Women’s World Champion to Play in 110th U.S. Open
By Jerry Hanken   
June 19, 2009
Kostenuik on the beach in Miami. Photo by Diego Garces
Reigning Women’s World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk has graciously agreed to compete for the title of “U.S. Open Champion” in Indianapolis, Indiana this August. Alexandra, a first-rate journalist as well as a holder of the grandmaster (GM) title, has recently become a resident of Florida and has settled there with her husband and beautiful 2-year-old daughter. This is the first time in history that a reigning woman’s world champion has ever played in the most prestigious of the U.S. Chess Federation’s open events.

Online Update: Kosteniuk will be giving a simultaneous exhibition on August 5th at 6 PM and reservations are now being accepted--please email [email protected] or call 931-787-1234 ex 147. You can also sign up at the USCF webstore. The cost is $50, but kids Under 18 and anyone who defeats Kostneiuk will get a free autographed DVD from Alexandra. The simul is capped at 50 players, so sign up today!

This is only one reason to come to this great tournament. If you have never been to a U.S. Open, you have missed a great experience. The tournament will begin on Saturday August 1st and run through Sunday August 9th, and if you want to take a leisurely chess vacation with the family, you can play every evening for eight days (and Sunday afternoon) and have your days available for sightseeing or anything else you may wish to do. (For instance, how about a visit to the famous “Brickyard” where the Indianapolis 500 is run every year.) On the other hand, you can play in one of the faster schedules, starting on August 4th, 5th, or 6th. (Correction: There is no 5-day section starting on the 5th, only a 4-day schedule and a six day schedule.) All the schedules merge for the last three rounds and compete for the same prizes.

The U.S. Open is the last adult tournament of its size where all play in one big section. There are attractive class prizes for every 200 point class down to “E” and unrated. The guaranteed $40,000 will become $50,000 if a total of at least 500 play! (For full details see Tournament Life under “National Tournaments.”)

The $8,000 first prize will draw some GMs, but the fact that there will be 300 World Chess Live (WCL) grand prix (GP) points will certainly draw some others. (There will also be WCL junior GP points available.) Five qualification spots will be awarded for the 2010 U.S. Championship, which will once again be at the St. Louis Chess and Scholastic Center and will have enhanced cash prizes. As there are only 24 spots available in that mega-event, we will see some more GMs and other strong players competing in this U.S. Open. With the exception of the online qualifier, there are no other open qualifying events planned for the next championship.

The tournament will be held in the ballroom of the beautiful Indianapolis East Marriott, a superior venue with excellent lighting and luxurious sleeping rooms. The hotel rate is a very reasonable $99 for up to four in a room. (If you play the fastest schedule, you need to stay at the hotel for only four nights).

Many people have played in multiple U.S. Opens, and USCF has a program to give special recognition to those who have participated in multiples of five. They don’t have to be consecutive, but be sure to mention it to me or to put it on your registration when you enter. The annual awards luncheon, where special recognition will be given to those great volunteers who have aided the U.S.CF and the cause of chess, will be on August 8th. Tickets will be limited, so please buy yours early.

The U.S. Open is more than simply a chess tournament. It is the scene of the annual delegates meeting, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday the 8th and 9th. These meetings are the culmination of many workshops earlier in the week and represent the ticking heart of the USCF. If you have any interest in the governance of the Federation, you may attend any of them and you may observe at the Delegates meeting.

There is never a dull moment at the U.S. Open. If you can’t get enough of the game and want to play all the time, there will be side events with prizes every day. We’ll also have the U.S. Open Blitz Championship, and, believe it or not, you can bring your golf clubs and compete on one of Indianapolis’ fine courses for the title of U.S. Open Golf Champion on August 6th!

Rusty Miller of the state of Washington is offering a special prize of $500 to the highest finishing Washington state resident rated under 2000 in honor of Stephen Christopher, an avid U.S. Open enthusiast who has passed away.

Indianapolis is centrally located and within driving distance of many major Midwestern cities. (Cincinnati, with its thriving chess community, is only 90 miles to the east.) The last round starts early, so you can drive home and be ready for work on Monday.

Come join me and many of your old friends in celebrating the 70th anniversary of our Federation. Your reporter will be playing in his 42nd U.S. Open and 36th in a row, as well as once again reporting on this unique chess “happening.” I can hardly wait!

FLASH! This Just In! 

U.S. CHAMPION Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning U.S. champion, who in May turned in an astonishing, near-3100 performance rating in the French league, will be at the U.S. Open!. The young grandmaster will play a simultaneous exhibition on Friday, August 7th at 1:00 p.m. The cost will be $50 a board. Register online or at site.