On Chess | St. Louis Public Radio

On Chess

2017 U.S. Chess Champion, GM Wesley So and the 2017 U.S. Women's Chess Champion, Sabina Foisor.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

It’s that time of the year again. The best chess players in the United States will once again reunite in the world capital of chess, St. Louis, as they get ready for the most important national competition of the year: the 2018 U.S. Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship.

The tournaments are scheduled to start April 17 and conclude on April 30, when the winners in each section will be declared the 2018 champions.  Both tournaments will include the 12 best players this nation has to offer in their respective sections, as they compete for the highest laurels in a round robin format.

On Chess: The 169-year-old modern chess set

Apr 5, 2018
England: Jaques 50th Set - Lord Vernon, 1855. King size: 4 ½ inches. Box is 5 ⅛ x  8 ⅜ x 6 inches. Ivory. Collection of Jon Crumiller.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Chess has been called a universal language.

Fabiano Caruana draped in an American Flag, March, 2018
Nick Dunaevsky

American chess fans everywhere are cheering in the streets, as countryman Fabiano Caruana overcame the game’s elite grandmasters to win the recently concluded Candidates Tournament in Berlin, Germany. He is now qualified to play world champion Magnus Carlsen for his title in November. It is the first time an American will compete for the crown in more than two decades. The last victory for the United States was in 1972, when Bobby Fischer won an epic match against the Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland.

On Chess: the old guard and the new

Mar 22, 2018
The winners of the 2018 Spring Classic tournament. Group A (left) winner, Jeffrey Xiong, and group B winner, Victor Mikhalevski.
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

The 2018 Spring Chess Classic has come to an end, and we had two thrilling tournaments – both newsworthy in their own way. When analyzed, both tournaments could not be more different.

On Chess: chess for all ages

Mar 15, 2018
Two people looking at chess board in St. Louis
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

One of the best things about chess is that it is one of the only sports that can be played by any individual at any stage of life. In sports like soccer, basketball and baseball, a person’s career peak is around the ages of 20 to 30. In chess, it’s different.

Fabiano Caruana (left) and Wesley So are the two Americans participating in the 2018 Candidates Tournament.
Lennart Ootes | Saint Louis Chess Club

The World Chess Championship dates back to 1886. In fact, St. Louis played host to a portion of the very first world championship, between Johannes Zukertort and Wilhelm Steinitz. Over the years, there have been different methods by which the world’s elite come to challenge the world champion. Initially, the chess world was similar to boxing: any challenger who could raise the funds could face the world champion.

2017 U.S. Junior Champion Awonder Liang who will be playing in the 2018 Spring Chess Classic.
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

The time for strong round-robin tournaments at the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) is about to restart!

The Hamilton-Russell Cup is on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The American team gained possession of the trophy when it won the 2016 Chess Olympiad – for the first time in 40 years.
Austin Fuller | World Chess hall of Fame

In 2016, Americans made history by earning team gold in the Chess Olympiad, a biennial tournament in which teams of chess players represent their countries. The remarkable 2016 team included grandmasters Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and Ray Robson, with international master John Donaldson as team captain and Aleksandr Lenderman as team coach.

Grandmaster Pavlo Vorontsov, winner of the GM section at the 2018 St. Louis Norm Congress.
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

The 2018 St. Louis Norm Congress took place Feb. 8 -13 at the Saint Louis Chess Club. The tournament was divided into two separate round robins:  The grandmaster norm group and the international master  norm section. 

On Chess: The shark tank and the sea

Feb 8, 2018
The last norm tournament was held in St. Louis in 2017 at the St. Louis International
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

There are many types of chess tournaments out there, but most fall into one of two categories:  The round robin and the open.  Knockout events, while common in many sports, are rare in chess and are their own animal entirely.  While, ultimately, the goals of an individual chess game don’t change much, the approach toward each tournament can vary quite a bit, especially for the professionals.   

Chess players of all levels tend to get a steady diet of open tournaments. Almost all the big money events in the United States, apart from the U.S. Championships, are opens.  Aside from the occasional quad, most events at local clubs are probably also of this type. You get lined up by rating, divided into halves, and get paired according to your score group and color.

On Chess: The potency of the present

Jan 25, 2018
Grandmaster Peter Svidler contemplates a move.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

“Playing chess is hard.” All players — from novice to grandmaster — have uttered this phrase. As competitive activities go, chess is one of the least forgiving.

