Interview with Jennifer Shahade – Poker Player, Serial Chess Book Author & Chess Champion – Part 2

This is Part 2 of our exclusive PokerFaceNews interview with the wonderful and intriguing Jennifer Shahade, if you missed Part 1 then check it out here: Interview with Jennifer Shahade – Part 1.

As well as being one of the only female US Junior Chess Champions, you have authored several chess books for beginners including Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, Play Like a Girl: Tactics by 9 Queens and Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess. Each of them offered something unique which wasn’t yet to be found on the market. You mentioned in an interview that if you wrote a book about poker, it would have to also offer something which isn’t yet on the market and would probably be a combination of travel essay, philosophy and strategy. Do you have any ideas brewing since you gave that interview? Also, would you call it “Poker Bitch”?

I would not call my next book, “Poker Bitch.”  I love the title Chess Bitch because in both sound and meaning, the words make a mellifluous contrast! Using “Bitch” in the title is a feminist reclaiming of a word that some people use for aggressive women or the chess queen. Poker Bitch does not have the same effect. If I was going to use a dirty word in the title of my next book, I’d probably pick “The Opposite of a Rakeback Whore”, a phrase I tweeted when I was playing a lot of HU SNGs on Bovada.    

You uploaded an amusing video on your YouTube channel entitled “So you lost a flip deep in WCOOP?” consisting of a massive Hello Kitty Doll getting brutally destroyed, which you also talked about in your PokerStars Women Blog Post. What was the most destructive/foolish/thoughtless thing you ever did after experiencing a bad beat?

Playing poorly definitely upsets me more than bad beats, though of course when they coincide that’s the worst! My general strategy in chess was to question myself constantly and I’ve applied the same sort of attitude to poker. I joked once that my favorite method of self-improvement is, “I’m just going to sit in this corner till I get better at Scramble with Friends and hate myself less.”  Not fully recommended!

In previous years, I had more than a couple drinks after busting the WSOP Main Event. This time I just had a glass of wine and played an Open Face Chinese session. Nothing wrong with partying but I was somehow proud of my inclination—it seemed to symbolize that finally my life in poker post Black Friday is more than hoping to bink in a live event.

You have made up several games such as Hulachess, Chinese poker chess and Roulette chess. Could you explain to us briefly how these games are different from traditional poker/chess and what your motivation was behind creating them?

Chess is similar to all forms of Chinese poker- extra time will simply make a player stronger. In Chinese poker chess (and Open Face chess), you combine the chess clock with both games, so you’re really testing who is thinking (and moving!) faster.

I created roulette chess with an artist and curator Larry List fora show “Chance Aesthetics” in Saint Louis. Unlike poker, amateurs almost never win a game of chess vs. a stronger opponent. But in roulette chess, you have to spin the wheel to determine which piece moves, and that introduces an element of luck into the game so that a grandmaster may defeat an amateur 70-80% of the time, rather than 100%.

My motivation for creating new games is curiosity and also to popularize chess. I’m the editor of the US  Chess Federation’s website, on the board of the World Chess Hall of Fame and a co-founder of 9Queens, three organizations that want to bring chess to a larger audience. Last year, I presented roulette chess at an opening event at the WCHOF. I was also just in STL for another WCHOF event, the “Queen’s Gala”, which presented nine Jungian archetypes of the chess queen, using couture fashion as examples.

You have a website called on which you post artistic videos which you created with Daniel Meirom. Could you tell us a bit about how that materialized and how are you involved with the creation of those videos?

Daniel and I started making videos with hulachess and naked chess (which I also performed in Amsterdam). We make them to express ideas through images rather than words. For instance, in Goldilocks we’re saying that it’s a blessing and a curse to get older while playing poker. And as Will Ma pointed out in a talk to Google, life is one long session.

