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The legendary Bobby Fischer dominated the US championship. He first won it at age 14, achieved a 100 per cent “picket fence” in 1962-63 with 11 out of 11, and also had a perfect result overall, eight championships in eight attempts.
Fischer’s rival Samuel Reshevsky, 32 years his senior, won the first championship tournament in 1936, and also ended up with eight crowns, though from many more attempts than Fischer.
Hikaru Nakamura is the US title specialist now. Last weekend the 31-year-old, whose online blitz sessions attract large audiences, won the competitive 2019 championship, his fifth, by opting for a bold and complex final round strategy. His rivals Fabiano Caruana, the world No2, and Leinier Domínguez, the former Cuban No1, preferred safer options and were held to draws.
Rex Sinquefield, America’s chess Maecenas, has given the championship a permanent home in St Louis, along with a compelling prize fund. The 2019 total was $194,000, including $50,000 for first. There is also the Fischer prize of $64,000 for any player scoring 11/11. That award , never yet won, is also on offer in the women’s event, where Jennifer Yu (see this week’s puzzle) missed it by a whisker with 10/11.
Anna Zatonskih v Jennifer Yu, St Louis 2019. Victory here made Yu (Black, to play) US women’s champion at age 17. First prize was $25,000. Can you work out Black’s winning move?
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