Nakamura, Kamsky, 17 Others Confirmed for 2010 U.S. Chess Championship
By Mike Wilmering   
March 10, 2010
SAINT LOUIS, March 10, 2010 -- Nineteen players have accepted invitations to the 2010 U.S. Championship, scheduled to be held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis May 13-25.  Four wild card spots and the winner of the Internet Chess Club (ICC) State Champion of Champions online tournament, all yet to be determined, will round out the 24-player field.

International Master Anna Zatonskih won an automatic bid to the 2010 U.S. Championship as the winner of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Championship, but had to decline because of prior commitments and familial obligations. Her invitation was extended to Grandmaster Ben Finegold, the next highest-listed player by rating according to the USCF’s February rating supplement.

Each of the following eight players has accepted his invitation and has earned a bid to the championship by winning a qualifying event:

GM Hikaru Nakamura (2778): 2009 U.S. Champion
GM Larry Christiansen (2665): 2009 U.S. Senior Open Champion
GM Ray Robson (2623): 2009 U.S. Junior Champion
GM-elect Alex Lenderman (2649): T-1st 2009 U.S. Open
GM Alex Yermolinsky (2589): T-1st 2009 U.S. Open
GM Sergey Kudrin (2581): T-1st 2009 U.S. Open
GM Jesse Kraai (2560): T-1st 2009 U.S. Open
GM Dmitry Gurevich (2519): T-1st 2009 U.S. Open

Each of the following 11 players has accepted his invitation and has earned a bid by rating:

GM Gata Kamsky (2768)
GM Alexander Onischuk (2734)
GM Varuzhan Akobian (2699)
GM Yury Shulman (2682)
GM Jaan Ehlvest (2673)
GM Alexander Shabalov (2669)
GM Gregory Kaidanov (2643)
GM Robert Hess (2641)
GM Melikset Khachiyan (2629)
GM Joel Benjamin (2621)
GM Ben Finegold (2616)

For a complete listing of players by rating including biographical information, please visit the player bios on the CCSCSL website.

This year’s championship will feature a new format, which includes a 24-player, seven-round Swiss tournament followed by a four-player Championship final. The idea is designed to ensure drama in the final three days of play and to avoid the potentially less climactic pairings that are typical in a 24-player, nine-round Swiss.

For more information on the new tournament format, see the press release here.

This year's prize fund is being increased from $135,000 to more than $170,000 with a grand prize of $35,000, a minimum of $3,000 for last place and more funds going to second place in particular ($20,000 as compared to $15,000 in 2009). The prize fund is differentiated at every single place with the exception of the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, who will both receive $10,000.

"We are proud to present the largest per capita prize fund in U.S. Championship history," said Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The 2010 U.S. Championship welcomes spectators to the event. Tournament Chairperson WGM Jennifer Shahade will provide live, on-site commentary of the tournament alongside a Grandmaster commentator soon to be announced. Spectators can watch the competitors live or watch the live broadcast of the analysis for each round at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The ICC State Champion of Champions will be determined through an online tournament that will pit state champions against one another.

The four wild card invitations may not necessarily be announced all at once, so stay tuned to for more details.

The 2010 US Women's and US Junior Closed Championship will also be held concurrently in Saint Louis. See the February 26 press release for more details.