On Chess | St. Louis Public Radio

On Chess

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.

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.

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