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U.S. State Champion of Champions: The Final Four

Dates: March 28 & April 4-5, 2009

Main Image
© Betsy Dynako (WCL)

"Meet Me in St. Louis," says a smiling IM Sam Shankland, 17, from the San Francisco suburb of Orinda, because that's where one of the new rising stars of the American chess scene is heading to after winning the U.S. State Champion of Champions title hosted online at the Internet Chess Club last Sunday.

In a pulsating East vs. West finale to a week-long series of qualifiers - that saw state champions from Alaska through California to Hawaii and from Maine down to New York, Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas come together in a unique online tournament - Shankland, the North California champion, beat 21-year-old NM Mackenzie Molner, the New Jersey champion, 3-2, after their match went to the wire of a final armageddon decider to determine the final spot in the 2009 U.S. Championship, hosted May 7-17 at the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis.

The past year has proved to be a big breakthrough one for Shankland. His rating took a seismic leap from 2200 to over 2450 FIDE, he played in his first U.S. Championship, achieved the International Master title, and tied for first place and the bronze medal in the World Under 18 Championship in Vietnam. Now, he's been crowned the "U.S. State Champion of Champions" and will join an elite field of former U.S. Chess Champions in St. Louis that includes Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Onischuk, Alexander Shabalov, U.S. Hall of Famers Larry Christiansen and Joel Benjamin, and not forgetting defending champion Yury Shulman.

Click here for full results of the tournament

Click here to download games from the final


After a competitive day on the Internet Chess Club that saw 29 state champions from Alaska, Hawaii through California to Washington, and from Maine through to Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Tennessee, the U.S. State Champion of Champions tournament reaches the Final Four.

The two zonal tournaments in both the Eastern and Western Conferences produced some epic battles and a couple of runaway winners. All the early action came in the Western Conference, where the first to qualify was the youngest competitor Sam Shankland from North California, who top-scored on 9.5/10 to dominate his zonal tournament. Next up was John Bryant of Southern California, who scored 8.5/10 in the other zonal to also book his place in the finals.

But it was a different story in the Eastern Conferences, with two extremely close zonal battles. Connecticut top seed GM Sergey Kudrin found the going tough in a three-way showdown for the top spot alongside Mackenzie Molner of New Jersey and IM James Rizzitano of Massachusetts. In the end though, age and guile proved no match for youth and speed, as Molner took the top spot on 14.5/15 ahead of the two veterans by a narrow margin.

And there was a more dramatic battle in the second zonal, which went to a playoff, as FM Ronald Simpson of North Carolina tied for first place on 11.5/13 with Dov Gorman of Virginia, with Simpson winning the playoff, 2-0, to reach the finals.

Next Saturday, April 4th, with independent proctors in place at each venue to ensure fair-play, and an extended time control of two G25min + 10sec games (and blitz playoffs, if needed), ICC will host the Final Four with Molner vs. Simpson for the Eastern Conference title and Shankland vs. Bryant for the Western Conference title; the winners then meeting up on Sunday, April 5th, to play for the title of U.S. State Champion of Champions and round-trip ticket and final qualifying spot for the 2009 U.S. Championship, hosted by the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis, Missouri.

Final Results

April 4-5, 2009

¤ US State Champion of Champions Finals
  New Jersey (2.0)
North California (3.0)

Download Final Games here in .PGN

¤ Conference Finals
East New Jersey (3.0)
North Carolina (2.0)
West North California (2.0)
South California (0)

Qualifying Tournament Results

These are the cross tables with the results of the Eastern and Western Conference (Zone 1 and 2 for each) qualifying tournaments. The representatives of each state are the respective USCF state champions. Or, if a state champion was unavailable, a representative was selected by the USCF state coordinator. The top two from each division go on the other semi-finals.

Download Eastern and Western Conference Games here in .PGN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eastern Conference: Zone 1

¤ User Name Real Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 Score #g
1 CofC-NewJersey Mackenzie Molner xx 10 1= 11 11 11 11 0 01 14.5 15
2 CofC-Massachu IM Jim Rizzitano 01 xx 01 01 11 01 11 1 11 14.0 15
3 CofC-Connectic GM Sergey Kudrin 0= 10 xx 11 00 11 11 = 11 13.0 15
4 CofC-Wisconsin Erik Santarius 00 10 00 xx 11 11 10 1 11 12.0 15
5 CofC-Pennsylvan Peter Minear 00 00 11 00 xx 10 11 1 =0 9.5 15
6 CofC-Ohio IM Tim Taylor 00 10 00 00 01 xx 01 01 11 8.0 16
7 CofC-NewYork IM Justin Sarkar 00 00 00 01 00 10 xx = 01 6.5 15
8 CofC-NewHampsh Braden Bournival 1 0 = 0 0 10 = xx 11 6.0 10
9 CofC-RhodeIs Miro Reverby 10 00 00 00 =1 00 10 00 xx 5.5 16

