Chess

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.

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

The intense concentration of Erica, a fifth-grader at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Ferguson, was apparent as she played chess against one of the best in the world. This fall, chess grandmasters visited Walnut Grove and Vogt elementary schools, which as part of the Ferguson-Florissant School District are benefiting from the Your Move Chess program.

Magnus Carlsen with the London Chess Classic trophy after he won.
Spectrum Studios

It's been a strange year at the top of the chess standings. Going into the year before the first Grand Chess Tour stop in Norway, the elite had distanced themselves quite a bit from the rest of the pack. There was a marked difference in rating between those in the top-10 and those below; a significant gap of 30 or so points. And yet, it wasn't a good year for basically anyone at the top.

Chess Grandmasters gather in St. Louis before the second leg of the grand tour.
Spectrum Studios

The third and final leg of the inaugural Chess Grand Tour, the most prestigious series of chess tournaments in the world, is upon us. Beginning Friday, Dec. 4, and running until Sunday, Dec. 13, the Kensington Olympia will host the 7th London Chess Classic where the Chess Grand Tour winner will be crowned.

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.

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

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum was honored when, several years ago, the World Chess Hall of Fame approached us with a partnership opportunity to create a nationally-traveling, interactive exhibit for children focused on the game of chess. With so many beneficial 21st century skills to be learned by playing chess, we were intrigued by this potential design challenge.

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.

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

My passion for chess began with chess problems. Compositions, as they are also known, are created from scratch to highlight beautiful checkmates and ideas. They help make us stronger chess players, while never pretending toward educational purposes.

Naked Chess by Jennifer Shahade references a 1963 photograph of artist/chess player Marcel Duchamp playing against a nude woman.
Jennifer Shahade and Daniel Meirom

Women may not rule the world of chess but they do dominate an upcoming art exhibit around the game.

The World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End opens “Ladies’ Knight: The Female Perspective on Chess” Thursday evening. It includes the work of 12 female artists. Some pieces are regulation chess-board size. One is eight feet square with 13-inch-high pieces. Others are video installations.

On Chess: Hou Yifan sits on top the women's chess world

Oct 21, 2015
Hou Yifan from the Women's Grand Prix
FIDE Women's Grand Prix

The first leg of the Women’s Grand Prix recently ended in Monaco, with Hou Yifan of China coming out on top over the current international champion Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine. Humpy Koneru of India was third.

Before looking at that specific tournament, it may be useful to examine how chess chooses its champions.

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: World Cup works its way from 128 players to two

Sep 30, 2015
Screen shot from the Baku World Chess Cup
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The World Cup was “demoted” some years ago. It used to be called the World Championship and was the sole way FIDE determined its top title holder. However, since there was a divide between FIDE and what most chess players considered to be the true World Championship cycle, the winners of FIDE's monstrous 128 player knock-out event were never fully recognized as World Champions by many.

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

This past Tuesday morning, Walnut Grove Elementary School of Ferguson, hosted the official launch of a new after-school chess instruction pilot program. More than 30 students were on hand along with Principal Jennifer Andrade to welcome their special guests as well as to challenge the grandmasters in attendance to a competitive but friendly game of chess. Photographers, reporters and camera persons were also on hand to record this special event.

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

While the chess world was focused on the Sinquefield Cup, the Saint Louis Chess Club was already planning its next move. The year's strongest tournament, won by Armenia's Levon Aronian, brought together 10 of the top chess players for a two week stay in St. Louis. The next task is to attract even more grandmasters for a longer stay.

The Saint Louis Chess Club is teaming up with Saint Louis University to create the strongest collegiate chess team in the country.

Levon Aronian during Round 9 of the Sinquefield Cup
Lennart Ootes

The 2015 inaugural Grand Chess Tour features three tournaments including Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic. The Grand Chess Tour has quickly established itself as the premier chess circuit in the world, featuring 10 of the top players. Invitations are extended to the three top finishers in the 2015 Grand Chess Tour, the six highest average rated players in 2015, and a wild card chosen by each tournament which rounds out the field to 10.

The Sinquefield Cup has been held here at the St. Louis Chess Club from Aug. 22 to Sept. 3.

Veselin Topalov at the 2015 sinquefield cup
Spectrum Studios

For someone to win an elite chess tournament a combination of elements must align. The player must be in top shape, his opening preparation must be sharp and up-to-date, his game has to be strong, his tactics good, his endgames subtle, and his decision making must be on-point. Even all of this may not be enough.

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

St. Louis’ own chess tournament -- the Sinquefield Cup -- has established itself as a top tournament in the world of chess. The event itself continues to evolve. 

