Chess

Alejandro Ramriez (the author) and Fabiano Caruano play on the giant chess board outside the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Courtesy of Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center

St. Louis has established itself, without a doubt, as the capital of chess in America. The most important series of tournaments annually, the Grand Chess Tour, has its only North American stop here for the Sinquefield Cup, and the club hosts such important events as the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship, which results in great talent migrating to St. Louis.

Levon Aronian, left, defending Sinquefield Cup Champion and Fabiano Caruana, defending 2016 U.S. Champion play in last year's Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

As athletes from all over the world are headed to Rio for the summer Olympics, the best chess players in the world will gather in the chess capital of the U.S. to battle it out over 64 squares. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will once again host the Sinquefield Cup. This year, the tournament runs from Aug. 5-16 and has a prize fund of $300,000.

Chess Pieces
Adrian Askew | Flickr | http://bit.ly/2ad3M7e

The game of chess has a rich and somewhat elusive history. Where did it come from? Who invented it? Perhaps most intriguingly: What makes it so special? Why has it continued to exist when other games have not?

Kayden Troff, standing, plays chess in Forest Park.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Achieving the grandmaster title is a huge feat. The hours spent every day studying, the days spent in airplanes, buses and airports just to travel to tournaments, the weeks spent at tournament halls, the months trying to perfect every strategy, truly are countless. There is a reason many people dedicate their entire lifetime to this sport without ever being able to reach the coveted title.

Jeffery Xiong, a grandmaster, is the favorite in this year's juniors tournament.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For the seventh consecutive year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will host the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. The most prestigious junior event in the country will take place July 8 through July 17.

A program for women learning chess has become a popular outing for participants.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In many competitive sports like ice hockey, soccer and gymnastics, there is an expected pattern of an athlete's life. First, children start practicing their chosen sport at a very young age to have a chance of becoming professional athletes. Around the age of 4 or 5, they join a sports team and cultivate their potential. Then in their late teens and early 20s, athletes master their technique and abilities and reach their personal best.

2 Americans lead at halfway point of Grand Chess Tour

Jun 22, 2016
Leuven, Belgium, hosted the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour.
Provided by the Grand Chess Tour

The chess world is awaiting the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the fourth annual Sinquefield Cup, to begin in St. Louis on Aug. 1. This series of four tournaments is spread over different parts of the world, attracting the very best chess players to test their skills against each other.

On Chess: Grand Chess Tour approaches second stop

Jun 16, 2016
Hikaru Nakamura celebrates.
Spectrum Studios | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Grand Chess Tour was introduced to the chess scene in 2015 to give the world’s very best players a new series of tournaments to compete in and also to promote chess to the general public. Not only were the players treated as superstars and got to play in three of the most beautiful places in the world for a large sum of money, but each tournament hosted many activities for the chess fans.

Levon Aronian playing Veselin Topalov
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess fans are in for a special treat today as the second annual Grand Chess Tour begins. This year, the tour will consist of four legs and will have a slightly different format than its predecessor.

The first leg of the games will be June 9-12 with the Paris Grand Chess Tour; the second will be in Brussels-Leuven, Belgium June 17-20 with Your Next Move. The third stop on the tour is the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis Aug. 4-16, and the final leg takes place in London Dec. 8-19.

On Chess: Memoirs of a chess square

Jun 1, 2016
Tom Hackney, Chess Painting No. 71, (Marcel Duchamp vs. E.H. Smith, Hyéres, 1928), 2016, Gesso on linen, oak frame 16 ½ x 16 ½ in.
Courtesy of Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York

At the beginning of many prestigious chess tournaments, players sign their name on particular light squares of commemorative chessboards, often with no intent beyond the thought, “On which square will my signature appear most elegant?” or, “Which square is left to sign?” And yet, specific squares hold so many memories of sacrifices both successful and failed as well as nightmares of a sacrifice or in-between move.

