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The U.S. Cadet Championship

The U.S. Cadet Championship is an annual invitational event, ordinarily pitting the top eight Americans under 16 years of age in a round-robin tournament. The tournament began at the Manhattan Chess Club in 1986, when Marylander Alex Sherzer became the first Cadet Champion. Sherzer spent most of his chess career playing in the National Capital area and went on to become an International Grandmaster.


Besides Sherzer, U.S. Cadet Championship winners who later became Grandmasters include Ilya Gurevich, Tal Shaked, and Vinay Bhat. Other noted champions since the tournament’s inception include Josh Waitzkin, subject of the book and movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Justus Williams, who was featured in the documentary film Brooklyn Castle, and future U.S. Women’s Champion Carissa Yip, who became the first female winner of the Cadet Championship when she shared first place with Ben Li in 2017.


The tournament has a substantial history in the greater D.C. area. In 1993, two members of the U.S. Chess Center, Geoffrey and Charles Gelman, were eligible to compete in the event, the first two siblings to achieve the ratings to make them eligible to play in a national championship invitational event together since Robert and Donald Byrne in 1969. When the U.S. Chess Federation announced that no bid had been tendered to organize the event and threatened to cancel it, the U.S. Chess Center volunteered to host it at the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum, then located at its headquarters in downtown Washington. The Center continued as host for three more years. Later, the Maryland Chess Association ran the tournament in Rockville, a suburb of Washington, for five years beginning in 2012.

The field for the 1993 Cadet Championship, posing in the Bobby Fischer corner of the Hall of Fame. From left to right: Dean Ippolito, Geoffrey Gelman, Charles Gelman (blocking his brother), Arun Sharma, Daniel Erlikhman, Jacob Chudnovsky, Ryan Porter, and James Allen.
In the 1995 tournament, Jennie Frenklakh, pictured playing her first round game against the eventual champion Igor Shliperman, became the first female player to take part.
The 1996 Cadets posing on the Albert Einstein statue on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences. From left to right: Noah Siegel, Jacob Chudnovsky, Mauricio Ruiz, Nawrose Nur, Jordy Mont-Reynaud, Harutyun Akopyan, Justin Sarkar, and Matthew Puckett.
Nawrose Nur at the beginning of a round in the 1996 tournament. This edition was the first year in which the entire eight-player field was made up of masters.

Collected here are all the games from the 1996 U.S. Cadet Championship, the most recent edition hosted by the U.S. Chess Center.

U.S. Cadet Championship Winners By Year
YearWinner (s)Location
1986Alex SherzerNew York, NY
1987Ilya GurevichNew York, NY
1988-1989not heldN/A
1990Bobby SeltzerNew York, NY
1991Josh WaitzkinBronxville, NY
1992Tal ShakedNew York, NY
1993Arun SharmaWashington, DC
1994Dean IppolitoWashington, DC
1995Igor ShlipermanWashington, DC
1996Noah SiegelWashington, DC
1997Justin SarkarNashville, TN
1998Dmitry Schneider, Vinay BhatNashville, TN
1999Jordy Mont-ReynaudNashville, TN
2000Mark Geist, Matthew TraldiSan Francisco, CA
2001Aaron PixtonWest Point, NY
2002Pieta GarrettCleveland, OH
2003Matthew Ho, Alen MelikadamianMiami, FL
2004Daniel LudwigLindsborg, KS
2005Sarkis Agaian, Elliot LuiKing's Island, OH
2006Mark Tyler ArnoldDallas, TX
2007Evan Ju, Warren HarperCrossville, TN
2008Conrad HoltLindsborg, KS
2009Andrew NgCrossville, TN
2010Yian Liou, Michael YangCrossville, TN
2011Arthur Shen, Michael BodekCrossville, TN
2012Michael Bodek, Christopher Gu, Christopher Wu, Aleksandr OstrovskiyRockville, MD
2013Justus Williams, Michael William BrownRockville, MD
2014Edward SongRockville, MD
2015Cameron WheelerRockville, MD
2016Praveen BalakrishnanRockville, MD
2017Ben Li, Carissa YipManchester, NH
2018David BrodskySan Jose, CA
2019Justin WangSan Jose, CA
2020Christopher Yooonline,
2022Nico ChasinSchaumburg, IL
2023Erick ZhaoSchaumburg, IL