chess

On Chess: Time rules the laws of chess

Feb 25, 2015
Chess clock
Andrejj | Wikipedia

Writing about the Rules of Chess, on the surface, seems to be a strange topic of discussion. After all, the last rule changes -- which included the enhanced powers of the Queen, En Passant and Castling -- have been defined for 500 years! You’d think that the rules of chess had been cast in stone, but you’d be wrong.

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!

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

The 2015 U.S. Chess Championships are due back in St. Louis in April, marking the seventh consecutive year that America’s chess capital will present the national crown. The two-week tournament will once again be hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End, inviting 12 of America’s top Grandmasters to fight for the throne, as well as 12 of our best women to compete for the title of U.S. Women’s Champion.

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

The acquisition of Grandmaster Wesley So was the big news coming out of 2014. The Philippine-born prodigy and former Webster University star joined the U.S. Chess Federation after cracking the world’s top 10. But just a month into 2015, So is already setting new headlines -- the latest causing a literal stir on the top.

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.

Wesley So
Courtesy of Susan Polgar

He arrives in the U.S. as a promising recruit from the Philippines, and in two years makes the jump from the top 100 to No. 10 in the world. He becomes an instant collegiate star, a freshman phenom who leads St. Louis’ powerhouse Webster University program to back-to-back national titles — and then plays the nation’s heartstrings by announcing that his promising future will be played under the red, white and blue for the burgeoning U.S. Chess Federation.

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

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

Most sports have decisive results. You don’t see draws in tennis, basketball or baseball, and if there is a tie in soccer or even the NFL, at least you know both teams were pushing for victory until the very end.

Unfortunately, chess has some issues with draws.

The patented death stare of American Grandmaster Sam Shankland is now being felt on the international stage.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

If you haven’t before, today is a great day to say hello to Sam Shankland – especially when you know just how close he almost came to saying goodbye.

Wesley So has performed brilliantly for the team
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Championship droughts are no laughing matter. And there’s no doubt things have been feeling a little stale around here lately: It’s been three whole years since St. Louis touted a championship title.

Tonight, however, our great city’s sport sufferings may come to an end.

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:

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

The title of Grandmaster is the highest a chess player can achieve, a moniker that translates literally as one of the best of the best. These titles are awarded by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and are without a doubt quite rare: Not more than 1,500 players in history have been officially named Grandmaster.

The St. Louis Chess Club, however, has found someone even more special: The Grandmasters’ coach.

First-grader Jay Mainard, far left, uses the weekly chess club at the Miriam School in Webster Groves as a tool to combat learning disabilities.
Provided by the Miriam School

Not long after kindergarten began, Jason Mainard began noticing problems in his son’s mood. Socially, the boy wasn’t adhering to the way other kids played. Emotionally, he wasn’t responding the way most kids do in their first year of school. Traditional characteristics that describe a first classroom experience were few, replaced instead by signs of depression, signs of frustration.

Calls home from teachers confirmed the father’s concerns.

Millionaire Chess Open organizers Amy Lee and GM Maurice Ashley award Webster University GM Wesley So with a $100,000 birthday present.
Billy Johnson | Millionaire Chess Open | 2014

Las Vegas will do just fine if it never sees Wesley So again. The brand-new adult celebrated his 21st birthday in the right city, but he did it in all the wrong ways.

He didn’t pull a single slot, didn’t throw a single die. And he never once relied on the hilarious notion of luck during a week-long visit in a town that banks off the very idea. He was not spotted out late, stumbling around the Strip any night -- and to the contrary: The work So put in each morning is circumstantial proof that he achieved bedtime at an hour likely outlawed in the City that Never Sleeps.

Benjamin Kaplan
Act3

For the next six months chess and hip-hop will live under the same roof here in St. Louis. "Living Like Kings: The Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture" is an ever-evolving exhibit examining the relationship between the two art forms. Hip-Hop Chess Federation founder Adisa Banjoko, 44, thinks hip-hop and chess share a common noble truth.

“The spirit of competition in hip-hop and in chess is what helps us figure out who we are,” Banjoko said.

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.

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