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On Chess: The Best American Chess Players Reunite In St. Louis

Sam Shankland, the 2018 U.S. Chess Champion.
Lennart Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

It is that time of year again at the St. Louis Chess Club. The most coveted event in American chess is upon us: the 2019 U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.

Every year, the best chess players this nation has to offer gather in the capital of chess, St. Louis, to compete in one of the strongest national championships on the planet. With new talent joining the mix, this year’s edition is going to have the highest rating average in the event’s history.

From seasoned competitors to up-and-coming prodigies, this year’s eclectic mix of talent will bring the type of competitive clashes that ignite the public’s imagination and set the pace for the rest of the chess season.

The Competitors: Men

While the 2019 U.S. Championship is arguably the most balanced one in recent history, the "Big Three" of American chess will still go into the event as the top favorites.

Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura have been splitting the titles between themselves for the last few years, but in 2018, a new contender decided to spoil the party: Sam Shankland. The California phenom opened his 2018 season with an inspiring underdog victory at the U.S. Championship and continued to climb the global rankings throughout the year.

He will now look to prove that his victory was not only a fluke but a homecoming parade announcing his arrival in the exclusive 2700 club and beyond.

Another super grandmaster joining the event is Leinier Dominguez, who will compete for the first time under the American flag after completing his international transfer at the beginning of the year. With the addition of so much talent to an already strong field, the 2019 U.S. Championship is a spectacle you don’t want to miss.

The Competitors: Women

In the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, the seven-time champion Irina Krush will be the rating favorite to win the event. In the absence of the 2018 Champion, Nazi Paikidze, who declined her invitation to defend her title, the battle will be fought between the experienced players and hungry up-and-coming talent.

Nazi Paikidze, left, was the 2018 U.S. Women's Chess Champion. She stands with Sam Shankland who won the men's title.
Credit Lennart Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club
Nazi Paikidze, left, was the 2018 U.S. Women's Chess Champion. She stands with Sam Shankland, the 2018 U.S. Chess Champion

Top female players such as Anna Zatonskih, Tatev Abrahamyan and Carissa Yip will bring the battle to St. Louis and fight for supremacy and for the highly coveted 2019 U.S. Women’s Champion title.

With such an amazing display of talent, the 2019 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships are going to leave their mark in chess history and will continue to provide value and inspiration for years to come, especially with American chess players.

Watch expert commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Maurice Ashley online at uschesschamps.com, or visit the St. Louis Chess Club. At the Chess Club, visitors can watch the action live, view commentary or go to Kingside Diner for live commentary by GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Eric Hansen. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in-person or online.

Cristian Chirila is a Romanian grandmaster who has won many major tournaments, including the Millionaire Chess Open in the u-2550 rating group in 2016 and National Open Tournament in 2018. Chirila was also a part of Fabiano Caruana’s team that won the 2018 Candidates Tournament and followed him to the World Chess Championship match against Magnus Carlsen in London in November 2018. Chirila streams on twitch.tv on the channel "chesschilla," and he plays on chess.com under the pseudonym "TheCount." He will be the journalist for this years U.S. Championships.