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The Reigning Kings of American Chess are Coming to St. Louis to Compete in the United States Chess Championship in May

The reigning kings of American chess are coming to Saint Louis to compete in the United States Chess Championship in May. 

Gata Kamsky, rated first on the U.S. Chess Federation’s overall rating list, second-ranked Hikaru Nakamura and third-ranked Alexander Onischuk have accepted invitations to the tournament, which will be held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Also participating will be Yury Shulman, who will be defending his 2008 U.S. Championship title. 

These four players formed the 2008 Bronze Medal Olympic team, along with Varuzhan Akobian, who is also confirmed to play in Saint Louis. 

“We’re really excited to have the top players in the country coming to the tournament,” said Jennifer Shahade, U.S. Championship committee chair and two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion. “It’s especially exciting because the top two ranked players -- Kamsky and Nakamura -- didn’t play in last year’s championship, so they’ll be back after a little hiatus.”  

Gata Kamsky became the youngest player ever to be rated in the World Chess Federation’s top 10 in 1990 at the age of 16. He went on to capture the U.S. Championship the following year. In 2007, Kamsky won the World Chess Cup. 

Hikaru Nakamura holds the record for being the youngest American grandmaster ever, taking that title from former World Champion Bobby Fischer in 2003 at the age of 15 years and two months. Nakamura went on to win the U.S. Championship in 2005 at the age of 16, the second-youngest player to ever win the title.  

Alexander Onischuk won the 2006 U.S. Championship and tied for first place at the Biel Chess Festival in 2007, losing in a tiebreaker. Onischuk also just won the international Moscow Open 2009. 

The U.S. Championship, slated for May 7 - 17, will offer a purse of up to $200,000 in prize money, including a $35,000 cash prize for the first-place winner and a $5,000 jackpot prize. If the winner scores a 9-0 sweep, the player will also be awarded the Fischer Memorial Prize, a $64,000 bonus. The prize is in remembrance of world champion Bobby Fischer, who died last year.  

Other confirmed players include: Varuzhan Akobian, Michael Brooks, Larry Christiansen, Jaan Ehlvest, Josh Friedel, Boris Gulko, Robert Hess, Ildar Ibragimov, Gregory Kaidanov, Irina Krush, Charles Lawton, Ray Robson, Enrico Sevillano and Alexander Shabalov. Check online at for an updated confirmation list. 

The United States Chess Federation is the official, not-for-profit U.S. membership organization for chess players and chess supporters of all ages and strengths, from beginners to Grandmasters. 

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, a not-for-profit organization that opened in 2008, was founded by retired investment fund manager Rex Sinquefield. The center has been hailed as one of the most impressive and technologically-advanced chess venues in the country.


Janese Heavin 573-465-2457