“The organizers have made it such an attractive place to be that everyone knows it and everyone wants to be here,” said commentator and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley.

Fabiano Caruana, left, defeated the inaugural cupholder Magnus Carlsen in the first round of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Starting next week, St. Louis will not only be the capital of chess in America – it will hold the attention of the entire world. At that time, the inaugural Grand Chess Tour will start its second leg: the Sinquefield Cup, now in its third year.

Last year's edition was the strongest tournament ever held, and this year's will host nine of the top 10 players on the globe.

On Chess: John Michael Burke, 14, is rising quickly

Aug 12, 2015
John Michael Burke
Daaim Shabazz | The Chess Drum

This past June, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis held the strongest U.S. Junior Closed Championship (an invitation-only event reserved for the highest ranked juniors under 20 in the U.S.) in its history.

Much has already been said and written about the event's generous prize fund, superb conditions and impressive list of titled and highly rated competitors. The tense race for first place remained undecided until the final round when International Master Akshat Chandra emerged victorious.

On Chess: Club is taken over by 16 young talents

Aug 5, 2015
chess camp august 2015
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The growing interest in chess at grade schools has significantly increased the number of young prodigies. Those quickly rising stars serve not only as role models to scores of chess enthusiasts wishing to emulate their success and fame. They are now the backbone of the U.S. Youth Teams for world events and transform into America's leading chess players.

From left, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Every two years FIDE, the International Chess Federation, holds a World Chess Championship. One of the qualifying events to earn a seat at the tournament is the World Cup. The World Cup is different than most chess tournaments because it is a 128 player knockout event. Most chess competitions are Swiss-system or round-robin (all-play-all) events. However, the World Cup is similar to the NCAA March Madness as half the players are eliminated every round. The tournament takes a few weeks compared to most Grandmaster level events taking a mere 9-13 days.

60 girls from 30 states and 10 countries compete this week at the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

After Team USA won the Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship, people started talking about money. The women’s teams competed for a fraction of the prize money compared to the men’s championship. This pay disparity is replicated throughout the sports world, even in chess. And the irony with chess is this is a game played with the mind. It’s a game that has nothing to do with strength or height.

International Master Steven Zierk
Ben Finegold

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis held another GM norm tournament July 16-22, 2015.  These tournaments are important for rising stars trying to earn the most coveted title in chess: Grandmaster.

The International Chess Federation, or FIDE, has a set of criteria to determine how one can earn the title. 

The tournament is underway.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For the sixth consecutive year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis is hosting the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. 

The Junior Closed is a round-robin (all-play-all) event comprised of 10 of the strongest male American chess players under the age of 20. This year, the prize fund has doubled from the 2014 event with more than $20,000 being distributed.

On Chess: Connection to the Greatest Generation

Jul 1, 2015
A POW chess set used by a Marine
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Mention World War II to Americans of a certain age and memories of major events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the flag raising on Iwo Jima, and the D-Day invasion of Europe come immediately to mind. But this great global conflict was not always constant action: there was often downtime, even for soldiers waiting for combat, more so for those captured or seriously injured.

How was the time passed in an age before television, when the internet was not even a dream? One major diversion was the game of chess.

Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Ten years ago in the city of San Luis (not St. Louis!), Argentina, Veselin Topalov crowned himself World Chess Champion. He played in a tournament that brought together the eight strongest players on the planet, and the Bulgarian super-star simply dominated the field. He won the tournament with a full round to spare and finished with a massive 1.5 point lead. His sharp, attacking style was rewarded.

On Chess: Appreciating the art of ivory chess sets

Jun 17, 2015
Austin Fuller | The World Chess Hall of Fame

It was the 2004 Olympiad. I had just had a rough night, stayed up a little later than I should have. I didn't figure out what the pairing was until late morning. The preparation was beyond my reach, my opponent was too strong to outplay over the board: Viswanathan Anand, world chess champion.

On Chess: Grand Chess Tour set to make history

Jun 10, 2015
Fabiano Caruana, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup Champion
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Kevin Duggin

Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Dortmund, Baden-Baden, Reggio Emilia.

When chess players hear the names of these cities, they are immediately transported. Those are places in which chess history has been made - where the greatest players of all time dueled over the royal game.

Youngsters can learn the basic of chess.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When I was learning chess, my dad was a chess master, my brother was better than me, and I wondered at which age I would excel. My dad told me that 35 years old was the age most chess players peak. Well, that was in 1975, and in 2015 it seems most of the best players are around 20! In fact, 35 is ancient in today’s chess world. Gone are the days of world champions older than 50, like Wilhelm Steinitz and Emanuel Lasker.

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