2015 U.S. Championship

Favorites Lead, Upsets Highlight First Round of 2015 U.S. Championships

Ray Robson and Var Akobian, along with U.S. Championship favorites Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday, while the Women's section featured several shockers.

2015 U.S. Chess Championships Set to Start Wednesday

Opening Ceremony at the Saint Louis Art Museum brought inductions to the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, as well as the Drawing of Lots to kickoff the 2015 U.S. Chess Championships.

Pairings & Results

Akobian takes 5th place on tiebreaks.

Meet the Arbiters

Tony RichTony Rich, IA
Chief Arbiter
International Arbiter (2013)
International Organizer (2010)
Senior Tournament Director

Meet the Commentators

Live Broadcast Commentators

GM Yasser Seirawan
2677 (USCF) | 2620 (FIDE)
4-time U.S. Champion

Few names in U.S. Chess are more recognizable than Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan. A four-time U.S. Champion and former World Championship contender, Seirawan was the dominant force in American chess in the 1980s.

Sam Sevian

grandmaster sam sevian
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2645
Residence: 
Boston, MA
Age: 
14
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Samuel Sevian is the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship Wildcard and an American chess prodigy. He set previous records as the youngest American Expert and the youngest American National Master in history, and currently stands as the youngest American International Master in history. Last November, he continued his record-setting climb by becoming the youngest American Grandmaster in history, earning the coveted title at 13 years, 10 months and 27 days -- and also the sixth-youngest GM in world history.

Sevian has maintained his status as one of the most-promising Juniors in the country, fully realized since he became a U12 World Champion in Maribor Slovenia in November 2012. He is a product of the Young Stars - Team USA program, a joint partnership between the Kasparov Chess Federation (KCF) and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to find and train the country's top emerging chess players. Sam received intensive training with legendary World Champion GM Garry Kasparov, which he said was a big contributing factor to his recent success.

"The KCF helped me enormously," Sam said. "First, it was Garry's camps held in Saint Louis and New York where we got to train with the Champion himself, and of course long and frequent training sessions with GM Alexander Chernin, who helped me grow."


Conrad Holt

grandmaster conrad holt
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2632
Residence: 
Wichita, KS
Age: 
21
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

It is no wonder how Grandmaster Conrad Holt came to be known as the “Thunder” Holt: His recent electrifying play—a first place finish at the 2014 U.S. Open, an appearance in the 2014 U.S. Chess League Finals as part of the Dallas Destiny, and another fine showing at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships—has established him as a player to watch in the upcoming 2015 U.S. Championship.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Holt made an early name for himself by winning the 2008 U.S. Cadet Championship and appearing in the 2010 World Open, and then earning his GM title at only 19 years old in 2012. Now 21, Holt currently attends the University of Texas-Dallas and is finishing up his undergraduate degree in Physics, also a member of the prestigious UT-Dallas Chess Team. Holt has helped lead the UTD squad to several President’s Cups, including a trip to the 2015 Final Four of collegiate chess held just before this year’s U.S. Championships.

Timur Gareev

grandmaster timur gareev
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2698
Residence: 
Las Vegas, NV
Age: 
26
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Blindfold exhibitionist Grandmaster Timur Gareev, originally from Uzbekistan, is a formidable opponent with unlimited potential and the proven ability to make a serious run at the U.S. Championship title. A veteran of the game, Timur’s standard rating has remained active and comfortably above 2500 for more than a decade.

"My grandfather taught me how to play chess at the age of four," Gareev said. "I practiced the game regularly challenging my father, friends and schoolmates. At the age of eight, I played my first rated competition. I started succeeding in my improvement very fast, winning most of the national events."

At 10, Gareev was playing expert level strength and dedicating 4-6 hours every day, working with his coach Georgi Borisenko and mastering the game on his own. By 2004, at 16, he earned the distinction as the youngest-ever Grandmaster from Asia, then traveled to the U.S. in 2005 to help the University of Texas at Brownsville win its first national championship. After receiving his B.A. degree in 2011, Gareev was awarded the Samford Fellowship in 2012, which awarded him a monetary stipend to assist his chess development.

Timur has conducted 19-board, 27-board, and 33-board blindfold simultaneous exhibitions - the last of which he served up a score of 29-0-4 against members of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, days before the start of the 2013. U.S. Championship. His exceptional memory allows for top-tier preparation and study, and he has good chances of catching an unsuspecting opponent in deeply analyzed lines. He believes that blindfold training has helped him improve his focus.

Kayden Troff

grandmaster kayden troff
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2662
Residence: 
West Jordan, UT
Age: 
16
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Last year proved to be highlight in the career of young Kayden Troff, earning his Grandmaster title at the Saint Louis Invitational in May, and then returning to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis the following month to win the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship with a convincing 7/9 score. The victory earned him a seat in this year’s U.S. Championship, his second appearance in the national title event.

Troff first demonstrated chess ability at the age of three, learning to play by watching his father teach his older brothers. By the time he was six, his father had him tutored by Grandmaster Igor Ivanov, who was impressed with how well the youngster played.

Troff was among the first selected into the Young Stars-Team USA program, a joint partnership between the Kasparov Chess Foundation and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, which sought to train the country’s top emerging players to compete with those around the world. Through the program, Troff has participated in several training sessions with Garry Kasparov, as well as frequent sessions with GM Alex Chernin.

Troff’s accomplishments include several Utah scholastic and adult championships, as well as a gold medal at the U14 World Youth Chess Championship title earned in Maribor, Slovenia in 2012 -- an upgrade from the silver medal earned in the U12 World Youth Chess Championship in Greece in 2010.

Varuzhan Akobian

grandmaster varuzhan akobian
Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2713
Residence: 
North Hollywood, CA
Age: 
31
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

The weather was so harsh in the years that youngster Varuzhan Akobian spent in Mongolia, his father forbade "Var" and his sister from playing outside. Instead, he taught them chess -- a perfect indoor distraction.

"From the very beginning, I was different from other chess kids,” Akobian recalls. “It was never just a game for me. I always wanted to be a Grandmaster, and I knew that I would do what it takes."

Later as a teenager in Yerevan, Armenia, Akobian spent many of his days playing chess and soccer -- all with his teachers’ permission.

"This is one way in which Armenia is very different from the United States. If I went to high school here, I never could have spent so much energy on chess."

Akobian immigrated from Armenia to the U.S. in 2001, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact on the American chess community. Within his first three years, Akobian had been awarded the prestigious Samford Chess Fellowship, tied for first in the 2002 World Open, won the Irme Koenig GM Invitational, and dominated the 2003 U.S. Junior Closed Championship after winning his first seven games. He was officially awarded the GM title in June 2004, after which he won the World Open again, clinching it with a sparkling win against Alexander Shabalov.

Akobian is a popular rotation in the Resident Grandmaster position at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, and he continues to be a force in U.S. chess tournaments. This past year, Akobian narrowly lost an armageddon playoff in the 2014 U.S. Championship to Gata Kamsky, though he dusted himself off nicely by helping the Saint Louis Arch Bishops to their first-ever U.S. Chess League championship.

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