2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships


2010 U.S. Women's Champion


2010 U.S. Junior Closed Champion

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Two of the most prestigious tournaments in the country, the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship and the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship will take place July 9-20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

See if IM Anna Zatonskih can defend her crown against a strong field of contenders.

The event will feature live commentary by WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Ben Finegold!

Games and commentary will be broadcast through the Chess Club's website. Invitations are being sent out for the Women's and Junior Closed Championships. Stay tuned for more details and updates.


History of Women’s Chess in the U.S.

While chess was not immune to historic gender barriers, women players have long refused to concede the game to men. In fact, the history of chess in the U.S. dates back to the start of the 19th century for both sexes.

For the first few decades women were tacitly banned from traditional chess clubs and tournaments. So passionate female players established their own venues, with some success. An 1897 article in The American Chess Magazine stated: "Ladies' chess clubs are quite the fashion now."

Despite that observation, another 40 years would pass before the first U.S. Women’s Chess Championship would be held in 1937. This was 80 years after the first official U.S. men’s champion was crowned and 40 years after the first-ever international ladies tournament took place in London (where the U.S. had three representatives).

The first U.S. Women’s Championship was held at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, organized by Caroline Marshall, the wife of U.S. Chess Champion Frank Marshall. Since then the event has become a tradition with its own proud history.

Gisela Gresser, a 1992 Chess Hall of Fame inductee and one of the first American women to become a rated grandmaster, has captured the title an unmatched nine times.

Susan Polgar, another repeat title-holder and Grandmaster, crossed the boundary and became the First woman to qualify for the Men's World Championship in 1986.

Clearly women’s chess has come a long way in the United States. Indeed, 2010 undoubtedly will offer an inspiring new chapter in the history and development of women’s chess in America and around the world.

The 2010 U.S. Women's Championship will feature a $65,000 prize fund, the largest prize fund in the history of the tournament. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 1st: $16,000
  • 2nd: $12,000
  • 3rd: $9,000
  • 4th: $7,000
  • 5th: $5,500
  • 6th: $4,500
  • 7th: $3,500
  • 8th: $3,000
  • 9th: $2,500
  • 10th: $2,000


Women’s Chess in the U.S. Facts

  • The first unoffcial U.S. women's champion was crowned in 1857. Though her name was never listed, a description of the chess queen secured her legacy: "This lady is believed to be the strongest amateur of her sex in the country, and would certainly be ranked as a first-rate in any club."
  • The first published game by a U.S. woman player appeared in an eight-page brochure in 1830.
  • A Texas man in 1885 publicly offered a $100 bet that his wife could beat any man in chess.
  • Mona May Karff won seven titles, topped only by Gisela Kahn Gresser’s nine wins.
  • Irina Krush holds the record as the youngest player to win the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. She won it in 1998 at age 14.
  • In 1909 Eliza Foot “placed on the market a series of chess puzzles,” making her the first female U.S. chess author.


U.S. Junior Closed Championship

The U.S. Junior Closed Championship is the most prestigious tournament in the country for the nation's top emerging talent. Players under the age of 21 will compete at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis July 9-20 for the title of U.S. Junior Champion and an automatic bid to the World Junior Championship.

The 2010 U.S. Junior Championship will also feature a record-breaking prize fund. The ten participants will fight for $10,300 in prizes and will also receive a laptop computer as a part of their prize. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 1st: $3,000
  • 2nd: $2,000
  • 3rd: $1,500
  • 4th: $1,000
  • 5th: $750
  • 6th: $600
  • 7th: $500
  • 8th: $400
  • 9th: $300
  • 10th: $250

Previous winners of the United States Junior Closed Championship include Bobby Fischer, Larry Christiansen, Patrick Wolff, Joshua Waitzkin, Tal Shaked, Hikaru Nakamura, Robert Hess, and the 2009 Champion GM Ray Robson.

Robson will return to Saint Louis to defend his title against nine other up-and-coming chess masters including 2009 and 2010 U.S.Championship participant IM Sam Shankland. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting event.