Checkmate: 2015 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Champions Crowned in Saint Louis
Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura and Grandmaster Irina Krush win prestigious chess titles
SAINT LOUIS, April 12, 2015 – After two weeks of intense competition, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) crowned Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, 27, the 2015 U.S. Chess Champion and Grandmaster Irina Krush, 31, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion. Krush hails from Brooklyn, N.Y. and Nakamura calls Saint Louis home.
The win is familiar territory for Krush, who claimed her fourth-consecutive title in the women’s tournament. This was Nakamura’s first return to the U.S. Championship since winning in 2012.
The prestigious tournaments are part of the “Triple Crown” of American chess championships held in Saint Louis each year. The third event is the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, a tournament for players under the age of 21, which will take place at the CCSCSL July 6-16.
“Certainly, I think I’m relieved. When you play tournaments like this, it’s much different than playing against the top players in the world in that you’re pretty much forced to have to try and win every game, regardless of color,” said Nakamura, who is currently ranked the No. 3 player in the world. “If you draw a top player, it’s not a big deal — maybe you lose three rating points. So that made it quite stressful, having to try and win every single day. With one rest day especially, and playing 11 rounds, it’s quite tiring. But that being said, it worked out, so I can’t complain.”
Despite his absence from the last few U.S. Championships, Nakamura has remained the No. 1 ranked American for nearly five years. Along with this U.S. title, the fourth of his career, Nakamura also earns the $45,000 top prize. GM Ray Robson, a player from Webster University in suburban Saint Louis, earned $30,000 for second place. This year’s U.S. Championship prize fund totaled $175,000.
Krush, the only Grandmaster in the Women’s field, had trailed in the standings for much of the tournament, but closed with five straight wins to take the lead and eventually the title. She also wins the top prize of $20,000 from a total fund of $75,000. Tying for second place was WGM Katerina Nemcova, also from Webster University in Saint Louis; and IM Nazi Paikidze, a player from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
“I guess my collection is growing — a lot of effort went into each of those titles,” said Krush, who earned her seventh career U.S. Women’s Championship. “I’d like to break the record one day, which is nine women’s titles won by Gisela Gresser. If I get to ten, I think that will be really good.”
For full U.S. Chess Championships coverage, visit www.uschesschamps.com.