It started with a
report we posted in August, proclaiming that Jennifer Shahade, 22, the 2002
U.S. Women's Champion, was the strongest American-born female chess player in
history. Soon after that we got a message from another female player drawing
attention to a little error in that statement. "The simple fact,"
she wrote, "is that there is another player who is by far the strongest
American-born female chess player in history. She became a WIM at 15 and WGM
at 18. She was among the ten best in the world in six consecutive women's world
championships, and twice the third ranked player in the world women's rankings.
This is not a record achieved by any other American-born female chess player."
In a puzzle
page we published two baby pictures of this player and asked our readers
to try to identify her. A remarkable number of readers were able to do so, naming
both her and the other little girl on the picture.
A few of the readers got unexpected help from a Belgrade
newspaper. Branislav Rakic, the editor of Express Politika, had
discovered the puzzle on our site and splashed the story on the sports
page of his newspaper.
The title of the story was "Guess which one is Alisa".
Above that the headline reads :"Extraordinary quiz for visitors of
the German site Chess Base".
The solution was that the player was Alisa Maric, 33 years old, chess player
and TV anchor in Belgrade. The other little girl in the picture was her twin
sister Mirjana. They were born in January 1970 in New York City, their parents
were a university professor and a math teacher. Both girls went on to become
the only twin grandmasters in chess history.
Alisa Maric – a short biography
Alisa Maric was born in New York on January 10, 1970 during her father's service
at the UN headquarters. Her twin sister Mirjana, born 21 minutes after Alisa,
is a women's grandmaster (WGM) and former Cadet's World Champion (Israel 1985).
Mirjana got a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, and works as a programmer. Alisa
and Mirjana are the only twin grandmasters in chess history. Alisa's father
Nebojsa is university professor, and mother Zivka is high-school teacher of
Alisa herself holds the chess titles of International Master (IM) and WGM.
She graduated from Belgrade University and got BS and MS degrees in Economics.
Alisa is a Ph.D. candidate and works at University "Braca Karic" as
teaching assistant in marketing. Alisa also anchors a chess program called "Alisa
in the Chess World". It is aired every second week on TV Politika.
Alisa. Maric played the first chess games at the age of four, and the first
tournament at the age of nine (she won all nine games against boys and earned
men's forth category). Many of her results are unique in the Yugoslav chess
||National master, Belgrade women's champion
||International master, 15 World's Vice Champion for Under 20 (1985 Dobrna)
||Yugoslav Champion for women
||One of the two winners of the Candidates Tournament (1990 Georgia)
||She played the World Challenger Match (1991 Belgrade and Beijing )
Alisa has been the first board of Yugoslav Olympic team since 1986. She has
earned two Olympic medals, one of which is individual for her result at the
first board (Elista 1998).
In the first ten months of the year 2001 Alisa held big titles in all three
competing categories: individual (being the third in the World), club (as the
first board of Agrouniverzal, the Champion of Europe) and national (as the first
board of Yugoslavia the vice champion of Europe).
Another extraordinary achievement was at the World Champion Cycles. Five times
in a row, from 1990 to 2000, she has always been among the best six in the World.
Alisa was the first board of the club that won three times the European Team
In May 2001 Alisa Maric played for the chosen six in the "All Worlds' Star
Team" against China, in the spectacular match in Shanghai. This was the
first such an event in the chess history.
Alisa won some games against famous chess players including world champions
(Anand, Zhu Chen, Xie Jun, Gaprindashvili, Chiburdanidze). She has been the
special honored guest at many international events at home and abroad.
Alisa thankfully sent us some interesting pictures from her collection of more
than 50 albulms.
Alisa and Mirjana Maric in 1970, at the age of four months
Alisa and Mirjana are not identical twins. But they were often identicaly dressed
with clothes made by their mom.
Mama Maric made dresses for herself in the same product line. The picture above
shows the trio in 1970 in NY Flushing Medow Park.
In 1971 Alisa and Mirjana moved to Belgrade from New York, with American passports
and Yugoslav visas. Later they got Yugoslav citizenships as well.
Here in 1974 the two girls (Alisa on the left, Mirjana on the right) are shown
sporting Serbian national dresses.
The first chess moves came very early – in 1974
Alisa (left) playing Mirjana in the Yugoslav countryside
In 1976 the family went to Colorado for a year, where the girls started their
education and finished the first grade. There they also encounterd sports that
were, let us say, different to their beloved chess.
In 1988 the two sisters visited the town of their birth and posed in front of
a famous landmark.
At the New York Open in 1988 Alisa Maric plays GM Leonid Shamkovich. In the
background you can see a very young Judit Polgar playing with the black pieces.
One of her greatest achievements: world women's championship challenger match
1991 in Beijing, China.
Ten years later Alisa (left) was part of the "World All Stars" team
that played against China
A duel with World Champion Zhu Chen, Shangai 2001
A portrait taken in 2001
During the last several months Alisa has been producing a chess program called
"Alisa in the Chess World". The goal is to promote chess. In order
to demonstrate that chess is accepted among many professions, the guests in
the program are from various areas of public life – politicians, sportsmen,
actors, writers etc.
In August the UK ambassador to Serbia and Crna Gora, Mr. Charles Crawford, was
on the show. He is a passionate chess fan, and he told many interesting chess
stories and meetings with famous chess players. The ambassador sent us two pictures
of himself playing "the excellent Alisa Maric". He wrote: "I
played a game against Alisa. Alas I lost, but for a while I had a much better
Charles showed me some special chess sets including a chess board from Egypt.
At one picture taken at our conversation it can be noticed one portrait of Short
that stands at one wall at his residency.
Alisa Maric today, above with Vladimir Kramnik