Eastern Conference: Zone 2

¤ User Name Real Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Score #g
1 CofC-Virginia Dov Gorman xx 0= 11 11 01 11 11 1i 11.5 13
2 CofC-NoCarolina FM Ronald Simpson 1= xx 01 01 11 11 11 1i 11.5 13
3 CofC-Maryland GM Larry Kaufman 00 10 xx 01 11 11 =1 1i 9.5 13
4 CofC-Tennessee IM Ronald Burnett 00 10 10 xx 01 11 11 1i 9.0 13
5 CofC-Alabama Scott Varagona 10 00 00 10 xx =1 11 1i 7.5 13
6 CofC-WVirginia Benjamin Good 00 00 00 00 =0 xx 01 1i 3.5 13
7 CofC-DC Marc Rotenberg 00 00 =0 00 00 10 xx 0i 2.5 13
8 CofC-Indiana Garrett Smith 0o 0o 0o 0o 0o 0o 1o xx 1.0 7

Western Conference: Zone 1

¤ User Name Real Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Score #g
1 CofC-NCal Sam Shankland xx 11 11 11 =1 11 9.5 10
2 CofC-Washington Curt Collyer 00 xx 01 10 11 1= 5.5 10
3 CofC-Michigan Bill Calton 00 10 xx 01 11 10 5.0 10
4 CofC-NoDakota Mike Sailer 00 01 10 xx 11 10 5.0 10
5 CofC-Iowa Tim McEntee =0 00 00 00 xx 11 2.5 10
6 CofC-Alaska Marven Breis 00 0= 01 01 00 xx 2.5 10

Western Conference: Zone 2

¤ User Name Real Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Score #g
1 CofC-SCal John Bryant xx 10 11 11 1= 11 8.5 10
2 CofC-Arizona IM Levon Altounian 01 xx 01 11 01 1i 7.0 9
3 CofC-Hawaii Robert Lau 00 10 xx 10 11 1i 6.0 9
4 CofC-Texas Warren Harper 00 00 01 xx 11 =i 4.5 9
5 CofC-Louisiana Alex Steger 0= 10 00 00 xx 0i 2.5 9
6 CofC-Colorado Philipp Ponomarev 00 0o 0o =o 1o xx 1.5 6


ICC hosts online U.S. State Champion of Champions Tournament

Internet Chess Club, in conjunction with St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, sponsors of the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship, and the United States Chess Federation is pleased to announce details of the upcoming 2009 U.S. State 'Champion of Champions' online tournament, the winner of which will go forward to play in the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship, May 7th through 17th in St. Louis, MO.

State champions from Alaska through California to Hawaii and from Maine through to New York and Florida will come together as one over the internet on Saturday, March 28th at for this unique online tournament, with the four qualifying conference winners going forward to the knockout finals on the weekend of April 4th-5th.

Apart from the attraction of one of the final spots up for grabs at what promises to be a memorable U.S. Chess Championship with a prize fund exceeding $130,000, the winner will also receive the title of State Champion of Champions, a round trip ticket to St. Louis and a glass trophy designed by The Stained Glass Store of Des Moines, Iowa.

ICC has organized and sponsored this tournament four times now with great success on each occasion. Not only has it proved to be a popular event with all the players, but it also ably demonstrates that online chess and over-the-board chess can indeed be a perfect mix. "We have always looked at ways of bringing the virtual world of ICC into the real world of tournament chess," commented ICC President Joel Berez. "And thanks to this perfect symbiosis with our partners at the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center and USCF, the State Champion of Champions event helps us work further towards that goal."

Full rules and regulations for the U.S. State Champion of Champions tournament can be found here.

Further information:
John B. Henderson
ICC Director of Chess Content
Tel: 847-347-9593

Rules for The 2009 US State Champion of Champions


All dates are ICC server time, this is New York Time (EDT).

1. Qualification tournaments

March 28, 16:00: Eastern Conference (Zone 1 and 2).
March 28, 16:00: Western Conference (Zone 1 and 2).

2. Finals

April 4, 15:00: Semi-Finals (winners of Zones 1 and 2).
April 5, 15:00: Finals. (East vs. West).


1. Qualification tournaments

Both Eastern and Western Conference will be a double-round all-play-all tournaments split into two zones with a time control of 3 1 (three minutes initially plus one second added per move). The games will be unrated on ICC and seedings will be based on USCF ratings. In the event of one conference group not having sufficient numbers, the ICC will have the right to mearge two groups into one large group with both the winner and runner-up meeting in the semifinal.

2. Qualification to the Finals

In both Eastern and Western Conference, the top two finishing players from each zone will qualify for their conference semi-finals, the winners of which will play in a final which will have one player from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference.

