From the NY Times:

A qualifying tournament for the United States Championship was held last weekend in Tulsa, Okla. Seven players earned spots, and five qualified based on their national rankings after five of the country’s best players declined invitations.

Top players are passing up this year’s event, to be held in May in Tulsa, because they are unhappy about its prize fund and location.

Hikaru Nakamura, Larry Christiansen and Joel Benjamin, all past champions, are not playing. Ildar Ibragimov, ranked No. 10 in the country, has declined. Gata Kamsky, the No. 1 player and a past champion, did not respond to his invitation.

The prizes range from $8,000 for first place to $1,000 for the last five in the 24-player event.

Nakamura said he did not have fond memories of last year’s tournament, held in Stillwater, Okla., where he finished in a tie for 10th. The “prestige has gone down,” he said, blaming the United States Chess Federation. Christiansen said: “A lot of professional players will sit it out for 8,000 bucks. It is lot of work. The equivalent of one of these top-level games is like taking the bar exam.”

Source: NY Times

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