Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 U.S. Women's Chess Championship!

It will be here soon!
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis is once again hosting both the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship and the 2011 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

The format for the Championship is, frankly, something I consider ridiculous, and the Women's Championship has also adopted the same silly format instead of the traditional round-robin which I believe best tests relative playing strength.  There is nothing to beat all-play-all.  Alas, I am not the organizer and I call no shots.  The women's field has also been cut down from last year's ten players to eight players this year:

1.IM Anna Zatonskih
2.IM Irina Krush
3.IM Rusadan Goletiani
4.WGM Camilla Baginskaite
5.WIM Tatev Abrahamyan
6.WIM Sabina Foisor
7.FM Alisa Melekhina
8.WIM Iryna Zenyuk

The prizes are rich! (Last year's prizes totalled $65,000 for the women, exclusive of special prizes for best game, scholarship, Goddesschess Award):

Prize Fund
Place Prize
1st $18,000
2nd $12,000
3rd $9,500
4th $7,000
5th $4,000
6th $3,000
7th $2,500
8th $2,000

There will be $2,000 in bonus prizes:

•After the preliminary round bonus prizes will be awarded:
◦$1,000 to the first-place finisher of the round robin
◦$600 for second place in the round robin
◦$400 for third place in the round robin
Additionally, $5,000 will be set aside to award Best Game Prizes throughout both the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship.

All this stuff about a preliminary round, etc., what it boils down to is equal to the last minute in an NBA basketball game (usually boring, because the prior 58 minutes of team effort mean absolutely nothing), and this makes me very sad.  It isn't necessarily the best player who will win, just the luckiest.  This is a slap in the face to all the players invited to the Championship.

Jen Shahade will once again be providing commentary (I always enjoy her biting wit and insight) along with GM Maurice Ashley.  I did enjoy GM Ashley's commentary last year so I will listen again this year (as I can; unfortunately the rounds take place while I'm working and it is difficult to be simultaneously plugged in -- work or chess -- work or chess -- work or chess... and ultimately neither is very satisfying).  But I will miss GM Ben Finegold.  I really get him - he makes the games very "accessible" -- he has a knack, along with Jen, of making what is happening on the board almost understandable for a patzer like moi.

Goddesschess will once again be sponsoring a Fighting Chess Award - details to follow :)

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