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The US Championship begins today in Seattle. Defending champ (and future Black Belt contributor) Larry Christiansen faces Kaufman in the first round of nine. One of the various changes made after America's Foundation for Chess saved the event a few years ago was integrating the women into the same Swiss-system tournament. This was a very positive step that maintains prize incentives, but allows the ladies to play stronger competition instead of ghettoizing them. The total prize fund is a record $250,000, a stunning amount and probably the largest fund of any annual tournament in the world.

First prize is $25,000. A few weeks ago I had a few beers with Joel Benjamin, a former champ and one of the top seeds in Seattle. Joel is outspoken on the future of US chess and he made the point that so fragile is a chessplayer's economy in the US that how well you do in the championship has a big impact on how much you need to work for the rest of the year. Keep that in mind toward the end because a difference of one point will probably mean over $10,000 in cash! Last year 6.5/9 was enough for Christiansen and de Firmian (Go Bears!) to tie for first. A rare and welcome standard time control playoff match breaks a tie this year.

Maurice Ashley is back in the news as the "first black grandmaster" and playing in his first US Championship. The story is good to mention that Stephen Muhammad, who is also black, is also playing this year. I'll be there on the 14th till the finish on the 18th. (And I can't miss the closing banquet!)

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 9, 2003 10:39 AM.

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