Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Fabiano Caruana
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When you’re claiming a page of history, you just never know who might write on it.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, left, and Magnus Carlsen played to a draw in their first game in the Sinquefield Cup.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

This year’s Sinquefield Cup chess championship is underway here in St. Louis and it’s billed as the strongest chess tournament in the history of the sport. The tournament features six of the top nine players in the world and takes place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. The compete for a first place prize of $100,000. Before the end of the tournament, each player will play every other player twice.

Lennart Ootes | CCSCSL

Make no mistake, we want him back.

In for his first visit to the U.S. Capital of Chess is Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana, one of only three players in the world with a chess rating that has surpassed the 2800 watermark. He’s here to pick a fight with the other two, Armenian GM Levon Aronian and World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen, as part of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup -- billed as the strongest chess tournament ever, for obvious reasons.

GM Maurice Ashley is the promoter of the Millionaire Chess Open, the upcoming tournament with the largest prize fund ever.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

This is the busy season of chess, with lots going on in the scene. Scattered thoughts, like pawns, need attending:

Maurice Ashley is in town, looking for millionaires.

Susan Polgar and Wesley So
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

It’s a great time to be a St. Louis girl in chess, I think. Just look at what surrounds them: Webster University coach Susan Polgar is adding something new to her resume. Right there at the bottom of page 11.

Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Our local boy is making national noise.

Matt Larson, a tall and lanky 17-year-old who attends Crossroads College Prep in St. Louis, is one of 10 competitors in the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, being held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in the Central West End. He most likely will not win the national title for players under the age of 21, but the crown wasn’t even necessarily a goal in the first place.

Larson just needed to represent.

Left to Right. Jeffrey Xiong, Kayden Troff, Sam Sevian and Ashritha Eswaran, with Garry Kasparov.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Thursday night marks the opening ceremony of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, the national title event for the top players under 21. The tournament is the third installment of America’s Championships annually hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, a parallel to the U.S. Championship and Women’s event, which took place simultaneously last month.

Wesley So
Courtesy of Susan Polgar

They say good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately, that’s shaping up to be true.

Wesley So, the 15th highest-rated chess player in the world with a FIDE rating of 2744, recently announced his intentions to switch to the U.S. Chess Federation (from the Philippines’ federation) for reasons rather obvious: He’s already here -- and he seems to like it.

International Master Priyadharshan Kannappan is seeking his second GM norm.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The words “watch your back” have never rung so clear.

The 2014 national championships are less than two weeks old, but as America’s heavyweights retreat to their corners, the class of tomorrow has already hopped into the ring.

Aleksandr Lenderman will be playing for his first U.S. Championship.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: Irina Krush is the U.S. Women's Chess Champion after winning the playoff against Tatev Abrahamyan 1-1/2 to 1/2. 

UPDATE 4:32 p.m.: Gata Kamsky is the U.S. Chess Champion after winning the playoff against Varuzhan Akobian 1-1/2 to 1/2. The women's match continues.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: In the first of two rapid matches for the U.S. Championship, Varuzhan Akobian drew the white pieces but fell into time trouble against Gata Kamsky. Akobian managed to hold off the reigning champion for a draw.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

Grand Master chess players from across the country have assembled in St. Louis’ Central West End for the 2014 U.S. Chess Championship.

Round 1 of the two-week tournament kicked off Thursday afternoon at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

A local favorite to follow this year is Grand Master Ray Robson, 19, who is a member of Webster University's chess team that won the 2013 national collegiate chess championship, said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich.  

Gata Kamsky seeks to defend his title at the 2014 U.S. Championship.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In chess, conquering the center is a strategy nearly as old as the game itself.

It is a building block, a foundation, with centuries of theory backing the blueprint. American legend Bobby Fischer opened all but one of his myriad games by instantly striking into the center with 1. e4, famously referring to the first move as “best, by test.”

Varuzhan Akobian playing chess
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For six years, St. Louis has been steadily pumping its proverbial chess muscle.

There is, perhaps, no better way to gauge the strength of the city than to count the number of tough guys around here. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center opened in 2008 as a hopeful magnet to the game, and a year later GM Ben Finegold rode into town as the city’s very first Grandmaster. Today, backed by the murderer’s row of the Webster University collegiate team - including 2014 U.S. Championship-hopeful GM Ray Robson - St. Louis is home to 11 Grandmasters.

Maurice Ashley (left) interviews Gata Kamsky at the 2013 US Championship.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Maurice Ashley is sleeping just fine these days.

The International Grandmaster is about to put a million dollars down in Las Vegas -- and he might have the best odds in the house.

File photo | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Poker is making a play on one of our queens.

I admit this may be a paranoid reaction, and I won’t apologize for defending the well-being of such an important chess piece. But I couldn’t shake this preposterous idea of Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade - a two-time women’s national chess champion, the editor for Chess Life online, and an author of two chess books - referring to herself as a simple gamesplayer, instead of the pure chess celebrity she has become.

On Chess: Nakamura Declines U.S. Championship Invite

Mar 19, 2014
Gata Kamsky is seeking his fifth U.S. Championship title this year.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Twelve of the top chess players in the U.S. just got fantastic news: Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura will not be fighting for the title of 2014 U.S. Champion.

