Charles Lawton in U.S. Championship

NM Charles Lawton analyzing with FM Morris Giles at the Midwest Masters Invitational in 1982. Michael Brooks is also pictured and also got a wildcard spot.

NM Charles Lawton analyzing with FM Morris Giles at the Midwest Masters Invitational in 1982. IM Michael Brooks is also pictured and also got a wildcard spot.

National Master Charles Lawton will compete in the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship in his hometown of St. Louis on May 7th-17th. He was a wildcard selection and a longtime Missouri resident and former state champion. Missouri native IM Michael Brooks also received a wildcard spot.

See Giles-Lawton game!


  1. I remember meeting Lawton at a tournament in Chicago’s Palmer House and we played some games of blitz. He played unorthodox lines, but of course was very strong. It will be great to see him in action!

  2. Good luck Charles!!!! I wonder if the organizers were running from IM Tate; he is playing in everything and extremely sharp at this time. Maybe he would win the whole tournament.

  3. Well… Charles got the wildcard because the local organizers get to choose a number of players to compete. St. Louis is the host and Lawton (along with Brooks) are considered legends in Missouri chess and probably were selected based on their state-wide merits.

  4. Congrats Charles. I will be pulling for you Bro. Let me start by offering to send books, software, and other training materials you deem necessary to allow you to perform at your optimum. Please contact me at for any of my software expertise needed to aid you in your preparation. Rene’ Phillips

  5. I still have a lot of friends in Missouri chess, having grown up across the river in East St. Louis. I’ll see if any of them have an e-mail address for Lawton.

    I’d thought he was more or less inactive. He was always one of the strongest Missouri players. Very unorthodox opening style, but a tactical nightmare.

  6. Charles Lawton (pictured right) just played in the Mid-American Open March 13-15 and came in 4th-11th with 3.5/5. It’s good to see him in action. He has primarily been playing a lot of blitz.

    An interesting article on the tournament and discussion on Michael Brooks. Brooks was a rising star back in the 80s and it will be good to see him play in the championship as well. I remember him from a lot of Chicago tournaments. The U.S. Championship is going to be a strong tournament!

    BTW, Nigeria’s Kenneth Odeh (based in California) won the A-prize with three points in the Open section. Strong performance in the open section… beat a couple Experts.

    Photo from


  7. Mr. Daaim Shabazz
    The Chess Drum

    Dear Daaim:

    In less than one year since its opening, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has achieved a notable milestone: Hosting the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship from May 7 through 17, 2009.

    The club, which was founded by retired investment fund manager Rex Sinquefield, is housed in a 19th century building in St. Louis’ historic Central West End neighborhood. When it opened in July 2008 Steve Goldberg of United States Chess Federation Online ( called it “one of the most impressive chess centers” in the country.

    Next month, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will offer a purse of more than $200,000 in prize money at the annual U.S. Chess Championship. Two dozen of the nation’s best players have accepted invitations to play, including Charles Lawton, the only St. Louisan and only African-American player in the tournament; Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Onischuk, the “Big Three” of American chess; defending champion Grandmaster Yury Shulman; Women’s champion Anna Zatonskih, an Olympic medalist; and Olympic medalists Varuzhan Akobian and Irina Krush.

    The winner will receive $35,000. Also, a $64,000 bonus in memory of late chess champion Bobby Fischer will be awarded to any player who scores a 9-0 sweep in tournament competition. Fischer’s 11-0 victory in the 1963-64 U.S. championship is the only perfect score in the event’s history.

    Prior to its opening, Sinquefield promised that the St. Louis site would be the “most beautiful and technologically advanced” chess club in the United States. In addition to playing tables, the three-level facility houses a meeting room, a board room, a lounge area and a classroom for teaching chess.

    A dozen flat monitors are situated throughout the building, while monitors in the front window showcase tournaments for the public. Additionally, the not-for-profit Center supports chess programs in local school districts and encourages the development of chess within regular school curricula.

    The ancient game of chess is the focus of a sparkling new facility that will host the premier tournament in American chess. Please let me know if you’d be interested in knowing more about this prestigious event, or Charles Lawton, or visit

    Best regards,

    Mark Bretz

  8. Interesting piece by Mark Bretz on Charles Lawton. Here’s an excerpt:

    Lawton pays the bills by working as an electrical engineer at BioMerieux Inc., where he’s been employed for more than 30 years. The responsibilities of his job minimize the number of tournaments in which he’s able to compete, but he’s kept his skills sharp for such occasions through the years.

    “I’ve been going to one major tournament per decade in the last 30 years,” says Lawton. “In 1990, for example, I drew Gata Kamsky (one of the “Big Three” of American chess) at the national open in Las Vegas. I played again in the tournament in 2000 and now am competing again this year.”


  9. Charles was in our class of 1970 at St. Louis U. High, a Jesuit high school in St. Louis, Missouri.
    Good luck Charles! Heard you mentioned on the news last night for the big tournament.

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