The Commentators

Ticket-holders may view commentary in three separate spaces at the event. The Chess Club will display the online commentary with GM Seirawan, GM Ashley, and WGM Shahade.  Both Kingside Diner and the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) will feature live commentary with two Grandmasters each. 


Live-Audience Commentators:

GM Ben FinegoldGM Ben Finegold
2587 (USCF) | 2500 (FIDE)
U.S. Open Champion

Grandmaster Ben Finegold learned the rules of chess at age 5 and received his first USCF rating at age 6. It wasn't long, around his mid-teens, until he realized he wanted to play chess professionally. GM Finegold's first major tournament win came in 1989 when he finished in a first-place tie at the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. Also in 1989, Finegold scored his biggest victory to date with a win against Boris Gelfand at the Euwe Memorial tournament in Amsterdam, Holland. According to Finegold, this was the most famous player he had beaten at the time, and the fact that it was a Swiss tournament and he was unable to prepare for Gelfand specifically made the win that much more exciting. Finegold said he played an excellent tactical game to secure the victory. He obtained his first IM norm at the event, gained 40 FIDE points and eventually earned the title of International Master in 1990. In 1991 Finegold won his first major, international, Swiss-paired tournament in Antwerp, Belgium. He was just 21 years old. From 1988 to 1992 Finegold lived in Brussels, Belgium. He returned to the U.S. in 1992 and, in 1993, was awarded the Samford Chess Fellowship. The Samford Chess Fellowship is awarded each year to the most talented chess player in the United States under the age of 26. At that time, the fellowship gave Finegold a $1,200 per month stipend and also paid for all things chess related. During that time, he worked with Gregory Kaidanov, played in a number of strong tournaments, and began utilizing chess software on is computer to improve his game. In 1994, Finegold finished in a six-way tie for first place at the U.S Open in Chicago, and then in 2002 he finished in a first-place tie with eight players at the World Open in Philadelphia where he secured his first GM norm. He won the Chicago Spring Invitational in 2005 to earn his second GM norm, and then achieved his third GM norm at the 2009 Spice Cup Chess Festival in Lubbock, Texas. Serious chess players are divided by the question of whether it’s better to study a narrow set of openings in great depth, or play a wide variety of systems, to keep opponents wondering. Finegold falls somewhere in between. He’s been playing 1.d4 his whole life but with Black he’s more flexible and can play numerous defenses against both 1.e4 and 1.d4. Ben isn't afraid of trading Queens early in the game, and wins a lot of half points from endgame technique. A familiar face around the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and a popular name within the Club's Resident Grandmaster rotation, Finegold has offered outstanding commentary - both live and on the broadcast - for several of the Club's elite events, including the U.S. Championships, the U.S. Junior Championships and the Sinquefield Cup.

GM Robert Hess
2569 (FIDE)
2011 World Team - Silver Medal

Robert Hess learned the rules of chess from his father at age five and quickly became hooked. He spent his formative years under the tutelage of Grandmaster Miron Sher, whose dedicated coaching helped Robert become the K-3 National Champion in 2001. By the time Robert enrolled at Stuyvesant High School, he had secured 2 IM norms and had won the 2006 US Junior Chess Championship. Although it was difficult to compete in elite tournaments while at a rigorous school, Robert managed to balance schoolwork and chess success, earning his IM title in 2007 and becoming co-champion of the 2008 Foxwoods Open. During spring of his junior year in 2009, Robert enjoyed a tremendous winning spree during which he won the Spice Spring Invitational, earned his final GM norm at the Foxwoods Open, won the individual and team titles at the High School Nationals, and surprised the field at the inaugural St. Louis US Chess Championship by taking second place. Hess was awarded the 2010 Samford Chess Fellowship, which financed his gap year between high school and college, when he played on the US Olympiad and World Team Championship squads. After that year, Robert matriculated at Yale University, from where he graduated with a degree in History in 2015. Although he was away from the board, Robert kept active in the chess community by frequently doing commentary gigs - including on and at the 2014 US and Women's Championships and 2014 Millionaire Chess Open - and giving lectures. Outside of chess, Robert is the Chief Operating Officer of The Sports Quotient, a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports.

GM Ian Rogers
2618 (FIDE peak rating)
2-time Commonwealth Champion

Grandmaster Ian Rogers was the strongest player in Australia for a quarter of a century and won more than 120 tournaments before his retirement from the professional circuit in 2007. 
He currently writes on chess for journals and newspapers worldwide and was also awarded a Senior Trainer title in 2005 .
Rogers is one of the world's most experienced live commentators, having commentated at the Candidates matches of 1983 and the epic Karpov-Kasparov World Championship match in 1986. Since then he has explained the ideas of the top Grandmasters at tournaments across the globe, from Wijk aan Zee to Canberra, including of course the Sinquefield Cup in 2013 and 2014.
You can read Rogers' thoughts on the game at


Broadcast Commentators:

