About the Championship

Jump to: Arbiters - Prize Fund - Playoff Procedures

History of the U.S. Championship 

No series of tournaments or matches enjoys the same rich, turbulent history as that of the United States Chess Championship. It is in many ways unique – and, up to recently, unappreciated.

In Europe and elsewhere, the idea of choosing a national champion came slowly. The first Russian championship tournament, for example, was held in 1889. The Germans did not get around to naming a champion until 1879.

The first official Hungarian championship occurred in 1906, and the first Dutch, three years later. But American chess fans knew as early as 1845 who their champion was: the little-known Charles Stanley – and many non-players knew it, too, because the title match of that year was well publicized. Twelve years later the industrious American organizers mounted their first tournament for a national champion. And that event, New York 1857, won by the “pride and soul of chess,” Paul Morphy, was only the fourth true chess tournament ever held in the world.

In its first century and a half plus, the United States Championship has provided all kinds of entertainment. It has introduced new heroes exactly one hundred years apart in Paul Morphy (1857) and Bobby Fischer (1957) and honored remarkable veterans such as Sammy Reshevsky in his late 60s. There have been stunning upsets (Arnold Denker in 1944 and John Grefe in 1973) and marvelous achievements (Fischer’s winning debut as a precocious 14-year-old in 1957, and his remarkable perfect score of 11-0 in 1964, to his record-breaking eight title wins).

The championship has seen scandals and swindles, boycotts and brilliancies, bitter controversy and theoretical innovations. The games have been won and lost by geniuses and drunkards, prodigies and émigrés, college dons and coffeehouse hustlers.

It has also been a truly national championship. For many years the title tournament was identified with New York. But it has also been held in towns as small as South Fallsburg, New York, Mentor, Ohio, and Greenville, Pennsylvania.

Fans have witnessed championship play in Boston, and Las Vegas, Baltimore and Los Angeles, Lexington, Kentucky, and El Paso, Texas. The title has been decided in sites as varied as the Sazerac Coffee House in 1845 to the Cincinnati Literary Club, the Automobile Club of Detroit. The U.S. Championship has been held in the auditorium of a fundamentalist Christian college in Pasadena and, in 1984 the Student Union Building of the University of California at Berkeley, as well as the Seattle Center in the shadows of the Space Needle. The most recent titles have been decided in Oklahoma in the 2007 and 2008 Championships.


Carol Jarecki, IA, NTD

Carol-Jarecki-2009-US-Champs-2Chief Arbiter for the US Championship in St. Louis, Carol Jarecki’s credentials are extensive. Awarded the International Arbiter title by FIDE in 1984 she served as deputy in several Olympiads and Candidates matches as well as the FIDE World Championship in Lyon, France, 1990, and Las Vegas 1999.  Carol was Chief Arbiter for the FIDE World Youth Festival held in Fond-du-Lac, WI, the only time it was organized in the US.  

She was Chief of the 1994 and 1995 PCA Grand Prix events in New York, the PCA World Championship match Kasparov-Anand at the top of the World Trade Center in 1995 as well as the famous IBM Deep Blue-Kasparov match in 1997.  Jarecki even was arbiter for the original Kasparov-Deep Thought match in NY, the program developed by the team that then went on to work with IBM on Deep Blue.  In 1989, as Chief Arbiter of the Karpov-Hjartarson FIDE World Championship Quarterfinals in Seattle, she was the first woman to serve in that position for any world-championship-cycle match.  Among many other international events she has been the Chief of the annual Bermuda Open and Invitationals for the past 21 years.

As a U.S. National Tournament Director (NTD) she has covered an array of events, large and small, from National Scholastics to previous U. S. Championships.  Carol is a member of the FIDE Technical  Committee.  She co-authored the USCF Official Rules of Chess, 4th edition.  In 1993 Carol received the USCF Distinguished Service Award and, subsequently, the initial award for the Top Tournament Director of the Year.

Jarecki graduated from the Graduate Hospital, University of PA, with a certificate in anesthesia and worked in that field in NJ for several years before starting a family and spending seven years living in Europe.  There she took up aviation as a hobby and has been an avid pilot ever since.  She has two daughters, one living in Sydney, Australia, the other in the British Virgin Islands.  Her son, John, once the youngest US Master at age 12, lives in New York City.

