As the opening remarks began, I found an open seat directly behind Boris Gulko, Gregory Kaidanov and Yury Shulman - a nicer trio of gentlemen would be hard to find.
After opening introductions, St. Louis Chess Club founder Rex Sinquefield got up to speak.
Sinquefield spoke eloquently, but at one point stumbled when mentioning one of the participant's names. A couple of the Russians couldn't contain their amusement at the difficulties their names cause native English speakers, but they were not impolite.
Francis Slay, mayor of St. Louis, then spoke to the crowd, followed by the Missouri Lieutenant Governor, Peter Kinder. Afterwards, each player was called to an area in front as colors were selected. Each player took either a glass of white wine or red wine, depending on whether they were chosen as white or black. An interesting moment arose when 14-year-old Ray Robson approached the wine table. He put out a hand as if to take a glass of wine, but quickly withdrew it. He still has a few years to go before he can legally drink it!