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Exciting new format debuts at 2010 U.S. Championship

[imagefield_assist|fid=1795|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]The 2010 U.S. Championship, scheduled to be held May 13-25 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, will feature a new format, which includes a 24-player, seven-round Swiss tournament followed by a four-player Championship final. The idea is designed to ensure drama in the final three days of play and to avoid the potentially less climactic pairings that are typical in a 24-player, nine-round Swiss.

This innovative new format will ensure an exciting finale for chess fans around the world. After seven rounds of play, the top four players will face off in a round robin (also known as a quad). The scores from the Swiss tournament will carry over into the final.   

Players who do not make it into the top four places after seven rounds will play two more rounds of the Swiss event. They will also have much to play for as fifth place will be awarded $10,000 and the total prize fund of the "Challenger's Swiss" will exceed $90,000. 

"By structuring this year's event with both a preliminary Swiss and climactic final, we hope to host a U.S. Championship that fans will never forget and that will help advance the cause of chess as telegenic and thrilling," said Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. "Come out to Saint Louis for a long weekend during the finals to see for yourself!"

Tournament Chairperson WGM Jennifer Shahade will provide live commentary of the tournament alongside a Grandmaster commentator soon to be announced. 

This year's prize fund is being increased from $135,000 to more than $170,000 with a grand prize of $35,000, a minimum of $3,000 for last place and more funds going to second place in particular ($20,000 as compared to $15,000 in 2009). The prize fund is differentiated at every single place with the exception of the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, who will both receive $10,000. "We are proud to present the largest per capita prize fund in U.S. Championship history," Rich said. 

In the event that there is no clear U.S. Champion after the quad finals, there will be a championship playoff. The U.S. Champion will receive $5,000 more than other players tied for first prior to the playoff, but  other tied players throughout the tournament will share monies equally. If after seven rounds, there are ties for the four places into the final round-robin quad, then there will be a concise fourth-place playoff on May 21, the scheduled rest day.
"Rules to break possible ties (and multiple ties) for fourth and first will be fully outlined," said U.S. Championship Rules Advisor Greg Shahade. 

They will appear in the players contracts and on the CCSCSL Web site closer to the tournament start.

The 24 invited players will include:

  • defending U.S. Chess Champion, GM Hikaru Nakamura;
  • winner of the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship, GM Larry Christiansen;
  • winner of the 2009 U.S. Junior Championship, GM Ray Robson;
  • winner of the 2009 U.S. Women's Championship, IM Anna Zatonskih;
  • the top five qualifiers from the 2009 U.S. Open Championship: GM-elect Alex Lenderman, GM Sergey Kudrin, GM Alex Yermolinsky, GM Dmitri Gurevich and GM Jesse Kraai;
  • winner of the 2010 ICC State Champion of Champions (to be determined);
  • the top 10 U.S. players by rating of the United States Chess Federation's February supplement (to be determined);
  • four wild card spots (to be determined).

Stay tuned for more details on the prize fund breakdown, schedule and participants.