ANJELINA BELAKOVSKAIA is A 3-TIME U.S. WOMEN’S CHESS CHAMPION, WOMAN INTERNATIONAL GRANDMASTER, LEADER OF THE US OLYMPIC CHESS TEAM
Anjelina: I came to the United States in 1991, to play in the World Open in Philadelphia. At the time I was already an established chess player – World Champion among Students (USSR Team), Woman International Master, Ukraine Women Chess Champion and USSR Champion among Young Masters.
Even though I spoke no English and had only $100 (or rather -$115, since the Entry Fee to the tournament was $215), I decided to stay in the United States. Over the years, I learned the language, opened a Chess Academy (first in Russian and later in English), won the U.S. Women’s Championships in 1995 (shared with Sharon Burtman), 1996 & 1999. I also shared 3rd place in 1993, shared 2nd place in 1994 and took clear 2nd in 1997. I represented United States in the three Chess Olympiads – in 1994, 1996 & 1998, leading the U.S. Women’s Chess Team. In 1993, I was awarded the title of Women International Grandmaster by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). My highest placement by rating was #33 in the World among Women.
In addition to playing, I became actively involved in teaching and promoting chess. In 1994, I embarked on expanding my chess teaching from the tight boundaries of a Sunday school into the depths of the New York City Public School system. 2 classes at P.S. 217 in Brooklyn grew into 14 classes the year after, and then to 23 classes the following year. Between 1994 and 1999, I taught chess to about 1,000 children in a number of Public Schools in Brooklyn, NY.
In 1997 one of my students qualified for the FIDE World Championship under 10 y.o. and I was invited together with GM Ron Henley to coach the American Chess delegation at the FIDE World Youth Championships in Cannes, France. My responsibilities included preparing young American players to compete in the categories: Girls under 10, 12 and 14 years old and Boys under 10, 12 and 14.
Anjelina, coach of the US Team at the World Youth Championship in Cannes, France 1997 helps 9-yr old Hikaru Nakamura (now GM and the strongest US born player since Bobby Fischer) to analyze his game. Behind is 9 y.o. Shirley Ben-Dak – Anjelina’s student who qualified to play in the Girls U-10 section
During the years I lived in NY, I also supported the NCA/Putnam ChessChild Substance Abuse Prevention Program through annual lectures and simultaneous exhibitions (1996 – 1999). I helped to open a chess club and organize the All-Girls Chess tournaments in Parker, AZ (1996-1999). I also took part in the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” by Paramount Pictures (1992) and provided professional live and Internet online commentaries for the Chess Match between World Champion Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue II computer, as a Chess Consultant for IBM and Electric Minds Companies (1997). Between 1998 and 2000, I served as a Chairperson of Women’s Committee of the USCF, supporting women’s chess activities and promoting women’s chess around the country.
For my contributions and achievements, I was Honored by Howard Golden – President of Brooklyn, City of New York in 2000.
To prove that analytical abilities, logic and critical thinking skills developed through chess are applicable to the real world, I entered New York University’s M.S. in Mathematics in Finance program in 1999, simultaneously learning about derivatives and preparing for the FIDE Women’s World Championship, as the 1999 US Women’s Chess Champion.
A few months after graduation from NYU in January of 2001, I moved from New York to Tulsa, Oklahoma to trade Weather Derivatives at Williams EM&T (Energy, Marketing and Trading), where I developed a strong admiration for exotic financial products that utilize grandmaster skills to design, value and understand cross-commodities structures. Soon thereafter, I became the head of the Weather Derivatives desk and was recognized as “Best Female Employee” for my contribution to the company’s success. As a current member of American Meteorological Society Financial Weather / Climate Risk Management Committee, I educate public, private, academia and government sectors about weather associated risks and various ways to protect earnings and financial bottom line through the use of available derivatives and custom structured hedging instruments.
Now, I and my family live in Tucson, AZ, where I teach Finance classes at the University of Arizona to both Graduate and Undergraduate students and “Chess, Leadership & Business Strategy” class for Honors students. In the summer of 2010, I also started my Chess Academy and it has been running ever since. All 3 of our children play chess, and both my husband and my father love to play in the tournaments, so often you can see 3 generations of our family playing side by side.
Anjelina and 13th World Chess Champion, Gary Kasparov
Anjelina and 12th World Chess Champion, Anatoly Karpov
Anjelina and 6th Womenʼs World Chess Champion, Maya Chiburdanidze