The heat is on, and Saint Louis is just getting warmed up.
In May, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is set to return to Saint Louis to defend his title at this year's 2010 U.S. Chess Championship, but first he'll stop by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) for a tune-up at the Bill Wright Saint Louis Open.
The Bill Wright Saint Louis Open, held at the CCSCSL this weekend, April 10-11, features a $5,700 prize fund and some of the top players in the country.
Nakamura will be joined by six other GMs including the CCSCSL's resident GM Ben Finegold, Robert Hess, Alejandro Ramirez, Josh Friedel, Dmitry Gurevich and Mesgen Amanov. Five of the 2009 U.S. Women's Championship competitors will be in attendance including International Master Irina Krush; WIMs Iryna Zenyuk, Tatev Abrahamyan and Alisa Melekhina; and Yun Fan. Missouri native and IM Michael Brooks will join a number of other titled players to round out the strongest tournament field in Saint Louis Open history.
The presence of such a strong field has attracted the attention of players from coast to coast. More than 85 participants have already pre-registered for the tournament, which will easily break the mark for the best-attended tournament at the world-famous Chess Club in Saint Louis. Tournament organizers are expecting total participants to exceed 150 with countless spectators expected to turnout to see Nakamura, the reigning U.S. Champion, in action. See a cross table of all pre-registered by clicking the link here.
Organizers are asking any participants who are planning on playing in the tournament this coming weekend to purchase an entry fee online before the event. Click here to visit the online store to register for the event.
The CCSCSL's Executive Director, Tony Rich, said the size and scope of the club's tournaments continue to grow as word about the CCSCSL spreads.
"It seems like each tournament is more successful than the one before it," Rich said. "We are so committed to making chess more prominent both in our city and across the country, and the positive response we have received from players and fans alike has been overwhelming. We're looking forward to continuing this trend."
Rich said the next major open tournament the CCSCSL is organizing is the $10,000 U.S. Championship Blitz Open, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 24, immediately following the final game of the Championship Quad Finals, the exciting finale of the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship. The U.S. Championship Blitz Open will give players from across the country the opportunity to take on the competitors of the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship in a nine-round open blitz tourney with $10,000 up for grabs.
Visitors can watch the drama unfold the weekend of May 22 as the top four players after seven rounds of the U.S. Championship duel it out in a round-robin slug fest. Read about the exciting new tournament format here. Rich said the $10,000 Blitz Open is designed to provide an exciting and fun-filled finish for fans and competitors alike.
Last year the CCSCSL hosted the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship and 2009 Women's Championship and, in just one month, the club will host the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship, scheduled to take place May 13-25. The 2010 U.S. Women's Champonhsip and 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship will also be held concurrently at the CCSCSL July 9-19.
This year's Saint Louis Open was named in honor of Bill Wright, a long-time tournament organizer and CCSCSL benefactor who helped orchestrate the Saint Louis Open each year. Although Wright was unable to organize this year's tournament because of health concerns, the legacy of the groundwork he helped lay has been pivotal in making this tournament that share's his namesake a success.
The prize structure is as follows:
- Overall: 1st - $1,000, 2nd - $650, 3rd - $400
- Under 2300: 1st - $500, 2nd - $250
- Under 2000: 1st - $300, 2nd - $200
- 1st - $500, 2nd - $350, 3rd - $200
- Class C: 1st - $300, 2nd - $150
- Class D: 1st - $300, 2nd - $150
- Under 1200 & Unrated: 1st - $300, 2nd - $150
Stay tuned to uschess.org and saintlouischessclub.org for breaking news updates throughout the tournament. If you're not already, become a fan of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.