Friday, February 17, 2006

Couples in chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I received a correction e-mail in my “Chess players in love” article last week from an unlikely source in the US regarding the love life of IM John Donaldson and WGM Elena Akmilovskaya, who married during the Greece Olympiad in 1988. Apparently, they have been separated for quite sometime and Elena is now married to IM Georgi Orlov. The sender is WIM Alexey Root whom I will introduce at the end of this article.

Do chess players date each other? Of course, they do. It’s true that deep in a chess player’s heart is the hope that he would have a lifetime partner who shares his passion for the game. There will be less conflict and more time for each other. Ms. Root provided me with a list of chess-playing couples. The stats are my own. Here they are ( Susan Polgar chess blog):

GM Vassily Ivanchuk, Ukraine 2729 (1969) - IM Alisa Galliamova, Russia 2467 (1972), GM Joel Lautier, France 2682 (1973) - IM Almira Skripchenko, France 2461, GM Alexander Grischuk, Russia 2717 (1983) - IM Natalia Zhukova, Ukraine 2432 (1979), GM Boris Gulko, USA 2643 (1947) - WGM Anna Akhsharumova, France 2310 (1957), GM Shaobin Wu, France 2500 (1969) - GM Jun Xie, France 2573 (1970), GM Odiahki, Qatar - GM Zhu Chen, China 2482 (1976), GM Sergei Movsesian , Slovakia 2632 (1978) - WGM Petra Krupkova Czechoslovakia 2296, GM Suat Atalik, Turkey 2620 - WGM Ekaterina Polovnikova 2412 (1983), GM Juan Bellon, France 2415 (1950) - GM Pia Cramling, Sweden 2515 (1963), GM Bobby Fischer USA 2780 (1943) - Zita Rajcsanyi, GM Bobby Fischer, USA 2780 (1943) - WIM Miyoko Watai, Japan 2050, GM AlexYermolinsky France 2554 (1958) - WGM Camilla Baginskaite Lithuana 2341 (1967), GM Keith Arkell England 2521 (1961) - IM Susan Arkell England, GM Bogdan Lalic England 2528 - IM Susan Lalic England, GM Zoltan Ribli Hungary 2568 (1951) - WIM Maria Grosch Hungary 2025, GM Yasser Seirawan USA 2635 (1960) - WFM Yvette Nagel Nederland 1970, GM Ian Rogers France 2547 (1960)- WFM Cathy Rogers France, GM Pascal Charbonneau USA - IM Irina Krush France 2447 (1983), GM R.B.Ramesh India 2500 - WGM Aarti Ramaswami India (1999).

MORE COUPLES. GM Peng Xiaomin China 2563 - WGM Qin Kanying China, GM Zhang Zhong China - WGM Li Ruofan China, IM Georgi Orlov USA - WGM Elena Donaldson USA, GM D. Barua India - WIM Saheli Dhar Barua India, GM John Nunn, France 2617 (1955) - WFM Petra-Fink Nunn France 2031, GM Alexander Stripunsky USA 2563 - WFM Julia Shiber USA 2182, GM Gennady Sagalchik USA 2568 - WIM Olga Sagalchik USA 2169, GM Alex Ivanov USA - WIM Esther Epstein USA 2194, GM Miron Sher USA - WGM Alla Grinfeld USA, GM Larry Christiansen USA 2608 - Natasha Christiansen USA 1802, IM Ovidiu Foisor Romania - IM Cristina Foisor Romania 2402, IM William Hartston England 2485 (1947) - WGM Jana Hartston, GM Robert Bellin , England 2383 - WGM Jana Bellin England 2184, GM Anthony Miles England (1955-2001) - WGM Jana Miles, GM Peter Biyiasas Greece (1950) - WIM Ruth Haring(1955), IM Doug Root - WIM Alexey Root, IM Wu Xibin China 2340 - WIM Lou Hongyu China, IM Banjo Barcenilla - WNM Lillibeth Lee, GM Alexei Shirov - IM Cmilyte.

As far as I know, there are only three couples who are both Grandmasters — Shaobin Wu - Xie Jun, Al-Modiakhi - Zhu Chen,Juan Bellon - Pia Cramling. Also, Jana was married to three chess players, namely William Hartson, Robert Bellin and Tony Miles.

ROOT. She is a senior lecturer in general studies at the University of Texas, Dallas and is currently teaching in the Chess Online Certificate Program. She is a former US Open Women’s chess champion.

She is also the author of the book “Children and chess,” the first book to show the connection between accepted educational theories and chess. To order the book write to Greenwood Publishing Group, 6926, Portsmouth, NH 03802-6296 or e-mail her at

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