The 2005 U.S. Chess Championship will begin today and the first round pairings will raise some interest… not the least is the Hikaru Nakamura - Stephen Muhammad matchup. This tournament also features five Cuban émigrés and a Mongolian couple!

The 64-player format is perhaps the most innovative in the world featuring qualifiers from a dozen different events including an Internet tournament for state champions.  Another attention-getter is the return of
Gata Kamsky to competitive chess after his long hiatus to pursue advanced education.

Back to Nakamura-Muhammad… both players have drawn high expectations and need to start out well. Muhammad seems to score well in big tournaments and will be well-prepared, but he will need to start off on a positive note. He has a tough matchup against a player who is projected as a favorite to win the tournament. Nakamura perhaps has nothing to prove, but all eyes will be on the 16-year old including those of FM Sunil Weeramantry, Nakamura's stepfather.

There are a lot of exciting players in this tournament and there will be many upsets in the early rounds.  However, it is unlikely that the women in the tournament will be spared the wrath of a lot of losses on the chart. Perhaps
Susan Polgar will enter the next cycle and add a bit more intrigue. In the coming days, The Chess Drum will provide round-by-round coverage of the event. Look for an exciting tournament!

2005 U.S. Chess Championship (official site)

Drum Coverage!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 24 November 2004