U.S. Chess Championship

The U.S. Chess Championship is an invitational tournament held to determine the United States chess champion.[1] Begun as a challenge match in 1845, the U.S. Championship has been decided by tournament play for most of its long history.[2] 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, under the direction of Frank K. Berry. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St. Louis has hosted the annual event since 2009.

US Chess Championship
Wesley So, 2015.jpg
Wesley So, the current US champion
Awarded forWinner of the US Championship
CountryUnited States
Presented byUnited States Chess Federation
First award1891
Most recentWesley So

The U. S. Chess championship is the oldest national chess tournament.[2]

Wesley So is the current champion.

Champions by acclamation 1845–1891Edit

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 1891–1935Edit

George Henry Mackenzie died in April 1891 and, later that year, Max Judd proposed he, Jackson 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.[3] The following US Champions until 1909 were decided by matches.

Year Winner Loser Result Notes
1 1891–92 Jackson Showalter Max Judd +7−4=3 The final game was delayed until January 1892 because Judd was ill.
2 1892 Samuel Lipschütz Jackson Showalter +7−1=7
3 1894 Jackson Showalter Albert 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 Albert Hodges Jackson Showalter +5−3=1 Can be considered a match extension or a new match.
5 1895 Jackson Showalter S. Lipschütz +7−4=3
6 1896 Jackson Showalter Emil Kemény +7−4=4
7 1896 Jackson Showalter John Barry +7−2=4
8 1897 Harry Pillsbury Jackson 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".[4]
9 1898 Harry Pillsbury Jackson Showalter +7−2=2 Contrary to the 1897 match, the title of U.S. champion was clearly at stake in 1898.[5]
10 1909 Frank Marshall Jackson Showalter +7−2=3 Title reverted to Showalter after Pillsbury's death in 1906.
11 1923 Frank Marshall Edward Lasker +5−4=9 Marshall declined to play in the invitational tournament that began in 1936.

Tournament champions since 1936Edit

# Year Winner Notes
1 1936 Samuel Reshevsky
2 1938 Samuel Reshevsky
3 1940 Samuel Reshevsky
- 1941 Samuel Reshevsky Match victory over I.A. Horowitz
4 1942 Samuel Reshevsky An erroneous ruling by the director allowed Reshevsky to tie for first with Isaac Kashdan.[6]
Reshevsky won a playoff match against Kashdan 6 months later.
5 1944 Arnold Denker
- 1946 Arnold Denker Match victory over Herman Steiner
6 1946 Samuel Reshevsky
7 1948 Herman Steiner
8 1951 Larry Evans
- 1952 Larry Evans Match victory over Herman Steiner
9 1954 Arthur Bisguier
- 1957 Samuel Reshevsky Match victory over Arthur Bisguier.
The title of U.S. champion was not at stake. (Bisguier remains champion).
10 1957/8 Bobby Fischer At 14, the youngest champion ever
11 1958/9 Bobby Fischer
12 1959/0 Bobby Fischer
13 1960/1 Bobby Fischer
14 1961/2 Larry Evans
15 1962/3 Bobby Fischer
16 1963/4 Bobby Fischer Fischer went 11–0 in the tournament, the only perfect score in its history
17 1965/6 Bobby Fischer
18 1966/7 Bobby Fischer A record eighth win (out of eight attempts)
19 1968 Larry Evans
20 1969 Samuel Reshevsky
21 1972 Robert Byrne After playoff 9 months later against Samuel Reshevsky and Lubomir Kavalek
22 1973 Lubomir Kavalek
John Grefe
23 1974 Walter Browne
24 1975 Walter Browne
25 1977 Walter Browne
26 1978 Lubomir Kavalek
27 1980 Walter Browne
Larry Christiansen
Larry Evans
28 1981 Walter Browne
Yasser Seirawan
29 1983 Walter Browne
Larry Christiansen
Roman Dzindzichashvili
30 1984 Lev Alburt
31 1985 Lev Alburt
32 1986 Yasser Seirawan
33 1987 Joel Benjamin
Nick de Firmian
34 1988 Michael Wilder
35 1989 Roman Dzindzichashvili
Stuart Rachels
Yasser Seirawan
36 1990 Lev Alburt Knockout tournament
37 1991 Gata Kamsky Knockout tournament
38 1992 Patrick Wolff
39 1993 Alexander Shabalov
Alex Yermolinsky
40 1994 Boris Gulko The only person to have held both the US and Soviet championships
41 1995 Nick de Firmian
Patrick Wolff
Alexander Ivanov
42 1996 Alex Yermolinsky
43 1997 Joel Benjamin
44 1998 Nick de Firmian
45 1999 Boris Gulko
46 2000 Joel Benjamin
Alexander Shabalov
Yasser Seirawan
47 2002 Larry Christiansen
48 2003 Alexander Shabalov
49 2005 Hikaru Nakamura Tournament was played in 2004, but called the 2005 Championship, for legal reasons
50 2006 Alexander Onischuk
51 2007 Alexander Shabalov
52 2008 Yury Shulman
53 2009 Hikaru Nakamura
54 2010 Gata Kamsky Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Yury Shulman
55 2011 Gata Kamsky[7]
56 2012 Hikaru Nakamura
57 2013 Gata Kamsky Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Alejandro Ramírez
58 2014 Gata Kamsky Kamsky won a playoff rapid against Varuzhan Akobian after Akobian qualified
by beating Aleksandr Lenderman on an Armageddon tie-break
59 2015 Hikaru Nakamura
60 2016 Fabiano Caruana
61 2017 Wesley So Wesley So won a rapid playoff against Alexander Onischuk
62 2018 Samuel Shankland
63 2019 Hikaru Nakamura
64 2020 Wesley So Tournament held online at Lichess due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "FISCHER, SMYSLOV PLAY IN DEADLOOK; American and Russian Draw in 7th-Round Adjourned Game of Chess Event". New York Times. Bobby Fischer, United States chess champion, played to a draw with Vassily Smyslov of the Soviet Union in their seventh-round adjourned game in the challengers' tournament at Bled yesterday.
  2. ^ a b Soltis, Andy (2012). The United States Chess Championship, 1845–2011. US: McFarland. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-7864-6528-6.
  3. ^ Davies, pp. 196–99
  4. ^ Andrew Soltis, The United States Chess Championship, Second Edition, McFarland, 1997, p. 32.
  5. ^ Andrew Soltis, The United States Chess Championship, Second Edition, McFarland, 1997, p. 33.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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 linksEdit