Chess

Ashritha Eswaran
Provided by her family

Apparently, the U.S. “Women’s” Chess Championship is a description that gets more liberal by the year.

Susan Polgar and Wesley So
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Update April 8: The Webster University Chess Team has repeated as winners of the President's Cup.

Got just another one of a billion busted brackets? Here’s a tip for next year: Put more confidence in the coach.

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: Nakamura Scores In Ask Me Anything

Mar 5, 2014
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

What do Bill Nye the Science Guy, President Barack Obama and Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame have in common with the best chess player in the country?

They’ve all subjected themselves to the rigor of being grilled by the anonymous public via Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA).

A Reddit AMA provides a forum for celebrities, athletes, musicians, politicians and other notable public figures to respond online to questions submitted by other Reddit users for a pre-determined period of time.

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

On Chess: St. Louis History Is Chess-Rich

Feb 12, 2014
Wikipedia

The chess boom in St. Louis may appear as though it has materialized out of thin air, but the Gateway City has a vibrant chess history.

Chess adds to a rich and developing cultural renaissance in St. Louis. And as we celebrate our city’s 250th birthday, I think it’s appropriate to take a look at some of the important names, events and places that have helped shaped our ever-growing chess culture.

This column explores the early days of chess in St. Louis and some notable champions and championships that placed St. Louis at the center of the chess universe.

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.

Wesley So and Susan Polgar
Provided by Susan Polgar

The prestigious Tata Steel chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, started last week, and for once, super-GM Hikaru Nakamura is not the only St. Louis representative competing against the world’s best.

Nakamura, the U.S. No. 1, is no stranger to top-level tourneys. But for GM Wesley So, a Webster University sophomore, Tata Steel is his first-ever super-elite event.

On Chess: Championships Return To St. Louis

Jan 16, 2014
photo of Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush
Courtesy of the Chess Club and Scholastic of St. Louis

It’s going to be another year of checkmates and championships in St. Louis.

On Wednesday, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis announced that the United States Chess Federation had accepted its bid to host the 2014 U.S. Championship, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship and the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, the three top invitational chess tournaments in the nation.

That’s right. The Trifecta. The Triple Crown. The Royal Three.

U.S. Chess School Brings Royalty To St. Louis

Jan 8, 2014
Awonder Liang, 10, earned his second gold medal at the World Youth Chess Championships in the United Arab Emirates.
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Members of the chess royal family have been holding court in St. Louis with increasing regularity.

Xin Luo, Eric Rosen, Michael Auger, and Akshay Indusekar
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Everybody loves a good Cinderella story. There’s something about seeing the underdog prevail that gives people hope a fairy tale ending is actually possible.

When the top four collegiate chess teams come together in New York City in April, a champion looks to repeat while an unlikely contender hopes simply to keep the magic going.

It’s no surprise that Webster University dominated the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, held Dec. 27-30 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Daniel Naroditsky at World Youth Chess Championships
Provided by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Santa Claus is, almost certainly, a chess player. I can’t make that statement with absolute certainty as I’ve never actually witnessed the big guy over the board, but all the telltale signs are there.

Who but a chess player could lay out such a carefully detailed plan of attack and, as far as I can tell, execute flawlessly year in and year out with nary a blunder. In fact, a 1908 column by Russel Ramsey in the Philadelphia Sunday Item claims to be privy to a game played by the jolly old fellow himself.

Malcolm Pein presents Hikaru Nakamura his first-place trophy for winning the London Chess Classic.
Photo courtesy Ray Morris-Hill.

If St. Louis is etching its name on the list of emerging chess capitals of the world, then London is already firmly established. And the letters are in bold print.

The 5th annual London Chess Classic concluded this past week, and the marquee event featured a 16-player rapid tournament showcasing the world’s elite.

photo of Sam Sevian
Courtesy Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Sam Sevian should be earning a spot as one of your instantly recallable names: The 12 year old from Corning, N.Y.,  is the reigning world champion for his age and the youngest ever to play in the U.S. Championship, which he did this past summer here in St. Louis.

He has been under the chess microscope for years, having already served as the fastest American to both Expert and National Master status, and I believe it is safe to assume he has become a fixture in chess’ future. Go ahead and commit that brain wrinkle.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - To become a world champion one has to be dedicated to a lifetime of hard work.

