Friday, May 3

2013 US Championship Begins

The most prestigious annual event in America kicks off on Friday.  The US Championship brings 24 of the best chess players in the country to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for a 9-round swiss.  The winner earns $30,000 and five players punch their ticket to the FIDE World Cup in August.  Does that sound exciting?  You betcha!  Make sure to watch live video coverage starting at 11am PDT daily through May 12th (except the rest day on Wednesday).

Gata Kamsky
The heavy favorites are the top three seeds: Grandmasters Gata Kamsky, Timur Gareev and Alexander Onischuk.  Each spent a different way preparing for this important event.  Kamsky (age 38) participated in the elite FIDE Grand Prix in Switzerland until Tuesday.  He somehow beat Sergey Karjakin (2786) from the black side of a sharp a6 Slav in the penultimate round to finish at 50%. On the other hand, the energetic Timur Gareev (age 25) took on a superhuman challenge: taking on St. Louis club members in a 33 board BLINDFOLD simul!! 
Timur Gareev
Over 10 hours, he beat 29 opponents, drew with 4 and lost none, all the while seated and wearing a heavy black blindfold!!  By comparison, the third seed Onischuk (age 37) took it easy, studying in his office at Texas Tech University and giving this interview. Regretfully, the country's higher rated player and defending champion GM Hikaru Nakamura chose to skip this year's event to challenge Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand and many other Top 10 Grandmasters at the spectacular Norway Chess event beginning on Monday.

Northern California chess fans will want to cheer for two local players.  GM Sam Shankland (age 21) grew up in Orinda and learned the moves at the Berkeley Chess School.  The other, IM-elect Sam Sevian, is the tournament's youngest (age 12) and lowest rated (2467 USCF) invitee, although he made quite a name for himself by winning the World Youth U12 last fall.  Good luck to Sam and Sam!

Participants in 2013 US Championship
Ranked by May FIDE Rating
  1. GM Gata Kamsky 2741 Seeded (by USCF Rating)
  2. GM Timur Gareev 2674 Seeded
  3. Alex Onischuk
  4. GM Alex Onischuk 2666 Seeded
  5. GM Ray Robson 2620 Seeded
  6. GM Varuzhan Akobian 2616 Seeded -- CA/S
  7. GM Sam Shankland 2612 Seeded -- CA/N
  8. GM Robert Hess 2595 Seeded
  9. GM Gregory Kaidanov 2593 Seeded
  10. GM Larry Christiansen 2579 Seeded
  11. GM Yury Shulman 2570 Seeded
  12. GM Alexander Stripunsky 2570 Seeded
  13. GM Alejandro Ramirez 2551 Seeded
  14. GM Alexander Shabalov 2544 Seeded
  15. GM Marc Arnold 2538 Junior Champ
  16. GM Joel Benjamin 2534 Seeded
  17. GM Aleksandr Ivanov 2529 Senior Champ
  18. GM Melikset Khachiyan 2518 Wildcard -- CA/S
  19. GM Conrad Holt 2513 Wildcard
  20. GM Ben Finegold 2505 Wildcard
  21. FM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun 2463 Seeded
  22. IM-e Yaacov Norowitz 2451 Seeded
  23. FM John Bryant 2442 US Open Winner -- CA/S
  24. IM Kayden Troff  2421 Wildcard
  25. IM-e Sam Sevian 2371 Wildcard -- CA/N
Ten of the country's top female players compete in the concurrent US Women's Championship, vying for a first place prize of $18,000 in a Round-Robin format.  The two overwhelming favorites are IM Irina Krush (2470 FIDE) and IM Anna Zatonskih (2466 FIDE).  Between them, they have captured the past seven titles (4-3 edge to Zatonskih, but Krush won last year).

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