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Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

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. 

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.

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.

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.

the 2016 U.S. Chess Olympiad team. From left to right, Alex Lenderman (coach), Hikaru Nakamura, John Donaldson (captain), Sam Shankland, Ray Robson, Wesley So, and Fabiano Caruana.
Mike Kelin | Chess.com

The biennial Chess Olympiad, the most important competition in the chess world outside the World Championship, has been held continuously since 1927, interrupted only by World War II. American teams have participated in 38 of the 42 competitions and won six.

Although the United States didn’t compete in the first event held in London in 1927, it quickly made its mark, finishing second at The Hague in 1928, and fourth in Hamburg two years later. That set the table for an incredible streak from 1931 to 1937, which saw the Americans win four consecutive Olympiads, the second longest run of success in the event’s history, eclipsed only by the Soviet Union from 1952-1974 and the Soviet Union/Russia from 1980-2002.

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. 

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.

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: 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: 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.

Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

“This game will be over in two moves.”

“…and how long will that take?”

“It could be 20 seconds. It could be two hours.”

Let’s get one thing clear – 20 seconds is a lifetime when it comes to live television. It’s the real world equivalent of deciding what to wear on a first date, or which of 50 toppings to smother on your froyo. These things take time.

Akshat Chandra plays Boris Arkhangelsky in January 2010.
Provided by Akshat Chandra

In January 2010, I played in the Delhi International Grandmaster Open, my first major tournament. I was 10 years old and brimming with optimism and hope, having started playing chess a few months earlier on my visit to India. In the first round, I found myself playing 66-year old veteran Russian International Master, Boris Arkhangelsky.

On Chess: Life in the trenches, earning an IM/GM Norm

Nov 23, 2016
Akshat Chandra is shown at the Junior Closed tournament.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center is rightfully considered the most innovative, as well as friendliest, chess club in the world. The club made its reputation by hosting elite events such as the national championships; women’s championships and junior championships, as well as the prestigious Sinquefield Cup.

The club also hosts weekly tournaments for club players and attractive competitions for master class players.  From Nov.17-22, the club hosted the 2016 St. Louis Autumn Invitational, which includes the international masters and international grandmasters tournaments. Each tournament was a 10- player round-robin with prize money as well as “norm” opportunities at stake.

Viswanathan Anand captured the Champions Showdown crown in St. Louis.
Spectrum Studios | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The most exciting event in November so far has been the Champions Showdown, the four-player exhibition round robin that finished Monday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Fabiano Caruana started as the favorite but failed to meet expectations and ended up having to settle for third place and the prize of $30,000.

From left, Veselin Topalov, Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura
Chris Bauer | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has been the epicenter of chess momentum in the United States since its inception. The magnitude of the events organized has been easily surpassing anything seen on a national, and even international, level. On Nov. 10 another event – the Champions Showdown – is set to delight chess fans all over the world and, as is fitting, the Chess Club will host.

On Chess: Saint Louis University team ready for battle

Oct 26, 2016
Alejandro Ramirez is the chess coach at Saint Louis University.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The explosion of chess in St. Louis goes beyond the Chess Campus that sits on the corner of Euclid and Maryland in the Central West End. The great achievements of the World Chess Hall of Fame and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis are numerous, but with the increasing demand around the country for collegiate chess, Saint Louis University has stepped up to the plate.

The newly minted program at SLU seeks to become the best in the country, a title already held by another St. Louis college: Webster University. Only four players are currently on scholarship on the SLU roster, but their achievements are impressive.

On Chess: Caruana thrives in St. Louis

Oct 19, 2016
Fabiano Caruana is now based in St. Louis. Here is playing during the 2016 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana decided to move to St. Louis in late August 2015, local chess enthusiasts rejoiced and looked forward to meeting the then world’s No. 5 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Caruana chose the U.S. chess capital as it proved to provide the best conditions for the Miami-born superstar to improve his skills and eventually challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Even more important, the U.S. Chess Federation hoped that Caruana, the American No. 1, would successfully lead his countrymen at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. Well, Fabiano Caruana’s first year as a St. Louis resident is over and he satisfied everyone.

On Chess: USA wins gold at Baku Chess Olympiad

Sep 14, 2016

Rio was not the only city to host an Olympics in 2016. Baku, capital of the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan, just hosted the 42nd Chess Olympiad, over the last two weeks. The Olympiad featured more than 1,600 players from 180 countries. When the dust settled, the United States finished at the top, earning gold for the first time in 40 years.

On Chess: Bringing the game to the classroom

Sep 1, 2016
Students at Walnut Grove Elementary School provided a rapt audience for the unveiling of a new chess program.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis | File photo

In addition to a place for enjoying chess, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is an educational institution doing work both inside the club and in the community. It is now gearing up for a record year of providing high-quality chess programming to St. Louis area schools.

This academic year will be a watershed, not only because of the unprecedented scope of the program’s reach, but also because chess instruction will be an in-curricular offering in nearly 10 schools in the St. Louis Public School District.

Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club, presents a check to Jeffery Xiong after he won the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed tournament in St, Louis. At right is Mike Kummer, deputy arbiter.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

I've had the pleasure of knowing Jeffery Xiong since he started taking his first pawns. Jeffery is the current rock star of the junior chess world, having last week won the World Junior Championship in Bhubaneswar, India.

The tournament brought together the strongest players from around the world age 20 or younger, and it was the 15-year old grandmaster from Coppell, Texas, who achieved the remarkable. It was the first time in 19 years that the title went to an American - already quite notable. However, and perhaps most impressive, Jeffery is the youngest player in history to have won this title.

Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, from left, with Grandmaster Wesley So, winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, and Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, took place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from Aug. 4-16.

With the first edition taking place just four years ago, the Sinquefield Cup has expanded from four players to include 10 of the world’s best. Furthermore, the cup joined other elite events around the world in 2015 to create the Grand Chess Tour. As usual, the tournament featured the top players in the world, as well as a wild card, giving an opportunity to a talented player who otherwise would not have made it by rating.

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?

Tony Rich, the executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, with junior champion Jeffrey Xiong.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Due to the continuous effort of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the U.S. Junior Closed Championship has grown to be one of the strongest and most prominent junior tournaments in the world. The 2016 edition brought together 10 of the most talented players in the country, with a median rating close to 2550 USCF and an average age of only 16.

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.

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