On Chess | St. Louis Public Radio

On Chess

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.

On Chess: The blueprint of a chess professional

Oct 26, 2017
Cristian Chirila at the 2017 Spring Chess Classic
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

Becoming a professional in chess takes years of practice, of course. But there are also some key skills that can help someone go from amateur to pro. Today, I'm going to give an outline of what those skills are.

Being versatile as a chess professional is probably one of the most important aspects of successfully managing and developing a career in this very competitive field.

Members of the Saint Louis University Chess Team
Steve Dolan |Saint Louis University

Working on chess at higher levels is definitely a different experience than when you first experience the magic of the sport. The leaps and bounds that a beginner can make are quickly rewarded. Learning simple concepts such as common checkmating patterns, tactical devices, even the relative value of pieces, is enough to propel someone to be a solid participant at the club level.

Ding Lirin, at age 24, is one of the youngest champions in this year's World Cup.
Lennart Ootes | Sant Louis Chess Club

Whenever I am the Grand Master in Residence at the Saint Louis Chess Club, non-chess players often ask, “When did you start playing chess?” I gladly answer, 10 years old. Many talented players start very young and even become grand masters in their teens, but I recently noticed that there is actually a shift happening with chess professionals. According to recent results at the World Cup in Tbilisi and the strong tournament on the Isle of Man, experience seems to weigh more heavily than age.

On Chess: Race to the Candidates Tournament

Oct 5, 2017
2017 World Cup Champion Levon Aronian will go on to the Candidates Tournament in 2018
Lennart Ootes

Levon Aronian, from Armenia won the 2017 FIDE World Cup, defeating his Chinese rival Ding Liren in the finals. The World Cup was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, between Sept. 2-27.

The World Cup was a unique event this year as the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, chose to participate. He didn't have to, however, because the World Cup is primarily a qualifier in the world championship cycle and is used to determine the challenger to the reigning world champion. 

Grandmaster Georg Meier from Germany eventually won the 2017 Fall Chess Classic, but not without a difficult battle.
Austin Fuller | Saint Louis Chess Club

The 2017 Fall Chess Classic brought together strong grandmasters from all over the world. The tournament, which has the goal of providing experience and training opportunities to collegiate students, as well as for the American women’s team, was a huge success. Despite the ongoing FIDE World Cup, which just finished in Tbilisi, Georgia, the event attracted a serious amount of attention from around the globe.

On Chess: Can chess prevent memory loss?

Sep 21, 2017
People enjoying a game of chess outside the Chess Club
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Dr. Lauren Schwarz and colleagues at Saint Louis University School of Medicine are conducting a research study examining the effect learning and playing chess has on memory loss. The researchers are using neuroimaging to measure whether or not a specified program of playing chess results in functional changes within the brain. This study is being conducted with funding provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in Saint Louis.

Vitaly Neimer teaching a child to play.
powerfulchess.com

I took my first steps in chess in St. Petersburg when I was 5 years old. In cold Russia, chess is considered one of the mainstream sports to follow. Then, my family and I moved to Israel and discovered that chess was not any less popular.

Chess followed me through school, military service and even to a university in the United States.

On Chess: Building the future chess elite

Sep 7, 2017
Former world chess champion Veselin Topalov contemplates his move
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

 

The path to becoming world class in any endeavor isn’t always perceptible to those who would like to travel down it. Certainly those who have made it to the end of the path can look back and tell others how he or she got there.

Recently, a group of young nationally-ranked chess players from the United States were given such a chance by former world chess champion Veselin Topalov.

Traveling to Albena, Bulgaria, six young players were invited to attend the first American-Bulgarian Chess Camp at the end of July. Along with six other players from Bulgaria, the students received a week’s worth of grandmaster level chess instruction, practice games against similarly strong opponents, and a chance to challenge the former world champion in an event called a simultaneous exposition.

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz champion, Levon Aronian with Chess Club and Scholastic Center founders Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, as well as County Executive Steve Stenger in August, 2017
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The newest addition to the Grand Chess Tour, the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz, became the most anticipated event when the announcement was made that Garry Kasparov would come out of retirement to join the field.

