Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The St. Louis Metro Class Chess Championships pair players with similar rankings.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The St. Louis Metro Class Chess Championships were held recently at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center, drawing in a record 60-plus participants looking to cash in on a quick title.

Chess classes have been shown to have educational benefits.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The rhetoric has floated around for decades.

 “It develops your memory, improves your test scores — chess is good for your brains!” They always say. “It boosts your math! And it helps your science! Chock full of cognitive benefits, indeed!

Jennifer Shahade has become a proponent of chess players working out.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen pretended he didn’t hear the question, but I knew he had.

Rex Sinquefield, founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, was about to throw the first pitch at a Cardinals game, and I wondered out loud which participant from the Sinquefield Cup -- the strongest tournament in chess history, held in the Central West End last September -- would be the best candidate for the same role.

“Magnus,” the other participants quickly concluded.

Ray Robson
File photo | 2012

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis has once again received the bid as host to the annual U.S. Chess Championships: The 2015 event, along with the U.S. Women’s Championship, will be a 12-player round robin held March 31 through April 14 in the Central West End. It will mark the seventh consecutive year that St. Louis has hosted the national title event.

file photo | St. Louis Beacon

There should be excitement for what may come in 2015, as each passing year has proved better than the last. As we say goodbye to 2014, here are a few monuments St. Louis built in 2014:

Chess History Unfolds In St. Louis

Hikaru Nakamura is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the world.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

You’re back in town for the Showdown in St. Louis, a five-round match for $100,000 against the World No. 4 player, Levon Aronian. The Showdown is not a world-circuit event in which you normally play -- is an event like this still important to you, even though it’s just an exhibition?

Hikaru Nakamura is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the world.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Next week, the Central West End chess club will again be joined by the  top player in the United States, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who returns for a special exhibition match with one of his main rivals from the world stage, Armenia’s Levon Aronian.

Walter Browne in 1972
Wikipedia

It is, perhaps, the pinnacle chess week of the year, with several dazzling headlines labeling every level of the sport. When things get chaotic, keeping track of your lines can be difficult ... scattered thoughts, like pawns, need attending:

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

This Saturday, Oct. 11 is National Chess Day -- though only unofficially, because nobody cares.

That’s not from a lack of continued effort on the part of chess players, however, as plenty have cared about such a recognized holiday dating all the way back to its inception in 1976.

Rex Sinquefield prepares to make a move as Grandmasters look on. Behind, from left, are commentator Maurice Ashley, Garry Kasparov, Yasser Seirawan and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

It is a question commonly posed to Grandmasters -- business-suit wearing giants with perennially furrowed brows, constantly wrinkled above troubled looks of genuine stress -- can you still have fun?

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.

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