Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Penn Law student, 20, competing for chess title.

Rhawnhurst-raised Alisa Melekhina is off to St. Louis on May 8 to compete in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship. The 20-year-old is also studying at Penn Law, graduated Drexel in two years and wrote a children's book when she was 6.

Penn Law student, 20, competing for chess title.

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Alisa Melekhina sits in front of a chess piece sculpture outside the Municipal Services Building. (Photo: Bob Reynolds).
Alisa Melekhina sits in front of a chess piece sculpture outside the Municipal Services Building. (Photo: Bob Reynolds).

Alisa Melekhina didn’t write her first children’s book until she was 6, took two full years to graduate Drexel University, and only now, at age 20, is at Penn Law.

What a slacker!

The Rhawnhurst-raised Melekhina is off to St. Louis on May 8 to compete in the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. Melekhina, who has also been studying ballet since she was 6, says her father, Aleksandr, who taught her chess but soon after stopped playing against her because she kept beating him.

The Ukraine-born Melekhina came with her family to the U.S. when she was 2 months old. They lived in Brooklyn until she was 5 and then moved to the Northeast.

When she was 6 she wrote a children’s book based on a Russian fairy tale “The Frog Princess.”

“I enjoy being the underdog and being underestimated,” says Melekhina, when we asked if her gender or youth led to any misconceptions from male chess players.

Melekhina, who majored in philosophy at Drexel, credits chess and philosophy with preparing her for law school through the “analytical way of thinking.”

She admits to having an “existential crisis” last year, when she began wondering what she was getting out of chess, but now has a renewed enjoyment of the hobby.

She took college courses while attending Northeast High and maxed out on credits at Drexel because she was eager to get to law school.

Melekhina says she is interested in working in media, government or privacy law.

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Molly Eichel
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