U.S. Open: Chess games, awards, signings, meetings

by Alexey Root
8/10/2021 – Grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman won the U.S. Open with 8½ points out of 9 rounds. Mike Walder annotates Lenderman’s wins over Grandmasters Hans Niemann and John Michael Burke. Alexey Root reports on the awards presentations, book signings, and meetings held at the U.S. Open’s Cherry Hill, New Jersey site. | Photos: Alexey Root

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U.S. Open Champion

After round 8, Grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman was one point ahead of the field. Therefore, he only needed to draw in the last round to get clear first in the U.S. Open. In round 9, he drew as Black against Grandmaster Benjamin Gledura. Thus, Lenderman became the 2021 U.S. Open Champion.

Gledura vs. Lenderman - Round 9

Across from the playing hall, a US Chess Executive Board Open Session was underway. Lenderman briefly addressed those attending the session, saying that he thought about playing on in the final position since he was better.

The top U.S. Open games were played on DGT boards and broadcast on lichess.org, where they are still available. For this article, Mike Walder annotated Lenderman’s round 7 win against Grandmaster Hans Niemann and his round 8 win against Grandmaster John Michael Burke.


While Lenderman was the biggest over-the-board winner, there were many off-the-board winners too. The Chess Journalists of America (CJA) gave awards in 55 categories. John Hartmann of US Chess was the Chess Journalist of the Year. American Chess Magazine, edited by Josip Asik, won the award for Best Overall Magazine-Print. Click the CJA awards link to see all winners.

Joshua Anderson (left) and John Hartmann

During the US Chess Annual Award reception, the consulting editor for American Chess Magazine, Pete Tamburro, received a Special Services Award.

Pete Tamburro

Others honored included Abel Talamantez (Organizer of the Year Award) and Lauren Goodkind (Meritorious Services Award). Talamantez is the incoming chair of the US Chess Clubs Committee and the Chess Room Director for Mechanics’ Institute. Goodkind played in the U.S. Open, and she took a bye to attend the reception. Fellow Northern Californian Jim Eade, of The Eade Foundation, joined Talamantez and Goodkind for a photo.

Jim Eade (left), Abel Talamantez, Lauren Goodkind

New Jersey had award winners besides Tamburro, including the Club of the Year Award for the Toms River Chess Club and a previously unannounced award for the world’s youngest grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra. Click on the US Chess Annual Award link for a list of 2021 award winners.

Chess Club of the Year (Toms River Chess Club)

Abhimanyu Mishra

After the US Chess Annual Award reception came the induction of Frank Brady and James Sherwin into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. Neither attended in person, but both addressed the reception attendees via video and audio. U.S. Chess Trust President Steven Doyle emceed the induction. 

U.S. Chess Trust President Steven Doyle emceed the induction.

Book signings

Grandmaster Joel Benjamin gave a lecture and a book signing. His lecture included Benjamin–Kaidanov (World Open, 1992), which is in Benjamin’s forthcoming book

Winning the World Open: Strategies for Success at America’s Most Prestigious Open Chess Tournament. Benjamin’s book signing featured a handful of his books, including World Champion Chess for Juniors: Learn From the Greatest Players Ever. Benjamin also played in the 2021 U.S. Open.

Wendy Reed has Joel Benjamin sign a book

Dewain Barber signed Humor in Chess. I signed Prepare with Chess Strategy. Steve Elkins, who represented Arkansas in the John T. Irwin National Tournament of Senior State Champions, spent some of his “$50 Upset Prize Certificate” buying my book. Elkins annotated his upset win from round 1 of the Irwin for this article.

Irwin Senior participant Steve Elkins with $50 upset prize

Grandmaster Stuart Rachels didn’t sign his book The Best I Saw in Chess. But he did mention it when he received the Frank J. Marshall Award.

Stuart Rachels


It was impossible to attend every workshop and meeting at the 2021 U.S. Open. Here are highlights from four that I attended. In the College Chess committee meeting, chaired by Grandmaster Alex Onischuk, the Head Coach and Program Director for Texas Tech University Chess, the main topic was the chess arms race. Each “chess” university attempts to recruit the same top-ranked young grandmasters. One proposed solution might be to limit each university’s “A” team to a 2500 US Chess rating average.

College Chess

The Nominating Committee, chaired by David Grimaud, earned the “Committee of the Year” award for its work recommending candidates for the US Chess Executive Board. If you are interested in running for Executive Board, see this elections link.

The August 5 Executive Board Open Session highlighted that the U.S. Open will likely be shortened in future years, though not for years where there is already a hotel contract. Envisioned is a U.S. Open that runs for seven days, from Monday through Sunday. Currently, the U.S. Open lasts for nine days, such as this year’s U.S. Open from July 31 (Saturday) through August 8 (Sunday).

On August 8, at another Executive Board Open Session, the officers for the next year (2021–2022) were announced. They are Mike Hoffpauir, President; Randy Bauer, Vice President; Chuck Unruh, Vice President of Finance; and Fun Fong, Secretary. David Day, John Fernandez, David Hater, and Kevin Pryor are members at large.

The Executive Board plans to meet both online and in person in the next 12 months. Whether or not US Chess will send delegations to international in-person chess events, however, is still in doubt due to the on-going pandemic.



Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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