On Chess: The return of the king

Aug 10, 2017
Garry Kasparov at the first day of the Paris stop of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

It was the fall of 1995, and I was on the top floor of the World Trade Center.  I watched on a TV monitor as two players concentrated intensely on a chessboard. Grand Master Viswanathan Anand, playing black, had a look of quiet serenity. While surely he was analyzing dozens of variations with a speed and accuracy that would make most people dizzy, there was no indication of that immense effort on his face.

World team shows dominance at St. Louis tournament

Aug 3, 2017
Former world champion Garry Kasparov and members of the U.S. and world youth chess teams.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In an attempt to popularize chess and help it reach wider audiences, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosted the Match of the Millennials.

 

From July 2-29, youngsters from all over the world got a taste of what it’s like to be treated as true professionals and play in the same room as world champions.

 

Held just before the Sinquefield Cup, the youth match was a team event pitting players from the United States against international competition.

On Chess: St. Louis to host chess legends in 2 tournaments

Jul 27, 2017
Former world champion Garry Kasparov and grandmaster Wesley So compete in 2016.
Lennart Ootes, Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The biggest chess event in the United States will fittingly be hosted in the chess capital of the nation. The Sinquefield Cup, which is the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, will take place Aug. 2-12 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The top players in the world will compete for $300,000 in prize money, tour points and the coveted title of the 2017 Sinquefield Cup Champion.

The 2017 U.S. Junior Champion, IM Awonder Liang, and 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Champion, WIM Akshita Gorti pose for a picture with Chess Club executive director, Tony Rich (L) and Chess Club founder, Rex Sinquefield.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The U.S. Junior Championship was held July 8-17 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The tournament kicked off with early leaders in both sections: Kayden Troff, the Junior Champion of 2014 in the Open Section, and Emily Nguyen, the defending champion in the Girls’ Section.

On Chess: Fashion and chess are a natural match

Jul 13, 2017
Five of the designers selected to participate in the Pinned! competition for the World Chess Hall of Fame. The project manager and author of this article, Rikki Byrd, is second from the left. July 2017
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

From New York Fashion Week to museum exhibits and global advertising campaigns, the intersection of fashion and chess has long been a source of inspiration.

Akshat Chandra, a St. Louis resident and former winner of the U.S. Junior Championship, is hoping to regain his title in this year's contest.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center

One of the most contested tournaments, The U.S. Junior Championships, begins this week.  The event will take place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from July 8-18. The winners of both the junior and girls section will automatically qualify for the 2018 U.S. Championships.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (left) studies World Champion Magnus Carlsen move in the playoff in Paris. June 2017
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The first leg of the third annual Grand Chess Tour took place from June 21-25 in Paris. As it did last year, the tour kicked off with a rapid and blitz event. Five grueling days and 29 games later, World Champion Magnus Carlsen emerged as the winner. He collected 12 tour points and $31,250 for his efforts.

At the first glance, the favorite competitor of the event coming in first place doesn’t seem exciting or interesting, but the final standings don’t tell the whole story. 

The action at the Grand Chess Tour in Paris in 2016
Chess Club and Spectrum Studios

The third annual Grand Chess Tour, arguably the top chess tour in the world, is right around the corner with none other than Magnus Carlsen headlining the event. Another treat for both the players and chess fans is the addition of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament following the Sinquefield Cup. With quicker time control events and inclusion of more players, the 2017 tour promises to be unforgettable.

On Chess: The musical imagery of chess

Jun 8, 2017
Wesley So and Akshat Chandra playing at the opening reception of The Imagery of Chess: Saint Louis Artists on March 23, 2017.
World Chess Hall of Fame | Michael DeFilippo

Chess, music and art are pursuits from differing spheres but which have shared meaningful connections over time.

In 1944, chess master and Dadaist, Marcel Duchamp, gallery owner Julien Levy and Surrealist painter Max Ernst set out to recontextualize the game of chess by inviting over 30 painters, photographers, architects, designers, sculptors and composers to create modern interpretations of traditional chess sets. The resulting works were featured in a groundbreaking 1944 exhibition, The Imagery of Chess, which illuminated the game as a lush landscape for artistic expression of all kinds.

On Chess: America's juniors continue to rise

Jun 1, 2017
The tournament hall at the Spring Chess Classic May 16 -24, 2017.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The 2017 Spring Chess Classic recently wrapped up after nine continuous days of chess at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

 

The tournament has reaffirmed what many have considered true: This is the golden age of American chess. While the U.S. boasts three top-10 players, along with the current Olympic team title and World U-20 title, history has shown that those accomplishments are extremely difficult to repeat in an era where the game of chess has opened up globally and resulted in increased opposition.

