Skip to content
1989 U.S. Junior Invitational Championship

The U.S. Junior Invitational Championship is the most prestigious event for young American players. The winner of this event earns the right to play in the United States Championship and represent the United States in the FIDE World Youth Championships. It was through this route that Bobby Fischer was seeded into the 1957 U.S. Championship at age 14 and started his path to the World Chess Championship.

In 1989, the tournament was in jeopardy when the deadlines for bidding for the championship came and went. David Mehler, who two years later founded the U.S. Chess Center, volunteered on short notice to host the tournament in the nation’s capital. He arranged for a downtown hotel that had not officially opened, the Ramada Renaissance Tech World, to donate space for the ten teenage chess masters as its first guests.

The participants included the defending champion, Stuart Rachels, who later that summer would become U.S. Champion, Ilya Gurevich, who had already won the World Under-14 Championship and soon afterwards would become the World Junior Champion, Ben Finegold of future Twitch fame, and Alex Sherzer.  Finegold, Sherzer and Gurevich later became grandmasters.

Finegold and Sherzer tied for first place and split the championship, both scoring four wins, four draws and one loss from their nine games. Finegold was seeded into the U.S. Championship while Sherzer represented the U.S. in the World Youth Festival.

The championship was held July 7 – 16, squeezing it between other major chess events. Immediately after the Junior Invitational, Gurevich and Sherzer flew to Puerto Rico to represent the United States in the World Under-18 Championships. In that event, Sherzer won the silver medal for taking second place and earned the International Master title.

We have compiled the near-complete set of game scores (44 out of 45) for the tournament in PGN format here.  Very few of these games have been published anywhere else.  We are indebted to International Arbiter Robert Singletary, who directed the event and whose efforts preserved the game scores we have.

The Washington Post also reported on the tournament