On Chess: Young guns get ready to be tomorrow's stars

May 26, 2016
Sam Sevian, Garry Kasparov, Kayden Troff and Jeffery Xiong at the KCF Gala last year. Credit: Kasparov Chess Foundation
Kasparov Chess Foundation

Being a genius is pretty helpful in the chess world, but it is far from enough. When Bobby Fischer toppled the Russians in the famous 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky, he didn't do it out of magic or in-born talent alone: surely there was plenty of that, but his true strength came from hours upon hours of dedication to studying the 64 squares.

Sam Sevian was previously the youngest grandmaster time to earn the title during 2014 Saint Louis Invitational.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess, unlike most other competitive sports, maintains a system of titles granted to players of exceptional skill and talent. The highest title awarded in the world of bishops and knights is International Grandmaster (GM). While it sounds mysterious, the title’s origins are tied to the conception of mastery, like that of an artist or craftsman who has attained the highest level of achievement recognized by one’s peers.

Chess Painting No. 2 (Duchamp vs. Crepeaux, Nice, 1925), 2009
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

There is a conversation that exists between living artists and their predecessors. Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century and whose impact is still remarkably present today, began many of these conversations during his prolific career as both an artist and a chess player.

Wesley So and Garry Kasparov
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2016 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championship ended April 25 but the chess tournament in St. Louis had one more surprise for the fans all over the world: the Ultimate Blitz Challenge! In what could easily be considered the most anticipated blitz event in the world, Garry Kasparov was summoned by the patriarch of modern chess, Rex Sinquefield, to take on the best players in American chess and arguably in the world. It was an exciting return from someone who many be considered the best chess player who ever played the game.

Akshat Chandra vs. Fabiano Caruana
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2016 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship that concluded April 25 will not only go down in the history books as the strongest event but also as arguably the one with the most dramatic finale. Entering the final round, both tournaments had one clear leader as well as one or more players trailing by half point. The tournaments were reaching their crowning moment, the players’ nerves were at their peak, and the tension could be felt in the air.

On Chess: Music and chess harmonize at Hall of Fame

Apr 21, 2016
Composer Spotlight Series
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess and music are topics that intertwine frequently at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Through exhibits such as Living Like Kings, visitors learned about how the birth of hip-hop coincided with a surge of interest in chess among Americans. In Cage & Kaino: Pieces and Performances, revolutionary 20th-century composer John Cage and contemporary conceptual artist Glenn Kaino produced works that highlight the sense of community created by chess, especially when interwoven with music and art.

On Chess: The American Chess family reunites in St. Louis

Apr 14, 2016
Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

April 13, 2016, will be remembered as the opening day of the strongest U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship in history. The excitement surrounding the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is palpable. Players, coaches, commentators, journalists and fans from all over the world are eagerly waiting to feast on the chess spectacle that this event is going to bring to the table. The mixture of styles, age and experience that this year’s fields created are quite the delight for anybody interested in the royal game.

U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductees Maurice Ashley, left, and Gata Kamsky
Spectrum Studios

The chess world currently has a very brief hiatus between world class events. The Candidate’s Tournament has just finished, and while Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin prepares to face reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in New York in November, the Americans are coming back to their home city to fight for another prestigious title: the U.S. Championship.

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

The 2016 Candidates Tournament in Moscow has come to a close. This event determined the challenger for the World Chess Championship against Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen — a match to be held in New York this November.

Eight hopeful players, the crème de la crème in the chess world, qualified to participate in this pinnacle of their chess careers by various methods. It was a winner-takes-all event; finishing second was virtually the same as finishing last (besides the thousands of dollars in prizes, minuscule amounts compared to the millions the winner will be playing for against Carlsen).

Yasser Seirawan
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is launching a new online show, Today in Chess.

