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Yasser Seirawan

Full name ياسر سيروان
Country United States
Born March 24, 1960
Damascus, Syria
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2658 (November 2011)

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

Biography and career

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 emigrated to Seattle (United States), where he attended Queen Anne Elementary School, Meany Middle School and Garfield High School, and honed his game at a (now-defunct) coffeehouse, the Last Exit on Brooklyn, playing against the likes of Latvian-born master Viktors Pupols and six-time Washington State Champion James Harley McCormick.

He is married to Woman FIDE Master Yvette Nagel, daughter of former Leefbaar Nederland political party president and politician Jan Nagel.

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 then invited Seirawan to Switzerland, where Korchnoi was training for his world title match against Anatoly Karpov.

For twelve years he was the chief editor of the Inside Chess magazine. The magazine was sold to the 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.

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 Einstein 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). 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 Seirawan participated in China during September 2003, 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.

In 2007, Seirawan unveiled his enhanced chess game called Seirawan chess which he is currently promoting worldwide. The first ever event was a 12 board simultaneous exhibition held March 31, 2007 in Vancouver, Canada.

In May 2011, Seirawan returned from hiatus to competitive chess, playing in the world team championship taking place in China, as part of the USA team. He had wins versus top GMs Judit Polgar and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Seirawan won the 2011 and 2012 Dutch Open Blitz championship.

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.


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.