The Field

Fabiano Caruana

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2907
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
26
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

At ten years old, Caruana became the youngest American to defeat a GM in a FIDE sanctioned event. By the age of twelve, he had earned his FIDE master title, won national scholastic championships, and two gold medals in the Pan-American Youth Championships. Caruana has since become one of the hottest players on the global chess scene. He crossed the super-elite rating of 2800 after winning the 42nd Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany. He was the eighth player in history to pass the 2800 barrier and secured the tournament win in the penultimate round without losing a game.

Since passing 2800 Caruana has impressed the world, beginning with winning the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, scoring eight and a half out of ten. He proceeded to win the U.S. Championships, place second at the Tata Steel Masters tournament, and lead the U.S. Olympiad team to a gold medal in Baku 2016. In 2018, Caruana won the 2018 Candidates tournament, making him the first American player to challenge the World Champion in a unified match.  He continued that year by winning the Grenke Chess tournament, Norway Chess, and tying for first with Carlsen and Aronian in the Sinquefield Cup. His World Championship match against Carlsen saw a historic 12 drawn games, but he lost in the tiebreaks.

Wesley So

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2830
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
25
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Wesley learned chess from his father at the age of six, and began competing in junior tournaments at the age of nine. When he earned his Grandmaster title at the age of fourteen, So completed the ‘trifecta’ of being the youngest-ever Filipino National Champion, IM, and GM. Wesley came to the U.S. in August of 2012, enrolled at Webster University, and leapt from being a top 100 player to one of the top ten in the world. He lead Webster to 3 back to back national championships. In 2014, So won the Millionaire Chess Open.

Beginning with his win in the 2016 Grand Chess Tour, that he sealed by winning the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, So entered two of his most successful years yet. He won two gold medals at the 2016 Baku Olympiad, one for himself on board three, and on for the entire team. He passed the FIDE rating of 2800 by winning the 2017 Tata Steel Masters tournament, and then became the 2017 U.S. Champion beating Alexander Onischuk in a playoff match.

Hikaru Nakamura

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2824
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
31
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

At fifteen years and 79 days Hikaru Nakamura became the youngest American Grandmaster in history. Although that record has since been broken, his reign as a chess prodigy did not stop there. At the age of sixteen he qualified for the FIDE World Championship 2004, and advanced to the fourth round taking down three other Grandmasters along the way. When he turned eighteen, Nakamura got selected for the Samford Chess Fellowship. In the five years after that, he won two US championships, and became a top ten player in the world. In 2011, Hikaru won the Tata Steel Masters tournament and received a key to the city of Memphis.

Nakamura took a third US Champion title in 2012, and in 2014 his FIDE rating was the third highest in the world. Most recently in 2018, Nakamura won the rapid section of the Tata Steel India tournament, as well as the Paris and Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz legs of the Grand Chess Tour. Nakamura clinched the title of 2018 Grand Chess Tour Champion with the defeat of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the London final match.

Sam Shankland

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2812
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
27
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

In 2010, Shankland won the US Junior Championships which qualified him for the US Championship the following year. He took third place in that 2011 Championship, and then went on to achieve the biggest upset at the FIDE World Cup later that year by defeating Super-GM Peter Leko. Two years later, Shankland was part of the US National Team that won the Pan-American Championship that year, where he had a performance rating over 2800. He then received the 27th Samford Chess Fellowship, later that year.

In 2014, Shankland became one of the top 100 players in the world. He also won a gold medal at the 41st Olympiad for best reserve board player. He was undefeated ending with a score of 9 out of 10 in that Olympiad. He also defeated GM Judit Polgar in her last ever rated game during that tournament. Due to that performance, he played board one in the World Team Championship 2015, taking down some of the top fifteen players in the world at the time. Now, Shankland is the reigning US Champion returning to defend that title.

Leinier Dominguez

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2803
Federation: 
FIDE
Age: 
35
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Dominguez is a five time Cuban national champion, who switched federations as of December 2018. This super grandmaster’s career features stunning results like that of the victory in Barcelona. He won the Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona tournament, with a performance rating over 2900. Two years later, he won the Capablanca Memorial Tournament, and then became the 2008 World Blitz Champion ahead of top grandmasters like Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk.

He went on the win the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, Greece while earning thirty rating points in the process. Most recently, Dominguez was part of the team that helped prepare Fabiano Caruana for the 2018 Candidates tournament and then the World Championship match that followed. He is currently the fourth highest rated player in the US, with a FIDE rating of 2739.

Jeffery Xiong

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2740
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

This young super star has achieved many impressive results since his start at seven years old. In 2010, he won the under - 10 North American Continental Championship, and then a silver medal in the under - 10 World Championship. In 2016, Xiong participated in the strongest US Championship ever and took sixth place overall in the tournament. He was also awarded the US Chess Outstanding Player Achievement Award that same year. Xiong became part of the Young Stars program where he received mentorship from the legendary Garry Kasparov.

Xiong’s most impressive trait is his ability to handle losses. No matter how painful the loss was he always sees his losses as an opportunity to improve. This mentality has separated him from even the older grandmasters by keeping collected after games, and often analyzing them to find where he could have done better.

Xiong was the 2016 US Junior Champion, and then continued on to become the 2016 World Junior Champion. He is the highest rated Junior player in the United States, and the third highest rated Junior player in the world.

Ray Robson

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2739
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
24
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Since being taught how to play chess by his father at the age of three, Robson has had many impressive results. He was the Supernationals champion in 2005 and then placed top ten in the World Youth Chess Championship starting in 2004 continuing until 2007. In 2007, he broke Nakamura’s record of youngest IM-elect ever after achieving his final GM norm at the University of Texas, Dallas (UTD) GM invitational tournament. He achieved his Grandmaster title in 2009, after winning the Pan-American Youth Championship that year. The same year, he was the US Junior Champion, one of the youngest to ever win the US Junior Championship. He also broke Nakamura’s record of youngest American Grandmaster by achieving it at 14 years, 11 months, and 16 days.

Robson took second place in the 2014 Millionaire Chess Championship, and then again at the 2015 US Championships. Robson was a member of the Webster University SPICE Chess team, and has helped that team to several national titles, three in a row, throughout his time there.

Sam Sevian

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2729
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

This American chess prodigy holds some of the top records in the United States. He was the 2012 World U12 Champion and another member of the Young Stars program. He received training from the legendary Garry Kasparov and Grandmaster Alexander Chernin. He became the youngest American Expert level player, and Grandmaster and still holds both titles today. He achieved his GM title at 13 years, 10 months, and 27 days old, which also puts him in the top ten youngest Grandmasters to achieve the title in the world.

During his last appearance at the 2015 US Championship, Sevian defeated Wesley So, one of the top ten Grandmasters in the world. In 2017, he won the American Continental Chess Championship and was the youngest one to do so in history. He is the second highest rated Junior in the United States, and fifth highest in the world.

Varuzhan Akobian

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2715
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
35
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Akobian began learning chess in Mongolia, where the winters were so harsh that his father forbade him and his sister from going outside. Instead, his father taught Akobian chess. Akobian knew from the beginning that he was different from the other chess players around him, and realized that he would do whatever it took to become a Grandmaster. He did just that, and achieved his GM title when he was twenty years old. After receiving the Samford Chess Fellowship, Akobian won three World Open tournaments, in 2002, 2004, and 2007. He was also the 2003 US Junior Champion. Akobian was then featured on MTV’s “True Life” documentary in the episode “I’m a Genius.” In 2014, Akobian was the runner-up US Champion, having lost to Gata Kamsky in the rapid tiebreak.

Akobian admires and mirrors the style of former World Champion Tigran Petrosian. Akobian is an excellent positional player, who follows in the footsteps of Petrosian with his expertise in the French Defense,  one of Petrosian’s most popular openings as Black.

Alex Lenderman

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2714
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
29
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Grandmaster Lenderman’s chess career began in Brooklyn, New York when he was four years old. He began to learn the game of chess, and then, by the time he finished high school, he had lead his team to four straight national titles. In 2008, Lenderman used small victories throughout the US Chess Grand Prix to secure him the victory overall. He took first place again the following year. He also won the 2009 Atlantic Open and co-championed the 2019 US Open, as well.

Lenderman has continued to take championship after championship. He won the International Bavarian Chess Championship in 2014. In 2015, he was on the US team to the World Chess Team Championship where he took home a gold medal for the second board with a score of five out of seven. He also won the World Open that same year with a score of seven out of nine. Lenderman had a brilliant performance in the Isle of Man tournament in 2017, where he had a performance rating over 2750.

Awonder Liang

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2680
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
15
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Liang is the youngest player in the field this year. He is also a chess prodigy, who was the U11 Champion at the World Youth in 2011. He is also the youngest American player to ever defeat a International Master, 2011, and Grandmaster, 2012, in a classical rated game. Liang won the World Youth Championship again in 2013, that time playing in the U10 section.

Liang broke the record of youngest American to ever earn an IM norm in 2014, and the very next year broke the record of youngest American to earn the IM title. Liang still holds the record for the latter. When he achieved his Grandmaster title after the 2017 Chicago Open, Liang became the tenth youngest in the world to do so. He was also the US Junior Champion that year, which qualified him for last year’s US Championship. In 2018, Liang once again took the US Junior Champion title qualifying him for this year’s tournament.

Timur Gareev

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2649
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
31
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Master of blindfold chess, Gareev’s incredible memory makes him a formidable opponent in this year’s field. Gareev began learning chess from his grandfather when he was four, and after he moved to the US, his career took off. He attended the University of Texas, Brownsville where he lead the team to its first ever national championship. Gareev was then awarded the Samford Chess Fellowship in 2012.

Gareev holds the world record for blindfold chess having conducted a simul with 48 opponents in 2016. His memory gives him the advantage of many opponents in deeply analyzed lines. He believes that his experience with blindfold chess has improved his focus across all chess play.