GM Benjamin Finegold
IM Ben Finegold. Photo Betsy Dynako
Ben Finegold has been ranked as high as 2662, at which point he was neck and neck with GM Larry Christiansen for the distinction of being the highest rated American born chess player in the country. For many years,  Ben Finegold was missing the two most vital letters in a pro chess player’s career, “G” and “M", giving him the double-edged honor of the "strongest IM in America." That all changed in 2009. Just after his 40th birthday, Ben earned his final GM norm at the SPICE Cup in Lubbock, Texas.
Ben Finegold is also somewhat understated; in contrast to many confident grandmasters who strut around with their heads in the clouds, Ben is funny, friendly, and apt to make self-effacing jokes. His description of his style is characteristically modest: “I play simple moves and try not to blunder or get in time trouble.”

Since 2010, Ben has been the "GM-in residence" at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Finegold was introduced to the Chess Club during the 2009 US Women's Championship, where his instructive and funny commentary convinced the Club he'd be perfect to help develop Saint Louis chess. Stay up to date on Ben's activities at the club at "Ben's Blog: Musings of a Grandmaster".

Serious chess players are divided by the question of whether it’s better to study a narrow set of openings in great depth, or play a wide variety of systems, to keep opponents wondering. Finegold falls somewhere in between. He’s been playing 1.d4 his whole life but with Black he’s more flexible and can play numerous defenses against both 1.e4 and 1.d4. Ben isn't afraid of trading Queens early in the game, and wins a lot of half points from endgame technique.

When asked about which books he recommended to aspiring players, Ben said “I’m not a fan of books.” His advice was to “Play in strong tournaments (open section) and analyze your games with a strong player. The best way to improve is to play strong players often.”