US-Meisterschaft beginnt ohne Nakamura!

US Championship starts without Nakamura!

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Last night, the first round of the US Men's and Women's Championships started in St. Louis. The tournaments are played over 11 rounds due to the round-robin format with 12 players. A long and energy-intensive tournament that has become the strongest national championship in the world, despite the absence of the most famous chess player in the USA, perhaps even in the world, Hikaru Nakamura.

There is plenty of quality in terms of chess. The field is led by former Carlsen challenger Fabiano Caruana, ahead of Wesley So and Levon Aronian. All three are absolutely top not only in the USA. This trio is believed in the USA to be able to play for a world championship title in classical chess again. Caruana probably has the best chance of doing so, as So does not seem to have the nerves and Levon Aronian has not been pulling up any trees recently. At the age of 39, the number 4 in the tournament, Leinier Dominguez, seems to be making a comeback, and at an age when you almost feel like a pensioner in the chess world. The number 5 in the tournament is called Sam Shankland. Shankland won the US championship in 2018 and is considered a workhorse among his colleagues. The 31-year-old, born in the USA, is not considered to be the greatest talent, but at the end of the day, chess is all about hard work and discipline, both qualities that Shankland brings with him. This experienced generation is followed by the next generation. Number 6 in the tournament is Sam Sevian, who recently impressed against the world's best at Chess960 in St. Louis.
The eyes of the chess world will, however, be on number 7. Hans Niemann is coming to St. Louis relatively fresh from the World Junior Championship, which was not a success for him. Niemann continues to be viewed with skepticism in the chess world. Not only because of the accusations of cheating, which have been made at least indirectly by some players, but also because many players do not like him personally. Niemann has made it his mission to become the best player of all time. He still has a long way to go to get there. He once said, "If I don't become world champion, my chess career will have failed." The field is completed by Ray Robson, Dariusz Swiercz, Jeffery Xiong, Mishra Abhimanyu and Andrew Tang, who is particularly known for his online bullet skills.

So it definitely won't be boring when this series of strong players cross swords.

In the women's category, multiple US champion Irina Krush will be number 1. Number 2 is Carissa Yip, who is now 19 and won the US Women's Championship in 2021. Alice Lee is number 3 in the field; she recently met her final IM norm and will thus be the youngest international champion in the USA at the age of 13. The longest journey will certainly be made by number 4 Anna Zatonshikh, the wife of German grandmaster Daniel Fridman, who now lives in Germany and has to travel around the pond to compete in St. Louis.
Begim Tokhirjonova is not yet a big name on the chess map. The 24-year-old from Uzbekistan won the Asian Championships in the U20 age group for Uzbekistan. But she now lives in the USA and came fourth in the US Championships last year. How close the races often are, especially for women, can be seen from the many different winners. For example, Nazi Paikidze and Jennifer Yu have already won the championship twice and once respectively. They will of course make an attempt to repeat their success! New to the field is Atousa Pourkashiyan, the women's grandmaster from Iran who is now married to Hikaru Nakamura.
Also starring are Ashritha Eswaran, Tatev Abrahamyan, Thalia Cervantes and Ruiyang Yan.

So if you would like to watch high-class chess at night over the next two weeks, the US Championships are the perfect tournament for you!