Nearly two years since Chess.com hosted its first all-female Death Match, the next iteration will feature its first all-GM Death Match between two women. GM Irina Krush and GM Nadezhda Kosintseva will compete in Death Match 26 on Saturday, July 26 at 12 p.m. Eastern (GMT -5), 9 a.m. Pacific.
To be completely historically accurate, women are 2-1 lifetime in the event. Besides WGM Tatev Abrahamyan's win over IM Anna Zatonskih in Death Match 9, GM Judit Polgar easily bested GM Nigel Short in Death Match 18's Battles of the Sexes.
GM Irina Krush -- FIDE 2484. The six-time U.S. Champion, who just won her third straight, also just became a grandmaster in the last year. She is the longtime American top woman, and in recent years has begun to put some distance between her and IM Anna Zatonskih.
GM Irina Krush after winning the 2014 U.S. Women's Championship
Krush was born in Ukraine, but in a much-reported story, she learned chess at the age of five while on the plane moving to the United States! She won her first U.S. Championship at the age of 14 and is one of only two Americans to compete in the U.S. Junior Championship, U.S. Women's Championship and U.S. Championship (WGM Jennifer Shahade is the other).
She has competed for the U.S. National Team since 1998, winning one team silver and one team bronze. Here she is in the Women's World Team Championship, beating a former Women's World Champion. The picturesque final position has every piece on one of the two edge files or ranks! Who says the center is the most important part of the chess board?
Krush lives in Brooklyn, New York and is coached by GM Giorgi Kachieshvili. She also trains a lot with good friend GM Alex Lenderman. Together, the two very nearly won both titles in May in St. Louis. Krush won a tiebreak for her third straight U.S. Women's Championship. Lenderman tied for second, losing in a playoff.
Krush has also commentated on Chess.com/TV for several high-profile events.
GM Nadezhda Kosintseva -- FIDE 2513. One of two sisters who have the GM title (Tatiana is her other half), Kosintseva has also been a mainstay on her national team. She's only one year younger than Krush.
Although she has slightly fewer lifetime points in the Olympiad, she is much more medaled. Her five appearances have netted two team golds, a silver and bronze. But consider her individual honors. Playing mostly boards two and three, she has four individual golds in five appearances! How do you win that much gold? Her career Olympiad win/loss record is 36-2, giving her a lifetime performance rating over 2600.
Nadezhda Kosintseva at the Istanbul Olympiad in 2012
Kosintseva is a past winner of the Russian Women's Championship, thanks to creative efforts like this:
She's also a past World Youth Champion (like Death Match 25 participant GM Boris Avrukh). Throw in all her honors at European Women's Team and Individual Events, and Women's World Team Championships, and she could start her own jewelry company will all those precious medals.
She has been mostly inactive the last 18 months after marrying fellow grandmaster, Chess.com video author, and Death Match graduate Leonid Kritz. In one of her few events of the last two years, she had to play her newlywed husband at the University of Texas at Dallas Invitational. Unsurprisingly, they drew.