GM Yuri Shulman
Camp Years: 2008, 2007
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
2009 World Team Championship: Silver, 2008 U.S. Champion, 2006 U.S. Open Championship, tied for first in the 2001 World Open
Bio: You wouldn't expect former U.S. Champion and Olympic medallist, Yury Shulman, a comp-sci and business graduate to be superstitious. But he raves about the "lucky car" at the 2006 U.S Championship in San Diego. He drove to the tournament each afternoon with soon-to-be-champions, Alex Onischuk and Anna Zatonskih. Yury won his 32-player group and Alex won his, resulting in a friend vs. friend battle. Why did Yury lose? Probably because he sat in the back seat on the ride to the final. Yury's moment at the top of the crosstable came soon enough. In the 2008 U.S. Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Yury netted clear first with uncompromising play.
Yury moved from his native Belarus to the United States in 1999 to attend University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), a three-time national championship college team. UTD takes chess very seriously. In addition to offering scholarships to top players like Yury, UTD wants to see chess taught in elementary schools across the country.
Although Yury's second-place finish in the 2006 U.S. Championship was a surprise to most fans, those who followed his performance in the 2005 World Cup in Russia weren't surprised at all. Yury went up against some of the top players in the World in this knockout tournament and defeated three higher rated GMs to advance to the round of 32, including a very impressive victory over former FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman. Despite eight other Americans competing in this event, only Gata Kamsky was able to advance further than Shulman.
Yury credits his excellent results in the past few years to his chess students. Yury has been teaching since he graduated from UTD. He also founded the organization, Chess Without Borders. Teaching has helped him see chess in a different way, and he even came up with opening novelties while working with his students. Some chess professionals only teach because of the financial reward, but Yury claims that even if he were rich, he'd still coach. To learn from Shulman, you can buy his book Chess! Lessons From a Grandmaster. (Read Elizabeth Vicary's CLO review.)
Shulman also coached the 2006 Women's Olympiad team in Turin to an impressive fourth place finish. In 2008, Yury joined the men's Olympic team and helped lead them to a fantastic bronze medal finish. Yury scored the final clutch win over Ukraine's board four, Efimenko to clinch bronze.
Relying mostly on 1.d4 as white and the French defense as black, Yury possesses the repertoire of a solid, positional player. But don't let that deceive you! Yury is about as aggressive as they come, and could have easily been an e4 player in another life.
Bio and photo courtesy of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis