United States Chess Champions - 1845-Present

"In chess, at least, the brave inherit the earth."
    - GM Edmar Mednis (1937-2002)

History

The first recognized bout for the U.S. Championship was also the first organized chess event in the United States. On December 1, 1845, Charles Stanley played Eugene Rousseau (Then considered the strongest player in the U.S., with Stanley considered the challenger) at the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, Louisiana. The prize fund was $1000.00 and the rules stated that the first to win fifteen games was the winner. Charles Stanley emerged victorious with 15 wins, 8 losses, 8 draws and became the first U.S. Champion.

Then in 1857, the First American Chess Congress was held in New York, and a young Paul Morphy burned through the field against some stiff competition. He finished with 5 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses and then proceeded to decline the $300 prize money, after stating that playing chess for money demonstrated a lack of class and that he did not want to be considered a professional chess player.

Morphy held the title for a very long time due to the fact that another American Chess Congress was not held until December 4, 1871. An even longer wait was in store for the third, which was not held until February of 1890. After this point they started to be held with greater regularity--although the formats varied widely from elimination tournaments like the Chess Congress to arranged matches--until 1909, when Frank Marshall took the crown from Jackson Showalter in a match and held it for 27 years with only one challenger in 1923, Edward Lasker, whom Marshall defeated 5-4.

In 1936, the first U.S. Championship Tournament was held in New York. Sammy Reshevsky, who was to be champion many more times, placed first. Then, the following year, he was joined by the first U.S. Women's Champion, Adele Rivero1. From this point forward, the title bouts for both women and men were held on a highly regular basis.

The 1950's and 60's were dominated on the men's side by one Robert J. Fischer, who would eventually go on to dominate the world as the first official World Champion from the United States. This same period was dominated even more completely in women's chess by Gisela Kahn Gresser. Gresser was a nine-time champion, and the first woman entered into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. She was also the first woman to gain widespread national attention in chess, and as such is recognized as a pioneer in popularizing the sport for women.

These days both chess championships are attempted to be held every year, but of late are often beset with political issues and funding problems, so the location and quality of venues vary greatly as well as the frequency and validity of the matches. Quite recently, the Women's Champion, Anna Hahn, was finagled out of her rightful place in the 2004 Chess Olympiad owing to a number of political issues, and an early and hastily constructed 2004 Women's Championship is planned in an attempt to add an air of validity to this issue.

United States Chess Champions - Men2

  1. 1845-57 Charles Stanley
  2. 1857-71 Paul Morphy
  3. 1871-90 George H. MacKenzie
  4. 1890-91 Jackson Showalter
  5. 1891-94 Solomon Lipschutz
  6. 1894       Jackson Showalter
  7. 1894-95 Albert Hodges
  8. 1895-97 Jackson Showalter
  9. 1897-06 Harry Nelson Pillsbury
  10. 1906-09 Jackson Showalter
  11. 1909-36 Frank J. Marshall
  12. 1936       Samuel Reshevsky
  13. 1938       Samuel Reshevsky
  14. 1940       Samuel Reshevsky
  15. 1942       Samuel Reshevsky
  16. 1944       Arnold Denker
  17. 1946       Samuel Reshevsky
  18. 1948       Herman Steiner
  19. 1951       Larry Evans
  20. 1954       Arthur Bisguier
  21. 1957-58 Bobby Fischer
  22. 1958-59 Bobby Fischer
  23. 1959-60 Bobby Fischer
  24. 1960-61 Bobby Fischer
  25. 1961-62 Larry Evans
  26. 1962-63 Bobby Fischer
  27. 1963-64 Bobby Fischer
  28. 1965       Bobby Fischer
  29. 1966       Bobby Fischer
  30. 1968       Larry Evans
  31. 1969       Samuel Reshevsky
  32. 1972       Robert Byrne
  33. 1973       John Grefe, Lubomir Kavalek
  34. 1974       Walter Browne
  35. 1975       Walter Browne
  36. 1977       Walter Browne
  37. 1978       Lubomir Kavalek
  38. 1980       Walter Browne, Larry Evans, Larry Christiansen
  39. 1981       Walter Browne, Yasser Seirawan
  40. 1983       Walter Browne, Larry Christiansen, Roman Dzindzichashvili
  41. 1984       Lev Alburt
  42. 1985       Lev Alburt
  43. 1986       Yasser Seirawan
  44. 1987       Nick de Firmian, Joel Benjamin
  45. 1988       Michael Wilder
  46. 1989       Roman Dzindzichashvili, Yasser Seirawan, Stuart Rachels
  47. 1990       Lev Alburt
  48. 1991       Gata Kamsky
  49. 1992       Patrick Wolff
  50. 1993       Alexander Shabalov, Alex Yermolinsky
  51. 1994       Boris Gulko
  52. 1995       Nick de Firmian, Patrick Wolff, Alexander Ivanov
  53. 1996       Alex Yermolinsky
  54. 1997       Joel Benjamin
  55. 1998       Nick de Firmian
  56. 1999       Boris Gulko
  57. 2000       Joel Benjamin, Alexander Shabalov, Yasser Seirawan
  58. 2002       Larry Christiansen
  59. 2003       Alexander Shabalov
  60. 20053     Hikaru Nakamura
  61. 2006       Alexander Onischuk
  62. 2007       Alexander Shabalov
  63. 2008       Yury Shulman
  64. 2009       Hikaru Nakamura
  65. 2010       Gata Kamsky
  66. 2011       Gata Kamsky

United States Chess Champions - Women2

  1. 1937       Adele Rivero
  2. 1938-39 Mona May Karff
  3. 1940       Adele Rivero
  4. 1941       Mona May Karff
  5. 1942-43 Mona May Karff
  6. 1944-45 Gisela Kahn Gresser
  7. 1946-47 Mona May Karff
  8. 1948-50 Gisela Kahn Gresser, Mona May Karff
  9. 1951-52 Mary Bain
  10. 1953       Mona May Karff
  11. 1954       Gisela Kahn Gresser
  12. 1955-56 Gisela Kahn Gresser, Nancy Roos
  13. 1957-58 Gisela Kahn Gresser, Sonja Graf
  14. 1959-61 Lisa Lane
  15. 1962-63 Gisela Kahn Gresser
  16. 1964       Sonja Graf
  17. 1965       Gisela Kahn Gresser
  18. 1966       Gisela Kahn Gresser. Lisa Lane
  19. 1967-68 Gisela Kahn Gresser
  20. 1969-71 Gisela Kahn Gresser
  21. 1972-73 Eva Aronson, Marilyn Koput
  22. 1974       Mona May Karff
  23. 1975       Diane Savereide
  24. 1976       Diane Savereide
  25. 1977       Diane Savereide, Rachel Crotto
  26. 1978       Diane Savereide, Rachel Crotto
  27. 1979-80 Rachel Crotto
  28. 1981-83 Diane Savereide
  29. 1984-85 Diane Savereide
  30. 1986       Inna Izrailov
  31. 1987-88 Anna Achsharumova
  32. 1989       Alexey Root
  33. 1990       Elena Donaldson
  34. 1991       Esther Epstein, Irina Levitina
  35. 1992       Irina Levitina
  36. 1993       Elena Donaldson, Irina Levitina
  37. 1994       Elena Donaldson
  38. 1995       Anjelina Belakovskaia, Sharon Burtman
  39. 1996       Anjelina Belakovskaia
  40. 1997       Esther Epstein
  41. 1998       Irina Krush
  42. 1999       Anjelina Belakovskaia
  43. 2000       Elina Groberman, Camilla Baginskaite
  44. 2001-02 Jennifer Shahade
  45. 2003       Anna Hahn
  46. 2004       Jennifer Shahade
  47. 2005       Rusadan Goletiani
  48. 2006       Anna Zatonskih
  49. 2007       Irina Krush
  50. 2008       Anna Zatonskih4
  51. 2009       Anna Zatonskih
  52. 2010       Irina Krush
  53. 2011       Anna Zatonskih



1 Lamentably, very little information is known about the early Women's Championships aside from the names of the victors.

2 All years which contain multiple names were shared championships.

3 Due to the messed up cycles between 2003-2005, there was no 2004 men's champion. Shabalov continued to hold the title until the 2005 championship in November of 2004.

4In 2008 the U.S. Women's Championship was returned to its own event. For several years prior, there was a combined championship with a mixed field and the woman who scored highest in that field got the title.


Resources:
U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess 4th ed.
http://www.uschess.org
http://www.chessmuseum.org
http://chess.about.com
http://www.angelfire.com/games/SBChess/Morphy/Morphy.html
http://www.geocities.com/siliconvalley/lab/7378
http://www.goddesschess.com/patronessofchess/gresser.html
http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/

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