Last year's inaugural Sinquefield Cup was the strongest tournament ever held in the U.S. -- the average FIDE rating was above 2790. The organizers in St. Louis don't seem to know when to stop.
This year's lineup is almost complete, and the list of names has only become more impressive. The field grows from four to six players, and includes the world number 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9th players!
The 10-game double round robin will be hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and will take place from August 27 - September 7, 2014.
World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen will attempt to defend his title. Also returning is world number 2 GM Levon Aronian, who nearly stole the cup before collapsing in a last-round heartbreaker in 2013. New world number 3 (according to the live ratings) GM Fabiano Caruana, an American citizen, will play for the first time. World number 5 and official U.S. number 1 GM Hikaru Nakamura will once again attend.
World number 9 and fast-improving GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave rounds out the confirmed field. It doesn't hurt that he is St. Louis resident GM Ben Finegold's favorite player!
GM Magnus Carlsen holding the 2013 winner's cup
World number 4 GM Alexander Grischuk was reportedly contacted, but instead the club's site lists world number 6 GM Sergey Karjakin as having an invitation pending. If he accepts, and using the live ratings as of the time of this posting, that would make the tournament average an astounding and record-breaking 2803!
No category-23 event has ever been held in the U.S., and only one has ever taken place in the world. The 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge topped out at 2801.
Last year GM Hikaru Nakamura's shades became an instant talking point
As you might expect, the prize fund has also increased dramatically. The purse nearly doubles -- from $170,000 to $315,000 -- and first place goes from $70,000 to $100,000.
"The Sinquefield Cup promises to be the strongest tournament ever held," said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich. "The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is committed to providing a wonderful event to our sponsors, players and spectators from around the world."
The tournament will have only one rest day, but players will have nearly two full weeks of rest after the 2014 Chess Olympiad. If history repeats, this may again be Carlsen's last warmup event before a November World Championship Match with GM Viswanathan Anand.
The Sinquefield Cup is named in honor of Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, founders of the chess club. Rex Sinquefield is also running for FIDE treasurer on the presidential ticket of Garry Kasparov.