Top seeds GM Gata Kamsky and IM Irina Krush are setting the early pace at the U.S. men's and women's championships that got underway Friday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, with each posting three wins in their first three games.
The game lost a true superstar last week with the death of Serbian GM Svatozar Gligoric at the age of 89.
To the disappointment of basketball fans everywhere, this year's hardwood version of the collegiate Final Four featured no buzzer-beaters, no last-minute 3-pointers to win the game. Happily, the collegiate chess version of the Final Four, won for the second straight year by the Texas Tech Knight Raiders earlier this month, offered a bit more excitement as the clocks ticked down on the decisive game.
One more great thing about chess is that one can play the game irrationally at any age. Today's wild and woolly games come from the opposite ends of the chronological spectrum: a crazy back-and-forth affair from the recent Virginia State Senior Championship in Alexandria and an even more bizarre selection from the just-concluded U.S. Junior Championship in St. Louis, a game that featured seven passed pawns and six queens.
The powerhouse University of Maryland-Baltimore County squad did not capture the recent collegiate team chess championship, but GM Sergey Erenburg, UMBC's second board, bounced back with a fine second-place result in the strong Berkeley International, which concluded Jan. 8.