If I hit a double fault while playing tennis, something I’m quite familiar with doing, it’s not the greatest feeling; however, in the end, it only costs one point. I go up to the line to serve again as if nothing has happened. You get to start fresh. Granted, some points have far greater importance than others, but ultimately you always get to start anew.

Chess does not work this way. 

A perplexus chess set and board created by Victor Vaserly, edition 210/1500, collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield
Michael DeFilippo

When Victor Vasarely, the father of op art, first began to experiment with optical illusions, he needed a canvas on which to put down his thoughts. That canvas had to be square. His two other choices were round, which was totally impractical, or rectangular, which would beg the question: Which way to hang the finished work? So he chose the shape of a chessboard, the square.

The chess team from Saint Louis University at the Collegiate Chess Championship in December 2017.
Nozima Aripova

The 2017 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championships saw St. Louis teams prevail yet again. The tournament was held in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 27-30. Sixty teams from all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico took part in the six-round Swiss tournament.

The traditional chess collegiate powerhouses, Webster University, University of Texas Dallas, Texas Tech, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Saint Louis University, all came with reinforced teams, while many top universities, like Harvard, University of California Berkeley and Columbia University brought strong representation.

On Chess: The Pro Chess League returns

Jan 4, 2018
the 2017 Saint Louis Arch Bishops; Starting from the left. Nicholas Rosenthal, Wesley So Yaroslav Zherebukh, Dariusz Świercz, Varuzhan Akobian, Francesco Rambaldi, Cemil Can Ali Marandi, Ben Finegold, Mike Kummer.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The inaugural Pro Chess League season ended with a resounding victory by the Saint Louis Arch Bishops last year. The Pro Chess League, originally the U.S. Chess League, used to be an online chess tournament where American Chess Teams, from different states and cities, competed for first place. Chess.com, the founder of the Pro Chess League, decided to innovate and expand on this league by inviting players from other cities, countries and continents. The first event was a great success, as teams from all over the world joined to play.

Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi in the playoff round of the 2017 London Chess Classic
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The last super tournament of 2017 ended with American grand master Fabiano Caruana edging out Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi in a tiebreak to claim victory at the London Chess Classic, ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This is a significant victory for Caruana, who struggled in tournaments at the beginning of the year.

Fabiano Caruana, right, winner of the 2017 London Chess Classic, with tournament organizer Malcom Pein.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The last leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic, produced not one, but two winners. For the first time, the winner of the London tournament wasn’t also the overall tour winner. After a dramatic last round, St. Louis resident Fabiano Caruana won the playoff against Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia to be crowned the winner of the London Chess Classic.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, winner of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, tied for third place in London.

Justin Wang (left), playing against Luis Torres. Wang, 12, was the youngest player in the event and achieved his first international master norm. 2017
Eric Rosen

For six days, 20 players from all over the world battled it out through nine strenuous rounds of chess at the 2017 St. Louis Invitational. The event featured two 10-player round-robin sections in which players competed for a chunk of the $15,000 prize fund. More importantly, many of the players strived to earn grandmaster and international master norms, which would bring them closer to attaining the respective titles.

Magnus Carlsen (right) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the two grand masters battling for the Grand Chess Tour 2017 crown
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The nine annual London Chess Classic will take place in the Olympia Exhibition Center in London from Dec. 1-11. Once again, it will be the final stop of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour and will produce this year’s winner. It has all come down to this event as the players will battle it out one last time for tour points, a $300,000 prize fund and a $150,000 bonus for the top two finishers of the tour. Of course, the much coveted titles of tournament winner and GCT champion will be on the line as well.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen at the Champions Showdown in St. Louis
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Eight of the top players in the world headlined the recently completed Champions Showdown in Saint Louis.

The Saint Louis Chess Club has been hosting exhibition matches each November for the past few years as a more experimental and fun scenario, having formats that are not the traditional way of playing chess at the top level.

Magnus Carlsen (left) will face off against Ding Liren in the Champions Showdown. That match is just one of dozens of great pairings to watch.
Provided | Saint Louis Chess Club

The Champions Showdown has become a staple in each year's chess calendar. The best players in the world return to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis  — but with a twist!

The two world-renowned, rock-star events that St. Louis hosts are the Sinquefield Cup and the new Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, played back to back in August. These super tournaments are part of the Grand Chess Tour, the most prestigious chess circuit with which serious chess fans are familiar.

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