There was quite a bit of interest in the last chess-related thread, so I thought to post another one during OT season.
Briefly, this is a 12 player round robin tournament taking place at the St. Louis Chess Club. The total prize money is 194k, with 50k going to 1st place.
For folks who don't follow chess, let me set the board for you. The top three seeds are very strong--all are ranked in the world's top 10. Fabiano Caruana just won the Candidates Tournament for the right to play Magnus Carlsen in the World Championships later this year. What's nuts, however, is that he then won the Grenke Chess Classic--a very competitive tournament in its own right--over Carlsen just a few days later (their only head-to-head matchup, it should be noted, ended in a very tense draw). He's in top form, and even though he has only had a week to rest before the US Championships, he could very well win the US title.
Wesley So was also in the Candidates Tournament, though he had a very disappointing showing. I think he'll be very motivated to make things happen this year. He's known as a counter-attacker, though other top-minds in the game tend to critique him for not yet having a definitive style.
Hikaru Nakamura is one of my favorite chess players because of his attacking play. He just missed out on this year's Candidates Tournament, In general, his weakness is taking losses with black at elite tournaments. As a younger player, he used openings like the Dutch, which really doesn't work at top levels, so I think he is trying to nail down a system with black that keeps him competitive. Let's see if he has that figured iout.
Akobian and Onischuk (World Rank 69) have been near the top of the US Chess scene for a while. I don't expect any fireworks from the old guard, but they're all pretty solid dudes. I was surprised not to see 5-time US Champion Gata Kamsky join the tournament.
Robson (World Rank 89) and Shankland (70) are young dudes who I remember as chess prodigies. It usually takes some time for guys to mature into contenders, but maybe this is where they break through.
One player to keep an eye on is 17-year-old Jeffery Xiong from Texas. He's already ranked 78th in the world, and I'm interested to see how his game compares to some of the world's top players in this tournament.
The last several elite tournaments have been very exciting, so I'm looking forward to seeing what this tournament has to offer.