I have never been to Saint Louis, while I have been in Struga countless times, but I don’t think these two places have much in common. However, at the end of August both these places will host a chess tournament, albeit of quite a different kind.
Starting on Monday the Macedonia Open will start in Struga. Generally a local tournament with a modest prize fund (although with an increase from last year) this tournament rarely has more than 30-40 participants. Usually I play elsewhere in this period, Bratto in Italy being my preference in the last couple of years, but this year due to the Olympiad and the failure to agree conditions with other tournaments abroad (like Trieste, Cesenatico and Imperia) I decided to take part.
Saint Louis hosts a tournament of a different kind. It starts on Wednesday with only 6 participants, but their names are pretty familiar – Carlsen, Aronian, Caruana, Nakamura, Topalov and Vachier-Lagrave. A double round-robin with a serious prize fund of $315 000. It’s one of those tournament that we all look forward to. It will be tricky to blog about it while playing myself, but I will definitely be paying attention to the games played.
The World Champion is a hot favourite in every event he participates and this time even more so, after his shaky play in the second half of the Olympiad. Aronian and especially Caruana will try to cause an upset, while I expect Topalov and Vachier to be the tail enders. The local player Nakamura should be somewhere in between – the expectations of his nation are high but his dolce vita in Italy is yet to produce good chess results.
You can follow the Struga tournament on the chess results page http://www.chess-results.com/tnr142153.aspx?lan=1 currently with an updated list of players, while the Saint Louis tournament’s home page is http://www.uschesschamps.com/node/499