World Chess Hall of Fame

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.

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.

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.

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.

Film Still Une Dance Des Bouffons (Or a Jester's Dance), 2013.
Courtesy of the artist and David Swirner, New York

Famed iconoclast and art world provocateur Marcel Duchamp is tortured and forced to recite chess moves. Rock and roll icon Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth runs down dimly lit hallways in wide-eyed fear. A man with eyes painted on his cheeks forces people in a horse costume to dance for his pleasure. This coterie of strange occurrences forms just a few scenes in artist Marcel Dzama’s film titled Une Dans des Bouffons.

 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

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.

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.

Bobby Fischer competes in the Piatigorsky Cup matches in 1966.
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

The name Bobby Fischer is synonymous with outstanding intellect, intimidating competitiveness and intense focus.  His is a uniquely American success story that nearly everyone has heard - even if they can’t tell a rook from a bishop.

So what makes Fischer so captivating?

World Chess Hall of Fame

Bobby Fischer was the youngest-ever American Grandmaster, a title that took him 15 years, 6 months and 1 day to collect. That is, until Hikaru Nakamura came along, besting Bobby by three months and earning the title as the new youngest-ever American GM.

That is, until Ray Robson came along, notching his elite title two weeks before he turned 15.

file photo | St. Louis Beacon

The link between the creation of history and the preservation of heritage is about as streamlined as it gets these days: Just send it across the street.

On Chess: Hall Of Fame Brings Chess To New Audiences

Mar 12, 2014
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, USA Today published a story that outlined everything “hip and happening” in St. Louis. 

Not surprisingly, the World Chess Hall of Fame got a nod.  Wait. What? Not surprising, you say?

If the idea that chess is hip and happening is foreign to you, then I assume you still have the antiquated stereotype of the pocket protector-wearing übergeek ingrained in your mind.

But times they are a-changin’ my friends.

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.

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