The Webster University challengers provided excitement in this year’s U.S. chess championships, but in the end the top ranking players — GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Irina Krush walked away with the titles.
Webster’s GM Ray Robson came in second in the men’s tournament. According to an account from GM Ronen Har-Zvi, Robson’s victory over Timur Gareev Sunday almost forced a playoff, as Nakamura looked as though he was heading for a draw. But the highest ranking American in the world pulled out a win and the championship.
Krush was challenged by WGM Katerina Nemcova a Webster University graduate student, who was leading at the half-way point. Nemcova, however, took third and Nazi Paikidze came in second.
A twist in the men’s tournament happened Friday when former Webster University standout Wesley So, who now lives in Minnetonka, Minn., was forced to forfeit a game. He wrote a note to himself on his scorecard, which violates chess rules. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, So was playing as personal controversy was swirling in the background. The paper reported that members of his family came to St. Louis to confront him over his decision to quit college.
The tournaments took place in the Central West End over the past two weeks. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the U.S. Chess Championship, which is male only, and the Women's U.S. Chess Championship. Players ranged from 12 to 40 years of age.
Nakamura also won the championship in 2012 and spent the following two years focusing on international tournaments and matches. Krush grabbed her seventh national title. The winner of the U.S. Chess Championship earned $45,000; the winner of the Women's U.S. Chess Championship earned $20,000.