Brian Jerauld

Brian Jerauld is a chess instructor to area students, including his own children, and a student of the game himself through the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. He is also a Mizzou journalist with a decade of experience writing about boats, sports and other odds and ends. This column is a weekly look around St. Louis, the U.S. Capital of Chess.

file photo | St. Louis Beacon

There should be excitement for what may come in 2015, as each passing year has proved better than the last. As we say goodbye to 2014, here are a few monuments St. Louis built in 2014:

Chess History Unfolds In St. Louis

The patented death stare of American Grandmaster Sam Shankland is now being felt on the international stage.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

If you haven’t before, today is a great day to say hello to Sam Shankland – especially when you know just how close he almost came to saying goodbye.

Wesley So has performed brilliantly for the team
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Championship droughts are no laughing matter. And there’s no doubt things have been feeling a little stale around here lately: It’s been three whole years since St. Louis touted a championship title.

Tonight, however, our great city’s sport sufferings may come to an end.

Hikaru Nakamura is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the world.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

You’re back in town for the Showdown in St. Louis, a five-round match for $100,000 against the World No. 4 player, Levon Aronian. The Showdown is not a world-circuit event in which you normally play -- is an event like this still important to you, even though it’s just an exhibition?

Hikaru Nakamura is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the world.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Next week, the Central West End chess club will again be joined by the  top player in the United States, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who returns for a special exhibition match with one of his main rivals from the world stage, Armenia’s Levon Aronian.

Walter Browne in 1972
Wikipedia

It is, perhaps, the pinnacle chess week of the year, with several dazzling headlines labeling every level of the sport. When things get chaotic, keeping track of your lines can be difficult ... scattered thoughts, like pawns, need attending:

Aviv Friedman
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The title of Grandmaster is the highest a chess player can achieve, a moniker that translates literally as one of the best of the best. These titles are awarded by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and are without a doubt quite rare: Not more than 1,500 players in history have been officially named Grandmaster.

The St. Louis Chess Club, however, has found someone even more special: The Grandmasters’ coach.

First-grader Jay Mainard, far left, uses the weekly chess club at the Miriam School in Webster Groves as a tool to combat learning disabilities.
Provided by the Miriam School

Not long after kindergarten began, Jason Mainard began noticing problems in his son’s mood. Socially, the boy wasn’t adhering to the way other kids played. Emotionally, he wasn’t responding the way most kids do in their first year of school. Traditional characteristics that describe a first classroom experience were few, replaced instead by signs of depression, signs of frustration.

Calls home from teachers confirmed the father’s concerns.

Millionaire Chess Open organizers Amy Lee and GM Maurice Ashley award Webster University GM Wesley So with a $100,000 birthday present.
Billy Johnson | Millionaire Chess Open | 2014

Las Vegas will do just fine if it never sees Wesley So again. The brand-new adult celebrated his 21st birthday in the right city, but he did it in all the wrong ways.

He didn’t pull a single slot, didn’t throw a single die. And he never once relied on the hilarious notion of luck during a week-long visit in a town that banks off the very idea. He was not spotted out late, stumbling around the Strip any night -- and to the contrary: The work So put in each morning is circumstantial proof that he achieved bedtime at an hour likely outlawed in the City that Never Sleeps.

Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

This Saturday, Oct. 11 is National Chess Day -- though only unofficially, because nobody cares.

That’s not from a lack of continued effort on the part of chess players, however, as plenty have cared about such a recognized holiday dating all the way back to its inception in 1976.

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