Grandmaster Alex Onischuk
Head Coach/Program Director
Alex Onischuk became an international grandmaster, the highest-ranking title in chess, at only 19. He has been one of the top 100 players in the world for 20 straight years, qualifying and playing in six straight Chess World Cup competitions. A former collegiate champion, he won the U.S. Championship in 2006, took second place twice and third place four times. He's played on six elite U.S. Olympiad teams in a row, including two medal-winning squads, and led the U.S. to a gold medal in the 2013 Pan-American Continental Championship. In addition to his achievements as a player, Alex is one of the most highly sought-after chess teachers in the world, training even world champions. He is also one of the most effective mentors for players of less exalted levels. Alex has earned his B.A. in modern languages and linguistics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and his M.A. in sociology from Moscow State University. Grandmaster Onischuk provides regular training to all members of the TTU chess teams. Since his arrival at Tech in the late fall of 2012, he's coached TTU team to 2015 Pan-American Chess Championship win, a berth in the 2016 Final Four of College Chess, and a number of other important titles. Several Tech players have increased their official ratings 200 points or more. "We have fun training. A great team makes even serious work enjoyable."
Opal Gonzales currently serves as the Unit Coordinator for the Chess Program at Texas Tech University. Opal is a West Texas native and received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition in 2016 from Texas Tech University, she is excited to continue her adventure as a Red Raider by working for the University. Opal coordinates the outreach efforts for the Texas Tech Chess Program; her duties include working with local schools, developing on-campus events and workshops, and community engagement. Opal is an avid supporter of after school programs and extracurricular activities for children starting at a young age, as she believes that it gives them the tools they need for the rest of their lives. In addition to her duties as Unit Coordinator, she is a mother, fiber artist and plans to continue her education.
Claudia Munoz joined the Texas Tech Chess Program as a Student Assistant August 2016. Her role is to manage the media outreach of the Chess Program by managing social media. She also contributes to the making of the UIL Chess Tests. Claudia is a freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas working on completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics.
Claudia has been playing chess since the age of 6. At the age of 10, she won her first chess title as Woman Candidate Master granted by the International Chess Federation. Her most prestigious achievements include representing the United States in three Pan-American Youth Chess Championships, two World Youth Chess Championships, and one World Junior Chess Championship. Most recently she won the first ever 2014 United States Girls Junior Closed Championship. At Texas Tech University, Claudia looks to continuously improve her chess skills as well as learn, share and impact the community around her.
Salem Al-Sao joined the Texas Tech Chess Program as a Student Assistant in August 2016. He was raised in Palestine and moved to the United States his freshmen year of high school to further pursue his education. As a first generation college student, Salem attended Lonestar Community college in Houston. During his time there he was the president of the Lonestar Community College chess club. In 2015, he transferred to Texas Tech and joined the Knight Raiders. His role in the program includes teaching chess to local elementary students and recruiting new members for the Knight Raiders. He is currently a senior Biology major and Chemistry minor with the goal of becoming a doctor in the near future.
Luis Torres joined the Texas Tech Chess Program as a student assistant in January 2017 but has been playing for the Texas Tech Chess program since August 2014. His role is to coach and train the upcoming players that join the program. Luis is a senior working on completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Luis is a native from Mexican and has been playing chess since the age of 10. He has represented Mexico in the World Olympiad and in several World Youth Championships. He became an International Master at the age of 18. His most prestigious achievements include finishing runner-up in the Mexican Absolute Championship, winning the North American Youth Championship-U14 at the age of 13, and consecutively becoming National Youth Champion of Mexico. He also represented Texas Tech in 2014 Final Four.
Richard Davisson joined the Texas Tech Chess Program as a Student Assistant in January 2017. He directs the Check with Tech Tournaments and assists with the UIL chess tests. He is a junior microbiology major and chemistry minor on the pre-Clinical Laboratory Science track. He grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, and has played tournament chess since the age of 6, winning the U19 section of the New Jersey State Championship in 2013. He has become increasingly involved in the chess world since coming to Texas Tech, acting as the treasurer of the Knight Raiders chess club, and helping to grow the burgeoning chess community at Texas Tech.