Wesley So | St. Louis Public Radio

Wesley So

Fabiano Caruana (left) and Wesley So are the two Americans participating in the 2018 Candidates Tournament.
Lennart Ootes | Saint Louis Chess Club

The World Chess Championship dates back to 1886. In fact, St. Louis played host to a portion of the very first world championship, between Johannes Zukertort and Wilhelm Steinitz. Over the years, there have been different methods by which the world’s elite come to challenge the world champion. Initially, the chess world was similar to boxing: any challenger who could raise the funds could face the world champion.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (left) studies World Champion Magnus Carlsen move in the playoff in Paris. June 2017
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The first leg of the third annual Grand Chess Tour took place from June 21-25 in Paris. As it did last year, the tour kicked off with a rapid and blitz event. Five grueling days and 29 games later, World Champion Magnus Carlsen emerged as the winner. He collected 12 tour points and $31,250 for his efforts.

At the first glance, the favorite competitor of the event coming in first place doesn’t seem exciting or interesting, but the final standings don’t tell the whole story. 

The action at the Grand Chess Tour in Paris in 2016
Chess Club and Spectrum Studios

The third annual Grand Chess Tour, arguably the top chess tour in the world, is right around the corner with none other than Magnus Carlsen headlining the event. Another treat for both the players and chess fans is the addition of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament following the Sinquefield Cup. With quicker time control events and inclusion of more players, the 2017 tour promises to be unforgettable.

2017 U.S. Chess Championship winner Wesley So and 2017 U.S. women's champion, Sabina Foisor.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Between March 29 and April 10, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, two of the most exciting events in the American circuit. This year, the events were stronger than ever, with three players out of the world’s top 10 participating in the open section, making it the strongest national championship in the world.

U.S. Championship

Wesley So with the Sinquefield Cup trophy, which is one of the many tournaments he won in 2016
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Austin Fuller

Just last weekend, Wesley So won one of the most prestigious chess events, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament held in the Netherlands. So faced a difficult challenge, with World Champion Magnus Carlsen and World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin participating but, in the end, he won the tournament with a convincing full point lead.

Wesley So is the current lead of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, pictured here at last year's London Chess Classic.
Saint Louis Chess Club and Spectrum Studios

Every year the first and longest elite tournament starts in January: Tata Steel!

The Wimbledon of Chess, as it is known, started Jan. 14 and ends Jan. 30. Traditionally held at the town of Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, this tournament attracts the best of the best. The event lasts for two weeks and 13 rounds, so physical fitness plays a crucial role in this prestigious tournament. 

On Chess: What to look forward to in 2017

Jan 11, 2017
Wesley So with the Grand Chess Tour 2016 trophy
Leonard Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

Last year was a historic one year for chess. Magnus Carlsen defended his World Championship title in a tense showdown against Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin. The USA won its first Olympiad Gold medal in 40 years. Fabiano Caruana and Nazi Paikidze each won their very first U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship respectively. While it's hard to say what 2017 will bring, there are many exciting and prestigious events to look forward to. Mark your calendars now for some of the most highly anticipated events of the year.

Wesley So holding chess trophies
Saint Louis Chess Club | Spectrum Studios

After the conclusion of the London Chess Classic, the last event on the 2016 Grand Chess Tour, there is one name that is front and center in people’s minds: Wesley So. Not only did the American win the London Chess Classic, but he also secured his win of the entire tour with one round to spare.  In addition, he became the 12th person in history to cross the highly coveted 2800 rating mark, climbed to the fourth spot in the world rankings and secured his position as the second highest rated player in the U.S. 

On Chess: USA wins gold at Baku Chess Olympiad

Sep 14, 2016

Rio was not the only city to host an Olympics in 2016. Baku, capital of the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan, just hosted the 42nd Chess Olympiad, over the last two weeks. The Olympiad featured more than 1,600 players from 180 countries. When the dust settled, the United States finished at the top, earning gold for the first time in 40 years.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Fabiano Caruana, and GM Wesely So.
Chris Bauer | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

As soon as the 2016 Sinquefield Cup ended, America’s top five players headed to Baku, Azerbijan, for the 42nd Chess Olympiad. The United States usually fields a formidable team, but this year is unprecedented, with three of the five teammates ranked in the top 10 in the world. Gone are the days when Russia, the perennial favorite for international competition, outranks other teams by a landslide. Team America, captained by International Master John Donaldson and coached by GM Alex Lenderman, is seeded second to Russia by just three rating points and is widely considered the favorite to take top honors.

Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, from left, with Grandmaster Wesley So, winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, and Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, took place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from Aug. 4-16.

With the first edition taking place just four years ago, the Sinquefield Cup has expanded from four players to include 10 of the world’s best. Furthermore, the cup joined other elite events around the world in 2015 to create the Grand Chess Tour. As usual, the tournament featured the top players in the world, as well as a wild card, giving an opportunity to a talented player who otherwise would not have made it by rating.

Levon Aronian, left, defending Sinquefield Cup Champion and Fabiano Caruana, defending 2016 U.S. Champion play in last year's Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

As athletes from all over the world are headed to Rio for the summer Olympics, the best chess players in the world will gather in the chess capital of the U.S. to battle it out over 64 squares. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will once again host the Sinquefield Cup. This year, the tournament runs from Aug. 5-16 and has a prize fund of $300,000.

2 Americans lead at halfway point of Grand Chess Tour

Jun 22, 2016
Leuven, Belgium, hosted the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour.
Provided by the Grand Chess Tour

The chess world is awaiting the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the fourth annual Sinquefield Cup, to begin in St. Louis on Aug. 1. This series of four tournaments is spread over different parts of the world, attracting the very best chess players to test their skills against each other.

Levon Aronian playing Veselin Topalov
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess fans are in for a special treat today as the second annual Grand Chess Tour begins. This year, the tour will consist of four legs and will have a slightly different format than its predecessor.

The first leg of the games will be June 9-12 with the Paris Grand Chess Tour; the second will be in Brussels-Leuven, Belgium June 17-20 with Your Next Move. The third stop on the tour is the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis Aug. 4-16, and the final leg takes place in London Dec. 8-19.

Wesley So and Garry Kasparov
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2016 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championship ended April 25 but the chess tournament in St. Louis had one more surprise for the fans all over the world: the Ultimate Blitz Challenge! In what could easily be considered the most anticipated blitz event in the world, Garry Kasparov was summoned by the patriarch of modern chess, Rex Sinquefield, to take on the best players in American chess and arguably in the world. It was an exciting return from someone who many be considered the best chess player who ever played the game.

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

The 2016 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship that concluded April 25 will not only go down in the history books as the strongest event but also as arguably the one with the most dramatic finale. Entering the final round, both tournaments had one clear leader as well as one or more players trailing by half point. The tournaments were reaching their crowning moment, the players’ nerves were at their peak, and the tension could be felt in the air.

On Chess: The American Chess family reunites in St. Louis

Apr 14, 2016
Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

April 13, 2016, will be remembered as the opening day of the strongest U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship in history. The excitement surrounding the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is palpable. Players, coaches, commentators, journalists and fans from all over the world are eagerly waiting to feast on the chess spectacle that this event is going to bring to the table. The mixture of styles, age and experience that this year’s fields created are quite the delight for anybody interested in the royal game.

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.

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.

On Chess: Rumbling In The Top Ranks Of American Chess

Jan 29, 2015
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.