The U.S. Chess Championship is an invitational tournament held to determine the national chess champion of the United States. Begun as a challenge match in 1845, the U.S. Championship has been decided by tournament play for most of its long history (Soltis, 2012). Since 1936, it has been held under the auspices of the U.S. Chess Federation. Until 1999, the event consisted of a round-robin tournament of varying size. From 1999 to 2006, the Championship was sponsored and organized by the Seattle Chess Foundation (later renamed America's Foundation for Chess [AF4C]) as a large Swiss system tournament. AF4C withdrew its sponsorship in 2007. The 2007 and 2008 events were held (again under the Swiss system) in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St Louis has hosted the annual event since 2009.
America's national chess championship is the world's oldest.
|1845-1857||Charles Stanley||Defeated Eugène Rousseau in a match in 1845|
|1857-1871||Paul Morphy||Won the first American Chess Congress in 1857|
|1871-1891||George Henry Mackenzie||Won the 2nd, 3rd and 5th American Chess Congress|
G.H. Mackenzie died in April 1891 and, later that year, Max Judd proposed he, J.W. Showalter and S. Lipschütz contest a triangular match for the championship. Lipschütz withdrew so Judd and Showalter played a match which the latter won. A claim by Walter Penn Shipley that S. Lipschütz became US Champion as a result of being the top-scoring American at the Sixth American Chess Congress, New York 1889 is refuted in a biography of Lipschütz. The following US Champions until 1909 were decided by matches.
|1||1891-2||Jackson Showalter||Max Judd||+7 -4 =3||The final game was delayed until January 1892 because Judd was ill.|
|2||1892||Samuel Lipschütz||Jackson Showalter||+7 -1 =7|
|3||1894||Jackson Showalter||Albert Hodges||+7 -6 =4||Prior to the last game the players agreed to extend the match. Many sources classify this as the first of two matches instead of one extended match.|
|4||1894||Albert Hodges||Jackson Showalter||+5 -3 =1||Can be considered a match extension or a new match.|
|5||1895||Jackson Showalter||S. Lipschütz||+7 -4 =3|
|6||1896||Jackson Showalter||Emil Kemény||+7 -4 =4|
|7||1896||Jackson Showalter||John Barry||+7 -2 =4|
|8||1897||Harry Pillsbury||Jackson Showalter||+10 -7 =3||Pillsbury added to the conditions of the match : "... even if I should win, I shall leave Showalter the possession of his championship title".|
|9||1898||Harry Pillsbury||Jackson Showalter||+7 -2 =2||Contrary to the 1897 match, the title of U.S. champion was clearly at stake in 1898.|
|10||1909||Frank Marshall||Jackson Showalter||+7 -2 =3||Title reverted to Showalter after Pillsbury's death in 1906.|
|11||1923||Frank Marshall||Edward Lasker||+5 -4 =9||Marshall declined to play in the invitational tournament that began in 1936.|
|-||1941||Samuel Reshevsky||Match victory over I.A. Horowitz|
|4||1942||Samuel Reshevsky||An erroneous ruling by the director allowed Reshevsky to tie for first with Isaac Kashdan.
Reshevsky won a playoff match against Kashdan 6 months later.
|-||1946||Arnold Denker||Match victory over Herman Steiner|
|-||1952||Larry Evans||Match victory over Herman Steiner|
|-||1957||Samuel Reshevsky||Match victory over Arthur Bisguier.
The title of U.S. champion was not at stake. (Bisguier remains champion).
|10||1957/8||Bobby Fischer||At 14, the youngest champion ever|
|16||1963/4||Bobby Fischer||Fischer went 11-0 in the tournament, the only perfect score in its history|
|18||1966/7||Bobby Fischer||A record eighth win (out of eight attempts)|
|21||1972||Robert Byrne||After playoff 9 months later against Samuel Reshevsky and Lubomir Kavalek|
Nick de Firmian
|36||1990||Lev Alburt||Knockout tournament|
|37||1991||Gata Kamsky||Knockout tournament|
|40||1994||Boris Gulko||The only person to have held both the US and Soviet championships|
|41||1995||Nick de Firmian
|44||1998||Nick de Firmian|
|49||2005||Hikaru Nakamura||Tournament was played in 2004, but called the 2005 Championship, for legal reasons|
|54||2010||Gata Kamsky||Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Yury Shulman|
|57||2013||Gata Kamsky||Kamsky won an Armageddon tie-break playoff against Alejandro Ramírez|
|58||2014||Gata Kamsky||Kamsky won a playoff rapid against Varuzhan Akobian after Akobian qualified
by beating Aleksandr Lenderman on an Armageddon tie-break