Our latest piece, Fantasyland expresses how luck compounds. In Open Face Chinese you get an immediate 7 point bonus for queens up top (the minimum qualifying hand to send you to fantasyland) and then you also win an average of 12 points in Fantasyland. In MTTs, players who run well can charge higher mark-ups, get sponsorship opportunities, network/discuss strategy with stronger players and receive a boost of confidence.

The effect may be obvious to some poker players, but I like to point it out as often as possible so that people who are running bad but making all the right decisions (in poker or life) can relax a bit and maybe get off tilt. We also wanted to illustrate the comfort of online poker vs. the inconvenience of live poker. Melissa Burr (high stakes mixed games pro) and Katie Stone (founder of the Grindettes) are the stars of the video.

You mentioned in an interview that you love basketball, running and dancing. How important do you find it is to practice these physical activities in order to excel at sedentary games like poker and chess? How often do you practice these sports, do you attend any lessons?

I used to live near basketball courts in Brooklyn and played pickup games occasionally. I am open to pretty much anything that gets me moving from Zumba to Bikram, since much of my life is sedentary (writing, chess, poker, etc.)  Of course Hulachess (or the popular chessboxing) is the ultimate solution!

One of your articles which caught our attention revolved around your “ABC diet” where you spent a whole month eating only foods that started with a corresponding letter, starting with A on the first day and ending the 26th day with Z. You said on your website that you were doing this as a sort of mockery of fad diets which all just serve to cut calories. Did you have any other motives behind this diet? Did you share it with any organizations related to health or dieting or promote it for a particular cause?

I am bad at sticking to diets but because I came up with the idea of alphabetic eating, it meant something to me and so I actually followed it. Ever since the ABC diet, I’ve had a more generally positive relationship with my body and with food.

Unfortunately, some anorexic diet plan was recently termed the “ABC diet” as well, so sometimes I get hits to by girls trying to survive on 600 calories a day  I hope they take up chess or poker instead and eat plenty of cupcakes. 


That marks the end of our interview with Jennifer Shahade, but if it wasn’t enough for you, then here is Part 1 of our interview with her and below are all the sources in addition to every other link we found online which related in some way to Jennifer Shahade!

Websites created/managed by Jennifer Shahade

Website / Blog

Facebook Profile

Twitter Page – Game inspired video art (co-created with Daniel Meirom)

YouTube Account

The Grindettes Website

Profile/Bio/About Pages

Jennifer Bio

Jennifer Shahade Wikipedia page

Interviews with Jennifer

“Online Chess Interview With Grand Master Jennifer Shahade” – Chess Maniac  – September 9, 2006

“Interview with a Hottie (‘Hade) – Jennifer Shahade” – The Weak Square – Monday, December 19, 2011

“WSOP Interview on Women in Poker” – QuadJacks – June 28, 2012

“The Grindettes’ Jennifer Shah
ade Talks Poker, Chess, and Being a Woman in Both Games” – Poker News – December 18, 2012

Interview with Sarah Grant “Play Like a Girl” – PokerNews – June 20, 2013

Jennifer Shahade is interviewed in St. Louis about the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament – KSDK Channel 5 – September 19, 2013

Poker Sources

“Creating a new image for women in poker” by Rachel Kranz –

Live Poker Results

Online Poker Results 

Jennifer Shahade coaching information

G2E Global Gaming Exposition Poker Panel


Chess Books

Chess Bitch: Women In The Ultimate Intellectual Sport

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess

Play Like a Girl!: Tactics by 9Queens

Blogs & Articles

Jennifer’s Blogs on the US Chess Federation

Jennifer’s Blogs on CardPlayer

Jennifer on the “Queen Within” at the World Chess Hall of Fame

Listening and Learning Lessons from the Ladies

With love for poker, from Jerusalem

Confessions of an Open Face nit : OFCP at the WSOP

Castles of skill: PokerStars, the US Chess League & women

Playing the WSOP Main Event

Prepping for a big event


YouTube Chess Lectures with Jen Shahade (at STL Chess Club)

”Jennifer Shahade YouTube” – Google search

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *