|GM Alexander Stripunsky|
The former Soviet Union is often thought to be the breeding ground for top players. In Stripunsky’s case, his largest leap of improvement came after he moved to the United States, in 1997. At this time, he switched many of his main lines, such as his White Open Sicilian to offbeat lines in the closed Sicilian. He often catches his opponents off guard in systems they've never seen, let alone studied. Meanwhile, Alex can relax. Stripunsky is a specialist in finding positions that are easy for him to play.
He earned the grandmaster title in 1998, and began to rapidly increase his rating. He played as often as he could, especially at the Marshall Chess Club, where he frequently won the New York Masters weekly rapid tournament. By the 21st century he was solidly above 2600.
He gained respect as one of America’s elite grandmasters in the 2005 U.S. Championship. He won a beautiful last round game against Alexander Goldin, tying for first in a field of 20 other grandmasters. His fabulous tournament came to an end when he lost to Hikaru Nakamura in the playoff match.
His play in this tournament was all the more remarkable because he had just suffered a terrible car crash. He dons sunglasses frequently to protect his left eye, which was badly injured in the accident.
Stripunsky lives in Queens with his wife Julia Shiber, a WFM. Alex coaches talented kids in Queens, like the 11-year-old chess master, Parker Zhao. Memphis is Alex’s second home. He travels there several times a year to organize and lead chess camps, and to train U.S Championship participant Jake Kleiman.
Stripunsky is disciplined when it comes to his chess career; he runs regularly and works hard at the board. He also appreciates the aesthetic power of chess, “The more you play, the more beauty you are able to see.”