Grandmaster Gata Kamsky is the two-time defending U.S. Champion, a title he has earned five times over an illustrious career - including four of the last five years. Born in Siberia, Russia, Kamsky learned chess at the age of seven, won the country’s U15 Championship at the age of nine, then became back-to-back Junior Champion of the Soviet Union at 13.
Kamsky began his dominance of American chess shortly after emigrating to the U.S. in 1989 and spent nearly 20 years as the highest-rated American - losing that title to Nakamura in 2009. In 1990 he earned his GM, and soon after became the youngest player ever rated in the World’s top-ten. Kamsky won his first U.S. Championships in 1991, and the following year helped the USCF secure its first-ever gold medal in the World Team Chess Olympiad. Kamsky also became the youngest-ever to challenge for the FIDE world title and the first American since Bobby Fischer, as the Candidate for the 1996 World Chess Championship.
Afterwards, Kamsky began an eight-year hiatus away from chess to focus on studies, first graduating in pre-med chemistry and then returning to find his law degree. His return to chess in 2004 began an extraordinary second chapter in his playing career. Within three years Kamsky had regained his elite form, qualifying for the 2007 Candidates Tournament and later winning the 2007 Chess World Cup, where he knocked off Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals. In 2010, Kamsky won his second U.S. Championship – 19 years removed from his first title. Since then he's earn three more.