It’s Belakovskaia in Berkeley! WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia is 2023 U.S. Senior Women’s Champion

US Chess has a new champion, and it is WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia. She won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Championship with a score of 4½/5. Winning the tournament did not come without its share of drama, as a heart-stopping final round provided all the excitement one would expect from a national championship.


Image Caption
The 2023 U.S. Senior Women's Champion: WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


A Final Round Thriller

Entering the final round, Belakovskaia was the sole leader with 3½/4, but three players were just a half-point behind, leaving the championship still up for grabs. Varinia Cabrera would be paired with the white pieces against Belakovskaia with a chance to tie for first with a victory. Similarly, the victor in the game between WIM Beatriz Marinello and WFM Olga Sagalchik on board two would also have a chance to tie for first (depending on the result on board one), so the stakes were high.

The final round provided every bit of drama and tension you could ask for in a U.S. Championship. Belakovskaia, who would be champion with a win, blundered with 18. …Bg6, losing a piece and opening the door for Cabrera to seize control of the game. As the games went on, it looked like Cabrera had a solid winning position entering the third hour of play.


Image Caption
Drama on board one! Varinia Cabrera (L) was one move away from converting a piece-up position into a new queen and a share of the championship. WIM Dolly Teasley calculates in the background. (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


The game on board two looked drawish with a rook, knight, and pawns endgame, giving Cabrera hopes of a most improbable upset victory to win the U.S. Championship. Sagalchik’s 39. …f5 looked like it gave away a pawn and the positional edge as well when suddenly, Marinello blundered with 48. Nb5, losing a piece and forcing her resignation: a very sudden turnaround in a high stakes game.



Moments after Marinello’s blunder, Belakovskaia’s resilience and determination paid off, as Cabrera blundered with 41. Kg2, dropping a piece. Belakovskaia then continued to put pressure and eventually won the game.



WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia showed pure grit in a game where she found herself trailing, finding the resilience and composure to focus and find best moves in the most trying of times. This was a championship performance to win the inaugural U.S. Women’s Championship. What an amazing and thrilling championship round!


Never Too Late to Do What You Love

It is fitting that The Berkeley Chess School was the host of this inaugural event. The school itself has been a lifelong labor of love for its founder Elizabeth Shaughnessy. The new Berkeley Chess School building and design had been a dream many years in the making, and through much community support and perseverance, is starting to become a reality. It really made an impact on me seeing the face of the building, a giant chess board with window squares that can light up in the evening. I remember seeing the sketch of that design several years back when it was a dream, and it is wonderful that it was made a reality in time to host this historic event.


Image Caption
courtesy Kimberly Doo


Just as the Berkeley Chess School has undergone a renaissance, I hope that this event will likewise help create a renaissance for women participating in chess. Whether it is bringing back players to the game or introducing an older generation of new players wanting to learn the game, this event will surely help forward the goal of inspiring women to play. The women who participated in this tournament certainly led by example, and it was a joyous and competitive atmosphere throughout the weekend.


Image Caption
The new Berkeley Chess School building, and Elizabeth Shaughnessy for scale (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


Congratulations to our newest U.S. Champion, WGM Angelina Belakovskaia! Many thanks to the Berkeley Chess School and Elizabeth Shaughnessy for organizing this event, to The Eade Foundation and US Chess for helping sponsor this historic event, and to the many visitors and supporters who turned up to follow the action.


Image Caption
(From left) US Chess Executive Board member Leila D'Aquin, BCS Founder and President Elizabeth Shaughnessy, US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer, US Chess Women's Committee chair Kimberly Doo (courtesy of the subjects)


Shoutout to those who supported the event on site throughout the weekend, including Kimberly Doo from the US Chess Women’s Program, US Chess Executive Board member Leila D’Aquin, US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer, and WFM Ivona Jezierska, who helped provide commentary. It was a very lively hub for chess this weekend in Berkeley.

Quick Links

Official website

Live game broadcast on

All event coverage on CLO

Annotated games

Twitch stream