Apr 11, 2017

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So is the 2017 US Champion

World no. 2 Wesley So got the one he wanted on Monday in St. Louis as he won the US Championship on his third attempt. Alexander Onischuk put up a heroic fight in the rapid playoffs but lost his way in complications in the first game and then needed to win the second to force Armageddon. He came incredibly close, but ultimately couldn’t stop Wesley snatching the $50,000 first prize.

Wesley So added the coveted title of U.S. chess champion to his growing list of international super-tournament victories, winning a two-game, tiebreaking playoff in heart-stopping fashion Monday.

By winning the national championship, the 23-year-old grandmaster from Minnetonka continued to build the case that he has the best chance of any of his rivals of dethroning the world champion.

“He’s very hard to beat, very levelheaded, very practical, and he’s growing in front of us,” said grandmaster Maurice Ashley. “Imagine how strong he’s going to be in two years.”

So has won tougher international competitions than the U.S. Championship — which features America’s top 12 grandmasters — but he desperately wanted to earn this title for the first time.

“I really wanted to win this one this year … because it’s the strongest national competition in the world,” So said. “All the great [U.S.] players have won this one.”

So faced a playoff after he finished the nearly two-week tournament Sunday in a two-way tie for first place. The playoff with grandmaster Alexander Onischuk of Texas consisted of two “rapid” games in which each player had only 25 minutes on his clock for the entire game. So, playing with the white pieces, dominated the first game.

“Kudos to Wesley the way he created instant madness” that confounded Onischuk, said Ashley, providing live-stream commentary.

Onischuk, nearly out of time and completely out of defensive resources, resigned. With that win, So only needed a draw in the second game to win the championship.

In that game, the colors were reversed, and so were the players’ fortunes. So found himself on the ropes, down two pawns and edging closer and closer to running out of time on his clock, which would mean an immediate loss. Down to his last 18 seconds, So found a way to keep checking Onischuk’s king with his knight, and there was no way for the king to escape. That perpetual check forced Onischuk to concede the draw and the championship — and the first prize of $50,000.

“Today wasn’t easy at all, but I wasn’t expecting it to be,” So said, adding that his play in the tournament shows he still has “a lot to improve upon.”

“I’m just happy to have won this and to be able to say I’m the U.S. champion.”

So’s rapid rise has been spectacular. He came to the U.S. from the Philippines on a college chess scholarship in 2012 when he was ranked No. 99 in the world. A little more than two years later he broke into the world top 10, earning invitations to elite tournaments. At first he struggled against the world’s best players. At the 2015 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, he finished dead last in a 10-player field.

But So honed his game and gained confidence. Since last July, he has dominated elite international competitions. He is now the No. 2-ranked player in the world, behind only the world champion. At the U.S. Championship he extended his unbeaten streak to 67 games, one of the longest such runs in history.

So’s calendar for the rest of the year includes top-flight competitions in Azerbaijan, Norway, Paris, Belgium, Spain, St. Louis (again), Georgia (the country) and London.

By the end of the year, So hopes to secure one of eight spots in what’s called the Candidates Tournament. That tournament is likely to be held next spring, and the winner earns the right to play a head-to-head match against the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, for his title.


See also:

  • Official website
  • The US Chess Championships on chess24: Overall | Women
  • US Chess Championship, Round 1: So and Nakamura strike first
  • US Chess Championship, Round 2: Fighting chess
  • US Chess Championship, Round 3: So survives Caruana scare
  • US Chess Championship, Round 4: Wesley’s gamble pays off
  • US Chess Championship, Round 5: Kamsky shocks Xiong
  • US Chess Championship, Round 6: So’s close shave
  • US Chess Championship, Round 7: Zherebukh stuns Caruana
  • US Chess Championship, Round 8: Akobian catches So
  • US Chess Championship, Round 9: So’s masterpiece, Fabi & Naka crash
  • US Chess Championship, Round 10: Three-way fight
  • US Chess Championship, Round 11: Foisor triumphs, So gambles
Mar 22, 2017

David Howell is the winner of the Winter Chess Classic

David Howell has taken the $5,000 first prize at the Winter Chess Classic in Saint Louis after winning an epic 129-move game in the final round. The English GM played around 90 moves of that game on the 30 seconds a move increment, knowing a draw would have left him in a 3-way playoff with Dariusz Swiercz and Vladimir Fedoseev. The B Group was won by Andrey Baryshpolets, who went on a 5-game winning streak from Rounds 2-6.

