Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

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.

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.

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