St. Petersburg-born Aleksandr “Shima” Shimanov is hoping to succeed in multiple different ways. The graduate student is pursuing his MBA and is ranked as one of the top 200 chess players on the planet.
Having played chess from the age of four when the game was passed down to him by his mother, Shirmanov estimated that he’s been playing for more than 20 years already.
The third-year student, another member of the “A-Team”, travelled across the globe to come to Webster by way of a scholarship through the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.
Since then, getting the Russian national champion (who has improved to a rank of 115-120 globally by his own estimation since joining the school) has produced the ultimate result time and time again.
The World Cup participant is now looking to win his third consecutive President’s Cup college title since transferring.
This would follow winning the Russian youth chess championship three times. Shirminov then became one one of the best youth chess players on his continent, coming in second in a European youth championship.
Shirminov was also part of the first place team from the recent Pan-Am InterCollegiate Chess Championships, a crucial part of a machine that is doing something never before done in the sport.
Per the university, if the Gorloks take home national hardware for a sixth year they will be the only university to do so. Shirmanov believes the group’s success to be due to discipline unlike that of any competitors
Discipline was something Shirmanov admittedly lacked in Russia. He also feels has since become a master at attention to detail and spotting openings.
“[During Spring Break] we had training every day from ten to four. I don’t think any other team does the same,” Shirmanov said. For the Final Four we look at the lineups and one by one we look at their games. [We] try to identify weaknesses and identify the best strategy against every particular opponent.”
Fun Fact: Shimanov also plays poker in addition to chess and enjoys ice hockey.