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About the SLU Chess Team

The 11 members of the Saint Louis University chess team come from nine different countries and hold dozens of honors. Members recently competed in tournaments in Greece and Turkey, improved their rankings among the world’s best competitive chess players, and gave TedxTalks in Germany.

Alejandro Ramirez


Alejandro Ramirez became a chess grandmaster at the age of 15 and gained international recognition playing in multiple Olympiads and World Championships before returning to his studies at the University of Texas in Dallas. He holds an M.A. in arts and technology, focusing on video game design. He took second place in the U.S. Chess Championship of 2013, and holds multiple major open victories, including the World Open and U.S. Open.

2019-20 Chess Team 

Cemil Can Ali Marandi

Senior, College of Arts and Sciences
Home Country: Turkey

Cemil Can Ali Marandi has won his European Youth Chess Championship section five times in a row. He has worked with top trainers and plays for the Turkish team, in which he is one of the most promising talents. Cemil Can is a grandmaster.

Benjamin Bok

Sophomore, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: The Netherlands

Benjamin Bok is the newest addition to the A-team. An experienced grandmaster, Bok has represented his country in countless junior championships as well as in the 2016 World Chess Olympiad. As of September 2018, Bok is the fourth-rated player in his country and 124th worldwide. Having a quick ascent in the last year, he capped his progress with a wonderful 18th place in the strong European Chess Championship 2018, qualifying him to the 2019 World Cup.

Akshat Chandra

Sophomore, Undeclared
Home Country: USA

The team's only American grandmaster, Akshat Chandra approached the grandmaster rating in less than five years, recording one of the fastest rises in the world. He was awarded the International Grandmaster title in 2016. Chandra was the 2015 U.S. Junior Champion, 2015 U.S. National High School Champion, 2015 National High School Blitz Champion, and 2013 U.S. National K-9 Champion, all in his first appearances. Chandra also holds the distinction of being the only player to have achieved sole first in the top two U.S. college-organized open tournaments.

Dorsa Derakhshani

Junior, College of Arts and Sciences 
Home Country: Iran

Dorsa Derakhshani has been playing chess since childhood and won her first tournament before she was eight years old. In 2016, Derakhshani was awarded the titles of woman grandmaster and international master by the World Chess Federation. 

Karen Hoshino

Freshman, College of Arts and Sciences
Home Country: Japan

Woman FIDE master Karen Hoshino represents Japan, and was a member of their Olympic team in the 2018 Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. She is currently Japan's #1 female player.

Alexander Ipatov

Graduate, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Ukraine 

Alexander Ipatov is currently the highest rated player on the SLU's chess team, which makes him first board. As of Oct. 2017, he is ranked No. 89 in the world and No. 1 in Turkey. He won the World Junior Chess Championship in 2012 and finished second in 2013. Alexander became Turkish Chess Champion in 2014 and 2015 and represented Turkey at World Chess Olympiads in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Alexander holds the title of grandmaster. 

Robby Kevlishvili 

Freshman, Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: The Netherlands

International master Robby Kevlishvili has represented the Netherlands at many European- and World Youth Chess Championships. His best performance was in 2013, at the World U12 championship, where he finished on a shared second place and winning the gold medal in the Blitz championship.

Kevlishvili’s best achievements include winning the Vandoeuvre Open tournament in France, and winning the Noteboom open memorial in the Netherlands in 2018. He holds one GM-Norm.

Francesco Rambaldi

Senior, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Italy

Francesco Rambaldi represented Italy in a number of World Youth Championships and has established himself as a strong grandmaster. He obtained his grandmaster title at the age of 16 and has been growing as a player since.

Dariusz Swiercz

Senior, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Poland

Swiercz is one of the youngest chess grandmasters in history, obtaining his title at the age of 14. He won the 2011 World Junior Chess Championship gold medal and the 2016 Millionaire Chess Open.

Nikolas Theodorou

Sophomore, undeclared
Home Country: Greece

Despite still not completing his grandmaster title, his rating of 2,532 puts him well ahead of many grandmasters in the world. Ranked eighth in Greece, this young player's future is very bright. He is currently ranked 16th in the world for players under the age of 18, and hopes to represent his country and SLU in many Junior competitions in the next couple of years.

Stavroula Tsolakidou

Freshman, College of Arts and Sciences
Home Country: Greece

International master Stavroula Tsolakidou represents Greece, and is their #1 player. She has won the World Youth Championship thrice, in 2013, 2015 and 2018. Currently, she is the third highest rated player under the age of 20 in the world.

Chess Team Alumni

  • Nozima Aripova
    College of Arts and Sciences
    Home Country: Uzbekistan
  • Yaroslav Zherebukh
    Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
    Home Country: Ukraine