Saint Louis has established itself as the chess capital of America; therefore, it is its duty to host the most important national event of the year: the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship. The tournament has gained more and more prestige year after year, attracting an increasingly stronger field into an already impressive tournament. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the host of the tournament for its past fabulous editions, is ready to send out the invites for the event, to be held from April 13 to 30, and it is a star-studded field.
Last year was the debut appearance for Grandmaster Wesley So, one of the top-10 players in the World. After a controversial tournament, So did not finish quite highly, and he surely wants to prove that he can win the event this year. However, he has several tough opponents to face. Reigning champion GM Hikaru Nakamura will be one of the more formidable opponents. After having a year full of strong highlights, including his U.S. Championship victory, Nakamura will be one of the front-runners of the event. However, there is a new challenger quickly approaching behind Nakamura. Fabiano Caruana, who finalized his transfer to the U.S. Federation last year, will be invited to play in his first U.S. Championship. If all accept, this means that this year's edition of the tournament coud feature three top-10 players in the world! The tournament will be played in an all play all format (round robin) and it is rounded off by the U.S. Open winner from last year (Alexander Shabalov, 5-time U.S. Champion himself!), the winner of the U.S. Junior Championship (Akshat Chandra), one wildcard of the organizers discretion, and the rest of the 12-player field will be invited based on the January rating.
The U.S. Women's Championship has seen many new faces join in the past few years. Despite the dominance of Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih in the many past editions of the tournament (every edition since the tournament moved to Saint Louis has been won by one of the two players), competition is rapidly becoming stronger. Strong transfers include Katerina Nemcova, Anna Sharevich and Nazi Paikidze. Katerina specially had a strong performance last year finishing in second place. Besides those listed, Tatev Abrahamyan will also be returning, a player that has been one game away from winning the whole tournament in more than one instance.
As is usual now, the tournament will be full of festivities. People can come and enjoy live commentary by grandmasters explaining every game move by move both at Kingside Diner next to the Club or at the World Chess Hall of Fame across the street. Moreover, if you want to follow the action but don't want to leave your home, Internet commentary will be provided by the usual grandmaster team of Maurice Ashley, Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan.
There is one final twist to this year's championship, though: the top three finishers will be invited to an important side event! Following the tournament, the top three players will play a double round robin (all play all twice) between themselves and a special guest... former World Champion Garry Kasparov! Watching Garry Kasparov play chess against the final three will definitely be a pleasure to watch, so make sure not to miss it!
For more information, visit http://www.uschesschamps.com/