U.S. Chess Championship

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The U.S. Chess Championship is an invitational tournament held to determine the national chess champion of the United States. Begun as a challenge match in 1845, the U.S. Championship has been decided by tournament play for most of its long history (Soltis, 2012). Since 1936, it has been held under the auspices of the U.S. Chess Federation. Until 1999, the event consisted of a round-robin tournament of varying size. From 1999 to 2006, the Championship was sponsored and organized by the Seattle Chess Foundation (later renamed America's Foundation for Chess [AF4C]) as a large Swiss system tournament. AF4C withdrew its sponsorship in 2007. The 2007 and 2008 events were held (again under the Swiss system) in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St Louis has hosted the annual event since 2009.

America's national chess championship is the world's oldest.[1]

Champions by acclamation 1845-1891[edit]

Years Champion Notes
1845–1857 Charles Stanley Defeated Eugène Rousseau in a match in 1845
1857–1871 Paul Morphy Won the first American Chess Congress in 1857
1871–1891 George Henry Mackenzie Won the 2nd, 3rd and 5th American Chess Congress

Match Champions 1891-1935[edit]

G.H. Mackenzie died in April 1891 and, later that year, Max Judd proposed he, J.W. Showalter and S. Lipschütz contest a triangular match for the championship. Lipschütz withdrew so Judd and Showalter played a match which the latter won. A claim by Walter Penn Shipley that S. Lipschütz became US Champion as a result of being the top-scoring American at the Sixth American Chess Congress, New York 1889 is refuted in a biography of Lipschütz.[2] The following US Champions until 1909 were decided by matches.

Year Winner Loser Result Notes
1 1891-2 Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter Judd, MaxMax Judd +7 -4 =3 The final game was delayed until January 1892 because Judd was ill.
2 1892 Lipschütz, SamuelSamuel Lipschütz Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter +7 -1 =7
3 1894 Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter Hodges, AlbertAlbert Hodges +7 -6 =4 Prior to the last game the players agreed to extend the match. Many sources classify this as the first of two matches instead of one extended match.
4 1894 Hodges, AlbertAlbert Hodges Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter +5 -3 =1 Can be considered a match extension or a new match.
5 1895 Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter Lipschütz, S.S. Lipschütz +7 -4 =3
6 1896 Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter Kemény, EmilEmil Kemény +7 -4 =4
7 1896 Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter Barry, JohnJohn Barry +7 -2 =4
8 1897 Pillsbury, HarryHarry Pillsbury Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter +10 -7 =3 Pillsbury added to the conditions of the match : "... even if I should win, I shall leave Showalter the possession of his championship title".[3]
9 1898 Pillsbury, HarryHarry Pillsbury Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter +7 -2 =2 Contrary to the 1897 match, the title of U.S. champion was clearly at stake in 1898.[4]
10 1909 Marshall, FrankFrank Marshall Showalter, JacksonJackson Showalter +7 -2 =3 Title reverted to Showalter after Pillsbury's death in 1906.
11 1923 Marshall, FrankFrank Marshall Lasker, EdwardEdward Lasker +5 -4 =9 Marshall declined to play in the invitational tournament that began in 1936.

Tournament champions since 1936[edit]

