Wesley learned chess from his father at the age of six, and began competing in junior tournaments at the age of nine. When he earned his Grandmaster title at the age of fourteen, So completed the ‘trifecta’ of being the youngest-ever Filipino National Champion, IM, and GM. Wesley came to the U.S. in August of 2012, enrolled at Webster University, and leapt from being a top 100 player to becoming one of the top ten in the world. He led Webster to three back to back national championships. In 2014, So won the Millionaire Chess Open.
Beginning with his win in the 2016 Grand Chess Tour, that he sealed by winning the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, So entered two of his most successful years yet. He won two gold medals at the 2016 Baku Olympiad, one for himself on board three, and one with the entire team. He passed the FIDE rating of 2800 by winning the 2017 Tata Steel Masters tournament, and then became the 2017 U.S. Champion beating Alexander Onischuk in a playoff match. Just last year, Wesley became the first official Fischer Random World Champion after defeating Magnus Carlsen with an astounding 13.5-2.5 score.
Dominguez is a five-time Cuban national champion, who switched federations to the United States in December, 2018. This super grandmaster’s career features stunning results like that of the victory in Barcelona. He won the Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona tournament, with a performance rating over 2900. Two years later, he won the Capablanca Memorial Tournament, and then became the 2008 World Blitz Champion ahead of top grandmasters like Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk.
He went on to win the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, Greece while earning thirty rating points in the process. Most recently, Dominguez was part of the team that helped prepare Fabiano Caruana for the 2018 Candidates tournament and then the World Championship match that followed. Dominguez narrowly missed winning the first U.S. Championship in which he appeared last year, finishing just a half point behind Hikaru Nakamura.
At fifteen years and 79 days Hikaru Nakamura became the youngest American Grandmaster in history. Although that record has since been broken, his reign as a chess prodigy did not stop there. At the age of sixteen he qualified for the FIDE World Championship 2004, and advanced to the fourth round taking down three other Grandmasters along the way. When he turned eighteen, Nakamura got selected for the Samford Chess Fellowship. In the five years after that, he won two US championships, and became a top ten player in the world. In 2011, Hikaru won the Tata Steel Masters tournament and received a key to the city of Memphis.
Nakamura took a third US Champion title in 2012, and in 2015 his peak FIDE rating of 2816 was the second highest in the world. In 2018, Nakamura won the rapid section of the Tata Steel India tournament, as well as the Paris and Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz legs of the Grand Chess Tour. Nakamura clinched the title of 2018 Grand Chess Tour Champion with the defeat of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the London semifinal match. He is the reigning U.S. Champion after winning last year with a powerful performance of 8/11 points.
This young super star has achieved many impressive results since his start at seven years old. In 2010, he won the Under 10 North American Continental Championship, and then a silver medal in the Under 10 World Championship. Xiong was the 2016 US Junior Champion, and then continued on to become the 2016 World Junior Champion.
Xiong’s most impressive trait is his ability to handle losses. No matter how painful the loss was he always sees his losses as an opportunity to improve. This mentality has separated him from other grandmasters by keeping calm and collected after games, often analyzing them to find where he could improve. This mentality has pushed him over 2700 after a string of impressive results in 2019. In September of 2019, Xiong competed in the World Cup where he defeated grandmasters such as Anish Giri and Jan-Kryzystof Duda, pushing him to the quarterfinals.
In 2010, Shankland won the US Junior Championships which qualified him for the US Championship the following year. He took third place in that 2011 Championship, and then went on to achieve the biggest upset at the FIDE World Cup later that year by defeating Super-GM Peter Leko. Two years later, Shankland was part of the US National Team that won the Pan-American Championship that year, where he had a performance rating over 2800. He then received the 27th Samford Chess Fellowship, later that year.
In 2014, Shankland became one of the top 100 players in the world. He also won a gold medal at the 41st Olympiad for best reserve board player. He was undefeated ending with a score of 9 out of 10 in that Olympiad. He also defeated GM Judit Polgar in her last ever rated game during that tournament. Due to that performance, he played board one in the World Team Championship 2015, taking down some of the top fifteen players in the world at the time. In 2018, Sam Shankland had a stellar performance at the U.S. Championships. He won the tournament with 8.5/11 and crossed the 2700 barrier for the first time.
Since being taught how to play chess by his father at the age of three, Robson has had many impressive results. He was the Supernationals champion in 2005 and then placed top ten in the World Youth Chess Championship from 2004 to 2007. In 2007, he broke Nakamura’s record of youngest IM-elect ever after achieving his final GM norm at the University of Texas, Dallas (UTD) GM invitational tournament. He achieved his Grandmaster title in 2009, after winning the Pan-American Youth Championship that year. The same year, he became one of the youngest to ever win the US Junior Championship. He also broke Nakamura’s record of youngest American Grandmaster by achieving it at 14 years, 11 months, and 16 days.
Robson placed second in both the 2014 Millionaire Chess Championship and the 2015 US Championships. During his time as a member of the Webster University SPICE Chess team, they achieved several national titles at the President’s Cup, including three consecutive titles. Robson is currently a member of the Chicago Wind team in the 2020 ProChess League.
This American chess prodigy holds some of the top records in the United States. As a child, he received training from the legendary Garry Kasparov and Grandmaster Alexander Chernin. In 2012, he became the World U12 Champion. Sevian is credited as the youngest American Expert level player and American Grandmaster, getting his GM title at 13 years, 10 months, and 27 days old. This achievement also puts him in the top ten youngest Grandmasters in the world.
During his appearance at the 2015 US Championship, Sevian defeated Wesley So, one of the top ten Grandmasters in the world. In 2017, he won the American Continental Chess Championship, being the youngest in history to do so. Recently, Sevian played in the Junior Speed Chess Championship, making it to the quarter finals.
Dariusz “Daro” Swiercz is a 25-year old Grandmaster from Poland. He became GM at the age of 14. In 2011 he became U20 World Champion and U18 World Champion in 2012. He represented Poland in the 2012 Istanbul and 2016 Baku Olympiads. Also in 2016, he won 3rd Millionaire Chess. Now, Swiercz resides in Saint Louis and attends Saint Louis University, majoring in Economics. He is eligible for the U.S. Championship this year after switching federations from Poland to the United States.
Grandmaster Lenderman’s chess career began in Brooklyn, New York when he was four years old. He improved quickly, and by the time he finished high school, he had led his team to four straight national titles. In 2008, Lenderman scored numerous small victories throughout the US Chess Grand Prix to secure him first place overall - a feat which he repeated the following year. He also won the 2009 Atlantic Open and co-championed the 2019 US Open.
Lenderman is no stranger to championship titles. He won the International Bavarian Chess Championship in 2014. In 2015, he was on the US team for the World Chess Team Championship where he took home a gold medal for the second board with a score of five out of seven. He also won the World Open that same year with a score of seven out of nine. Lenderman had a brilliant performance in the Isle of Man tournament in 2017, where he had a performance rating over 2750. Recently, he has been in top form with a current rating of 2632 FIDE, just two points below his all time highest rating.
Liang is this year’s youngest player. As a chess prodigy, he won the World Youth Championship in both 2011 and 2013. Currently, he is the youngest American player to defeat an International Master, 2011, and Grandmaster, 2012, in a classical rated game.
In 2014, Liang broke the record of youngest American to earn an IM norm, and broke the record of youngest American to earn the IM title the year after. He still holds the latter record. When he achieved his Grandmaster title at the 2017 Chicago Open, he became the tenth youngest in the world to do so. He won the US Junior Championships in 2017, 2018, and 2019 which qualified him for the US Championship the following years.
Alejandro Ramirez has become a frequent face at the Saint Louis Chess Club as he transplanted from Texas and now lives and works in Saint Louis. Ramirez began playing chess after being inspired by the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer when he was four years old. He became FIDE Master at the age of 9, an International Master at 13, and earned his Grandmaster title by the age of 15. That achievement set Ramirez as the first Centro-American to earn the elite title and at the time, the second youngest grandmaster.
A competitor in three U.S. Championships, Ramirez displayed some of his finest chess in May 2013, when he pushed reigning champion Gata Kamsky to a playoff for the national title. He drew the first two playoff games with Kamsky before losing an Armageddon game where he had 19 minutes and 45 seconds against Kamsky's 45 minutes. Ramirez studied video game design at the University of Texas at Dallas, earning a master’s degree in Arts & Technology, and he now serves as an editor for the popular chess news website ChessBase. Ramirez expertise has made him the natural selection for the Saint Louis University chess team head coach position. The team made it to the final four of the Pan-American championship in its first year. Along with coaching chess, Ramirez is a regular broadcast commentator in both English and Spanish for the Saint Louis Chess Club.
Elshan Moradiabadi learned the game of chess at the age of seven and earned his GM title as an Iranian in 2005. At that point, Moradiabadi had already won the Iranian championship in 2001. Elshan was the top player in Iran for the period of three (non-consecutive) years. Elshan moved to the US in 2012 and has played for the US federation since 2017. Elshan spent five years at Texas Tech, within which period he won one Pan American Championship and one “Final Four” President’s Cup with the Texas Tech chess team. He also earned two Master's degrees during this period. Elshan currently resides in Durham, North Carolina where he teaches chess to youngsters and talented players. Elshan loves to watch movies, read books, and learn about different sciences.