When we last reported on the Winter Chess Classic after three tempestuous rounds David Howell was the sole leader on 2.5/3. Howell went on to draw his next five games, and things quietened down in general at the top of the table. It was only in Round 7 that Vladimir Fedoseev caught Howell by beating Jeffery Xiong in a knight and pawn ending. Then in Round 8 he withstood an assault by Sam Sevian and once against flawlessly exploited an endgame advantage to take a half point lead into the final round.

The next chess action in St. Louis will be the US Championships starting on March 29th, with Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley back in the commentary booth. You can check out the line-ups on our live broadcast pages: Open, Women

See also:

Oct 10, 2016

3rd edition of Millionaire Chess starts

The concept of the Millionaire Chess festival has been as unique as it has been inspiring. Although there are unquestionably opens with even stronger lineups at the top, such as the Isle of Man running concurrently off the British Isles, this was never what really made it so special. Of course, it is thrilling to see a player such as Kramnik, Caruana, or Nakamura in a tournament you are playing in, but when it comes down to it, unless you are one of these elite players, you know who will be fighting for the top prizes, and that unless you get paired with them in the first or second rounds, you won’t be seeing them across the board from you.

This is where Millionaire Chess comes in. It still won’t promise you a one-on-one against these top players, but even the lowliest Under-1200 player could finish with a prize that exceeds theirs. This is no idle boast either. Sure, the first prize of the Open Section will win a cool $30 thousand, which no other player will beat, but even the first prize of the Under-1600 section will win over $10 thousand, which is higher than the 3rd prize in the Open Section. So yes, while the entry fee for all may be a hefty $549 (if registered by August), the payoff for all players promises to be proportionally attractive.

All players have been invited to have a ‘Red Carpet’ photo taken, much like the prize ceremonies we see on TV
The opportunity was taken up by many, who got a chance to have a top-notch portrait taken

As many opens in the United States, the schedule is both intense, and somewhat confusing compared to more common organizations in Europe and elsewhere. This does not mean it is disorganized, just that there are myriad options not usually seen. The basic five-day schedule is a fairly normal two rounds per day at 120 minutes for 40 moves plus a 30-minute sudden death. However, for players with less time, or wishing to save money on one day of hotel rates, there is also the four-day schedule. For these players, the first four rounds are packed into a single day playing four consecutive games of 45 minutes for each side. After that, they join the rest for the final rounds, all played at 40 moves in two hours as above, competing for the same prizes.

Chess Tournament website

source chess base

Sep 22, 2016

An ordinary chess set, an extraordinary rivalry

In August 1986, a game of quick chess was played at the U.S. Open in Somerset, N.J. The board was vinyl, the pieces were plastic, and a Jerger wooden chess clock sat next to the board. While the set may have been common, the players were most certainly not.

Playing with the white pieces was GM Reuben Fine. GM Samuel Reshevsky played black. Both were legends, second only to Bobby Fischer in American chess history.

The timing for this specific game on this chess set was also notable: It was the first induction ceremony for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. It is only fitting that the Hall of Fame was opened by a game between two of its most illustrious inductees.

Not only was Reuben Fine one of the world’s best players for nearly 20 years, he was also a doctor of psychology who wrote several books on that subject as well as on chess. Sammy Reshevsky was a child prodigy who was a strong contender for the World Championship from the 1930s through the ‘60s.

