Shakira Luster: Marist’s Chess Queen

Shakira Luster
recently captained the Marist chess team at the Illinois State High School team championship scoring a sparkling 7/7. The Chess Drum audience will know her from her successes at St. Ethelreda Grammar School and her appearance at the Chicago Open. Now a senior at Marist, she is finishing her high school career on the highest note and has scholarship offers in hand. She currently carries a 3.45 GPA and will pursue Engineering as her field of study.

Shakira Luster at Marist H.S.

Shakira’s Growth

Shakira has had a strong support staff in her parents and five siblings, but especially her father Eric Luster who has mentored her and carefully charted her course of success. The growth process started with Shakira and her grammar school teammates going to a popular McDonald’s chess spot on Chicago’s southside to sharpen their skills against more seasoned players. Many of the players took an interest in Shakira’s development and she received encouragement.

“What we have here is a nurturing environment that inspires them to be creative whether its verbally, mentally. There’s enough spirit here to keep these kids motivated and safe. This is a rarity on the South Side. If you go by the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, we got a nice little village here raising a bunch of kids. This is what makes chess an enduring game, because we pass it on.”

~Thomas Murphy speaking on McDonald’s environment, “Chess and Chessburgers” Chicago Tribune, 4 October 2019

Naturally, a parent would be involved in organizing activities to keep their child engaged, but there was a dual purpose of helping Shakira excel in her analytical classes. She thrived in these subjects and was part of the STEM club at St. Ethelreda before gaining an interest in robotics at Marist. Shakira gained notoriety and received positive publicity in mass media and on chess websites. This comes in handy when searching for the right university in which to further chess ambitions.

Time Flies

It seemed not long ago that Shakira was wearing the cat-themed hair band. Four years later, she is coming off a successful season and will take her talents to “Slooey” or St. Louis University. She has gained some lifelong friends along the way and hopes to make her mark in what is deemed by many as America’s chess capital. If she has any goals to improve, St. Louis may be the place. Only a four-hour drive from Chicago, so family and friends will be able to provide support as she makes this adjustment.

Shakira Luster, Trechelle Williams, and Imani Hill with copies of “Triple Exclam” at the 2019 Chicago Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum
Shakira LusterTrechelle Williams, and Imani Hill
with copies of “Triple Exclam” at the 2019 Chicago Open.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

Shakira has been on top age lists for years and is now #12 in the country amongst girls 17 and under. As she prepares to graduate from Marist High School and embark on the next chapter of her life, she leaves behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Her contributions to the chess team have left an indelible mark on the school’s chess program, inspiring future generations of players to strive for greatness. Her name means “grateful” and when you are gracious, good things are bound to happen.


  1. Congratulations to your success. I am very proud to have been a part of knowing you during your success. It was a privilege to teach and watch you grow into the young lady and achieve this goal. God bless you always for you are worthy of the challenges ahead.

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