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.

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

At the beginning of the 2014-15 FIDE Grand Prix cycle there was just one American attempting to qualify for the Candidates Tournament; but by the end of the series, two American flags topped the leaderboard. As previously reported, American-born Fabiano Caruana changed federations mid-cycle to once again represent the U.S.

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

Fabiano Caruana is coming home.

The world’s No. 3 Grandmaster has declared intentions to once again play under the American flag, applying for transfer to the U.S. Chess Federation on Tuesday. Assuming the paperwork process goes smoothly, the 22-year-old will reunite with the U.S. right here in the Central West End, at the 2015 Sinquefield Cup this August.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of FIDE
A.Slavin | Wikipedia

I want to believe.

On the possibility of aliens, I absolutely want to believe that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, ruling president of the World Federation of Chess (FIDE), has been visited by friends from another world. By now his claim has been openly discussed for more than a decade, the story well known by details easily researched, ranking as the No. 1 evidence when describing the Russian oligarch’s widely accepted, eccentric behavior.

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

Two years ago, the inaugural Sinquefield Cup lured World Champion Magnus Carlsen to his first-ever American chess game -- and the St. Louis super tournament, then-celebrated as the strongest in U.S. history, was opened with rousing success.

The follow-up turned out to be the mother of all upgrades.

Rex Sinquefield, Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

A new multi-national chess competition aims to draw attention to the sport.

“Hopefully we are witnessing now the creation of the network that will greatly donate to the promotion of the game of chess,” said chess legend Garry Kasparov at the announcement.

Garry Kasparov, with Rex Sinquefield in the background
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When the king moves, every piece, on every corner of this checker-boarded earth, takes notice. That is why most of Garry Kasparov’s moves around St. Louis these days often come and go in secret.

Small circles know that the world’s greatest living chess legend sneaks into the Central West End a time or two a year; but for the non-privy, he simply appears at the front door of the St. Louis Chess Club, with no less surprise than if he had stepped from a sudden poof of smoke.

Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

After 11 rounds of exciting chess, pre-tournament favorite GM Hikaru Nakamura -- the top American for the past five years, and currently No. 3 in the world -- emerged undefeated and victorious in the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship. Winning his fourth American title along with the top prize of $45,000, Nakamura finished with a score of 8/11, a half-point ahead of Webster University’s GM Ray Robson.

Hikaru Nakamura
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis | File Photo

The Webster University challengers provided excitement in this year’s U.S. chess championships, but in the end the top ranking players — GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Irina Krush walked away with the titles.

Wesley So, left, and Hikaru Nakamura played to a draw.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The youngest and strongest U.S. Chess Championship in history has just crossed the midway point at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, and the event has already seen enough drama to vie as one of the most-exciting U.S. Championships in history, as well.

After six games in the 12-player round-robin tournament, alone in front is the No. 1 seed and pre-tournament favorite, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who has scored three victories and three draws to earn 4.5/6 points.

Commentators Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan host the 2015 U.S. Chess Championships, which kicked off Wednesday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2015 U.S. Chess Championships feature the strongest player lineup of all-time.

 Tables await players upstairs at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Today the highest-rated U.S. Chess Championship opens here in St. Louis.  The event is held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis until the closing ceremony on April 13. 

Facts to know:

1.    Prize Money - $175,000 for U.S. Chess Championship, $75,000 for U.S. Women’s Championship

Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan plays a seven-board simul during a Venture Cafe gathering in the Cortex Innovation Community in early March.
Provided by Cortex Innovation Community

The United States Chess Federation, the governing body for chess competition in the U.S., recently announced that it has opened an office here in the nation’s capital of chess. The new St. Louis hub looks to handle marketing and development efforts for the organization, which received 501(c)(3) non-profit status last year, while customer and membership services continue to operate from its headquarters in Crossville, Tenn.

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

Just one problem with being at the absolute peak of your game: There is nowhere to go but down.

Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, the longtime American No. 1, is on absolute fire. A man on a mission, he spent the last half of 2014 making good on his intentions to become a World Champion candidate, and has spent the early portion of 2015 trampling on some of the world’s finer events.

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

Like a bulldozer, she has been demolishing American women for over a decade. Or maybe decimating. Obliterating. The aftermath of her participation often leaves these competitions looking more like massacres. Or maybe slaughters. Exterminations.

And best of all, just like her methods, her name is Krush -- a pun that would have worn thin years ago if it all weren’t so blatantly obvious.

Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA, looking at a portion of the WCHOF's Bobby Fischer exhibit during October's opening ceremony of Living Like Kings.
Carmody Creative | World Chess Hall of Fame

Last chance to experience Living Like Kings: The Unexpected Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture, as the endgame nears for the two-floor, multifaceted art installation on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The continuously evolving exhibit, exploring how chess has interwoven within the urban subculture, has included rotating features of music, art, dance and spirituality and now enters final stages before its close next month.