Jennifer Shahade: Play Like a Champion


Two-time U.S. Women’s Champion Jennifer Shahade’s latest chess book is Play Like a Champion: Chess Tactics from the Greats. Its 700 chess positions have answers that range from checkmate in one move to checkmate in 13 moves.

Jennifer Shahade
Jennifer Shahade
Photo By Maria Emelianova

700 Positions

            Play Like a Champion: Chess Tactics from the Greats has 700 positions, a term Shahade uses to include both chess puzzles and problems. Shahade wrote:


Jennifer Shahade

Compositions are usually referred to as either “studies” or “problems,” to differentiate them from situations that occurred in real games, which are called “puzzles,” “combinations,” or “tactics.”

“Chapter 21: Chess Problems/Yosha Iglesias” includes the aforementioned checkmate in 13 moves, composed in 2022 by Iglesias.

Ben Johnson interviewed Shahade for Perpetual Chess Podcast. Shahade told Johnson that her book is “a bit of an homage” to Edith Baird’s 1902 book Seven Hundred Chess Problems. She added that more than 700 positions would have made her book too bulky, since it also includes biographical and historical information.

  In a Forward Chess video, Shahade mentioned that one of her sources was Improve Your Chess Tactics: 700 Practical Lessons & Exercises by Yakov Neishtadt. Again, the number 700 appears!

U.S. Women’s Champions

Four of the book’s 23 chapters are named after U.S. Women’s Champions: “Chapter 4: Queen Sacrifice/Vera Menchik and Sonja Graf” (Graf was a two-time champion); “Chapter 11: Smothered Mate/Irina Krush” (Krush is an eight-time champion), “Chapter 20: Liquidation/Jennifer Yu” (Yu is a two-time champion), and “Chapter 23: In-Between Move/Jen Shahade to Alice Lee” (Shahade is a two-time champion).

Many of the 700 positions feature U.S. Women’s Champions. Shahade credits my book United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937–2020 as her source for this 1967 win by Gisela Gresser over Lina Grumette.  Gresser won nine U.S. Women’s Championships, with her last title in 1969.

 Shahade mislabels a win by Diane Savereide over “Alexey Root” as being from a “NWC August Open, Seattle,” an error also found on Although the moves on and in Shahade’s book are correct, the location and the names are wrong. The game was played at the 1981 U.S. Women’s Championship in Brigham City, Utah. My last name in 1981 was “Rudolph,” as I was 15 and hadn’t yet met my future husband IM Doug Root. Rudolph versus Savereide is annotated on page 69 of United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937–2020. As I wrote in that book, Savereide picked this win as her “best game from the 1981 championship.” Savereide won five U.S. Women’s Championships, with her last title in 1984.

Men’s Championship?

 I learned from Shahade’s book that “the Georgian Championship (open to all genders)” was won, in 1998, by a woman, IM Nino Khurtsidze. Although Shahade omitted “Men’s” from her description of Khurtsidze’s title, the word “Men’s” is still in use in Georgia. The announcement of the “83rd Georgian Men’s Championship” (played in December 2023) included: “members of the Georgian Chess Federation will be admitted to the tournament: Chess players with a FIDE rating of 1800 or more (01.12.2023 rating-list), as well as FM, IM, GM, WFM, WIM, WGM – ranks.”

Why keep “Men’s” in this championship’s name, with Khurtsidze as a past winner and with women titleholders explicitly welcomed? I hope the tournament organizers follow Shahade’s example and omit “Men’s” from the name of the Georgian Championship.


Jennifer Shahade: Play Like a Champion

  Thanks to Mongoose Press, I have both the printed and Forward Chess versions of Play Like a Champion: Chess Tactics from the Greats. With the printed book, you flip to the back of the book for the answer to each position. In Forward Chess, available on a web browser or app, there is a “Show/Hide Solution” button under each position. Clicking on the button reveals the solution.

In the Forward Chess “Puzzle training mode,” you make a move on the board and the Forward Chess program responds. If your move is wrong, the message “Not the best move. Keep trying” appears. If your move is correct, the app plays its move against your move. At the end of the combination, you earn in-app rating points plus the messages “Success!” and “Puzzle Completed. Good Job.”

For Everyone

  As Shahade wrote, “there are no gender barriers to checkmating, trapping, pinning, and saccing [sic].” By “saccing” Shahade means “sacrificing.” Play Like a Champion: Chess Tactics from the Greats provides practice solving chess positions in a beautifully formatted hardcover and in a fun-to-use Forward Chess version.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

One Response

  1. Kevin
    Kevin at

    Thanks Jen for the Book hope to see you at the St. Louis chess club this summer

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