The annual US championship is being played online this week as St Louis, its traditional home and a major global chess centre, adapts to the coronavirus pandemic. Its prize fund is $150,000, thanks to continued investment by billionaire Rex Sinquefield, whose generous support has kept American players competitive with the other chess superpowers, Russia and China.

Earlier on in the month, title contests were staged for girls, under-20 juniors, over-50 seniors and women. One notable result was a senior victory for Joel Benjamin, the 56-year-old who became famous for his role in preparing IBM’s Deep Blue when the computer defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Irina Krush, the national No 1 for two decades and the only American woman to hold a grandmaster title at men's level, captured her eighth US women’s crown. The New Yorker, 36, was hospitalised with Covid-19 in March, but showed her best form as she held off her younger rivals, clinching first with a zestful attack ending in checkmate.

The US national championship takes place over 11 rounds from Monday to Thursday of this week. Five-time winner Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So were the pre-tournament favourites following their strong performances against world champion Magnus Carlsen in recent online events. After the first three rounds on Monday, So was the clear leader with a maximum 3/3, while Nakamura drew all three games for 1.5/3. Live commentary starts at 6pm GMT daily. 


A variation from Ray Robson vs Hikaru Nakamura, US championship 2019. Can you find Black's winning move?

For solution, click here
Please note that this story has been republished to correct a faulty link to the Chess solutions

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