By Katie Baldetti and Mike Wilmering
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The Opening Ceremony for the 2010 U.S. Women’s and Junior Closed Championships is complete, and the pairings have been determined:
2010 U.S. Women’s Championship (Rd. 1)
WIM Iryna Zenyuk vs. WGM Sabina Foisor
WFM Abby Marshall vs. WIM Alisa Melekhina
WIM Beatriz Marinello vs. IM Irina Krush
WFM Tatev Abrahamyan vs. WGM Camilla Baginskaite
IM Anna Zatonskih vs. WGM Katerina Rohanyan
[imagefield_assist|fid=5630|preset=fullsize|lightbox=true|title=IM Sam Shankland and GM Ray Robson are the two highest-rated players at this year's 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=375|height=266]
2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship (Rd. 1)
NM Eric Rosen vs. GM Ray Robson
FM Steven Zierk vs. FM Darwin Yang
FM Conrad Holt vs. NM Tyler Hughes
NM Parker Zhao vs. IM Sam Shankland
FM Warren Harper vs. FM John Bryant
Conversation filled the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries in Saint Louis as contending champions, their families, and guests took their time to get to know, and reacquaint with, one other.
Following hors d’oeuvres in the gathering room and bar outside of the art galleries, the 20 contestants began to journey their way over to the Sheldon Concert Hall, which was designed by Louis C. Spiering, the architect of the 1904 World’s Fair.
Along with beautiful stained glass windows, the hall features breathtaking acoustics, which complemented the performances of the Jouer d’adoube Brass Quintet and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Serendipity String Quartet.
Executive Director Tony Rich delivered the opening remarks for the ceremony after a rousing National Anthem by the brass quintet.
“These two fields feature fierce competitors,” Rich said. “We’re sure to see plenty of fighting chess throughout.”
Special appearances by Chess Club Founder Rex Sinquefield and Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder highlighted the ceremony. Susan Barrett, a member of the board of directors for both the Chess Club and the Sheldon Art Galleries, also spoke at the event, highlighting the numerous community partnerships the chess club has formed.
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“Chess is a bit of a Rorschach test, in that everyone sees a different benefit,” Barrett said.
To determine the pairings, the organizers employed a unique ceremony involving music boxes that contained each player’s soon-to-be-determined pairing number. Each of these boxes contained a number, one through 10, that would ultimately decide their first-round opponent.
The women went first, each selecting a music box of her choice as Chief Arbiter Carol Jarecki escorted them to the center of the stage. One by one they each opened their music box as the numbers fell into place and the pairings were determined.
Following a riveting Beethoven performance by the Serendipity String Quartet, Arbiter Chris Bird brought each one of the Juniors to the stage for their turn. Although the official announcement had not yet been made, the buzz was already in the air as the women, seated in front of the all-female brass quintet, began piecing together the first round pairings.
As the Juniors drew their numbers, IM Sam Shankland could be seen scribbling the pairings on a piece of paper while still on stage, clearly eager to begin his preparation for tomorrow’s match.
Round one of both events begins tomorrow, July 10, at 2 p.m. CDT at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Don’t miss special commentary by GM Hikaru Nakamura and WGM Jennifer Shahade during round one. GM Ben Finegold will accompany Nakamrua during round two, and Finegold and Shahade will take over for the remainder of the live broadcasts.
Follow all of the action live on www.uschesschamps.com. As always, spectators are welcome at the event, which requires only a month membership to attend. Memberships are just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.