Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Dortmund, Baden-Baden, Reggio Emilia.
When chess players hear the names of these cities, they are immediately transported. Those are places in which chess history has been made - where the greatest players of all time dueled over the royal game.
Hosting a tournament that can rival any of these competitions is difficult; surpassing them, almost impossible. What could stand up to Anatoly Karpov's destruction of the 1994 Linares tournament, Garry Kasparov's dominance over the top chess circuit in the early ‘90s or Vladimir Kramnik's successive wins in Dortmund?
And yet, thanks to the vision and passion of Rex Sinquefield and the tireless work put forward by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, this city has done it. Thanks to them that legends come to Saint Louis to forge their impact on chess history.
The Sinquefield Cup of 2014 was the strongest tournament ever to have been held; Fabiano Caruana's performance, which started with a smashing 7-0, will never be forgotten. The event became the tournament to look forward to all year round -- la crème de la crème of elite chess.
And yet, there was room for improvement, and an ambitious new venture has been launched. Instead of a single tournament, a magnificent chess circuit has been linked to the Sinquefield Cup to create the new Grand Chess Tour -- the strongest tournament series in the history of the game. This is the Grand Slam of the chess universe.
The Grand Chess Tour is an invitation-only series of tournaments, three of them this year, its inaugural edition. The top 10 players in the world are invited, plus a wildcard determined by the hosting city (for their tournament). The tour opens June 16, with the Norway Chess 2015 Tournament.
Stavanger, Norway, will be the host city for this event. Already considered one of the strongest events of the year, the addition of Norway to the Grand Chess Tour was an obvious one. Despite the tournament being hosted in the Scandinavian country, the live commentary will be done at the studio in the Saint Louis Chess Club! This is definitely a sign of the globalization of chess as well as the popularity of the three commentators who bring their magic to the show: Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley.
The tour continues here in Saint Louis with the Sinquefield Cup, beginning Aug. 21, and it will finish with the London Chess Classic in December – events that are the gold standard for chess around the globe.
You can follow the Norway Chess 2015 games, along with the commentary, live and for free on grandchesstour.com starting at 9 a.m. CDT, June 16-26 (with a rest day on June 20). Don't miss chess history being made!
Alejandro Remirez is a grandmaster of chess.