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My Story


Anjelina Belakovskaia &   Lawrence Bernstein,

February 12, 2003 Florida.


Our Son Brian Belakovsky

was born on January 27, 2004 and

Our Son Connor Belakovsky

was born on January 11, 2007

Lawrence - HOW WE MET:

Anjelina and I met in an unlikely place at an unusual time. Chalk it up to fate, fortune or just plain good luck.

My friend William and I had finished a steak dinner and returned to Manhattan from across the river in Hoboken. It was about 11:30 in the evening and since neither of us was tired, we decided to go to the Marshall Chess Club which was empty but for two other people.

We settled in one of the long banquettes and I opened one of the micro-brews I bought in the Korean store nearby.

Quite unexpectedly, the doorbell rang around midnight. Since people don't usually go to chess clubs this late, I went on the balcony to see who it was instead of just ringing the buzzer.

From above, I saw a beautiful brunette with a lovely tan. I said a few words to her to which she replied, 'Why don't you let me inside?'

I went downstairs and opened the large and heavy locked door. Her tan was quite lovely. Noticing this and for whatever reason, I asked if she was from Argentina. She answered 'no, I'm Anjelina Belakovskaia.' I liked how she assertively answered a 'where' question with a 'who' answer. And since I was in a chess club at midnight on a Saturday and she was the three-time U.S. champion, it was the perfect answer. I felt a pinch of embarrassment at not recognizing her. We went upstairs to the main room.

I was quite pleased I'd bought those beers, as now I could offer her a drink. As I poured her a glass, I somehow tipped it over, spilling the amber liquid all over the table. How I pride myself on never spilling anything. In fact, it wasn't until two and a half years later that I spilled something again - also in the presence of Anjelina. I'd just told my mom that Anjelina and I were getting married.


On the crossroads of August and September of 2002 we were sailing on the Ocean Princess in Alaska.

On the fifth day of the cruise, after the Captain's Dinner, Lawrence disappeared somewhere with my father, while my brother and I were testing our fortune in the ship's casino.

That night, roulette was lousy and I was losing my chips rather rapidly. With the last chip gone, I raised my head and saw Lawrence heading my way.

A few minutes later, we were strolling on the top deck under the beautiful, flickering, green-and-red, Northern Lights.

My good fortune came in the way of Lawrence dropping down on one knee and asking if I would marry him. Apparently, my father gave his permission already. I was waiting for this moment for more then two years and it's not a surprise that my answer was 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' I didn't need a jackpot to be happy!

Our engagement was announced on September 4, 2002.


Essay #1 - an official version - my Story & my Chess Life, from Odessa to New York, from past to present.

Essay #2 - an official version - my Goals & my Life, looking to the future.

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The most important thing that happened in my life was my decision to stay in the USA, because that decision took away my past achievements, completely changed my life in the present, and gave me a lot of positive but unclear possibilities for the future. I made this decision in July 1991, when I came to the US to compete in the World Open Chess Championship in Philadelphia. I got off the flight from Moscow to New York with $100 in my pocket, knowing only a few words of English. I had no relatives in this country. Friends of my friends came from Delaware to pick up me at the airport. While they drove me to their house, I looked through the car window on the highway and thought that life in the US could be like this highway. Everybody can go forward as fast as they want; full freedom for people who like to be first. At that time I didn't know the rules and didn't have any information to draw conclusions, but I was willing to try and to build a new life for myself on this side of the world.

I realized very soon that I would have to forget about my successes in the past in order to succeed in the future. I was born in Odessa, Ukraine. This beautiful city near the Black Sea is a big cultural, educational and recreation center of Ukraine. A lot of world famous musicians, scientists, and sportsmen were born in our city. When I was 6 years old my parents introduced me to chess. Since then I became a professional chess player, winner of numerous competitions worldwide including the Women's Student World Championship, Women's Championships of Soviet Union and Ukraine. Meanwhile, my chess success didn't stop me from graduating from the Odessa Agricultural University in 1990, and getting B.S. degree in accounting and bookkeeping. I began my work on Ph.D while simultaneously working first as a court examiner, and as a credit manager after that. All these results didn't have great effect on my life in US. This situation can be compared with mountain climbing: that is possible to use ability and experience, but anyway it is necessary to start from the bottom to get to the top every time you climb.

My life had been completely changed. I couldn't play in the tournaments because it was necessary to have money for competitions. I had to start thinking about how to find a place to sleep and what kind of work I could do to make a living. I didn't feel this was real. I walked on the streets of Manhattan, and thought that this was a dream or a movie. Just a few days ago I lived with my parents and brother, had a lot of friends and spoke Russian in the Soviet Union. People who passed me on the streets spoke English, the architecture of buildings was very surprising and unusual, and I felt like I was on an other planet. My first job I got in Washington Square Park. I saw people who played chess for money and stopped by. "Two, five and ten dollars per game", were my first English words in this country. After 10 days, nobody wanted to play with me anymore. They thought I won enough money. I had to start looking for something else. 

