Yasser Seirawan

Last updated
Yasser Seirawan
Seirawan0301 137.jpg
Seirawan at the 2003 United States Chess Championship
CountryUnited States
Born (1960-03-24) March 24, 1960 (age 62)
Damascus, Syria
Title Grandmaster (1980)
FIDE   rating 2620 (June 2022)
Peak rating 2658 (November 2011)

Yasser Seirawan (Arabic : ياسر سيروان; born March 24, 1960) is a Syrian-born American chess grandmaster and four-time United States champion. He won the World Junior Chess Championship in 1979. Seirawan is also a published chess author and commentator.


Early life

Seirawan was born in Damascus, Syria. His father was Syrian and his mother an English nurse from Nottingham, where he spent some time in his early childhood. When he was seven, his family immigrated to Seattle, Washington, where he attended Queen Anne Elementary School, Meany Middle School, and Garfield High School. He honed his game at a now-defunct coffeehouse, the Last Exit on Brooklyn, [1] playing against the likes of Latvian-born master Viktors Pupols and six-time Washington State Champion James Harley McCormick.


Seirawan began playing chess at 12; at 13, he became Washington junior champion. At 19, he won the World Junior Chess Championship. He also won a game against Viktor Korchnoi, who had two years earlier narrowly lost a match for the world championship. Impressed, Viktor then invited Seirawan to Switzerland, where Korchnoi was training for his 1981 world title match against Anatoly Karpov. [2]

Seirawan qualified for the 1985 and 1988-1990 Candidates Tournaments. In the 1985 tournament in Montpellier he scored 7/15 placing joint 10th, [3] and in the 1988–1990 tournament in St John, a knockout tournament, he was knocked out by Jon Speelman in the preliminary round.

In 1990, he won a match against Jan Timman sponsored by KRO by the score of +3-1=2.

For 12 years, he was the chief editor of the Inside Chess magazine. [4] The magazine was sold to the ChessCafe.com website, on which old articles were featured.

In 1999, Seirawan played a ten-game match against Michael Adams in Bermuda. The match was drawn +2–2=6. [5]

In 2001, Seirawan released a plan called "Fresh Start" to reunite the chess world, which at that time had two world champions: Ruslan Ponomariov had gained the title under the auspices of FIDE, while Vladimir Kramnik had beaten Garry Kasparov to take the Classical title. It called for one match between Ponomariov and Kasparov (the world number one), and another between Kramnik and the winner of the 2002 Einstein tournament in Dortmund, who turned out to be Péter Lékó. [6] The winners of these matches would then play each other to become undisputed World Champion. This plan was signed by all parties on May 6, 2002 in the so-called "Prague Agreement". The Kramnik-Leko match took place (the match was drawn, with Kramnik retaining his title); the Kasparov-Ponomariov match was canceled in 2003, and this particular plan became moot when Kasparov retired in 2005. In the end, the FIDE World Chess Championship 2006 between Kramnik and Veselin Topalov reunited the world championship title.

Following a series of events, such as Seirawan participating in the Beijing Chess Challenge in September 2003, [7] there were reports that he would be retiring as a professional player. In the July 2007 FIDE list, Seirawan had an Elo rating of 2634, placing him in the top 100 chess players in the world, and America's number four, behind Hikaru Nakamura, Gata Kamsky, and Alexander Onischuk. He played six games in the July 2007 FIDE update.[ citation needed ]

In 2007, Seirawan unveiled a chess variant created in collaboration with Bruce Harper, called Seirawan chess or SHARPER chess. SHARPER chess introduces two additional pieces, a "hawk" and an "elephant"—a rook/knight and a bishop/knight combination that in other variants are called the Empress and Princess, respectively. The initial position is that of standard chess. Whenever the player moves a piece from its starting position, one of the extra pieces in hand may be placed immediately on the square just vacated. Likewise, pawns may promote to a hawk or an elephant in addition to the standard pieces. The first ever event was a 12-board simultaneous exhibition held on March 31, 2007 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. [8]

In May 2011, Seirawan returned from hiatus to competitive chess, playing for the U.S. team in the world team championship in China, where he won silver in first alternate. He had wins versus top GMs Judit Polgar and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. [9] He only lost one game.