Fine won the U.S. Open seven times to Reshevsky’s three (once tying with each other); but, Reshevsky had a tendency to beat Fine at the U.S. Championship, winning it eight times while Fine always seemed to come up just short. Stats like these make it clear the two had an excellent and well-matched rivalry, with Reshevsky coming out on top with four wins to Fine’s three and 12 games that were drawn.

Below are presented a few of their notable battles, including the game played at the opening of Hall of Fame. Fittingly, the 1986 U.S. Open was won by another American chess legend, GM Larry Christiansen.

The first career game between the two champions took place at the Western Open in 1933. Just the year previous, Fine won the U.S. Open ahead of Reshevsky. In this game, however, it was Sammy who got the better of the duel with a fine exchange sac.

Reshevsky, Samuel – Fine, Reuben

Detroit, 1933

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 b6 6.g3 Bb7 7.Bg2 0–0 8.Nc3 Qe7 9.0–0 d6 10.Qc2 c5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Rad1 Nc6 13.e4 Rfd8 14.Rd2 Ng4 15.Rfd1 Nge5 16.Nxe5 Nd4 17.Ng6 hxg6 18.Qd3 e5 19.Rf1 Bc6 20.f4 Rab8 21.f5 Qg5 22.f6 Rb7 23.Rdf2 gxf6 24.b3 f5 25.exf5 Bxg2 26.Kxg2 gxf5 27.Rxf5 Nxf5 28.Rxf5 Qh6 29.Qe4 Re7 30.Qg4+ Kf8 31.Rh5 Qg7 32.Qh4 Ke8 33.Nd5 f5 34.Nxe7


The following game was a battle played out in their respective primes at the 1938 U.S. Championship. Reshevsky had the much better side of the draw, and later went on to win the event.

Fine, Reuben – Reshevsky, Samuel

1938 U.S. Championship, New York, 1938

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qb3 Nc6 5.Nf3 a5 6.a3 a4 7.Qc2 Bxc3+ 8.Qxc3 h6 9.d5 exd5 10.cxd5 Na5 11.d6 cxd6 12.Bf4 0–0 13.Rd1 Re8 14.e3 Ne4 15.Qc2 Nb3 16.Bc4 Qa5+ 17.Kf1 b6 18.Kg1 Ba6 19.Rd5 Nbc5 20.h3 Bxc4 21.Qxc4 b5 22.Qd4 Nb3 23.Qd3 Nbc5 24.Qe2 b4 25.axb4 Qxb4 26.Bxd6 Nxd6 27.Rxd6 Rab8 28.Rd2 Ne4 29.Rc2 Rec8 30.Kh2 Rxc2 31.Qxc2 d5


Here is a faster game they played on the set that now resides in the World Chess Hall of Fame. Both champions were in their 70s and hadn’t faced each other over the board in more than 30 years. Fine had excellent chances to convert a rook ending, but a few slips towards the end of the game allowed Reshevsky to escape with a draw.

(1) Fine,Reuben – Reshevsky,Samuel [E19]

Hall of Fame G/30, 1986

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 Nxc3 8.Qxc3 0–0 9.0–0 c5 10.Rd1 Bf6 11.Qc2 Nc6 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.Be3 Qe7 14.Rd2 Rfd8 15.Rad1 d6 16.h3 h6 17.Bf4 e5 18.Be3 Nd4 19.Bxd4 exd4 20.Ne1 Bxg2 21.Nxg2 Bg5 22.Rd3 h5 23.h4 Bh6 24.e3 dxe3 25.Nxe3 Bxe3 26.Rxe3 Qd7 27.Qe2 Qf5 28.Qf3 Qxf3 29.Rxf3 Rd7 30.Rf5 Re8 31.Kf1 Rde7 32.Rxd6 Re1+ 33.Kg2 R1e2 34.Rd7 f6 35.Rxa7 Rxb2 36.a4 Re5 37.Rxe5 fxe5 38.Rc7 Rb4 39.a5 Rxc4 40.a6 Ra4 41.a7 Kh7 42.Kf3 Kg6 43.Rxc5


Overall, a rivalry such as this makes a seemingly ordinary set one that must go down in history. Not only does it represent the game of chess at the highest level, it stands for the intensity of the sport that has and will capture the hearts of fans for generations.

