New York Teen Becomes U.S. Chess Champ

A 16-year-old boy has won the U.S. Chess Championship (search), making him the youngest player to claim the title since 14-year-old Bobby Fischer (search) won it in 1958.

Hikaru Nakamura (search) of White Plains, N.Y., won the $25,000 prize Monday after beating Alex Stripunsky, 34, of Rego Park, N.Y., in two overtime matches. The 11-day tournament in San Diego began with a field of 65 competitors.

Nakamura, who was born in Japan, was taught chess by his stepfather and began playing competitively at age 7. A little more than two years later, he qualified as an American master. Nakamura became an American grandmaster last year, eclipsing by a few months Fischer's record of attaining grandmaster status at age 15.

"Basically everything has been a blur," he said.

He is tutored at home by his mother. He said school would take too much time from chess.

His heroes are former chess champion Boris Spassky and Fischer. He said he didn't see himself as the next Fischer, the enigmatic and brilliant player who beat Spassky to win the world title in 1972.

"No, I think I'm a little bit more sane," he said.

In a separate tournament for women only, Rusudan Goletiani, 24, of Hartsdale, N.Y., beat Tatev Abrahamyan, 16, of Glendale for a $12,500 prize.