Seirawan won the 2011 and 2012 Dutch Open Blitz championship. [10]

Seirawan is widely known for his expert commentary in live broadcasts on the Internet during important events. He has been named by the chess historian Edward Winter as one of the top five Internet broadcasters. [11] In 2019, he joined the Chessbrahs and provided coverage for the 2019 World Cup.


Seirawan has written several books.

The "Winning Chess" series (with co-author IM Jeremy Silman):

The "Winning Chess" series was originally published by Microsoft Press; it is now published by Everyman Chess.

Personal life

Seirawan is married to Woman FIDE Master Yvette Nagel, daughter of Dutch politician Jan Nagel. [12]

Related Research Articles

Anatoly Karpov Russian chess champion

Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov is a Russian and former Soviet chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, ⁣and politician. He was the 12th World Chess Champion from 1975 to 1985, a three-time FIDE World Champion, twice World Chess champion as a member of the USSR team, and a six-time winner of Chess Olympiads as a member of the USSR team. The International Association of Chess Press awarded him nine Chess "Oscars".

FIDE International organization that connects the various national chess federations

The International Chess Federation or World Chess Federation, commonly referred to by its French acronym FIDE, is an international organization based in Switzerland that connects the various national chess federations and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. FIDE was founded in Paris, France, on July 20, 1924. Its motto is Gens una sumus, Latin for "We are one Family". In 1999, FIDE was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As of May 2022, there are 200 member federations of FIDE.

Jan Timman Dutch chess player

Jan Timman is a Dutch chess Grandmaster who was one of the world's leading players from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. At the peak of his career he was considered to be the best non-Soviet player and was known as "The Best of the West". He has won the Dutch Chess Championship nine times and has been a Candidate for the World Championship several times. He lost the title match of the 1993 FIDE World Championship against Anatoly Karpov.

Vladimir Kramnik Russian chess grandmaster

Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik is a Russian chess grandmaster. He was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006, and the undisputed World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007. He has won three team gold medals and three individual medals at Chess Olympiads.

World Chess Championship Competition to determine the World Champion in chess

The World Chess Championship is played to determine the world champion in chess. The current world champion is Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who has held the title since 2013.

Raymond Keene English chess player, arbiter, organiser, journalist and author

Raymond Dennis Keene is an English chess grandmaster, a FIDE International Arbiter, a chess organiser, and a journalist and author. He won the British Chess Championship in 1971, and was the first player from England to earn a Grandmaster norm, in 1974. In 1976 he became the second Englishman to be awarded the Grandmaster title, and he was the second British chess player to beat an incumbent World Chess Champion. He represented England in eight Chess Olympiads.

Ruslan Ponomariov Ukrainian chess player

Ruslan Olehovych Ponomariov is a Ukrainian chess grandmaster. He was FIDE World Chess Champion from 2002 to 2004. He won the Ukrainian Chess Championship in 2011.

Peter Leko Hungarian chess player

Peter Leko is a Hungarian chess player. He became the world's youngest grandmaster in 1994. He narrowly missed winning the Classical World Chess Championship 2004: the match was drawn 7–7 and so Vladimir Kramnik retained the title. He also came fifth in the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005 and fourth in the World Chess Championship 2007.

Étienne Bacrot French chess player

Étienne Bacrot is a French chess grandmaster, and as a child, a chess prodigy.

The Candidates Tournament is a chess tournament organized by FIDE, chess's international governing body, since 1950, as the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship. The winner of the Candidates earns the right to a match for the World Championship against the incumbent World Champion.

There have been two chess matches featuring USSR vs. Rest of the World, in 1970 and 1984, and one match Russia vs Rest of the World, in 2002. The USSR team won the first two matches and the "Rest of the World" team won the third match.