Nakamura, currently ranked No. 8 in the world, declined his invitation citing his decision to prepare for, and compete against, only the world’s elite.

This isn’t surprising, really. A number of the world’s best players forgo their national championship for similar reasons. The last time World No. 2 Levon Aronian won the Armenian National Championship was 2002. Viswanathan Anand hasn’t claimed India’s title since 1988.

On Chess: Hall Of Fame Brings Chess To New Audiences

Mar 12, 2014
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, USA Today published a story that outlined everything “hip and happening” in St. Louis. 

Not surprisingly, the World Chess Hall of Fame got a nod.  Wait. What? Not surprising, you say?

If the idea that chess is hip and happening is foreign to you, then I assume you still have the antiquated stereotype of the pocket protector-wearing übergeek ingrained in your mind.

But times they are a-changin’ my friends.

Jim Davies (right) is the first-ever inductee into the Missouri Chess Hall of Fame.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Obviously the most recent developments at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center and the World Chess Hall of Fame have firmly planted St. Louis as a major player in the chess world, but countless organizers and enthusiasts have helped maintain the interest in St. Louis over the years.

World's Fair and Wolbrecht

Hikaru Nakamura last battled Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Levon Aronian observes.
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

He came close this time. The great white whale was in his sights. His elbow was cocked, and in his hand the harpoon was ready to deliver the fatal blow. And then it all disappeared.

Georg Meier
Provided by Susan Polgar

Webster University’s Georg Meier etched his name in the St. Louis record books over the weekend by winning the 6th annual Club Championship, held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis (CCSCSL).

Meier, 26, is a world-class grandmaster who ranks No. 2 in Germany and No. 141 in the world.

Wesley So and Susan Polgar
Provided by Susan Polgar

The prestigious Tata Steel chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, started last week, and for once, super-GM Hikaru Nakamura is not the only St. Louis representative competing against the world’s best.

Nakamura, the U.S. No. 1, is no stranger to top-level tourneys. But for GM Wesley So, a Webster University sophomore, Tata Steel is his first-ever super-elite event.

On Chess: Championships Return To St. Louis

Jan 16, 2014
photo of Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush
Courtesy of the Chess Club and Scholastic of St. Louis

It’s going to be another year of checkmates and championships in St. Louis.

On Wednesday, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis announced that the United States Chess Federation had accepted its bid to host the 2014 U.S. Championship, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship and the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, the three top invitational chess tournaments in the nation.

That’s right. The Trifecta. The Triple Crown. The Royal Three.

Malcolm Pein presents Hikaru Nakamura his first-place trophy for winning the London Chess Classic.
Photo courtesy Ray Morris-Hill.

If St. Louis is etching its name on the list of emerging chess capitals of the world, then London is already firmly established. And the letters are in bold print.

The 5th annual London Chess Classic concluded this past week, and the marquee event featured a 16-player rapid tournament showcasing the world’s elite.

photo of Sam Sevian
Courtesy Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Sam Sevian should be earning a spot as one of your instantly recallable names: The 12 year old from Corning, N.Y.,  is the reigning world champion for his age and the youngest ever to play in the U.S. Championship, which he did this past summer here in St. Louis.

He has been under the chess microscope for years, having already served as the fastest American to both Expert and National Master status, and I believe it is safe to assume he has become a fixture in chess’ future. Go ahead and commit that brain wrinkle.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - It has begun: The battle between two kings who will fight in one culminating epoch for the world’s throne.

The one match to rule them all started over the weekend, with the first games of the 12-round FIDE World Championship kicking off in Chennai, India. Defending is current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India, undisputed since 2007 and, though likely witnessing the twilight of an illustrious career, now on the cusp of attaining, perhaps, his crown jewel.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The “slow season” has hit the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis – that is, no more national championships to host, no world-class tournaments to display, no super-elite grandmasters to pamper – at least until next year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Beyond the St. Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End, another important contributor to St. Louis’ thriving chess scene is the presence of GM Susan Polgar, one of the most recognizable women in the game and the coach of Webster University’s national championship team.

Sinquefield Cup is living up to expectations

Sep 11, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: All eyes of the chess world are locked on St. Louis this week as four of its greatest titans battle it out for the 2013 Sinquefield Cup held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, 4657 Maryland Ave.

The top two ranked players in the world: GM Magnus Carlsen (2862) and GM Levon Aronian (2802) are mixing it up with the top two U.S. players GM Hikaru Nakamura (2774) and U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky (2741) over a week-long, double round robin style tournament.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In less than two weeks, St. Louis will be the center of the world’s attention.

Granted, only the chess world will be watching, but how often does our city draw the spotlight of any worldwide audience? Plus, St. Louis gets to be named in sensational headlines that feature global conflict and war – in a positive light. Let’s see you pull that off, Washington.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Considering the escalation of tension over depleting oil reserves, I’m seriously concerned with the level of meltdown America will encounter as we run dangerously low on intellectual reserves.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the United States is running out of chess pieces.

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