GM Yasser Seirawan
2677 (USCF) | 2620 (FIDE)
4-time U.S. Champion

Few names in U.S. Chess are more recognizable than Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan. A four-time U.S. Champion and former World Championship contender, Seirawan was the dominant force in American chess in the 1980s. Born in Damascus, Syria in 1960, Seirawan’s family immigrated to the United States when he was 7 and settled in Seattle. He picked up the game of chess when he was 12 years old and honed his skills playing against top players in the area, including Latvian-born master Viktors Pupols and six-time Washington State Champion James Harley McCormick. At 13, just a year after learning the game, Seirawan became the Washington State Junior Chess Champion, and by 1979 won the World Junior Championship. Seirawan went on to dominate the American chess scene, winning the U.S. Championship title in 1981, 1986 and 1989. He claimed the U.S. Championship title once again in 2000 and continued to play in major world-class events, including serving 10 times as a member of the U.S. team at the World Chess Olympiad. He was twice a candidate for the World Championship cycle, was a top ten player in the world and he also defeated world champions Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal and Vassily Smyslov in tournament play. He announced his retirement in 2003. Seirawan was lured out of retirement in 2011 to once again play in the U.S. Championship, which was held in Saint Louis. He cited the exciting developments of the Saint Louis chess scene as a contributing factor for his renewed interest in competitive chess. "Yaz," as he is commonly known, followed the 2011 U.S. Championship with a stunning performance at the 2011 World Team Championship, where he earned an individual silver medal for his performance on board four, defeating some of the best players in the world along the way. He is a highly respected teacher, commentator and author and has written numerous books including the award-winning "Winning Chess" series as well as "Chess Duels", the 2010's book of the year. He is regularly featured as the Resident Grandmaster for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

WGM Jennifer Shahade
2301 (USCF) | 2322 (FIDE)
2-time U.S. Women's Champion

Jennifer Shahade is a chess champion, author and commentator. She is a two-time American Women’s Chess Champion and the editor of She has been the host for US Chess Championships from 2009 to 2014. She is also a poker player and the Mind Sports Ambassador at PokerStars. A two-time US Women’s Chess Champion, Jennifer is author of two books, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, and Play Like a Girl: Tactics by 9 Queens. She also co-authored “Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess.” Jennifer is a board member at the World Chess Hall of Fame, and her interest in the overlap between art and chess can also be seen in projects such as Hula Chess (featured in the 2009 Guggenheim YouTube Play Biennial), and Roulette Chess, a game that combines chess and chance, which Jennifer created with Larry List.Shahade is also a poker champion, and won the first ever Open Face Chinese (a new poker variant) World Championship in Prague in 2014.  She is also a coach at the elite poker training site, Run It Once. Jennifer gives inspirational talks and exhibitions all over the World. She gave a TED talk on chess and decision making in Baltimore in 2014 and a speech at MIT in 2013 on chess and poker. She is particularly interested in inspiring girls through chess, and has done numerous events, from China to South Africa, all the way back to monthly 9 Queens girls chess workshops in her hometown, Philadelphia. She is also a frequent resident at the Saint Louis Chess Club, where she does lectures, classes and school visits. You can find out more about Jennifer on her, and her website

GM Maurice Ashley
2459 (USCF) | 2440 (FIDE)
Millionaire Chess Organizer

Maurice Ashley lives his passion. Through his love for chess, he not only made history as the first African-American International Grandmaster in the annals of the game, but he has translated his love to others as a three-time national championship coach, two-time author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. He is now working as a Research Affiliate at MIT’s Media Lab to bring the benefits of chess and other classic games to a wider educational audience through the innovative use of technology. Maurice has traveled the world as an ardent spokesperson of the character-building effects of chess. Coming from the rough and tough streets of Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York, Maurice has tirelessly shared his compelling story with young people in places such as the crime-ridden neighborhoods of Detroit, the townships of Cape Town, South Africa and the poverty-stricken jungles of Belize. His book,Chess for Success (Broadway Books, 2005) crystallizes his vision of the many benefits of chess, particularly for at-risk youth, and he continuously spreads his message of living one’s dream to universities, businesses, chess clubs and non-profit organizations around the globe. His app, Learn Chess! With Maurice Ashley, has been sold in over 30 countries, and he has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities, and community groups for his work. His drive and enthusiasm always have him on the go. In the fall of 2011, Maurice toured six Caribbean nations to bringing chess, books, and technology to kids in the region.



Social Media Commentators:

GM Alejandro Ramirez
2677 (USCF) | 2590 (FIDE)
U.S. Open Champion

Alejandro Ramirez has become a frequent guest of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, through roles as both the Club’s Resident Grandmaster rotation and as a player in the nation’s elite events. Ramirez was inspired by the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer when he was four years old. He became FIDE Master at the age of 9, an International Master at 13, and earned his Grandmaster title by the age of 15. That achievement set Ramirez as the first Centro-American to earn the elite title and, at the time, the second youngest grandmaster. A competitor in the last three U.S. Championships, Ramirez displayed some of his finest chess in May 2013, when he pushed reigning champion Gata Kamsky to a playoff for the national title. He drew the first two playoff games with Kamsky before losing an Armageddon game where he had 19 minutes and 45 seconds against Kamsky's 45 minutes. Ramirez studied video game design at the University of Texas at Dallas, earning a master’s degree in Arts & Technology, and he now currently serves as an editor for the popular chess news website ChessBase. His personal familiarity with both fields of the 2015 U.S. Championships, coupled with his outstanding, plain-talk understanding of the King’s game, makes Ramirez an outstanding commentating option for the live audience at the 2015 U.S. Chess Championships.