For the next few months I opened a chess school for children, rented an apartment, found some friends and began to speak a little bit of English. It was just a first step. I knew that there would be a lot of opportunities in the future, but I didn't knew exactly what I am looking for. I had a lot of different jobs. One of the jobs which I had was really superior. This happened in October 1992. I had some problems to make money and came back to Washington Square Park. During the game my partner asked me: "Would you like to play in the movie?". I thought it is a joke, smile and answer: "Why not?". He gave me a phone number and told to call. At that time I knew a lot of stories about phone pay numbers. To insure myself I called from the street. It was a regular number of one of an agencies. They took my name, address, social security number and told that they will call me back. Nothing happened during the next two weeks. I almost forgot about this story when I got a call at the end of third week. An agent asked me to be in Manhattan at 5:30 in the morning at next Monday. I had nothing to lose, but I thought that this kind of joke would be not pleasant. I was lucky, and when I came to the park I saw a few big trucks of "Paramount Picture Production". I played in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" for ten days and got enough money to pay to my immigration lawyer for a "greencard". 

After this job it was difficult for me to do any other work. I didn't want to spend my time for just five dollars per hour anymore. I let myself to play in the tournaments. In 1993 I was awarded title of International Chess Grandmaster by World Chess Federation. Since then I became three times New York Women's Chess Champion, played in the 1994, 1996 and 1998 Chess Olympiads as a member of United States Team and participated in the World Championship Qualification Interzonal Tournament. In December 1995 I became US Women's Chess Champion. 7 month later I successfully defended my title in the 1996 US Women's Championship. Finally, in 1999 I won this title for a third time. 

At the same time I continued to look for the possibilities in the different areas of business. In 1994 I got a job in an investment company as a currency trader. I had a chance to learn a lot of interesting information about economical, political, and investment systems in the US and other countries. Later I switched to the stock market and got more familiar with different investment instruments. By the summer of 1996 I decided to become a Professional Chess Player and Chess Teacher. I got a great job teaching kids chess, and I still had a chance to travel all over the world. For the next few years I played in many International Tournaments and visited Austria, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine.     

By the time I won 1999 US Women's Chess Championship I already realized that I need more difficult challenges. Being a favorite at many US tournaments, I couldn't anymore surprise my numerous fans or myself with the victories - they were expected. Meanwhile, the World Chess Federation had a tough time of uncertainty. Nobody knew exactly when will be the next Women's World Championship Cycle and its format. United States Chess Federation announced 1999 US Women's Championship as a "Zonal tournament to the World Championship Cycle that will be next after the one 1998 Championship winners qualified to".  At that time even the winners of 1998 US Women's Championship didn't know where and when they will play. This messy situation didn't discourage me at all. Indeed, I approached it as an excellent opportunity to increase my knowledge in other areas of my interest, simultaneously preparing to this main "World Class" challenge of my chess career.

In September 1999 I became a graduate student at New York University

This was a great learning experience, though my mind had to work hard to absorb all the quantitative information and compete with other guys in the program, most of whom already had an M.S. and/or PHD in Computer Science or Statistics on top of B.S. in Mathematics. 

I successfully graduated in January 2001 with a Master Degree in Mathematics in Finance

My Master's Project "Basket Default Swap in the Emerging Markets" was based on a real need of the Market for pricing Credit Derivatives. 

During the Summer of 2000 I spent a few month at Credit Suisse First Boston as a Summer Associate in Sales and Trading in the Fixed Income Division. As a result I got knowledge of different financial products and services on the market and understood employment opportunities in the area.

Now I am looking for a job in credit derivatives, trading, quantitative modeling or risk management areas, while trying to rehabilitate my rights to participate in the next World Championship Cycle, that were retroactively taken away by the new USCF management and Seattle Chess Foundation.

I always feel that I made a great decision in July 1991. I opened a new world for myself and still connecting with the old one. About one month every year for almost 8 years I spent with my parents in Ukraine or traveling to Europe. My father visited me twice in New York. On September 27, 1999  my parents finally moved to the States and now they live in Tucson, Arizona.

On November 24, 1999 I became an American Citizen.

I found a way to connect my achievements in the past with my present accomplishments to increase my possibilities in the future. I use opportunities to apply, in the best possible way, my professional and special skills, education and diversified experience. I look forward to go ahead! As one very famous poet Vladimir Visotskiy says: "Better than a mountain can only be a mountain where there never has been before".

Which one will be next for me?


CHESS, CHESS, CHESS... but not only CHESS!!! Travel, music, dance, movies... THERE ARE A LOT OF GREAT THINGS IN LIFE!!!

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