Tony Rich, executive director of the CCSCSL, explained the concept of the new series: “Here in Saint Louis, the chess capital of the United States, we take pride in coming up with innovative ways of raising awareness throughout the chess world. With the Moscow Candidates Tournament in full swing, we felt the time was right to create an entire new type of program that would give thoughtful insights on the most topical events that most chess fans are following.

Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush are defending champions.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In less than one month, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will once again become the most interesting chess club in the world. That is not because of some fluke; the American chess crème de la crème is set to step foot in the venue and engage in an unprecedented war over the chessboard.

Hou Yifan played at the Showdown in St. Louis.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

What a month for the chess world! There are many events around the globe that are fighting for the attention of the chess audience, but two definitely top the bunch. The Candidates Tournament, Tuesday, March 8 - Tuesday March 29, features eight of the best players, and the winner qualifies to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen to the supreme chess title.

Two American grandmasters will be participating, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana.

In the meantime, the Women’s World Chess Championship is already underway.

On Chess: Boy Scouts learn the merit of chess

Mar 3, 2016
Joshua Becher constructed his own giant chess set, in which each of the pieces are represented by different scouting ranks.
Provided by Joshua Becher

On Feb. 27, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis again hosted a Boy Scout chess merit badge workshop. Since launching the merit badge in 2011, the Chess Club has helped hundreds of scouts achieve their chess merit badge. It hosts a free five-hour weekend chess workshop, where certified instructors teach scouts chess topics, including the basics of the game, intermediate strategy and tactics, and even how to play in a chess tournament.

On Chess: Women and the power of the queen

Feb 25, 2016
Jean Hoffman views the exhibit: Ladies' Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Known by many as a game of war and kings, the chess world is often perceived as male-dominated. Today, less than 14 percent of the members of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) are female, and only one woman ranks in the top 100 chess players in the world. However — in spite of the underrepresentation of female players within today’s competitive chess world — women have played a central role in the development of the modern chess game.

School programs increase interest in chess and help with confidence.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has been running after-school scholastic chess programs in community centers and schools in the area since 2008. Last fall, 1,100 students participated in after-school programs at more than 50 schools across 14 school districts.

Photograph of Nona Gaprindashvili in Gisela Gresser’s Photo Album from the 1961 Vrnjačka Banja, Yugoslavia (present-day Serbia), Women’s Candidates Tournament, c. 1961. John G. White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Georgia has always held a special place in the chess world. Its women have been especially strong, having once held the Women’s World Chess Champion title for just under 30 consecutive years.

The first pioneer and a phenomenal success of women’s chess in Georgia was Nona Gaprindashvili, who in 1962 became the Women’s World Chess Champion at the age of 21.

Veselin Topalov plays in the 2015 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Once again, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis held the strongest tournament of the year, but this time there was a little extra! The Sinquefield Cup, which began at the end of August and ended a few days into September, was not only a great tournament but one of the events in the newly created Grand Chess Tour.

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

The intense concentration of Erica, a fifth-grader at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Ferguson, was apparent as she played chess against one of the best in the world. This fall, chess grandmasters visited Walnut Grove and Vogt elementary schools, which as part of the Ferguson-Florissant School District are benefiting from the Your Move Chess program.

Magnus Carlsen with the London Chess Classic trophy after he won.
Spectrum Studios

It's been a strange year at the top of the chess standings. Going into the year before the first Grand Chess Tour stop in Norway, the elite had distanced themselves quite a bit from the rest of the pack. There was a marked difference in rating between those in the top-10 and those below; a significant gap of 30 or so points. And yet, it wasn't a good year for basically anyone at the top.

Chess Grandmasters gather in St. Louis before the second leg of the grand tour.
Spectrum Studios

The third and final leg of the inaugural Chess Grand Tour, the most prestigious series of chess tournaments in the world, is upon us. Beginning Friday, Dec. 4, and running until Sunday, Dec. 13, the Kensington Olympia will host the 7th London Chess Classic where the Chess Grand Tour winner will be crowned.

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