US Senior Women’s Chess Championship
By James Eade
The inaugural US Senior Women’s Chess Championship was held Nov. 3-5 in Berkeley, California, and was won by WGM Angelina Belakovshaia with 4 1/2 out of 5 points. The five round Swiss system event was organized by Elizabeth Shaunessy at her Berkeley Chess School.
People told her she was crazy to try and build a building dedicated to chess in the expensive Bay Area. I know because I was one of them. She did it anyway. The event was spectacular and was directed by the well-known FIDE Arbiter Richard Koepke.
A national title was at stake and Angelina was the first player to win it. The NGO for chess, US Chess, sanctioned the event and the title sponsor was the Eade Foundation of Menlo Park. It was an uphill fight getting the event sanctioned, because the, at the time, all male US Chess Executive Board did not originally approve it.
In 2022, James Eade went to the annual governance convention and got the attending Delegates to approve the tournament and it was open for bidding in 2023. Elizabeth and James partnered on the bid and it was awarded to them.
Carol Meyer, the Executive Director of US Chess, attended the first day of the tournament and addressed the players prior to the first round. She called them trail blazers and was given a grateful ovation following her remarks.
Leila D’Aquin, a current Executive Board Member, and Kimberly Doo, the current
Women’s Committee Chair, attended for the duration. 1M Elliot Winslow„ and FM James Eade provided commentary and the games were broadcast on chess.com. They were joined for a few rounds by WFM Ivona Jezierskia.
The 12 player tournament finished on Sunday evening, and was followed by an awards ceremony held at the Boathouse Restaurant in Berkeley. The players all mentioned how grateful they were to Elizabeth for organizing the tournament and how proud they were to be invited.
Angelina said, “l was happy to win, of course, but also happy to be invited. This type of tournament was needed. I got lucky, but I refused to resign. When I got my chance, I took it.”