Chess legend Gary Kasparov signed copies of his book at the Super Nationals Chess Tournaments in Nashville. May 2017
Karen Boyd

The biggest chess event of all time was held May 12-15 in Nashville. In total, 5,577 players vied for prizes in the three national events which are held together at the same site at the same time every four years. 

 

The event is a mix of four tournaments, the Nationals, the Elementary Chess Championships, the Middle School Chess Championships and the High School Chess Championships. These four competitions are normally held on different weekends and in different cities in the spring. However, every four years, they are held simultaneously at the same site.

Spring Chess Classic player Yaroslav Zherebukh, recently competed in the U.S. Championship and attends Saint Louis University. Zherebukh be joining two other Americans in the top group in the quarterly strong tournament next week. May 10, 2017
Saint Louis Chess Club | Austin Fuller

Whether it's chess, math, art or science, talent is not something that America lacks. The creative abilities of the top young people in these areas are astonishing, and the push to turn this raw talent to become elite in their respective fields is where the real fight is.

On Chess: Have you thought about summer chess camps?

May 4, 2017
Students eagerly participate during summer camp at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in 2016.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Having served as Resident Grandmaster for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for the past three weeks, I have had the opportunity to interact with many children who demonstrate a passion for chess. Between school field trips, family visits, lectures and competitions, the club attracts a diverse range of players.

On Chess: When your chess opponent wears a cape

Apr 26, 2017
Children enjoy the intersection of chess and comics at the opening reception for "POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics" at the World Chess Hall of Fame on March 23, 2017.
World Chess Hall of Fame | Austin Fuller

Ever since the first cartoonists joined text and images together to tell stories, they turned to chess to deliver funny gags and to illustrate metaphors of power, fate, and good and evil. Now, the World Chess Hall of Fame’s exhibit, "POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics,on view through Sept. 17, offers a rare chance to enjoy the full scope of what happens when chess and comics join forces.

Elshan Moradiabadi and Sabina Foisor
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

From March 27 until mid-April, I had the chance to be grandmaster in residence at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Being at the “mecca” of chess was already a great privilege but what doubled my luck was coinciding this period with the most prestigious chess event in the United States: the U.S. Chess Championships!

I had the chance to observe this event from three perspectives: grandmaster and professional player familiar to the demanding nature of this sport, coach, and spectator (I was closely following the event and commenting for other spectators). I happen to be the fiancé and coach of WGM Sabina Foisor, who came in as an underdog and won the event in style.

2017 U.S. Chess Championship winner Wesley So and 2017 U.S. women's champion, Sabina Foisor.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Between March 29 and April 10, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, two of the most exciting events in the American circuit. This year, the events were stronger than ever, with three players out of the world’s top 10 participating in the open section, making it the strongest national championship in the world.

U.S. Championship

The Saint Louis University chess team engaged in chess matches with the Webster University team.
Courtesy Vanessa Sun

Collegiate chess is a subject that has cropped up often in this column, and rightfully so. The explosion of interest that this rather niche market has attracted is not without merit. One of the trend setters in this field was certainly the University of Texas at Dallas, incidentally. This university's first chess team arrived in the fall of 1996, and started the idea of offering “chess scholarships.”

Since chess players are usually known for their brain power, it was seen as a perfect way to increase the brand of the university while attracting some of the brightest minds to its campus. As for the students, they would have the opportunity to attend college basically for free.

the winning bracket after the PRO Chess League finals
PRO Chess League

Chess, like other games, is being revolutionized by the world of streaming online. Using platforms like Twitch.tv, players have jumped at the chance to promote live chess and engage viewers in real time. This weekend saw the championship match of the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League featuring the Norway Gnomes and the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

On Chess: US Chess is rising and So is the competition

Mar 23, 2017
Fabiano Caruana in a match with Hikaru Nakamura at the 2016 U.S. Championship
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Lennart Ootes

It’s that time of the year again. The time when St. Louis dresses up in its white and black gown and welcomes the best chess players the nation has to offer. The 2017 U.S. Chess Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship will take place from March 28 to April 10 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and it will feature the highest prize fund in history, with $194.000 for the U.S. Championship and $100,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.

Pages