Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

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.

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: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Vita Kryvoruchko is the resident grandmaster for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Nicole Halpin | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosted the 8th Annual Metro St. Louis Tournament on Feb. 6. I was very glad to participate in the event, which was the first time I played in the Chess Club. Every section played in different rooms, which was good because it was quiet and comfortable. The Master’s section had eight strong players: two grandmasters, three international masters and myself, a woman grandmaster.

Commentators Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan host the 2015 U.S. Chess Championships, which kicked off Wednesday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

St. Louis, as the chess capital of America, is duty-bound to host the most important national event of the year: the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship. The already-impressive tournament has gained more and more prestige year after year, attracting an increasingly stronger field.

Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame

On Dec. 12, 1941, less than a week after the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attempted to take Wake Island, strategically located in the Pacific, but were thwarted by U.S. forces. Twelve days later, they returned with force and Wake Island was surrendered to the Japanese on Dec. 24, 1941. The soldiers and civilians alike became prisoners of war (POW) and were shipped to Woo Sung, China.

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.

Detail from the cover of Red Cross magazine

The American Red Cross and the World Chess Hall of Fame encourage chess fans to help save lives – and learn more about the impact of chess in World War II -- by donating blood at the Hall of Fame on Monday, Jan. 4.

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

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis’ premier open event of the season is this weekend, Nov. 27-29. The 2015 Thanksgiving Open will showcase a $10,000 guaranteed prize fund and challenge participants in six grueling rounds of G/90 + 30s/move in top-level action.

This event will draw big names from both the local and national chess scene and is rivaled only by the St. Louis Open for biggest Chess Club Open tournament of the year.

From left: Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Hou Yifan, Parimarjan Negi
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Whenever the two best players in any discipline square off against one another, it is an occasion to be savored. American chess fans were especially eager to see America’s best face-off against one another and the Showdown in St. Louis did not disappoint!

Spectrum Studios

2015 has been a very busy year for chess worldwide and especially in St. Louis. To wrap-up a very successful year for American chess, an exhibition match will be held from Nov. 12-15 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Top-10 ranked Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana will duel in a variety of chess formats at the Showdown in St. Louis. This All-American match is accompanied by a lofty $100,000 prize fund.

Kids crowd a chess board at the announcement of the Ferguson-Florissant schools program.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Schools are key to so much, including chess. As one of the first full-time chess teachers for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, I strongly believe in using chess in the classroom to provide positive learning experiences for students. It also helps develop their spatial reasoning, memory and organizational thought processes.

Forest Park Forever and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis open a new outdoor playing area
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

There is now another spot in St. Louis for chess lovers to enjoy the game in the great outdoors.

Forest Park Forever has partnered with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on four outdoor, concrete tables near Steinberg Skating Rink.

The area is designed to attract more people to that section of the park throughout the year and expose more people, especially youngsters, to chess.

On Chess: St. Louis players raise money for ALS research

Sep 23, 2015
A tournament at the chess center raised almost $400 for ALS
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis held its annual ALS Benefit Tournament last weekend to commemorate the life of Waldo Odak, a well-known member of the Chess Club. The entry fee and donations went to the St. Louis Regional Chapter of the ALS Association to support research and assist those afflicted with the neurological disease. The 19-player tournament raised an additional $390 toward ALS research.

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