WGM Jennifer Shahade

Full name
Jennifer Shahade
Born
Dec 31, 1980 (age 40)‎
Place of birth
Philadelphia, USA.
Federation
United States

Rating

Bio

Jennifer Shahade is an American woman grandmaster, Program Director at U.S. Chess Women, podcast host, writer, and founder of the non-profit organization 9 Queens. She is also a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame and a two-time U.S. women's champion.

Besides chess, Shahade works as a semi-professional poker player and is the Mind Sports Ambassador for PokerStars.


Chess Career

Jennifer Shahade, also known as Jen Shahade, learned to play chess after her father, a FIDE master, taught her the game when she was five. However, she didn't fully become invested in it until she reached high school. From that moment on, she fell in love with chess and earned her national master title when she turned 16.

WGM Jennifer Shahade.
WGM Jennifer Shahade. Photo: Chess.com.

Shahade became the first woman to win the U.S. Junior Open in 1998. Four years later, she went on to win her first U.S. Women's Championship title. In 2004, she won the U.S. women's title again in one of the toughest round-robin women's tournaments in U.S. history.

We can see Shahade's aggressive style on display in the game below. She had the white pieces against WGM Wang Pin during the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia. The game entered the doubled-edge Poisoned Pawn variation of the Sicilian Najdorf, and Shahade managed to deliver a beautiful checkmate beginning with 31.Qb4+.

Shahade was also a member of the United States Olympic team that won the silver medal in 2004. She reached her peak U.S. Chess rating of 2425 in 2004 and her peak FIDE rating of 2366 in 2003. She played her last FIDE-rated tournament in 2006 and today plays poker semi-professionally.

WGM Jennifer Shahade.
Jen Shahade playing a poker and chess simul. Photo: Jennifer Shahade/Instagram.

Chess Content Creator And Commentator

Shahade is not only an accomplished chess player but also a world-class content creator, writer, and commentator. She has worked on numerous occasions with Chess.com, including the second edition of the 2020 Femme Batale—which raised more than $3,000 for COVID relief.

Shahade regularly works as a commentator and covers important chess events. Below you can see a clip of her commentating during Chess.com's Women's Speed Chess Championship with GM Robert Hess. The clip, which features GM Hou Yifan delivering one of the biggest swindles of 2020, was one of the most viewed Chess.com clips in 2020.

Shahade also hosts Ladies Knight, a monthly podcast that features top female chess players and leaders. Her podcast debuted in January 2019 with WFM Alexandra Botez as a guest and won the Best Podcast of the Year award by the Chess Journalists of America that year.

Aside from being a commentator and podcast host, Shahade is a chess author as well. She published her first book, "Chess Bitch" in 2005, and her second book "Play Like a Girl" in 2011.

Women Empowerment And Activism

Shahade is actively involved with the women empowerment movement and helps with numerous initiatives on that front. Besides her "Chess Bitch" and "Play Like a Girl" books, she has written multiple articles on the subject, including this one on an art piece she created to expose insults that female chess players receive.

Jen Shahade on sexism in chess.
Jen Shahade exposing the "Not Particularly Beautiful" chessboard. Photo: Jennifer Shahade/Instagram.

As the Program Director at U.S. Chess Women, Shahade advocates for women-exclusive chess events. According to Shahade, "because fewer women play chess than men (15 percent [compared] to 85 percent currently at U.S. Chess), separate women's tournaments offer women a fun arena to face off and gain recognition." The WGM adds that "separate girls events allow girls to make friends, increasing the odds they play chess for a long time."

Separate girls events allow girls to make friends, increasing the odds they play chess for a long time.
— Jennifer Shahade

Shahade, along with two film producers, helped to create a video for U.S. Chess to demonstrate her point of view:

Besides her activism as a feminist, Shahade also co-founded the non-profit organization 9 Queens in 2008. The organization's goal is to use chess as a tool to empower underserved and underrepresented populations.

WGM Jen Shahade.
WGM Jen Shahade at a 9 Queens event. Photo: Chess.com.

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