St. Louis Sports Day

Shankland, Paikidze Win U.S. Chess Crowns

(PRNewsfoto/Saint Louis Chess Club)

With large prize funds and fierce competition, the 2018 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Chess Championships showcased the nation’s best at the Saint Louis Chess Club from April 18-30. The 2018 U.S. Chess Champion, Sam Shankland, was crowned after the last round by defeating the young prodigy Awonder Liang for a stunning 8.5/11 score – one of the most incredible in Championship history. The 2018 U.S. Women’s Champion, Nazi Paikidze, took back her 2016 crown after two rapid tiebreaks and an armageddon game against the talented Annie Wang.

This year’s tournaments proved the resurgence of chess in America has never been stronger. Shankland edged out three of the top 10 players in the world, including the 2018 World Chess Championship challenger, Fabiano Caruana, who also had a superb performance with 8/11 points. A San Francisco-area resident, Shankland is the first West Coast winner of the U.S. Championship since U.S. Chess Hall of Famer Yasser Seirawan won the title in 2000. Shankland was awarded the $50,000 first place prize, while runner-up Fabiano Caruana received the $35,000 second place prize.

In the women’s section, 15-year-old Annie Wang dominated with an impressive 8/11 points, beating top players like 7-time U.S. Women’s Champion Irina Krush. However, Wang suffered a final round setback against defending champion Sabina Foisor, allowing Paikidze to force a playoff after she drew her opponent. Although Wang won the first rapid tiebreak game, Paikidze won the second to take the playoff into overtime. During the armageddon game, Paikidze clinched victory with the white pieces, capturing her second U.S. Women’s Championship title. Paikidze claimed the $25,000 first place prize, while Wang was awarded the $18,000 second place prize.

credit: Alan Light

credit: Alan Light

“Every year I tell the players I hope this is their best tournament yet, and this year was the very epitome of electric and exciting chess,” said Tony Rich, Saint Louis Chess Club Executive Director. “We saw outstanding and unexpected chess play, a true testament to the development and growth of American chess over the last 10 years.”

In addition to the prize money, each winner was awarded coveted spots on this year’s U.S. Chess Olympiad teams. Shankland will again join the dream team of Fabiano CaruanaHikaru Nakamura and Wesley So to defend the U.S. gold medal against the best teams in the world at the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in September. With spirited, mature chess from the nation’s best young talents, including Annie Wang and Awonder Liang, the future of American chess has never been brighter.