ST. LOUIS, April 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) crowned Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, 36, of New York City, the 2011 U.S. Chess Champion. In a repeat of last year's championship, Kamsky once again bested GM Yury Shulman of Chicago in the finals. In addition, the CCSCSL crowned International Master Anna Zatonskih, 32, the 2011 Women's Chess Champion.
The prestigious tournaments are part of the "Triple Crown" of chess championships held in the United States this year. The third event is the 2011 Junior's Championship, a tournament for players under the age of 21, which takes place June 15-25. It also will be held at the CCSCSL.
"There are two types of players: those who are aggressive and want to kill their opponent, like Yury [Shulman], and there are people like me who simply enjoy chess, and they look at it like an art," Kamsky said. "My style is sort of efficient, economic. It allows me to not go for those brutal heart-attack sessions where you have every piece hanging and a lot of tactics."
Kamsky is ranked 16 in the world and No. 2 in the U.S. by rating. He beat out 15 of the top-ranked chess players in the United States to win the title and grand prize of $40,000. Shulman, the second-place winner, is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation. He receives $30,000. The U.S. tournament's total winnings for first through last place totaled more than $170,000 – the largest per capita purse this tournament has ever offered.
Two 19-year-old college students qualified for the semi-finals against the veteran grandmasters. Brandeis University freshman and Grandmaster-elect Sam Shankland, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, lost in the semi-finals against the reigning champion Kamsky. Robert Hess, who hails from New York City and will attend Yale University in the Fall, also qualified for the semi-finals and lost to Shulman in a playoff.
Zatonskih beat out seven of the top-ranked female chess players in the United States to win the Women's title and grand prize of $18,000. Second-place Women's Championship winner Woman FIDE Master Tatev Abrahamyan, 23, of Glendale, Calif., took home a $12,000 prize. The women's tournament's total winnings for first through last place totaled more than $60,000.
"It's definitely the most difficult U.S. Women's Championship that I've won," Zatonskih said. "It took me more energy than any of the other U.S. Championships. I will definitely remember this one."
Zatonskih, who entered the tournament a three-time U.S. Women's Champion, bested reigning U.S. Women's Champion and International Master Irina Krush in the semi-finals after a series of rapid tiebreak matches. Abrahamyan put up a spirited fight against the higher-rated Zatonskih, but finally succumbed in a rapid playoff on Thursday.
Counting the special tiebreak matches, Zatonskih played a total of 19 games of chess over the two-week period.
"It's really amazing to see the fighting chess exhibited in both the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship," said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich. "The exhilarating finish of the women's event and the superb performance of a number of strong young players in the U.S. Championship made this truly a memorable championship event."
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.
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SOURCE The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis