Congratulations to GM Gata Kamsky on his fourth US Championship and to IM Irina Krush on her fifth US Women's Championship.
I was fortunate enough to be in St. Louis for the final three rounds of the action (excepting today's playoff) and I have to say that the Gateway City really does things right. First of all, the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center is a truly elegant venue. Benefactor Rex Sinquefield appears to have spared no expense in the design and functionality of this club.
The staff at the Chess Club were all extremely friendly and outgoing. It seemed like everyone was on a mission to make sure that every patron enjoyed their visit. It's rare that any organization has more than just a few people who go the extra mile, but this one seems to only have employees of that sort.
I was extremely impressed at the layout of the playing area upstairs. The players were roped off with plenty of room for themselves to wander about behind the barriers while still allowing fans to get close enough to genuinely experience the thrill of the games.
I also really enjoyed that the men's and women's championships were intermingled rather than segregated. It seemed to add to the overall harmony of the event.
Congratulations should also go out to IM Kayden Troff for making a GM Norm, FM John Bryant for making an IM Norm (and I believe he has two GM Norms, so I would think that this would qualify him for the IM title...), and FM Sam Sevian who I believe also made an IM Norm, although I am not 100% sure about that.
Also, big time props to Larry C and Alex Shabalov, neither of whom made even one draw in the nine rounds. Talk about fighting spirit!
My one regret is that I didn't bring a camera. I wasn't sure if they would be allowed since I knew that cell phones weren't. I should have called and asked rather than just assuming. Next year for sure.
I was also thrilled to meet childhood hero GM Yasser Seirawan. What a nice guy he is. I thought that the coverage provided by the broadcast team of Yasser, IM Jennifer Shahade, and GM Maurice Ashley was top notch. Worthy of any major sporting event.
So kudos to St. Louis for showing us once again how a top level professional championship tournament should look.