Chess Romances

Chess Romances

| 57 | Fun & Trivia

It's that time of year again. While the purveyors of chocolates and flowers have sales goals to meet, the rest of us can just sit back and discuss the romantic couples of chess. What, that's not what Valentine's Day is about for you? Well, chess is sort of our thing here.

You may actually be surprised how many chess-playing couples there are out there. We're only going to touch on a select few of them here.

Alexander & Kateryna

Possibly the strongest current couple in chess is GM Alexander Grischuk and GM Kateryna Lagno, with Grischuk currently ranked 11th in the world and Lagno fifth in the world on the women's list. They also have four children, but according to an interview Lagno gave in 2021, Grischuk is not at all anxious to get them into chess!

The two of them have played a competitive game before, coming at the 2015 World Blitz Championship. They drew, but it took them 52 fighting moves! 

Giri & Guramishvili

Another famous chess couple are GM Anish Giri and IM Sopiko Guramishvili. They met in 2012 at a tournament they both won (one in the open section, one in the women's), married in 2015, and by 2019 Guramishvili decided to switch federations to Giri's Netherlands as well. She talked to our Peter Doggers about their relationship in 2013:

Other Dutch chess marriages include GM Jan Werle to WGM Iozefina Werle and GM Loek van Wely to WIM Lorena Zepeda.

Power Couples

For a chess power couple, there's GM Peter Heine Nielsen and GM Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen. He's the longtime lead second to the world champion, GM Magnus Carlsen (and seconded the previous world champion, GM Viswanathan Anand, before that). He isn't afraid to speak his mind about all matters of chess, while she retired from chess in 2016 to start a political career that has brought her all the way to the position of Speaker in the Lithuanian parliament.

Peter Heine Nielsen Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen Chess Valentines
Peter and Viktorija in 2013. Photo originally posted on this article.

For a couple who made a big difference in chess itself, let's note GM Susan Polgar and FM Paul Truong. Together they ran the extremely successful Webster University chess program from 2012 until Polgar's 2021 retirement as a chess coach. Webster won both major college championships (the Final Four Of College Chess and the Pan American Intercollegiate Championships) every year from 2013 to 2017 and was always a force to be reckoned with in the first seasons of the PRO Chess League.

At the same time, chess romance isn't always an easy road. Take the example of GM Boris Gulko and WGM Anna Akhsharumova, who spent seven years trapped in the Soviet Union. They requested to leave in 1979 and were instead kept from all travel until finally getting out in 1986. In the meantime, they had organized hunger strikes (Boris once going 37 days) and demonstrations to bring attention to their cause.

St. Valentine's Cup

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, herself married to GM Pavel Tregubov, organized a Valentine's Day tournament last year which featured four couples: 

Wojtaszek Kashlinskaya Chess Valentines
Radoslaw and Alina in 2013. Photo originally posted on this article.

No, they didn't have to play against each other. It was a "hand and brain" tournament, the format where one half names a piece to move, and the other half selects what square to put it on.


GM Pia Cramling and GM Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez are the parents of streaming sensation and WFM Anna Cramling, who currently has almost 200k Twitch followers on her channel.

Anna Cramling Chesscom
WFM Anna Cramling in 2021, the daughter of two grandmasters.

Couples who often stream together include GM Benjamin Finegold and his wife Karen Boyd, and IM Levy "GothamChess" Rozman has had his fiancee Lucy on camera with him several times before they got married in December 2021.

Levy proposed in private and announced on his channel. In 2018, chess journalist, instructor, and 2000 FIDE-rated player Niklesh Jain went a different route...

The Tournament Proposal

Niklesh decided to propose to WIM Angela Franco at that year's Chess Olympiad, with the help of Angela's sister.

India has in fact been particularly fruitful grounds for chess marriages:

  • GM Pentala Harikrishna and WFM Nadezda Stojanovic. (She's Serbian and they currently live in Prague.)
  • GM Magesh Chandran and WFM Anuprita
  • GM R.B. Ramesh and WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy
  • GM Dibyendu Barua, second GM in India history, with WIM Saheli Barua
  • GM Pravin Thipsay, third GM in India history, with WIM Bhagyashree Thipsay
  • GM Sriram Jha and IM Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi, the first female IM in the country
  • GM Vishnu Prasanna and WIM & Dr. Raghavi
  • IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal
  • IM T. S. Ravi and WIM Sai Meera

Hungarians also like to add chess to the family. GM Richard Rapport is wedded to WGM Jovana Vojinovic, who took his name, while GM Peter Leko married Sofia Petrosian, the daughter of his longtime coach GM Arshak Petrosian.

A few other noteworthy chess couples


We hope you enjoyed this look at all the great chess-playing couples throughout the world. There are plenty more, too. 

Is there any chess couple that you would add to this list? Do you have your own stories of chess romance? Let us know in the comments!

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