$250,000 in Seattle

1/6/2003 – For the third year running, hip Seattle plays host to the cerebral challenge of the prestigious US Chess Championships, as 58 of the country's top chess masters battle it out over nine rounds (from January 9-18) for the biggest prize in chess history for a national title. We are talking a cool quarter of a million dollars. Fischer got exactly one hundred times less when he took the title in 1966. More

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US Championship with record prize fund

Since taking over the ailing historic championships in 2000, the America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has now boosted the prize fund to make the event the biggest annual prize in chess anywhere in the world. With an increase this year of a further $50,000, the prize fund increases to an unprecedented $250,000, with $25,000 slotted for the winner – all a far cry from 1966 when Bobby Fischer, after winning his record-breaking eighth US title, took home only $2,500.

Twenty top-rated players (12 men, 8 women) – including the 2002 U.S. Champions Larry Christiansen and Jennifer Shahade, and the 2001 and 2002 U.S. Junior Champions, Hikaru Nakamura and Aaron Pixton – were automatically seeded into the event. Also competing will be 36 players (32 men, 4 women) who survived the qualifying events held at the U.S. Masters, the National Open, Foxwoods Open, the Chicago Open, the World Open and the U.S. Open.

In our search to find the new Bobby Fischer, this new open-competition format has allowed many young, non-titled players to compete for the first time for a cherished spot in the national championship. And in addition to the above field, the AF4C board, in furthering their mission of promoting chess among young people, has allocated their two wildcard entries to 16-year-old Laura Ross, as well as the winner of the prestigious 2002 Samford Fellowship, 18-year-old Varuzhan Akobian.

The full playing field (including pictures and biographies) for the championship and details of the AF4C can be found on the official website. The nine-round event, starting daily at 1.30 pm to close of play at 7.30pm, will run from January 9-18 (rest day Tuesday, 14th January) at the Seattle Center, home to Seattle's famous landmark, the Space Needle.


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