The Triple Crown of chess is complete, in more ways than one.
Just this past week, Grandmaster Kayden Troff, 16, snagged the U.S. Junior Closed Championship crown after nine rounds of fierce competition against the top players under 21 in the nation. Troff finished the event in style, winning his final four games to finish a point and a half ahead of the rest of the field.
The newly anointed grandmaster took home the $3,000 first-place prize but, more important, earned a ticket to compete in the 2015 U.S. Championship, which will be held in St. Louis next year.
In May, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis also crowned Grandmaster Gata Kamsky the U.S. Champion and Grandmaster Irina Krush the U.S. Women’s Champion.
The three major U.S. Chess Championships, the triple crown of U.S. Chess, represent the top invitational tournaments in the nation each year, and they’ve found what appears to be a permanent home in St. Louis since 2009 (the U.S. Junior Closed has been held here since 2010). All three will be held in St. Louis in 2015.
But the Triple Crown might have to make room for one more. Dates were just announced for the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, which will be held in St. Louis Aug. 27 through Sept. 7. Last year’s Sinquefield Cup featured the top two players in the world: Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Armenia’s Levon Aronian, and the top two U.S. players: Hikaru Nakamura and Kamsky. That was by far the strongest tournament ever held on U.S. soil, and this year’s installment will feature six of the top players in the world with the potential to break the record as the strongest tournament in the history of chess. Ever.
Last year’s Sinquefield Cup winner, Carlsen, went on to win the World Championship just a few months later in a rout of then-reigning World Champ Viswanathan Anand.
Last month, Carlsen completed his own Triple Crown by winning the FIDE World Rapid Championship and FIDE World Blitz Championship in Dubai to go along with his title as FIDE Classical World Champion. This historic achievement has only added to the legacy the 23 year old is building and firmly cemented him as the best player in the world.
Chess fans in St. Louis and across the country are hopeful they’ll get a chance to see Carlsen in person again at this year’s installment of the Sinquefield Cup. Invitations have been sent out to the world’s best for what is sure to become another jewel in the national chess crown.
Note: Mike Wilmering is a 2006 graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia School of Journalism and serves as the communications specialist for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.