2015 has been a very busy year for chess worldwide and especially in St. Louis. To wrap-up a very successful year for American chess, an exhibition match will be held from Nov. 12-15 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Top-10 ranked Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana will duel in a variety of chess formats at the Showdown in St. Louis. This All-American match is accompanied by a lofty $100,000 prize fund.
As a chess professional and more importantly a chess fan, I am looking forward to watching two Americans, who both have odds to win the World Championship, face off against one another. This is the first such event in my 15 years of playing chess.
As a Canadian, we are pretty excited at the prospect of having the chess crown return to North America. Caruana has yet to compete in a U.S. Championship, which means this is probably his first chance to claim his seat as the top American.
The featured chess formats featured at the Showdown in St. Louis are likely more known to Nakamura than they are to Caruana. Nakamura is widely considered to be extremely proficient in three of the four formats that will be displayed: Blitz, Rapid and Chess960. Only the very modern Basque Chess could be unfamiliar to him.
Caruana, on the other hand, is relatively inexperienced in these four formats, but it could easily be the case that he has acclimatized himself in preparation for the match. Most of the practice for a match like this is done behind closed doors; therefore, it is hard to predict who is in good form.
I'm inclined to predict Nakamura as the favorite based on his legendary resume in faster time controls. However, if Caruana plays strong from the openings, I can see it being a very competitive match. Will Nakamura continue his supremacy on home soil or will Caruana score the upset and further proclaim his arrival to the United States?
Games start daily at 1 p.m., and you can follow the Showdown in Saint Louis either in-person or online at www.uschesschamps.com.
Eric Hansen is the current resident grandmaster at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Hailing from Canada, Hansen began playing chess when he was 8 years old and was titled as an International Grandmaster in 2012.