ST. LOUIS, April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Saint Louis is not only the U.S. Chess Capital—it's home to the 2016 U.S. Chess Champion. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) crowned Saint Louis resident, Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana, the 2016 Champion in his U.S. Chess Championship debut. Caruana was not the only fresh face to take the title; International Master Nazi Paikidze of Baltimore won the U.S. Women's Championship in only her second year competing in the tournament. After nearly two weeks of fierce competition, the winners celebrated their success at the Championships' closing ceremony April 26.
Together, Caruana, 23, and Paikidze, 22, are among the youngest pair of U.S. Champions in the tournament's history. Both players transferred to the U.S. Federation within the past two years, allowing them to compete in the U.S. and U.S. Women's Championships and adding to the nation's top chess talent.
"Fabiano and Nazi are examples of how strong the U.S. chess scene has become," said Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. "We are beginning to see an insurgence of young chess players competing at the highest level and that bodes well for the sport across the country. We join the hundreds of thousands of fans that followed the event in congratulating our new Champions."
The prestigious tournaments are part of the "Triple Crown" of chess championships held in the United States each year. The third event is the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, a tournament for players under the age of 21, which will take place at the CCSCSL July 7-18, 2016.
"If there is one tournament I wanted to win, it was the U.S. Championship," said Fabiano Caruana as he accepted his champion's ring at the closing ceremonies. "It was a great tournament with great competition. I look forward to returning to Saint Louis to defend my title next year."
Caruana is currently ranked the No. 2 chess player in the world. He finished ahead of reigning U.S. Champion and world No. 5 ranked player, GM Hikaru Nakamura, as well as world No. 10 ranked player, GM Wesley So to take this year's title and $50,000 grand prize. So received the second place prize of $35,000.
Paikidze proved to be an unprecedented talent this year, beating the seven-time and reigning Women's Champion Irina Krush to take the title and $25,000 grand prize. Women's Grandmaster Tatev Abrahamyan received the second place prize of $18,000.
Historic 2016 U.S. Championships
The victors were not the only noteworthy features of this year's U.S. Championships. GM Maurice Ashley became the first African American inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame at the tournament's opening ceremony April 13, 2016. Also inducted into the Hall of Fame this year was Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, a four-time U.S. Chess Champion.
Ashley is not only the first African American player to enter the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, but one of the greatest ambassadors and promoters the game has ever known. Ashley is a world-class commentator who has covered many major competitions including the 1995 Kasparov-Anand World Championship match carried on ESPN, as well as the 2013-2016 Sinquefield Cups.
"I am honored and deeply moved to receive this award," said Ashley. "It's a wonderful and special recognition of the work I have dedicated myself to all my life." Ashley joined 55 past players bestowed with the honor of being a U.S. Hall of Fame inductee.
Ultimate Blitz Challenge with Garry Kasparov
Additionally, world chess legend GM Garry Kasparov is making a special appearance in Saint Louis to take on the top three finishers from the U.S. Championship in a series of blitz matches April 28-29, 2016.
Kasparov came to international fame as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985 at the age of 22. He retired from professional chess in 2005 after a record 20 years as the world's top-ranked player. Additional event information, including live streaming of the blitz matches at 12:50 p.m. CT daily, may be found at www.uschesschamps.com.
About The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to making chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons and special lectures.
Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center is committed to supporting those chess programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the development of new in-school and after-school programs. For more information, visit www.saintlouischessclub.org.
About the World Chess Hall of Fame
The World Chess Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization committed to building awareness for the cultural and artistic significance of chess. It opened on September 9, 2011, in the Central West End after moving from previous locations in New York and Miami. The World Chess Hall of Fame is located at 4652 Maryland Avenue, housed in an historic 15,900 square foot residence turned business, and features the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection and exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. The World Chess Hall of Fame partners with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national and international audiences.
For more information, please visit the World Chess Hall of Fame online at www.worldchesshof.org.
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SOURCE Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis