2013 U.S. Championship Player Bios
Grandmaster Ben Finegold learned the rules of chess at age 5 and received his first USCF rating at age 6. It wasn't long, around his mid-teens, until he realized he wanted to play chess professionally. GM Finegold's first major tournament win came in 1989 when he finished in a first-place tie at the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. Also in 1989, Finegold scored his biggest victory to date with a win against Boris Gelfand at the Euwe Memorial tournament in Amsterdam, Holland.
According to Finegold, this was the most famous player he had beaten at the time, and the fact that it was a Swiss tournament and he was unable to prepare for Gelfand specifically made the win that much more exciting. Finegold said he played an excellent tactical game to secure the victory. He obtained his first IM norm at the event, gained 40 FIDE points and eventually earned the title of International Master in 1990.
In 1991 Finegold won his first major, international, Swiss-paired tournament in Antwerp, Belgium. He was just 21 years old. From 1988 to 1992
Finegold lived in Brussels, Belgium. He returned to the U.S. in 1992 and, in 1993, was awarded the Samford Chess Fellowship.
The Samford Chess Fellowship is awarded each year to the most talented chess player in the United States under the age of 26. At that time, the fellowship gave Finegold a $1,200 per month stipend and also paid for all things chess related. During that time, he worked with Gregory Kaidanov, played in a number of strong tournaments, and began utilizing chess software on is computer to improve his game.
"I wanted to hone my proclivities," Finegold said.
In 1994, Finegold finished in a six-way tie for first place at the U.S Open in Chicago, and then in 2002 he finished in a first-place tie with eight players at the World Open in Philadelphia where he secured his first GM norm. He won the Chicago Spring Invitational in 2005 to earn his second GM norm, and just this year, Finegold achieved his third GM norm at the 2009 Spice Cup Chess Festival in Lubbock, Texas.
Serious chess players are divided by the question of whether it’s better to study a narrow set of openings in great depth, or play a wide variety of systems, to keep opponents wondering. Finegold falls somewhere in between. He’s been playing 1.d4 his whole life but with Black he’s more flexible and can play numerous defenses against both 1.e4 and 1.d4. Ben isn't afraid of trading Queens early in the game, and wins a lot of half points from endgame technique.
When asked about which books he recommended to aspiring players, Ben said “I’m not a fan of books.” His advice was to “Play in strong tournaments (open section) and analyze your games with a strong player. The best way to improve is to play strong players often.”
Finegold's favorite player is Paul Morphy. He said Morphy was ahead of his time, more so even than those who have come after him. According to Finegold, Morphy attacked well, which was the style at the time, but he was also very accurate and played winning positions quite well.
"Someone who played so well and calculated so accurately before books and computers were common is just amazing," Finegold said. "He was so much better than the other players; it's very impressive."
Finegold served as the Resident GM at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from 2010-2012. He recently launched his own business venture, Finegold Chess Enterprises, with his son, NM Spencer Finegold.
FM John Bryant, the step son of GM Enrico Sevillano, has been steadily gaining experience and rating points over the past few years. Although he lost to Mexican GM Manuel Leon Hoyos in an armageddon-style playoff at the 2012 U.S. Open Championship, Bryant was offered an invitation to the 2013 U.S. Championship as the highest-finishing U.S. player.
John currently resides in Tehachapi, Calif., but will be returning to the University of Dallas at Texas where he plays on their first-rate chess team.
His tournament highlights include clear first at Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic '10 (LA) and a tie for first at the Capablanca Memorial '10 in northern California.
His favorite chess book is Secrets of Chess Tactics by Mark Dvoretsky, and outside of chess, he enjoys martial arts, philosophy and basketball. His favorite players include Capablanca, Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
Kayden Troff is the current Under 14 World Youth Chess Champion, after a gold-medal finish at the World Youth Chess Championships in Maribor, Slovenia, in November 2012. A native of Utah, he also won the silver medal in the 12/under section at the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece in 2010.
Additional international tournament victories by Kayden include gold at the 2009 North American Youth Championship for under age 12 in Mazatlán. He also became a FIDE Candidate Master in Mazatlán. Kayden became a National Master at the American Open in November 2009, at age 11 and a FIDE Master in 2011. He earned his third and final norm to become an IM-Elect at the Metropolitan International tournament in Los Angeles in August, 2012. He became an International Master in January 2013.
Kayden first demonstrated chess ability at the age of three; having learned to play by watching his father (Daniel Troff) teach and play against his brothers. When Troff turned six, his father decided to have him tutored by Grandmaster Igor Ivanov, who was impressed with how well Kayden played.
Kayden has participated in multiple training sessions with Garry Kasparov in New York and was selected to 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, which was launched to find and train the country's top emerging chess players for competition with the best players in the world. Kayden has been in frequent training sessions with GM Alex Chernin, who works under the direction of Garry for Kayden's chess development. Additionally Kayden has been training with GM Sam Shankland as a sparring partner for the past year. Kayden has won multiple Utah Scholastic and adult Utah Championships.
Kayden's latest project is a chess music video set to a cover of Adele's Skyfall music featuring a famous Kasparov - Topolov game with a LIVE chess set. It will be completed and put on Youtube during the first two weeks of April. To see advance pictures of the music video - they are featured on Kayden's Facebook fan page titled "Chess Champion Kayden Troff" or on his Twitter feed at chesschampkt.
Additionally there is much more info on Kayden’s website at kaydentroff.blogspot.com or visit his Youtube channel: Piecefulchaos. Kayden also writes a regular chess blog on Chess.com who help sponsor Kayden's chess. Kayden's Chess.com blog http://www.chess.com/blog/KaydenTroff has over 150,000 views.
The Troff family runs a popular "TNT" Chess Camp in the Salt Lake City area, along with their family friend Scott Treiman, who won the 2012 Utah State High School championship tournament.
Samuel Sevian is an American Chess prodigy. On December 5, 2010, he became the youngest National Master in USCF history with a rating of 2206 at the age of 9 years, 11 months and 9 days.
Sam played his first tournament in Orlando on August 12, 2006. His first success came when he became the youngest Expert in U.S. history, an achievement that was featured in an article of the Los Angeles Times by International Master Jack Peters.
In 2012 Sevian completed all International Master Norms winning two Metropolitan IM and one GM Norm tournament held in Los Angeles. He became the World Champion in the U12 category in Maribor Slovenia, in November 2012. His pre-tournament (FIDE) rating at the World Youth was 2347, almost 100 points above his nearest competitor.
"I really worked hard for it, hours of preparation every day before and during the tournament," Sam said.
In early 2012, Sam was one of handful of rising stars to be selected to 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, which was launched to find and train the country's top emerging chess players for competition with the best players in the world. Sam received intensive training with legendary World Champion GM Garry Kasparov, which Sam said was a big contributing factor to his recent success.
"The KCF helped us 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 over the last year."
Sam said his plans for improvement involve further developing his opening repertoire.