If you would like to view this historic chess set, it is on display for the month of September at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The World Chess Hall of Fame will be honoring its five year anniversary with a celebration on Sept. 29 from 6-8 p.m. where attendees will be able to see three brand new exhibits, as well as the aforementioned chess set.

For more information about the featured chess set or upcoming exhibitions, please visit http://www.worldchesshof.org/exhibitions/.

Article author GM Josh Friedel began playing chess at the age of three and entered his first tournament at just six years old. GM Friedel received the IM title at 18 and proceeded to earn the GM title at 22. He is a 3-time New Hampshire State Champion, as well as a 2-time California State Champion. GM Friedel has played in six U.S. Championships and won the U.S. Open Championship is 2013. The Saint Louis Chess Club welcomes GM Friedel as a regular grandmaster in residence.


Sep 10, 2016

U.S Masters Chess Championships Underway

The U.S. Masters Chess Championship is underway in Greensboro this weekend.

84 highly ranked players from around the world gathered for the 9-round tournament that stretches over two days.

Organizers and players say the centuries old game is still releveant today.Despite the quiet in the tournament room, it’s filled with intense competition.

Instead of extreme physicality like the Olympics, it’s mostly mental.

Kassa Korley is a player who representing the U.S. and Denmark, and has been playing chesse since he was 5.

People say in different sports, boxing and basketball, styles make fights, and it’s the same thing in chess, where everyone has a unique style,” said Korley. “You’re sort of playing against that style as well as playing the game.”

The intense concentration is reflected in the faces squared off across the chess boards.

The 23-year-old Korley has been playing chess since he was 5.

“I always loved games and competition, and chess was a really good way, environment to foster that interest,’’ said Korley.

84 highly-ranked players from over a dozen countries from around the world are competing in the U.S. Master’s Championship.

“Everybody here has obtained at least a Master’s Title, and you have to be quite good to get to that level,” said Walter High, the tournament organizer.

The championships consist of 9 rounds, played out over 5 days.

“The games can go to 5 to 6 hours apiece, so you can’t play more than 2 games in a day, because it just gets too exhausting,” said High.

While chess dates back to the 5th century, fans think it still has relevance today, even in the age of video games.

“It develops critical thinking,” said High. “You have to learn to plan ahead, you have to think about everything you do, and there are consequences for everything you do.”

Some 250 other players are competing in the N.C. Open.

While there are young and old faces, fans say it’s a skill you can continue to improve over the course of a lifetime.

“It’s really interesting to see your progress, and see how you develop,’’ said Korley. “I think that’s why people stick with it, because they see themselves as being better and everyone has a dream of becoming something more than what they already are.”

The Tournament runs through Sunday afternoon at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Greensboro.


Aug 14, 2016

The 117th annual US Chess Open ended

It has been a busy few weeks in the world of chess, with the 117th annual US Open recently concluding in Indianapolis and the Sinquefield Cup entering the homestretch in St. Louis.

The US Open ended with former US champion Alexander Shabalov and Israeli grand master Gil Popilski tying for first with scores of 8-1. Shabalov won the “Armageddon” game for the title, earning him an extra $200 and a spot in next year’s US championship at the St. Louis Chess Club.

The event had 396 players, and the best-scoring Massachusetts player — and actually the only Massachusetts resident making the trip to America’s heartland — was professor J. Timothy Sage of Northeastern University, with a 5.5-3.5 score.

Other high-scoring New England attendees were Hal Terry of New Hampshire (5-4) and Rhode Islanders Ryan Sowa (5-4) and Michael McCormick (5-4).

Complete standings of the event be found here