Classical World Chess Championship 2004

The Classical World Chess Championship 2004 was held from September 25, 2004, to October 18, 2004, in Brissago, Switzerland. Vladimir Kramnik, the defending champion, played Peter Leko, the challenger, in a fourteen-game match.

The FIDE World Chess Championships from 1998 till 2004 followed a similar knockout format, radically different from previous World Chess Championship events. Previous events had had long qualifying cycles, spread over more than a year, culminating in a long match between the incumbent champion and a challenger. From 1998 to 2004, however, FIDE organised its World Championship as a single event over about a month, with many players playing short knockout matches, rather in the style of a tennis tournament such as Wimbledon.

Below is a list of events in chess in 1995, as well as the top ten FIDE rated chess players of that year.

FIDE World Chess Championship 1999 Sports event

The FIDE World Chess Championship 1999 was held at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip between 31 July and 28 August 1999. The championship was won by Russian Alexander Khalifman, making him the FIDE World Chess Champion.

FIDE World Chess Championship 1998

The FIDE World Chess Championship 1998 was contested in a match between the FIDE World Champion Anatoly Karpov and the challenger Viswanathan Anand. The match took place between 2 January and 9 January 1998 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The challenger was determined in a tournament held in Groningen, Netherlands, between 9 December and 30 December 1997. After the championship match ended in a draw, Karpov won the rapid playoff, becoming the 1998 FIDE World Chess Champion.

World Chess Championship 1975 World Chess Championship match intended to be played in 1975

The 1975 World Chess Championship was not played due to a dispute over the match format. Champion Bobby Fischer was to play Anatoly Karpov in Manila, commencing June 1, 1975. Fischer refused to play the then-standard "Best of 24 games" match and, after FIDE was unable to work out a compromise, forfeited his title instead. Karpov was named World Champion by default on April 3, 1975.

The World Rapid Chess Championship is a chess tournament held to determine the world champion in chess played under rapid time controls. Prior to 2012, FIDE gave such recognition to a limited number of tournaments, with non-FIDE recognized tournaments annually naming a world rapid champion of their own. Since 2012, FIDE has held an annual joint rapid and blitz chess tournament and billed it as the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships. FIDE also holds the Women's World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship. The current rapid world champion is the Uzbek grandmaster Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Alexandra Kosteniuk from Russia is the current women's rapid world champion.


  1. Nack, William (December 21, 1981). "Yasser, That's My Baby". Sports Illustrated . p. 3.
  2. Tracy, William (March–April 1990). "The Right Moves". Saudi Aramco World. 41 (2).
  3. "Montpellier Candidates (1985)".
  4. "GM Yasser Seirawan Lecture Series". World Chess Hall of Fame. April 9, 2013.
  5. Crowther, Mark (February 8, 1999). "TWIC 222: Adams-Seirawan in Bermuda". The Week in Chess. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  6. Seirawan, Yasser (March 2, 2002). "A Fresh Start for chess". ChessBase. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  7. "The Beijing Chess Challenge". Chess News. 2003-09-28. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  8. "First Ever Seirawan Chess Event!". nwchess.com. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  9. "Yinzhou Cup 2011 World ChessTeam Championship – Player Info: Seirawan Yasser". Chess-Results.com. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  10. "Hall of fame (list of winners Dutch Open Blitzchess championship)". Snelschaakmarathon.nl.
  11. Winter, Edward. "9085. Live chess broadcasts on the Internet". Chess Notes.
  12. Matnadze, Anna (October 28, 2011). "Interview with Yasser Seirawan". Chessdom. Archived from the original on August 21, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2011.

Further reading

Preceded by United States Chess Champion
19811983 (with Walter Browne)
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Chess Champion
1989 (with Roman Dzindzichashvili and Stuart Rachels)
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Chess Champion
20002001 (with Joel Benjamin and Alexander Shabalov)
Succeeded by