|U.S. Chess Championship in May|
|By Ray West|
|March 22, 2007|
(Crossville, TN) For the world of Chess, the upcoming Frank K. Berry 2007 U.S. Chess Championship is the Super Bowl and March Madness all wrapped up into one.
Slated for play May 15 through the 23, the gridiron/arena/chess boards will be set up at the Quality Inn, Stillwater, Oklahoma. The games will produce the newest in a long line of United States Chess Champions. And while the prizes at stake won’t approach the aforementioned, they’ll still exceed sixty-five thousand dollars.
With over 30 contenders, the players run the gambit. The youngest is 12 year old Ray Robson from Florida, a 2330 rated player. The elder statesman of play, Joe Bradford of Texas, will tip the scales at 56 years old. Qualifying for this prestigious tournament is arduous. In a world that starts its measurement of a player at 100, and runs as high as just over 2800, you have to qualify by ratings alone with a 2700. And, there will be several grandmasters in contention.
To qualify for the Grandmaster title in chess, a player needs a minimum rating of 2500, along with jumping over a lot of hurdles, called ‘norms’ in chess. At this dizzying level, there are only about a thousand so titled in the entire world.
Robson qualified by his prodigious performance in a qualifying tournament last year. Bradford is in with his 2006 U.S. Senior Open win. Perhaps history’s best known winner of this crown was Bobby Fischer, and he won it eight times on his way to becoming World Champion in 1972.
Played since 1936, the tournament has had a variety of formats. Historically, the field was twelve with round-robin play. The past two years’ play was modified to allow sixty players. This year, it’s scaling back to just over thirty. The formats vary from the round-robin to two separate groups playing for a winner to face off with each other. When ties occur, they’re settled on the board in overtime play.
The 2007 US Championship is being sponsored by Frank K. Berry of Stillwater. Final elements of planning are still in the works while the 30 plus scheduled players anxiously await their chance to vie for the crown.
The United States Chess Federation (USCF), founded in 1939, serves as the governing body for chess in the