The U.S. Open has a long and colorful history. Up until 1938, the tournaments were organized by the Western Chess Association and its successor, the American Chess Federation (1934–1938). Since 1939 the USCF has run the tournament.
Originally the tournaments were small round robins consisting of preliminaries, Consolation Finals and the Championship. Then in 1946, it was run on a Swiss System for the first time with a preliminary and various final sections. In 1947, the preliminary rounds were eliminated and it became single section. It used to be a two week event with 12 or 13 rounds, but in recent years it has deteriorated to nine rounds with multiple short schedules consisting of rapid games before merging all the sections in the last rounds which are played at “normal” time controls.
The Open really began growing in the 1950s and 1960s: Milwaukee 1953 (181 entries), Cleveland 1957 (184 entries), San Francisco 1961 (198 entries), Chicago 1963 (266 entries), Boston 1963 (229 entries), etc. The 1983 Open at Pasadena had 836 entries and featured Viktor Korchnoi, who had played in the last two World Championship matches. Prize money was good for the time. In 1962, the entry fee was $20, with a first prize of $1000 (over $8000 in today's dollars), second prize $500, third $300, fourth $200, fifth $100, sixth through tenth $50 and eleventh through fifteenth $25. There were also many additional small prizes. The 2016 first prize was $8000.
By the 2000s entries were around 400 to 500 and the tournament declined in importance. And, because of the reduced length and scheduling, multiple ties for first began to appear.
Some of the strongest winners, many more than once, have been George Wolbrecht, Edward Lasker, Carlos Torre, Samuel Reshevsky, Reuben Fine, I.A. Horowitz, Isaac Kashdan, Arthur Bisguier, Larry Evans, Nicolas Rossolimo, Arturo Pomar, Donald Byrne, Robert Byrne, Bent Larsen, Pal Benko, Vastimil Hort, Walter Browne, Anatoly Lein, Leonid Shamkovich, Andrew Soltis, Florin Gheorghiu, Viktor Korchnoi, Yasser Seirawan, Boris Spassky, Lev Alburt and Alexander Shabalov, to name a few.
The 2004 event had 7 tied for first and 2007 also saw 7 players tying for first. In 2009, there were six players and 2012 and 2013 both had three tied for first place.
Today's game is taken from the 2011 event which was won by Aleksandr Lenderman. Lenderman (September 23, 1989) was born in Leningrad and at the age of four, his family arrived in the US. He attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn where, from 2004–2007, the team won four straight national high school titles for the school. He won the 2005 World Under-16 Championship. In 2009, he announced after completing his second year at Brooklyn College, he planned to end his studies there and become a professional chess player. That same year he tied for first in the US Open with Dmitry Gurevich, Sergey Kudrin, Alex Yermolinsky, Jacek Stopa and Jesse Kraai. He also earned his GM title in 2009.
The 2011 Open was a hectic affair. There was a “traditional” schedule with 3 GMs, a 4-day schedule with 8 GMs and a 6-day schedule with 6 GMs. One unusual feature of the tournament was the lack of IMs and FMs. The last three rounds merged and were played at traditional time controls.
Going into the last round (the 9th) the leaders with 7.0 were Lenderman and Nakamura who drew. That meant that on boards 2-5 any winners could tie for first and none of those games were drawn!
GM Alonzo Zapata also had 7.0, but for family reasons he had taken a last round bye which eant he also tied with the other 7.5-pointers: GM Alejandro Ramirez, GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, GM Timur Gareyev, GM Hikaru Nakamura, Tamaz Gelashvili and GM Alex Lenderman.
The winner of the US Open qualified for the US Championship and the two players with the best tiebreaks, Ramirez and Lenderman, played a blitz game which was won by Lenderman who, as a result, was also declared the US Open Champion.
One of the most exciting games of the tournament was Nakamura's 5th round win over FM Kazim Gulamali, a US Senior Master from Georgia who is best known for his phenomenal ability in Bughouse chess. The game, by the way, was played at rapid time controls. You can read an interview with Gulamali on Chess Drum.