Drum Interviews at ’13 U.S. Champs

2013 U.S. Chess Championship

National Championships generally bring together the country’s top players and thus a diverse collection of personalities. The 2013 U.S. Chess Championship had a nice mixture of veterans and youth to make the tournament interesting from beginning to end. The Chess Drum conducted the following interviews during the Championship.

GM Fidel Corrales Jiminez – This Cuban player recently finished his first year at Webster University and appears to be thrilled at his prospects. He gave a glowing account of his experience thus far, but also recounts the troubles he faced with the Cuban government (9:17 minutes).

Part of Webster University's National Championship team. L-R: GM Ray Robson (USA), GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Cuba), GM Wesley So (Philippines), GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico).

Part of Webster University’s National Championship team. L-R: GM Ray Robson (USA), GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Cuba), GM Wesley So (Philippines), GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico). Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Maurice Ashley at the telestrator.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Maurice Ashley – The chess world is well-familiar with Ashley’s story, but this interview The Chess Drum asked about his impressions of the 2013 U.S. Championship and prospects for the future. He also mentioned players whom he thought could possibly breakthrough in future championships. There was discussion on the women’s field and of course an update on his own personal projects. Enlightening!
(17:13 minutes)

FM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun – A child prodigy known then as “Jorge Zamora” created a sensation, but as quickly as he shone to stardom, he left the game at age twelve to pursue other interests. Known for his blitz prowess, Sammour-Hasbun won the World under-10 and under-12 championships and shortly after the World Youth Championships in 1995 and after his debut in the U.S. Chess Championship in 1997, he took on a job in construction and started a family.

FM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun vs. GM Alexander Ivanov

FM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun vs. GM Alexander Ivanov, 1-0.

He later resumed his activity and He told me that he has two GM norms and hopefully he can find the energy to vie for his final norm. He is now based in Rhode Island. In the interview, he talks about some of his new projects as well (9:08 minutes).

Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/live
Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/05/03/2013-u-s-championships-st-louis/


  1. Mig’s Daily Dirt posted an interesting March 28, 2007 note on Jorge:

    If the name Jorge Sammour-Hasbun doesn’t ring any chess bells for you, Jorge Zamora might. Sammour-Hasbun changed his name to its original Arab roots, which might have thrown you off the scent if you were looking for the “Latino” kid many thought was a future world championship contender back when he was playing blitz against GMs for money at age 11. His win at 12 over Kamsky led to him being called the youngest player ever to defeat a top tenner. (That game below; it doesn’t seem to be in the usual databases. Fill in any info you have.) He was the US junior champ in 96, played in the US championship at age 18 and represented the western hemisphere in the long-forgotten “Europe vs the Americas” match in 1998. He was already headed out of chess at that point, and only played a few times until popping up on the radar this year. This week he concluded a most unusual comeback by winning the 8th Dos Hermanas tournament, an internet blitz event hosted by the ICC.

    After qualifying for the final KO stage through over 2000 participants, Sammour-Hasbun outslugged and outlasted some big names and well-known blitz maniacs. Kamsky, Nakamura, Shipov, Mamedyarov, Guseinov, none of them made it to the final, where Sammour-Hasbun’s opponent was Armenia’s Tigran “not that one” Petrosian. This is Tigran L Petrosian, born in 1984. (The exact year the world champion of the same name died. Hmmm. Get your mind transplant conspiracies ready.) Sammour-Hasbun needed a draw in the last game of the six-game final match to win and it took him 227 moves to get it! That’s what R vs B at a 4’+2″ time control will get you. Argh. First prize was 1,800 euros, or 2,400 dollars. Beats his usual construction work, I’m guessing! Macauley Peterson has a long audio interview with Sammour-Hasbun here, but you have to be an ICC member to hear it.

    Some tidbits from the interview: He was world under-10 and under-12 champion. His parents are Palestinian. (His current FIDE federation status is also Palestinian, curiously.) He met and did a little training with Mikhail Tal and has always idolized him and his chess. He basically quit chess for ten years but has been trying to keep up to date. He just turned 28 and is married with two kids: an 11-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. (If it was mentioned I didn’t catch where he’s living now. One site mentions Providence, RI, where he used to live. He’s teaching chess in a camp in Rhode Island according to this recent news story.) He’s now working on chess every day and is planning to play some big US tournaments this year. About the Dos Hermanas tournament, he was just hoping to qualify for the final. After some people expressed doubts about an untitled player bashing all these GMs, he played the final rounds with a USCF proctor watching him at his house. (Recent Dos Hermanas events have been plagued by cheating and the ICC disqualified several GMs on those grounds in past events. No word of such things this year.) He thanks Larry Christiansen for vouching for him. Three or four friends came over to watch his final games and everyone started screaming when he claimed the 50-move rule draw in the last one. His favorite game from the event was his black win over Kiril Georgiev (something of a blitz legend himself) in the quarterfinals. All the final games are in the latest TWIC, btw.

    Coincidentally, Edward Winter ran this item almost exactly one year ago: “‘Not since Raoul Capablanca from Cuba has anyone from Latin or Central America generated so much excitement.’ So wrote Mark Tran on page 9 of The Guardian, 5 October 1991, in an article about a 12-year-old boy from El Salvador. ‘… At the legendary Manhattan Chess Club, where Bobby Fischer honed his game, grandmasters crowd around a phenomenon who is already compared to the American genius.’ The prodigy himself was quoted as follows: ‘If God wants, I will be champion at 20.”

    El Salvador? I thought his family went to Honduras and that he represented that nation when he won those junior events.

    Link: https://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2007/03/hasbun-no-hasbeen.htm

  2. Great coverage Daaim! I hope Maurice is right on his assessment on America’s next Carlsen. It was satisfying to see that he didn’t forget Rochelle when you brought up Brooklyn Castle. He’s certainly doing a great job for our community!

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