Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan of the Seattle Chess Foundation today announced a new format for the U.S. Championship, in the following email to top rated players and others.

Dear Chess Friends,

Apologies for the delay in getting to you details of the forthcoming US
Championships.  As you will appreciate the United States Chess Federation
(USCF) and the Seattle Chess Foundation (SCF) are doing their best to
insure that the US Championships are and will become the premiere
tournament in the country.  To do this the USCF and the SCF have agreed to
a significant change to the event itself.  This change of format has
brought a bevy of details which effected everything from player needs,
hotel rooms, venue, staffing and fund raising.  We now believe that we have
confirmation on a number of things and so here are those details.

Before continuing, I'd like to pause for a moment and thank Erik Anderson,
Scott Oki and Michelle Anderson and her staff as well as George De Feis and
his staff for making these changes a reality.  A really special note of
thanks to Erik & Sherilyn Anderson for their commitment.   Erik spent a
good deal of the weekend including Father's Day making sure the US
Championships are better than ever.


The most significant change to the US Championships is that both Men and
Women will play together.  The tournament will feature a 56 player field.
It will be a 9 game Swiss.  (Future tournaments may see the field expand.)


The tournament will be played January 4th-14th 2002, in Seattle at the
Northwest Rooms of the Seattle Center under the shadow of the Space Needle.
While we think this venue is 90% certain, there is still a little wiggle
room for another eye catching venue.  Certainly, the tournament will be in
Seattle.  January 4th will be the arrival day.  January 5th the tournament
begins.  We play nine games in a row.  No free days!  The Closing ceremony
will be held Sunday January 13th.  Attendance is required.  Players depart
January 14th or after the closing ceremony.

The time control will be one hour and 40 minutes for the first 40 moves,
followed by 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, followed by 10 minutes for
the rest of the game with a thirty second bonus for each move made.
(Thanks to Jim Eade for getting FIDE to agree to exempting this event from
the new FIDE time control requirement.)


There will be 20 seeded players.  11 Top players by the USCF rating
formula, 8 Top Women by the USCF rating formula, the US Junior Champion.
The seeded players will stay at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle.  The
room rate is a special one of $95.  The SCF will subsidize each players
room for $50 so that the players will pay the remaining $45 and additional
taxes.  Those that double up together will have very little lodging
charges.  Seeded players will have to pay their own travel this year.
Qualifiers will not have their lodging subsidized.

There will be 36 qualifiers.  These 36 players will come from three
tournaments, the 2001 US Open, the 2001 American Open and the 2001 National
Chess Congress.  Each tournament will qualify 12 players.  Out of the 36
players, a minimum of 4 Women will qualify.  The US Open will qualify 10
top finishers and the 2 top Women.  While the American Open and National
Chess Congress will qualify 11 top players and 1 top Woman from the Open
sections of their tournament.  In case of ties for qualifying places, a tie
breaking system will be used and in place before the tournaments begin.
(The tie breaking detail is being solved.)

Thus the final field of 56 players will be composed of at least 12 Women
and 44 Men.

Everyone who is a USCF member is eligible to play in the three qualifying
tournaments.  A player must declare their eligibility BEFORE the tournament
begins by paying a voluntary $50 fee upon registration.  These monies are
earmarked for the SCF and its US Championship budget.  Any player who wants
to play in the three events and not pay the $50 is welcome to do so.
Players who don't pay the $50 are not eligible to qualify to the US

In future years we expect to have at least four regional qualifying
tournaments played on the Memorial Day weekend.  This year was an awkward
year and we chose three asynchronous events.  This means that if you are
not a seeded player, you will have two chances to qualify for the US
Championship.  In future years this will not be the case.  The USCF will
inform the seeded players based on rating by a cutoff date in either
September or October and I'll ask George De Feis to firm up this detail.

The US Championship is a national event restricted to American players or
those players who meet the eligibility requirements of the USCF.  Winners
of the US Championship will represent the US in the FIDE Championships.


Saving the best for last, Erik has committed the SCF to paying $200,000 in
prizes.  Everyone in the tournament will win a prize.  The breakdown of the
prize fund will be sent shortly.

Separately, I will write to you and ask for your help on a few issues that
I think will be of importance to us all as we endeavor to make the US
Championship a marvelous event.  Erik & Sherilyn Anderson, Scott & Lauri
Oki, Michelle Anderson and George De Feis share a vision of making the US
Championship evolve into a million dollar tournament.  For this to happen,
we will need YOUR help and support.  We are sure to make mistakes so
forgive us in advance and help us make the Championship an event of which
we can all be proud.

Also a word of appreciation for both Bill Goichberg and Jerry Hanken for
their help with the qualifiers and the many details that had to be sorted

Please consider this message an advance notice and look for the actual
press releases for concrete details on the USCF and SCF websites as well as
the pages of Chess Life magazine.


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