Paul was born on June 2, 1965 in Saigon, Vietnam. He learned to play chess at the age of 5 from his father. Right from the beginning, Paul was considered a Chess and Chinese Chess Prodigy and one of the most promising juniors in Asia back in the 70‘s.
Unfortunately, due to the war and political situation in Vietnam at that time, Paul was forced to dramatically limit his playing and training schedule under the Communist regime. He and his father escaped from Vietnam as boat people on April 30, 1979. They finally arrived in the U.S. on December 1, 1979 after an incredibly difficult and tragic ordeal.
In spite of all the limitations and challenges throughout his early years, Paul managed to win a total of 11 National Chess Championships including 5 overall National Championship of Vietnam and the U.S. Open Blitz Championship. He also won many other prestigious titles. However, at the age of 17, Paul decided to give up full time competitive chess to pursue a college education, followed by a very successful business career in International Business and Marketing.
After a 15 year successful business career, Paul decided to come back to the chess world but this time to help promote the game for women and children. He is the Chairperson of the U.S.C.F Susan Polgar Committee as well as the Vice President of the Susan Polgar Foundation. Paul is the co-organizer of the Clash of the Titans — Battle of two World Champions as well as the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls. He is also one of the founders of the historic 2004 U.S. Women‘s Olympiad program.
He co-author 3 books with his long time friend World Champion Susan Polgar: “Teach Yourself Chess in 24 Hours (Macmillan)”, “World Champion’s Guide to Chess (Random House)”, and “Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess (Everyman Chess)”. Their fourth book will be published by Random House in the fall of 2005. In addition, Paul and Susan just released a series of 5 professionally created instructional “Winning Chess” DVDs. Paul is also an award-winning chess columnist with articles and columns in Chess Life, School Mates, ChessCafe.com, ChessBase.com, New In Chess, Chess Horizons, World Chess Network, www.ChessHall.org, Georgia Chess and Empire Chess, etc.
Alex Stripunsky was born in the Ukraine on August 18th, 1970. He started to study chess at the age of 7. In 1992, at the age of 22, Alex S. became an International Master. In 1994, he graduated from Kharkov Academy of Civil Engineering. In 1997 Alex S. moved to the U.S. — the same year he became a Grandmaster. Alex S, who speaks fluent English, is currently a teacher and active tournament player. His rating, as of December 31, 2005 is 2637.
GM Alexander Onischuk showing off his newly-won
2006 U.S. Championship trophy.
Alex Onischuk was born on September 3rd, 1975. He competed in his first chess tournament when he was seven years old, and at the age of fifteen, became a Vice-World Champion in the division of sixteen and under. In 1992, Alex O. became an International Master and, in 1994, an International Grandmaster. In 1995, he shared First Place in the youth World Championship. Since 1998, Alex O. has worked as a chess coach to the 12th World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. In 2000, he competed in the World Championship.
Five years ago, Alex O. immigrated to the United States and today speaks perfect English. In the last chess Olympiad in Spain, in 2004, and in the World Team Championship in Israel, in 2005, he represented the U.S. team at the first board. He currently attends the University of Maryland in Baltimore and has studied there since September of 2002. The University of Maryland college team has won several national events with Alex O. His rating, as of December 31, 2005 is 2690.
Tied for First at:
Larry Christiansen, age 50, was born and raised in Riverside, California, a town about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
He learned to play chess at age nine from his brother James and friends at a local swim club. His first USCF rating was 1652 and he showed a steady rise up the rating latter. He won the National High School Championship in 9th grade and repeated that feat as a sophomore and junior in high school. He also won the United States Junior Invitational three times and represented the US twice in World Junior competitions where he finished third in 1973 and 2nd in 1975.
Christiansen became a "grandmaster" in 1977 thanks to some strong showings in several Spanish tournaments. He is one of the few grandmasters to leap over the intermediate title of international master (world champions Mikhail Tal and Vladimir Kramnik also share that distinction).
In 1978 Christiansen was hired by the Church's Fried Chicken Corporation to become their chess goodwill ambassador, playing simultaneous exhibitions (including 10-board blindfold exhibitions) and giving lectures across the US and Canada. In 1980 Christiansen captured his first US Championship crown (shared with Walter Browne and Larry Evans) and repeated that achievement in 1983, tying for first this time with Browne and Roman Dzinzihashvilli. He won the title clear in 2002, defeating GM Nick de Firmian in a dramatic sudden-death playoff. He has also been runner-up four times.
In 1981 came Christiansen's biggest international success — sharing first place in the prestigious Linares International tournament with world champion Anatoly Karpov. Other notable International results include Cologne 1988 (1st), Cologne Cup 1990 (1st) Munich 1991 (1st), Reykjavik 1998 (1st), Merida 1998 (1st). Christiansen has represented the USA 13 times in International team competitions, including the gold-medal winning 1993 USA World Team.
In 1990 Christiansen and wife Natasha moved from New York to Porz, Germany where Christiansen was a leading member of the famed Porz Chess club and helped lead that club to several German chess league titles. He earned the nickname "The killer from Porz" thanks to some outstanding performances during the late 1980s and early 1990s. They returned to the US in 1998, taking residence in Cambridge.
Christiansen is a noted chess author — his works include Storming the Barricades, Rocking the Ramparts and Tallin 1979. Most of his books illustrate the fiery attacking style that has become Christiansen's trademark.