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SLU Health Sciences Student Places Third at US Chess Championships

Saint Louis University (SLU) Health Sciences student Dorsa Derakhshani took third place in the recent 2020 US Women’s Chess Championship. Entering the four-day event as the 12-seed, Derakhshani was the surprise of the event by finishing third and earning a $13,000 prize. The event was hosted by the Saint Louis Chess Club in late October; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the championship was held online for the first time ever.

Read more about Derakhshani’s journey through her chess career and her advocacy for an individual’s freedom of choice.

Derakhshani has had international success in the past as well as success competing for her home country of Iran, but since coming to the United States and focusing primarily on being a full-time student in recent years, she has focused less on these national competitions. Derakhshani was thrilled to find that she could still find success at a national event of this caliber.

“I was definitely an underdog, but I knew there were at least three or four of us around the same ability, so I wasn’t exactly feeling like the 12-seed in a 12-person event,” Derakhshani said. “I knew I could most likely end up somewhere in the middle, but one lesson I’ve learned from playing chess competitively for so long is that in order to win with top-level competition, you need luck just as much as good preparation.”

US Chess Championships Logo
SLU Health Sciences Student Dorsa Derakhshani placed 3rd at the recent US Women's Chess Championships.

One aspect of the event that was new for every player was that it took place virtually. Derakhshani explained the difficulties that came with the online format.

“Honestly, it was very weird. Having to share different cameras and different angles was very challenging – especially since I have a very playful cat who actually did make multiple appearances during my games,” Derakhshani said. “Chess requires lots of focus and deep silence, so I hope the pandemic will be solved soon so we can get back to playing over the board.”

Despite devoting much of her time to preparing for the MCAT exam, Derakhsani is also a member of the SLU chess team and will compete about once a month in various tournaments. In her most recent college competition, Derakhshani won the 2020 Midwest Women’s Collegiate Rapid Champion.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.