Spirit in Competition and Camaraderie in Berkeley on day two of 2023 U.S. Senior Women's Championship

Day two of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Senior Championship displayed some spirited fighting chess from the participants. Of the 18 games played over the first two days, there have only been two draws. WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia leads the field with the only perfect score at 3/3, with WIM Beatriz Marinello close behind as the only player with 2½/3.


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WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia leads the field with 3/3 after a day of impressive positional play (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


This will set up a big fourth round match tomorrow morning as Belakovskaia plays White against Marinello, with both players having a chance to take control of the tournament.

Belakovskaia used solid positional chess and some tactical shots to win her second round game against WCM Natasha Christiansen.



Marinello weathered a tough game in round two to salvage a draw against WIM Root. She then provided an impressive attacking win in round three against local favorite WFM Natalia Tsodikova, who played at the Mechanics’ Institute prior to COVID.



Three players remain within striking distance of the top of the leaderboard with 2/3 going into the final day: Christiansen, WFM Olga Sagalchik, and Varinia Cabrera.


Christiansen Teasley marinello
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WCM Natasha Christiansen (L), WIM Dolly Teasley, and WIM Beatriz Marinello between rounds (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


Finding Community Through Chess

As the games of round two were finishing, there were some tables and chairs just outside of the beautiful new building of The Berkeley Chess School. The players were treated to lunch by organizer and Berkeley Chess School founder Elizabeth Shaughnessy, and some of the women spent time eating outside and engaging in conversation.


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The spacious Berkeley Chess School provided an opportunity for spectators to watch without crowding the players. WIM Dr Alexey Root (L) looks on between moves of her own game. (courtesy Kimberly Doo)


WIM Dr. Alexey Root commented that one of the things that made the event a special and unique experience was that the women could socialize at a chess tournament in ways very differently than a traditional event. Almost all the participants have at least some degree of commonality in their lives both inside and outside of chess, and it created a dynamic energy of interaction amongst the participants and observers. One observer who came down to visit the tournament was Trish Gorman. In her 70’s, she began learning chess during COVID online through the Mechanics’ Institute’s adult beginner class. She mentioned that she would be participating in her first tournament the next day. Inspiration of championship events like this one to bring in new people to the world of chess is not limited to youth alone.


Rekindling Passion and Excitement

I spoke to Varinia Cabrera and WIM Vesna Dimitrijevic and asked them if playing a tournament like this would make them more likely to continue playing over-the-board (OTB) chess. Both said with a smile and an excitement in their voice that events like this rekindle the joy of playing OTB and that they most likely would continue playing. These two women, who are accomplished chess players, are also accomplished in other areas of their lives. Dimitrijevic holds a Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and Cabrera holds a Doctorate in Psychology. This inaugural event, in addition to being a U.S. Senior Women’s Championship event, is also an example of the power chess in bringing people together and the positive impact of people socializing through chess. In a way, this event is a showcase of the full lives of the players, competitors who have a wealth of lived experiences with still a passion to compete.

Tomorrow we will provide a recap of the final day of the championship. Follow today's action below.

Update: WCM Mary Kuhner has withdrawn from the event after round three due to health reasons.

Update 2: The official broadcast of Root – Marinello cut off after move 22. The full game, with a few study-like improvements from our in-house oracle, is embedded below:


Quick Links

Official website

Live game broadcast on Chess.com

All event coverage on CLO

Annotated games

Twitch stream