Chess | St. Louis Public Radio


U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductees Maurice Ashley, left, and Gata Kamsky
Spectrum Studios

The chess world currently has a very brief hiatus between world class events. The Candidate’s Tournament has just finished, and while Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin prepares to face reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in New York in November, the Americans are coming back to their home city to fight for another prestigious title: the U.S. Championship.

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.

Hou Yifan played at the Showdown in St. Louis.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

What a month for the chess world! There are many events around the globe that are fighting for the attention of the chess audience, but two definitely top the bunch. The Candidates Tournament, Tuesday, March 8 - Tuesday March 29, features eight of the best players, and the winner qualifies to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen to the supreme chess title.

Two American grandmasters will be participating, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana.

In the meantime, the Women’s World Chess Championship is already underway.

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.

On Chess: Women and the power of the queen

Feb 25, 2016
Jean Hoffman views the exhibit: Ladies' Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Known by many as a game of war and kings, the chess world is often perceived as male-dominated. Today, less than 14 percent of the members of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) are female, and only one woman ranks in the top 100 chess players in the world. However — in spite of the underrepresentation of female players within today’s competitive chess world — women have played a central role in the development of the modern chess game.

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.

Photograph of Nona Gaprindashvili in Gisela Gresser’s Photo Album from the 1961 Vrnjačka Banja, Yugoslavia (present-day Serbia), Women’s Candidates Tournament, c. 1961. John G. White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Georgia has always held a special place in the chess world. Its women have been especially strong, having once held the Women’s World Chess Champion title for just under 30 consecutive years.

The first pioneer and a phenomenal success of women’s chess in Georgia was Nona Gaprindashvili, who in 1962 became the Women’s World Chess Champion at the age of 21.

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.