The World Championship match is usually organized once every two-three years and lasts about a month, yet it is always amazing to see all this endless work, an entire life’s worth of efforts and years of preparation, put toward a single match that can be decided in less than 24 hours, and in no more than two moves.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - It has begun: The battle between two kings who will fight in one culminating epoch for the world’s throne.

The one match to rule them all started over the weekend, with the first games of the 12-round FIDE World Championship kicking off in Chennai, India. Defending is current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India, undisputed since 2007 and, though likely witnessing the twilight of an illustrious career, now on the cusp of attaining, perhaps, his crown jewel.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The “slow season” has hit the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis – that is, no more national championships to host, no world-class tournaments to display, no super-elite grandmasters to pamper – at least until next year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Beyond the St. Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End, another important contributor to St. Louis’ thriving chess scene is the presence of GM Susan Polgar, one of the most recognizable women in the game and the coach of Webster University’s national championship team.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:

It’s a great time to be a woman in chess. I think.

To be sure, I should ask GM-elect Irina Krush, who is in town for the month as the resident grandmaster at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End. Krush is the reigning U.S. Women’s Champion, a five-time winner of the event, and the 16th highest rated woman in the world. She will handle the club’s weekly programming while she is here, undoubtedly providing a boost to the Thursday night ladies’ class.

Provided GM Hikaru Nakamura has achieved a career-best rating and is now less than three points from the No. 2 spot in the world.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If baseball is the thinking man’s game, chess is the best game to play with a bat.

Chess players get playoff fever, too. It’s just harder to gauge because we don’t get sweaty; we don’t often douse ourselves in alcohol after we win, and the chase of a chess World Championship moves even slower than America’s pastime.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I wonder if World Champion Viswanathan Anand is nervous.

The idea sounds a bit oxymoronic, as the Indian grandmaster has remained undisputed in his reign since 2007, but I find it hard to believe he wasn’t watching the next challenger to his throne at the Sinquefield Cup. And I wonder if what he watched made him uncomfortable.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Norwegian super Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen is in town for a few games, and his alone time must be at an absolute premium.

The world’s No. 1-rated player is in the Central West End for the Sinquefield Cup, fine-tuning his game against the world’s No. 2 Levon Aronian, as well as America’s top-two players, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky. It is Carlsen’s first chess-related visit to the U.S. and, after the tournament wraps up on Sunday, the 22 year old will disappear from the public. He’ll go into hiding to prepare for the impending world championship match against reigning king Viswanathan Anand in November.

Sinquefield Cup is living up to expectations

Sep 11, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: All eyes of the chess world are locked on St. Louis this week as four of its greatest titans battle it out for the 2013 Sinquefield Cup held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, 4657 Maryland Ave.

The top two ranked players in the world: GM Magnus Carlsen (2862) and GM Levon Aronian (2802) are mixing it up with the top two U.S. players GM Hikaru Nakamura (2774) and U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky (2741) over a week-long, double round robin style tournament.

dullhunk / Flickr

Four of the best chess players in the world are squaring off this week in the Central West End during the first ever Sinquefield Cup.

The two best American payers will be joined by two of the top rated players in the world, including the number one ranked, 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis is hosting the event, and Executive Director Tony Rich expects heated matches that can hinge on a single move.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As the current resident grandmaster at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, I was initially hesitant when  asked to write a guest column about the upcoming Sinquefield Cup. After all, I was brought to St. Louis because of my chess abilities, not my writing skills. My first reaction was: Really? Me? But, why? What have I done?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In less than two weeks, St. Louis will be the center of the world’s attention.

Granted, only the chess world will be watching, but how often does our city draw the spotlight of any worldwide audience? Plus, St. Louis gets to be named in sensational headlines that feature global conflict and war – in a positive light. Let’s see you pull that off, Washington.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: What is it about a bracket that brings such fervor?

Chess could admit that its tournament systems can get a bit impotent and confusing at times – from round robin to Swiss systems, half points to full – but the good, old-fashioned bracket has the ability to transcend all forms of competition with its familiar emotional frenzy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Three St. Louis kids represented Missouri on the national stage this week as they competed in elite, invitational scholastic events as part of the U.S. Open in Madison, Wisc.

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