Chris Bird

Chris Bird 4.jpgChris Bird is a FIDE Arbiter and USCF Senior Tournament Director who has served at numerous major events across the US, including the 2007 US Women's Championship.  As well as providing arbiting duties, Chris is just as well known for his chess website work (www.uswcc2007.com, www.chicagoopen.net, www.foxwoodsopen.com, www.northamericanopen.com) and for providing an onsite audience display and online live broadcast of games.  Chris has also had articles and photographs published in both Chess Life and Chess Life Online and was awarded the US Chess League Blogger of the Year award in 2008 for maintaining the Boston Blitz website at www.boston-blitz.com.  For the past three years Chris has also organized an annual Masters event, the New England Masters (www.newenglandmasters.com) which is specifically run to provide opportunities for players seeking FIDE norms.
Born and raised in Hull, England, Chris moved to Las Vegas, NV, in 1998 and has lived in the US ever since, currently residing near Boston, MA, where he works as an administrator at Harvard Medical School.  Chris is a former President of Nevada Chess, Inc., the USCF state affiliate for Nevada, and former General Secretary of the Hull & District Chess Association. 


Prize Fund

Total Prize Fund - $130,400

  • 1st - $35,000
  • 2nd - $15,000
  • 3rd - $10,000
  • 4th - $8,000
  • 5th - $7,000
  • 6th - $6,000
  • 7th - $5,000
  • 8th - $4,000
  • 9th - $3,600
  • 10th - $3,300
  • 11th - $3,000
  • 12th - $2,900
  • 13th-16th - $2,600
  • 17th-20th - $2,300
  • 21st-24th - $2,000


Playoff Procedures 

If the 2009 U.S. Championship ends in a tie for first, all tied players up to a total of four players will contest a playoff match for the title of 2009 U.S. Champion and for the $5000 Jackpot Bonus.  If there are more than four players tied for first the following tie-breaks will be used to determine four players to contest tiebreak C below:  (1) Modified median, (2) Solkoff, (3) Cumulative, (4) Cumulative of Opposition, (5) Most Blacks, (6) Score against other Tied Players (7) Most Wins.  In all cases, the main prize pool will be split equally. 

A. Two Players: 

If two players tie for first, they will enter a tiebreak that begins at 5:00 pm or no earlier than an hour after the conclusion of either Player’s final round. 

The base time for the game is 45 minutes+ 5 second increment. It will be a draw odds game (Black wins on a draw.)  The players will both bid on the amount of time (minutes and seconds, a number equal or less to 45:00) that they are willing to play with in order to choose their color.  The player who bid the lower number of time chooses his or her color and gets the amount of time they wrote down; the other side always receives 45:00.  If both players pick exactly the same number, the chief arbiter will flip a coin to determine who shall choose their color. 

If either player wins, he or she gets the title of U.S. Champion and the $5,000 Jackpot Bonus.  If the game is a draw, Black wins the title of U.S. Champion, but the Jackpot Bonus will be split equally. 

B. Three players:

The Playoff for three players or more begins at 5 pm on May 17, 2009. If there are three players tied for first, the player with the highest tie-breaks in the math tie-breaks will choose between a.) getting a bye into the first round or b.) playing the preliminary round.  If he or she chooses b.), the bye into the final round will be passed on to the next player by tiebreak, and if the second player by tiebreak also refuses the bye, it will be forced on to the final player by tiebreak. 

Preliminary round: 

Players ranked 2 and 3 by math tie-breaks will contest a bidding draw odds game like the one above except instead of 45 minutes base time the base time will be 25 minutes+ 5 second increment. 

Final round: 

After a ten minute break, the winner of the preliminary round will play the player with a bye in another 25+5 increment draw odds game.  This will not be a bidding game. The player who won the preliminary round will chose whether he prefers White or Black and draw odds. The Jackpot Bonus and Championship title will be awarded to the players in the final match as described above. 

C. Four players:

The Playoff begins at 5 pm.  

Preliminary round 

Math tie-breaks will determine which Players are paired for play:  1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3.  They will contest two preliminary 25+5 second increment bidding games as described above. 

Final round

After a ten-minute break, the winner of each of the preliminaries will contest a final 25+5 draw odds bidding game. The title of U.S. Champion will be determined by this game, and the Jackpot Bonus will be awarded as described above.