2018 U.S. Championship

Pairings & Results | Championship

 

Yaroslav Zherebukh

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2717
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
23
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
GM Zherebukh won the Cappelle la Grande tournament in 2010, the U.S. Masters 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and placed sixth in the 2017 U.S. Championship. Yaroslav currently holds a FIDE standard rating of 2628 (2607URS) and is the tenth highest rated player in America.
Bio: 

The Ukrainian-born GM earned his title at the age of fifteen.  Zherebukh says, “ My biggest success so far was the advancement to the fourth round at the 2011 World Cup in Russia.”  In 2015, ‘Yaro’ switched his affiliation with the Ukrainian Chess Federation to the USCF, granting him eligibility to be the wildcard in  the 2017 U.S. Championships.  GM Zherebukh made his mark on the Saint Louis Chess Campus when he joined the Saint Louis Arch-Bishops, contributing to the team’s 2017 PRO Chess League Championship title.  This impressive young GM who has become a regular presence at the Saint Louis Chess Club is a fan favorite and is sure to give us some exciting chess in this year’s Championship.

Jeffery Xiong

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2724
Residence: 
Coppell, TX
Age: 
17
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Jeffery won the 2016 U.S. Closed Junior Championship, and is currently the highest rated player in the U.S. under the age of eighteen. He is rated 2640 FIDE (URS 2622) making him the ninth highest rated player in the country.
Bio: 

This seventeen-year old from Coppell, Texas has a quite an impressive list of results.  Showing a tenacity beyond his years he has won the 2015 Chicago Open, finished sixth in the 2016 U.S.Championship (the strongest in history), and was awarded the 2016 U.S. Outstanding Player Achievement Award by USCF.  Xiong, the winner of the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship is sure to give some of the seasoned veterans in this year’s field a run for their money.

Zviad Izoria

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2714
Residence: 
San Jose, CA
Age: 
34
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
GM Izoria is the winner of the 2000 World Youth Chess Championship (U16 section). He also won the 2000 Moscow Kasparov Cup, and in 2005 won the HB Global Chess Challenge.
Bio: 

The Georgian born Izoria is an exciting and interesting player in this year’s U.S. Championship. Currently rated 2599 FIDE (2593), he is the eleventh highest rated player nationally, the 34 year old GM will have to be very prepared for some intense top level chess as he competes against this year’s field of elites.

Var Akobian

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2728
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
34
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
GM Akobian was the U.S. Junior Champion in 2003, the winner of World Open in 2002, 2004, and 2007, and helped the U.S. win the Silver Medal at the 2009 World Team Championship. Varuzhan has a rating of 2647 FIDE (2649 URS), making him the eighth highest rated player in the U.S.
Bio: 

The weather in Mongolia was so harsh during the years that “Var” spent there as a child, that his father forbade him and his sister Armine from playing outside.  He taught them chess, which fascinated the young Akobian.  “From the very beginning,” Var says, “I was different from the other chess kids.  It was never just a game for me.  I always wanted to be a Grandmaster, and knew that I would do what it takes.”  As a teenager living in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia,  Akobian spent his days on chess and soccer.  His teachers encouraged him to focus on chess, so much that Var says: “If I went to high school in here [in the U.S], I never could have spent so much energy on chess.”

In 2002, a year after immigrating to the U.S., he earned the Samford Chess Fellowship.  The Fellowship grant, which allowed the young Var to study and improve his chess, yielded quick results with a tie for first at the 2002 World Open and First Place at the Irme Koenig GM invitational.  The following year, he won the 2003 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, earned his GM Norms in June 2004, and then won the World Open for a second time.

An excellent positional player, GM Akobian admires the games and style of Armenian Hero, former World Champion Tigran Petrosian.  He admires him so much so that he became an expert in the French Defence, one of Petrosians most played openings with the black pieces. Var offers this advice for aspiring club players: “Don’t expect to see constant improvement. You build knowledge and work hard, and after a while you’ll see a big breakthrough.”

Sam Shankland

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2730
Residence: 
Orinda, CA
Age: 
25
Status: 
Invited
Chess Highlights: 
Sam placed third at the 2011 U.S. Championship. He won the 2010 U.S Junior Closed Championship, took first place at Biel Masters 2016, and played on the U.S. team which took first place at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2016. GM Shankland is currently rated 2668 FIDE(2662 URS), making him the the seventh highest rated player in the U.S.
Bio: 

At the age of eighteen, Sam announced his retirement from the world of professional chess; however, having made a prior commitment to play in the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, he played and managed to win a difficult  tournament.  The victory earned him an invitation to play in the 2011 U.S. Championship, which proved to be a difficult offer to refuse.

In 2016, the American GM won the Edmonton International as well as Fargenes International. Sam’s strong, sometimes unpredictable play is sure to keep this year’s field on their toes, and the chess fans on edges of their seats.

