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Azzama Bochenkova

Azzama Bochenkova

​Knight to F5 ... Bishop to C3 ... Queen to D8 … Checkmate. It may only take a handful of moves for Azzama Bochenkova ’15 and her relentless strategy to capture your king.

Bochenkova, a member of the Grove City College Chess Club, is “the strongest player I know about that Grove City has ever had,” according to Dr. Dorian Yeager, chess club advisor and professor of computer science and mathematics. “It’s her analysis of the game. She analyzes positions really well.”

She came to the United States from Russia as an exchange student in 2009 and went to high school in Greenville, Pa, before returning to her homeland for her senior year. It wasn’t long before she made her way back to the U.S. and decided to attend Grove City College to pursue her interest in theology and business. “It’s a great school and a chance for a great education,” Bochenkova said.

Bochenkova started playing chess at the age of 10 when she saw the game on television in Russia, where chess is popular with kids. Her grandfather taught her how to play and she attended chess lectures, where she received advice from coaches and competed with other players.

The College chess club competes in the Pittsburgh Chess Club League where Bochenkova takes the first board on the team. Her current rating (1950) is just shy of expert. When she achieves that status she’ll be just three rungs away from grandmaster.

“I think one of the cool things about chess is that you can be really good friends, but when you sit down to play chess it’s all serious,” Bochenkova said. “It’s life or death. Each side wants to win.”