# Year Winner Notes
1 1936 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky
2 1938 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky
3 1940 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky
- 1941 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky Match victory over I.A. Horowitz
4 1942 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky An erroneous ruling by the director allowed Reshevsky to tie for first with Isaac Kashdan.[5]
Reshevsky won a playoff match against Kashdan 6 months later.
5 1944 Denker, ArnoldArnold Denker
- 1946 Denker, ArnoldArnold Denker Match victory over Herman Steiner
6 1946 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky
7 1948 Steiner, HermanHerman Steiner
8 1951 Evans, LarryLarry Evans
- 1952 Evans, LarryLarry Evans Match victory over Herman Steiner
9 1954 Bisguier, ArthurArthur Bisguier
- 1957 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky Match victory over Arthur Bisguier.
The title of U.S. champion was not at stake. (Bisguier remains champion).
10 1957/8 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer At 14, the youngest champion ever
11 1958/9 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer
12 1959/0 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer
13 1960/1 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer
14 1961/2 Evans, LarryLarry Evans
15 1962/3 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer
16 1963/4 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer Fischer went 11-0 in the tournament, the only perfect score in its history
17 1965/6 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer
18 1966/7 Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer A record eighth win (out of eight attempts)
19 1968 Evans, LarryLarry Evans
20 1969 Reshevsky, SamuelSamuel Reshevsky
21 1972 Byrne, RobertRobert Byrne After playoff 9 months later against Samuel Reshevsky and Lubomir Kavalek
22 1973 Kavalek, LubomirLubomir Kavalek
Grefe, JohnJohn Grefe
23 1974 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
24 1975 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
25 1977 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
26 1978 Kavalek, LubomirLubomir Kavalek
27 1980 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
Christiansen, LarryLarry Christiansen
Evans, LarryLarry Evans
28 1981 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
Seirawan, YasserYasser Seirawan
29 1983 Browne, WalterWalter Browne
Christiansen, LarryLarry Christiansen
Dzindzichashvili, RomanRoman Dzindzichashvili
30 1984 Alburt, LevLev Alburt
31 1985 Alburt, LevLev Alburt
32 1986 Seirawan, YasserYasser Seirawan
33 1987 Benjamin, JoelJoel Benjamin
de Firmian, NickNick de Firmian
34 1988 Wilder, MichaelMichael Wilder
35 1989 Dzindzichashvili, RomanRoman Dzindzichashvili
Rachels, StuartStuart Rachels
Seirawan, YasserYasser Seirawan
36 1990 Alburt, LevLev Alburt Knockout tournament
37 1991 Kamsky, GataGata Kamsky Knockout tournament
38 1992 Wolff, PatrickPatrick Wolff
39 1993 Shabalov, AlexanderAlexander Shabalov
Yermolinsky, AlexAlex Yermolinsky
40 1994 Gulko, BorisBoris Gulko The only person to have held both the US and Soviet championships
41 1995 de Firmian, NickNick de Firmian
Wolff, PatrickPatrick Wolff
Ivanov, AlexanderAlexander Ivanov
42 1996 Yermolinsky, AlexAlex Yermolinsky
43 1997 Benjamin, JoelJoel Benjamin
44 1998 de Firmian, NickNick de Firmian
45 1999 Gulko, BorisBoris Gulko
46 2000 Benjamin, JoelJoel Benjamin
Shabalov, AlexanderAlexander Shabalov
Seirawan, YasserYasser Seirawan
47 2002 Christiansen, LarryLarry Christiansen
48 2003 Shabalov, AlexanderAlexander Shabalov
49 2005 Nakamura, HikaruHikaru Nakamura Tournament was played in 2004, but called the 2005 Championship, for legal reasons
50 2006 Onischuk, AlexanderAlexander Onischuk
51 2007 Shabalov, AlexanderAlexander Shabalov
52 2008 Shulman, YuryYury Shulman
53 2009 Nakamura, HikaruHikaru Nakamura
54 2010 Kamsky, GataGata Kamsky Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Yury Shulman
55 2011 Kamsky, GataGata Kamsky[6]
56 2012 Nakamura, HikaruHikaru Nakamura
57 2013 Kamsky, GataGata Kamsky Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Alejandro Ramírez
58 2014 Kamsky, GataGata Kamsky Kamsky won a playoff rapid against Varuzhan Akobian after Akobian qualified
by beating Lenderman, AleksandrAleksandr Lenderman on an Armageddon tie-break
59 2015 Nakamura, HikaruHikaru Nakamura
60 2016 Caruana, FabianoFabiano Caruana
61 2017 So, WesleyWesley So Wesley So won a rapid playoff against Alexander Onischuk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soltis, Andy (2012). The United States Chess Championship, 1845-2011. US: McFarland. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-7864-6528-6. 
  2. ^ Davies, pp. 196-99
  3. ^ Andrew Soltis, The United States Chess Championship, Second Edition, Mac Farland, 1997, p. 32.
  4. ^ Andrew Soltis, The United States Chess Championship, Second Edition, Mac Farland, 1997, p. 33.
  5. ^ In an objectively drawn endgame against Arnold Denker, the flag on Reshevsky's clock fell, which should have resulted in his losing on time. The tournament director Walter Stephens, who was standing behind the clock, flipped it around and, looking at Reshevsky's side of the clock (which he mistakenly thought was Denker's), announced "Denker forfeits!" He refused to correct his error, explaining, "Does Kenesaw Mountain Landis reverse himself?" William Lombardy and David Daniels, U.S. Championship Chess, David McKay, 1975, p. 22. ISBN 0-679-13042-X. Arnold S. Denker, My Best Chess Games 1929-1976, Dover, 1981, p. 121. ISBN 0-486-24035-5.
  6. ^ Kamsky reigns supreme


  • Soltis, Andy; McCormick, Gene H. (1997). The United States Chess Championship 1845–1996 (2nd ed.). McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0248-2. 
  • Isaac Kashdan (1933). History of the United States Chess Championship. Chess Review, November–December, 1933, reprinted in The Best of Chess Life & Review 1933-1960. ISBN 0-671-61986-1. 

External links[edit]