Ray Robson

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2731
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
23
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Ray won the 2012 Webster university SPICE cup open, placed second at the 2015 U.S. Championships, and is currently the sixth highest rated player in the U.S. with a FIDE rating of 2649 (URS 2620).
Bio: 

Born in guam, Robson and his family moved to Florida when he was still a toddler.  It was in Florida where he learned to play chess when he was just three years old.  From 2004 to 2007, Robson finished in the top 10 at the World Youth Championships.  He won the Super- Nationals in 2005, first place in the 2005 and 2006 Pan-american Youth Championships, the 2009 U.S. Junior Championship, and the 2009 world Team Championship.  In 2008, Ray won his first major tournament at the Miami open, and later that year broke Hikaru Nakamura’s record by becoming the youngest American GM (14 years, 11 months and 16 days).

Robson attends Webster University, where he won the 2012 SPICE Cup Open, and helped the Webster team win three consecutive National titles.

Alex Onischuk

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2759
Residence: 
Lubbox, TX
Age: 
42
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
GM Onischuk won the 2006 U.S. Championship, is currently #68 on the international ranking list and is the fourth highest rated player in the U.S. with a FIDE rating of 2681 (URS 2683).
Bio: 

Alexander began playing chess at the age of six and has been one of the top 100 players in the world for the past two decades.  The Ukrainian-American Onischuk  earned his GM title in 1994.  After winning the 2000 Ukrainian Championship he emigrated to the U.S. and played collegiate chess for the University of Baltimore, Maryland.  GM Onischuk led the program to multiple national titles before graduating in 2006 with a degree in linguistics.  He has been invited to every FIDE World Cup since 2005, and has won more than twenty major tournaments along the way.  The experienced chess professional said that winning  the 2006 U.S. Championship was the happiest moment of his career, sharing a trophy with legendary names such as Bobby Fischer and Paul Morphy.

Onischuk’s strong performances at the 2006 and 2008 Olympiads helped to secure America’s Bronze Medal finishes. In 2009, he delivered a Gold Medal performance on board two at the World Team Championship in Bursa, Turkey. As head coach of Texas Tech’s chess program, he has led the team to national recognition.  The Ukrainian-American GM has finished in the top three in the U.S. Championships eight times, and in 2015, as head coach, he led his Texas Tech team to first place at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.

Hikaru Nakamura

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2853
Residence: 
White Plains, NY
Age: 
30
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Hikaru has won the U.S. Championship four times and won the Gibraltar Chess Festival three consecutive years. GM Nakamura is currently the second highest rated player in the U.S. with a FIDE rating of 2781(URS 2809).
Bio: 

A child prodigy in every sense of the word, Hikaru swiftly knocked down nearly every age record on his way into the elite ranks. He was, at one time, the youngest American Master in history (10 years, 79 days), the youngest American International Master (13 years, 2 months), and eventually broke Bobby fischer’s record by three months when he became  the youngest American Grandmaster at the time (15 years, 79 days).

‘Naka’, as his fans affectionately refer to him, has collected numerous titles and championships since the age of thirteen, when he arrived on the national scene by winning the 2001  U.S Junior Championship.  He quickly confirmed his place among the elites, shocking the world with a sweet sixteen appearance in the 2004 FIDE World Cup.  His accomplishments do not end there.  This recipient of the prestigious Samford Chess Fellowship, won the 2007 National Open, the North American Open three times, and was gold medalist on the first board of the 2010 World Team Championship.

Since the advent of published FIDE Blitz ratings, Nakamura has graced the top of the list, demonstrating inimitable acuity and speed.  In 2015, the American GM won the Gibraltar Chess Masters tournament, captured his fourth U.S. Championship, first place at the Millionaire Chess Open, and propelled his classical FIDE rating to a career high of 2814.  2016 also proved to be a fruitful year for Naka as he repeated first place finishes at  the Gibraltar Chess Festival and the Zurich Chess Challenge.  

Last year, Hikaru won his third consecutive Gibraltar Chess Festival.  One can only speculate as to what this four time winner of the U.S. Championship has in store for this year’s field.

Fabiano Caruana

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2868
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
25
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Caruana was a four time Italian national champion, and was the 2016 U.S. champion. He is currently the highest rated player in the U.S.
Bio: 

The twenty five year old Grandmaster was introduced to chess through an afterschool program as a five-year old in Brooklyn, New York, while living near to Bobby Fischer’s childhood home.  That same year, he played his first tournament at the Susan Polgar Chess Center in Queens New York.  His performance there got the attention of Caruana’s first coach, NM Bruce Pandolfini.

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 several national scholastic championships, and two gold medals in the Pan-American Youth Championships.  When it became clear that chess would be his future, Fabiano and his family moved to Europe.

Caruana is now one of the hottest players on the global scene.  He crossed the super- elite rating threshold of 2800 after winning the 42nd Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dartmund, Germany.  He was the eighth player in history to pass the 2800 barrier.  He secured the tournament win in the penultimate round without losing a game.

In 2014 Fabiano achieved two impressive results, he placed second behind Magnus Carlsen in the World Rapid Championship and went on to win the Sinquefield cup with a remarkable score of eight and a half out of ten. In early 2015, after playing as a member of the Italian Chess Federation, Caruana rejoined the United States Chess Federation as one of its strongest members.  In the past two years, Caruana has won his first U.S. Championship, placed second at Tata Steel, played first board for the gold medal winning U.S. team at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, and won the 2017 London Chess Classic. He returns to the U.S. Championship as a serious contender for the title of U.S. Champion.  

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