a team tournament that involved married couples. By writing this article, I hope someone out there reading on the internet, or a company, an individual, or a group, will make history, by sponsoring one on a global scale as there are quite a number of husbands and wives who are very strong players.

Yesterday being Valentines day, I am honoring these married couples by featuring a few of them, which is not uncommon in the chess world. They probably number by the hundred of thousands on this planet, although, there are only a unique few who are both GM, GM/IM or GM/WGM combinations.

Alexander Grischuk, 24, is one of the biggest names in the chess world today. He has an Elo of 2711 in the January 2008 Fide list. He was a participant in the eight-player Fide World Chess Championship 2007. He is married to Ukranian GM Natalia Zhukova, 27, who has a rating of 2443 and achieved full grandmaster’s status in the 2005 Corus Chess tournament(Wijk Aan Zee). She won the First European Women’s Championship in Georgia in 2000. Their biggest event occurred in March 2007 when they had a daughter, Marsha.

Alexei Shirov, 35, has a January 2008 rating of 2755, which makes him world No.7 today. He has quite a number of big tournaments on his record besides being a well-regarded chess author. His latest accomplishment was in the 2007 World Cup where he finished second to Gata Kamsky. He is married to Lithuanian IM/WGM Victorija Cmylite, who has an Elo 2475. She achieved quite a rare feat by becoming National Champion in 2001 in her country. They have two children together.

Wu Shaobin, 39, is a Chinese GM who has Singapore as his adopted country. His Elo rating is 2452 but his wife, Xie Jun, 38, who has Elo 2574, is twice a former world champion (1991-96 and 1999-2001). She is currently No. 3 in the January 2008 fide ratings so they still make a formidable combination.

Another former Chinese world champion (2002-04) is GM Zhu Chen, 32, who has an Elo 2548 and is ranked No. 4 in the world. He is married to Qatari GM Mohammad Al-Moldiakhi. She failed to defend her title in 2004 due to pregnancy. Mohammad played in Mandaue City last year in the Asian Championship.

Another GM/GM combination is Sweden’s Pia Cramling,44, Elo 2524 (world No. 6) and Spain’s Juan Bellon, 58, Elo 2455. Since the 80’s, Pia has been consistently one of the strongest female players in the world and even plays in the "men’s" team in the Olympiads. Bellon is a five-time Spanish champion.

Boris Gulko, 61, Elo 2576, is originally from Russia but is now a resident of the US since 1986, where he lives together with his wife Anna Akhsrumova. They are "refusedniks" meaning they were Soviet Jews originally denied permission to migrate to other countries. Boris is the only player to hold both Russian and U.S. championships and has a plus score against Kasparov. Anna also won the USSR and USA championships and is a WGM.

Other married couples who are both competitive and world class are GM Suat Atalik and GM Ekaterina Polovnikova, GM Bartozz Socko and IM Monica Socko, GM Yona Kosashvili and IM Sofia Polgar, GM Laurent Fressinet and IM Almira Skripchenko, GM Sergei Movsessian and WGM Petra Krupkova Movsessianova, GM Dibyendu Barua and WGM Saheli Dhar Barua and GM Pravin Thipsay and WGM Bhagyasree Thipsay.

Do dondelion and I count? I beat him routinely behind the black pieces and then he smashes me with black in turn. Happy Valentine's Day, darling. Oh - the photo is dondelion and me in Toledo, Spain, in October, 2002.

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