The good news is that the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis will once again be hosting (and paying all expenses for, including prize money) the U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women's Chess Championship. It is a beautiful venue and the players have excellent conditions.
Prize money for 16 competitors in the U.S. Chess Championship: $170,000.
Prize money for 8 competitors in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship: $60,000.
The female players, exactly half the announced field of what is, essentially, a Men's Championship with, in prior years, the addition of the U.S. Women's Chess Championship also invited - won't have an opportunity to play for half the money the highest-rated chess dudes in the US will be vying for in their Championship.
Disappointing. Particularly disappointing in light of the excellent job the CCSCSL has done since it assumed sponsorship for both Championships beginning in 2008. Each year, CCSCSL has increased the local and national press exposure the Championships have received by skillfully integrating these premiere chess events featuring top U.S. chess talent with local charitable, artistic and sporting events.
Also unfortunate - the new "knock-out" play format. Knock-out sucks. It is not a true measure of relative chess skill, it's the luck of the draw on any given day whether a player is in form - or not. Blech. Why, why, WHY go the knock-out route when it has universally been lambasted by every chess commentator (pro and am) since the 1999 FIDE World Chess Championship employed it in Las Vegas?
Here is the first article on the 2011 Championships from the CCSCSL website. I look forward to seeing what St. Louis events the Championships will be tied to in 2011. I hope Jen Shahade and Ben Finegold will return as commentators on the games, I really enjoy listening to them. I actually understand what they're talking about (with the aid of the live graphics) and they play off of each other perfectly. I also enjoyed GM Maurice Ashley's commentary in 2010.