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About the SLU Chess Team

The seven members of the Saint Louis University chess team come from six different countries and hold dozens of honors. The team placed third in the 2017 President's Cup, the final four of collegiate team chess. 

Cemil Can Ali Marandi

Junior, College of Arts and Sciences
Home Country: Turkey

Cemil Can Ali Marandi has won his European Youth Chess Championship section five times in a row. He has worked with top trainers and plays for the Turkish team, in which he is one of the most promising talents. Cemil Can is a grandmaster.

Nozima Aripova

Junior, College of Arts and Sciences
Home Country: Uzbekistan

Nozima Aripova comes from a chess family and has been practicing the sport since a very young age. She comes from a country with deep chess traditions, is a very studious player and person.

Benjamin Bok

Freshman, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: The Netherlands

Benjamin Bok is the newest addition to the A-team. An experienced grandmaster, Bok has represented his country in countless junior championships as well as in the 2016 World Chess Olympiad. As of September 2018, Bok is the fourth-rated player in his country and 124th worldwide. Having a quick ascent in the last year, he capped his progress with a wonderful 18th place in the strong European Chess Championship 2018, qualifying him to the 2019 World Cup.

Akshat Chandra

Freshman, undeclared
Home Country: USA

Akshat Chandra is the team's first American grandmaster, and despite his young age he has already competed in many events. A graduate of the Kasparov Chess Foundation's Young Stars program, Chandra won the 2015 U.S. Junior Championship and competed in the 2016 U.S. Championship. He plans on being one of the most active grandmasters on the team, aiming to win the Juniors again and elevate his game to a new level.

Dorsa Derakhshani

Sophomore, College of Arts and Sciences 
Home Country: Iran

Dorsa Derakhshani has been playing chess since childhood and won her first tournament before she was eight years old. In 2016, Derakhshani was awarded the titles of woman grandmaster and international master by the World Chess Federation. 

Alexander Ipatov

Graduate, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Ukraine 

Alexander Ipatov is currently the highest rated player on the SLU's chess team, which makes him first board. As of Oct. 2017, he is ranked No. 89 in the world and No. 1 in Turkey. He won the World Junior Chess Championship in 2012 and finished second in 2013. Alexander became Turkish Chess Champion in 2014 and 2015 and represented Turkey at World Chess Olympiads in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Alexander holds the title of grandmaster. 

Francesco Rambaldi

Junior, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Italy

Francesco Rambaldi represented Italy in a number of World Youth Championships and has established himself as a strong grandmaster. He obtained his grandmaster title at the age of 16 and has been growing as a player since.

Dariusz Swiercz

Senior, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Poland

Swiercz is one of the youngest chess grandmasters in history, obtaining his title at the age of 14. He won the 2011 World Junior Chess Championship gold medal and the 2016 Millionaire Chess Open.

Nikolas Theodorou

Freshman, undeclared
Home Country: Greece

Despite still not completing his grandmaster title, his rating of 2,532 puts him well ahead of many grandmasters in the world. Ranked eighth in Greece, this young player's future is very bright. He is currently ranked 16th in the world for players under the age of 18, and hopes to represent his country and SLU in many Junior competitions in the next couple of years.

Yaroslav Zherebukh

Graduate, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
Home Country: Ukraine

Yaroslav Zherebukh has won numerous international tournaments, including Cappelle-la-Grande in France in 2010 ahead of 82 grandmasters and 650 players. His run in the 2011 World Cup, eliminating super-grandmasters Pavel Eljanov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, cemented his reputation as a talented player. He recently won the Marshall Chess Club Championship and finished second in the American Grand Prix circuit for 2016.

Alejandro Ramirez


Alejandro Ramirez became a chess grandmaster at the age of 15 and gained international recognition playing in multiple Olympiads and World Championships before returning to his studies at the University of Texas in Dallas. He holds an M.A. in arts and technology, focusing on video game design. He took second place in the U.S. Chess Championship of 2013, and holds multiple major open victories, including the World Open and U.S. Open.


Recruitment continues for Saint Louis University’s chess team for both undergraduate and graduate players.

For more information on chess scholarships and the chess program at SLU, contact team coach Alejandro Ramirez at