U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship Return to St. Louis
The 2014 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship will return to St. Louis, both for the sixth consecutive year. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will host the two round robins from May 7-21, 2014. The U.S. Championship will feature 12 players while 10 women will be invited for their event.
The club also announced that it will once again host the U.S. Junior Championship from June 20-July 1, 2014.
After changing structures most years, the U.S. Championship once again sees a new wrinkle for this year. The 11-round all-play-all tournament replaces last year's format, which was a nine-round, 24-player Swiss. The women's even remains unaltered from last year.
The prize structure has yet to be determined, but the total purse was announced as $171,000 according to club officials. Last year's prizes totaled $180,000 but that was split amongst a field twice the size. The women's event will keep its $65,000 in total prize money.
The hosts are also bringing back the $64,000 "Fischer Prize" for anyone in the U.S. Championship that can score a perfect 11-0 (Bobby Fischer went unblemished in the 1963-1964 Championship). Last year GM Gata Kamsky got closer than anyone since the special prize was offered. He won his first four games, but all players, including him, scoffed at the idea that anyone could remain perfect for the entire tournament. He drew his next five games before beating GM Alejandro Ramirez in the third game of a tense playoff.
Three of the dozen spots for the U.S. Championship have been filled. Kamsky punches his ticket as the defending champion, while GM Josh Friedel will be invited after winning the 2013 U.S. Open. GM Daniel Naroditsky also gets the nod from winning the 2013 U.S. Junior Championship. Eight more positions will be filled by rating, with one wildcard invite.
Top-rated American GM Hikaru Nakamura, a resident of St. Louis, did not play in 2013. During last year's live commentary, he stated that he had not played in his last U.S. Championship. He won the 2012 edition with an undefeated 8.5/11, which was also a 12-player round robin.
In the women's event, Irina Krush, newly-crowned grandmaster, has the only official invitation thus far. She won in 2013 with seven wins and two draws to successfully defend her title for the first time (she has five titles in total). The next seven players will be based on rating and two more by wildcard invite.
GM Irina Krush, going for a three-peat
Since the event began in 1937, several women have won three consecutive U.S. Women's Championships but no one has ever done it outright. Krush will be looking to make history in that regard, but she has a ways to go to pass WIM Gisela Gresser's mark of nine lifetime titles.
You can follow both tournaments at the club's tournament web site. For more information, read the official press release. Chess.com will also be on-site bringing you daily tourmament reports and exclusive video interviews.