NAME: Yasser Seirawan
BIRTHDATE: March 24, 1960
BIRTHPLACE: Damascus, Syria
CREDENTIALS: Won the US Championship four times. Defeated both Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov during their prime years in world rated play. Seirawan was the publisher and chief editor of the groundbreaking chess magazine, Inside Chess. Besides his long reign at the top of the American chess scene, he has proven himself a formidable player against chess computers. Back in the mid-1990s, when chess computers were becoming competitive against grandmasters, a chess match was held between fifty computer programs and 50 humans. The computers won the match. Yasser was the only player to win all six of his games, the Keanu Reeves of chess.
He has summarized his approach to games in this way: Structural. I like gnawing on the base of a pawn chain, occupying weak squares, while a break away passer that scores a touchdown is poetry. Seirawan has lectured and written on all aspects of the game, but his focus on endgame strategies is especially noteworthy. In his words, ... Memorizing openings is a serious waste of time. Only with endgame knowledge can one have chess understanding. A good endgame player will recognize the long-term deficits and advantages of any opening variation.
Born in Damascus and moved to the US when he was 7. Learned chess at the age of 12 in Seattle from a neighbor who was an amateur chess player (David Chapman). Won the World Junior Chess Championship in 1979, and has since won four US Chess Championships. In 2001 Seirawan proposed a plan, now known as the Prague Agreement, to reunite the chess world and address the controversy surrounding the problem of two world champion titles. With organizations such as America's Foundation For Chess, he has been an invaluable advocate of chess in the United States. For example. he has been a major supporter of scholastic chess and helped to return the U.S. Chess Championship Tournament to prominence when it was on the verge of dissolving. His other interests include sports, business, travel, reading, writing, and movies. Now retired from tournament play, he continues to be an irreplaceable diplomat and ambassador for chess.