3. Finals

Each round of the finals (semi-finals & finals) will be played in two rounds, alternating colors, with a time control of 25 minutes initially plus 10 seconds added per move. If a match of two games ends 1-1, there will be two games with a time control of 3, 1 between those two players to determine the winner. Should this tiebreak match also end 1-1, there will be an 'armageddon game': White will receive 5 minutes against Black's 4 minutes, no time increments. Black will advance on draw in that game. The responsible ICC tournament director will draw lots in order to determine colors in this armageddon game.

In the semi finals, pairings will be:

Eastern Conference Zone 1 winner vs. Eastern Conference Zone 2 winner (SF1)
Western Conference Zone 1 winner vs. Western Conference Zone 2 winner (SF2)
In the finals, the winner of SF1 will meet the winner of SF2 and colors in the first game will be determined by the responsible ICC tournament director drawing lots. Should a tiebreak match be necessary, colors in the first tiebreak game will always be the same as they were in the first regular game of that match.


Prizes for the tournament are as follows:

1st:  Round trip flight (US only) to St. Louis.
 Title of U.S. State Champion of Champions.
 Glass Trophy (to be presented during U.S. Championship)
 provided by The Stained Glass Store (Des Moines, Iowa).
2nd: 100 US-Dollars.
3rd/4th: 50 US-Dollars each.
The winner will be seeded into the O.T.B 2009 U.S. Championship in St. Louis, MO, sponsored by the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center.


1. General

The participants will receive accounts on ICC for the duration of the tournament free of charge - if you play all games without withdrawing, then you will receive a free 1-year subscription to ICC (or membership extension of 1-year). Champion of Champion accounts will have names like "CofC-Alabama" etc. All participants must use the program BlitzIn (2.7) or Dasher (1.3) to connect to ICC while playing in the tournament. These programs are available free of charge at In order to obtain their passwords and further instructions, players should email in time.

Players will be prompted to match their designated opponent at starting time. There is no need to issue any additional commands. The tournament will be organized in ICC channel 227, using the semi-automated pairing robot 'pear'.

2. Playing games on ICC

During an internet chess game, it could happen that one player loses his connection to the server. In this case, the game is automatically adjourned. The disconnected player should try to return to ICC as soon as possible. When he logs back in, he and his opponent are notified of the adjourned game. Both need to resume the game as soon as possible. In order to prevent games from not being adjourned, all players in the tournament must have their noescape variables set to false.

ICC has a mechanism which compensates the clocks of both players for internet latency. Details about this mechanism can be obtained by typing help timestamp on ICC.

Draw offers and draw claims may be made by clicking the Draw button prior to making a move. The server does not give draws on repetition or by applying the 50-moves rule automatically. The draw must be claimed by clicking the draw button before moving. There is no possibility to claim draw on insufficient losing chances. The ending King, Knight, Knight against bare King is not called draw immediately, but must be played out 50 moves, if not agreed.

3. Miscellaneous rules

The ICC tournament directors may at their discretion make a ruling on a particular game or eject a player from a tournament for any reason including but not limited to: failure to show up on time or to start a game on time, concern that the player's internet connection is not reliable enough for the game to finish in a timely manner, suspicion of chess computer use or suspicion that a player is receiving assistance.

Participants must supply their real name, full address of their playing location and phone number. They agree that their real name is made public during the tournament. Participants who want to keep their existing ICC account anonymous, should appeal for an extra free account to be used in the tournament.

ICC reserves the right to change the structure and format of the tournament depending on player participation. Should we believe that the numbers may not be enough to make 4 zonal sections, the tournament manager, with the agreement of ICC director John Henderson, may change to 2 zonal all-play-alls (with the top two from each going forward to the finals) or indeed one zonal all-play-all (with top four going forward to the finals). There will be no tiebreaks to determine final spots - this will be playoff deciders as determined by the tournament manager.

The games in the finals weekend will be proctored by a person chosen by USCF, St. Louis Chess Club and ICC. Before the finals begin, the presence of the proctor at the playing location will be verified before by the responsible ICC tournament director. In order to achieve this, the following procedure will be used:

  1. The player logs into ICC under his account name.

  2. The player lets the proctor use his computer and the proctor sends a tell on ICC to the responsible ICC tournament director containing a pre-agreed password.

  3. The player takes over the computer again.

  4. After the session is finished, the proctor again uses the player's computer and sends a tell on ICC to the responsible ICC tournament director, containing a pre-agreed password in case everything was in line with the rules.
In case a player is disqualified from the tournament, the ICC tournament directors can, at their discretion, rule that the game of that player in the running round is lost for him, and won for his opponent. However, results by that player in prior rounds will not be reverted.

ICC in collaboration with USCF & St. Louis Chess Club.


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