Alisa and Mirjana Maric celebrate their 50th birthday!

by André Schulz
1/10/2020 – Quick trivia: Who was the strongest female player ever born in the USA? If you said Alisa Maric, you're right! She and Mirjana Maric are twins and they are both Women Grandmasters — a unique case in the history of chess. In 1990, Alisa almost played for the Women's World title and after the end of her chess career she had a successful career as an academic. From 2012 to 2013 she served as Serbia's minister for youth and sports. Today, January 10, 2020, Alisa and her 20 minutes younger sister Mirjana celebrate their 50th birthday. | Photo: Rochade Kuppenheim

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Twins and Women Grandmasters

In 1990, Alisa Maric shared first place with Xie Jun at the Women's Candidates Tournament in Borzhomi but lost the tiebreak against the Chinese who later defeated reigning Women's World Champion to become the first Chinese Women's World Champion in chess.

Alisa Maric and her twin sister Mirjana were born on January 10th, 1970 in New York. Their father at that time was working as a professor for mathematics at the UN, and their mother was also a mathematician.

Alisa and Mirjana Maric – or vice versa!? | Photo: Alisa Maric

By being born in the United States both sisters automatically acquired US-citizenship, and strictly speaking Alisa Maric is the strongest female player ever born in the USA. However, throughout her entire career she has always played for Yugoslavia or Serbia, and one year after the birth of the twins the family returned to Belgrade.

Check! | Photo: Alisa Maric

When they were four years old Alisa and Mirjana learnt to play chess and both became quite strong.

At the World Championship U16 1984 Mirjana Maric shared first and finished third on tiebreak but one year later she won the title.

Alisa Maric became Vice-World Champion U20 Girls when she was 15 years old, and with 16, in 1986, she played her first Olympiad for Serbia, and another two years later, at the Chess Olympiad 1988, she won bronze with the women's team of Serbia and Montenegro. All in all Alisa played in ten Olympiads for Yugoslavia and later for Serbia and Montenegro, and in 1998 she won another bronze medal for the third best individual result on first board.

Mirjana Maric also made it to the women's national team of Yugoslavia and from 1991 to 1996 she played in three Olympiads.

The Maric sisters visit the city where they were born, seen here in front of the World Trade Center, a.k.a. the "Twin Towers" which was built in 1970, and destroyed on 9/11/2001 | Photo: Alisa Maric

In 1988, at the age of 18, Alisa Maric became Women Grandmaster. Her sister Mirjana got the title four years later, in 1992, making the Maric sisters the only twins in the history of chess who both have this title.

Alisa Maric soon was one of the best women players in the world, and at the age of 20 she was third on the women's world ranking list.


In the 1990s, Alisa Maric was always one of the world's top women players and took part in several Interzonal and Candidates Tournament but never managed to repeat her success from 1990/1991.

The final of the Candidates 1991 | Photo: Alisa Maric

In 2000, she lost against Qin Kanying from China in the semifinals of the newly introduced knockout World Championship. The following year she lost in Moscow in round three against Zhu Chen who later became World Champion. Alisa was granted the IM title in 2004.

Mirjana Maric played in the Interzonal Tournaments 1991 and 1993 but set aside her own career to support her sister as second and training partner.

Alisa Maric not only pursued a chess career, she also studied economics and finished her studies in 2001 with an MA. She then worked as scientific assistant at a private university and wrote her PhD about sports management. In 2008, Alisa Maric took up a post as assistant professor at the private university Megatrend.

Mirjana Maric followed in the footsteps of her parents and studied mathematics.

Alisa Maric is a member of Serbia's Olympic committee and ran a chess show titled "Alisa in Chess Wonderland" on "TV Politika", a private TV station. Though not a member of any party she became Minister for Youth and Sport in 2012, a post she held for one year.

Alisa Maric

Alisa Maric makes the first move at the Women's European Championship 2013 in Belgrade | Photo: Youtube

Alisa Maric is married to FM Josip Asik, editor-in-chief of the Chess Informant and publisher of American Chess Magazine, and has two children. Mirjana Maric is married to the Serbian IM Zoran Stamenkovic.

Both sisters were quite successful chess players but no longer play in tournaments. Today the twins both celebrate their 50th birthday.


Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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