World Chess Hall of Fame | St. Louis Public Radio

World Chess Hall of Fame

On Chess: The 169-year-old modern chess set

Apr 5, 2018
England: Jaques 50th Set - Lord Vernon, 1855. King size: 4 ½ inches. Box is 5 ⅛ x  8 ⅜ x 6 inches. Ivory. Collection of Jon Crumiller.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Chess has been called a universal language.

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. 

An insect chess set
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

Dr. George and Vivian Dean have been fascinated with chess sets for more than half a century. Their collection of more than 1,000 sets and diverse singular pieces stretches from the 8th century to the present, with examples from as many different cultures and eras as they have been able to find.

Their criteria for selecting works have been: aesthetic beauty, quality and diversity of materials, and quality of craftsmanship. In assembling an exhibition from their collection – titled Animal Vegetable Mineral: Natural Splendors from the Chess Collection of Dr. George & Vivian Dean – one question that had to be addressed was what rational guide could  be used to select the works.

On Chess: An ordinary set, an extraordinary rivalry

Sep 22, 2016
A chess set used in a game between GM Reuben Fine and GM Samuel Reshevsky
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In August 1986, a game of quick chess was played at the U.S. Open in Somerset, N.J. The board was vinyl, the pieces were plastic, and a Jerger wooden chess clock sat next to the board. While the set may have been common, the players were most certainly not.

Playing with the white pieces was GM Reuben Fine.  GM Samuel Reshevsky played black. Both were legends, second only to Bobby Fischer in American chess history.

The timing for this specific game on this chess set was also notable: It was the first induction ceremony for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. It is only fitting that the Hall of Fame was opened by a game between two of its most illustrious inductees.

On Chess: Memoirs of a chess square

Jun 1, 2016
Tom Hackney, Chess Painting No. 71, (Marcel Duchamp vs. E.H. Smith, Hyéres, 1928), 2016, Gesso on linen, oak frame 16 ½ x 16 ½ in.
Courtesy of Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York

At the beginning of many prestigious chess tournaments, players sign their name on particular light squares of commemorative chessboards, often with no intent beyond the thought, “On which square will my signature appear most elegant?” or, “Which square is left to sign?” And yet, specific squares hold so many memories of sacrifices both successful and failed as well as nightmares of a sacrifice or in-between move.

Chess Painting No. 2 (Duchamp vs. Crepeaux, Nice, 1925), 2009
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

There is a conversation that exists between living artists and their predecessors. Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century and whose impact is still remarkably present today, began many of these conversations during his prolific career as both an artist and a chess player.

On Chess: Music and chess harmonize at Hall of Fame

Apr 21, 2016
Composer Spotlight Series
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess and music are topics that intertwine frequently at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Through exhibits such as Living Like Kings, visitors learned about how the birth of hip-hop coincided with a surge of interest in chess among Americans. In Cage & Kaino: Pieces and Performances, revolutionary 20th-century composer John Cage and contemporary conceptual artist Glenn Kaino produced works that highlight the sense of community created by chess, especially when interwoven with music and art.

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.

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.

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.

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

St. Louis, as the chess capital of America, is duty-bound to host the most important national event of the year: the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship. The already-impressive tournament has gained more and more prestige year after year, attracting an increasingly stronger field.

Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame

On Dec. 12, 1941, less than a week after the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attempted to take Wake Island, strategically located in the Pacific, but were thwarted by U.S. forces. Twelve days later, they returned with force and Wake Island was surrendered to the Japanese on Dec. 24, 1941. The soldiers and civilians alike became prisoners of war (POW) and were shipped to Woo Sung, China.

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.

Detail from the cover of Red Cross magazine

The American Red Cross and the World Chess Hall of Fame encourage chess fans to help save lives – and learn more about the impact of chess in World War II -- by donating blood at the Hall of Fame on Monday, Jan. 4.

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.

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.

Third Sinquefield Cup highlights competition's growth

Aug 26, 2015
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.

60 girls from 30 states and 10 countries compete this week at the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

After Team USA won the Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship, people started talking about money. The women’s teams competed for a fraction of the prize money compared to the men’s championship. This pay disparity is replicated throughout the sports world, even in chess. And the irony with chess is this is a game played with the mind. It’s a game that has nothing to do with strength or height.

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