The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) crowned Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, 24, of Saint Louis, the 2012 U.S. Chess Champion and International Master Irina Krush, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the 2012 Women's Chess Champion.
The prestigious tournaments are part of the "Triple Crown" of chess championships held in the United States
this year. The third event is the 2012 Junior Championship, a
tournament for players under the age of 21, which takes place at the
CCSCSL July 10-15.
"To win this prestigious event in my hometown of Saint Louis
is really something special," Nakamura said. "I'm looking forward to
the summer and the other major chess events 2012 has in store for me."
Nakamura is currently ranked No. 5 in the world and No. 1 in the U.S.
by rating. He beat out 11 of the top-ranked chess players in the United States to win the title and grand prize of $40,000. Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, the second-place winner who receives $30,000, is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation. The U.S. tournament's total winnings for first through last place totaled more than $160,000 – this is the largest per capita purse this tournament has ever offered.
Krush beat out nine of the top-ranked female chess players in the United States to win the Women's title and grand prize of $18,000. Second-place Women's Championship winner International Master Anna Zatonskih, took home a $12,000 prize. The women's tournament's total winnings for first through last place totaled more than $64,000.
Krush defeated Zatonskih in a rapid playoff to win the title. With
seconds left on her clock, Krush took advantage of a blunder by her
opponent to secure the victory.
"I'm ecstatic," Krush said. "Especially when you get a little lucky at the end, you feel your happiness amplified."
The CCSCSL has been home to the championships for the last four years, helping contribute to Saint Louis'
reputation as the hub of U.S. Chess. The city is also home to the
Guinness World Record for the largest chess piece in the world, which is
located directly across the street from the Chess Club in front of the
World Chess Hall of Fame. The piece was unveiled on May 7 before the tournament began and stands 14 feet and seven inches tall, beating the previous record by one foot, six inches.
"We're proud to be the leader of the vibrant chess culture in Saint Louis," said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich.
"It's a privilege to host the best players in the country and provide
fans with a front-row seat to watch these world-class games."
About The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to making
chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a
forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club
also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons and special
Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Chess
Club and Scholastic Center is committed to supporting those chess
programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the
development of new in-school and after-school programs. Please visit www.USChessChamps.com.