Chess | St. Louis Public Radio


Students at Walnut Grove Elementary School provided a rapt audience for the unveiling of a new chess program.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis | File photo

This past Tuesday morning, Walnut Grove Elementary School of Ferguson, hosted the official launch of a new after-school chess instruction pilot program. More than 30 students were on hand along with Principal Jennifer Andrade to welcome their special guests as well as to challenge the grandmasters in attendance to a competitive but friendly game of chess. Photographers, reporters and camera persons were also on hand to record this special event.

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

While the chess world was focused on the Sinquefield Cup, the Saint Louis Chess Club was already planning its next move. The year's strongest tournament, won by Armenia's Levon Aronian, brought together 10 of the top chess players for a two week stay in St. Louis. The next task is to attract even more grandmasters for a longer stay.

The Saint Louis Chess Club is teaming up with Saint Louis University to create the strongest collegiate chess team in the country.

Levon Aronian during Round 9 of the Sinquefield Cup
Lennart Ootes

The 2015 inaugural Grand Chess Tour features three tournaments including Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic. The Grand Chess Tour has quickly established itself as the premier chess circuit in the world, featuring 10 of the top players. Invitations are extended to the three top finishers in the 2015 Grand Chess Tour, the six highest average rated players in 2015, and a wild card chosen by each tournament which rounds out the field to 10.

The Sinquefield Cup has been held here at the St. Louis Chess Club from Aug. 22 to Sept. 3.

Veselin Topalov at the 2015 sinquefield cup
Spectrum Studios

For someone to win an elite chess tournament a combination of elements must align. The player must be in top shape, his opening preparation must be sharp and up-to-date, his game has to be strong, his tactics good, his endgames subtle, and his decision making must be on-point. Even all of this may not be enough.

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.

Fabiano Caruana, left, defeated the inaugural cupholder Magnus Carlsen in the first round of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Starting next week, St. Louis will not only be the capital of chess in America – it will hold the attention of the entire world. At that time, the inaugural Grand Chess Tour will start its second leg: the Sinquefield Cup, now in its third year.

Last year's edition was the strongest tournament ever held, and this year's will host nine of the top 10 players on the globe.

On Chess: John Michael Burke, 14, is rising quickly

Aug 12, 2015
John Michael Burke
Daaim Shabazz | The Chess Drum

This past June, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis held the strongest U.S. Junior Closed Championship (an invitation-only event reserved for the highest ranked juniors under 20 in the U.S.) in its history.

Much has already been said and written about the event's generous prize fund, superb conditions and impressive list of titled and highly rated competitors. The tense race for first place remained undecided until the final round when International Master Akshat Chandra emerged victorious.

On Chess: Club is taken over by 16 young talents

Aug 5, 2015
chess camp august 2015
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The growing interest in chess at grade schools has significantly increased the number of young prodigies. Those quickly rising stars serve not only as role models to scores of chess enthusiasts wishing to emulate their success and fame. They are now the backbone of the U.S. Youth Teams for world events and transform into America's leading chess players.

From left, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Every two years FIDE, the International Chess Federation, holds a World Chess Championship. One of the qualifying events to earn a seat at the tournament is the World Cup. The World Cup is different than most chess tournaments because it is a 128 player knockout event. Most chess competitions are Swiss-system or round-robin (all-play-all) events. However, the World Cup is similar to the NCAA March Madness as half the players are eliminated every round. The tournament takes a few weeks compared to most Grandmaster level events taking a mere 9-13 days.

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.

International Master Steven Zierk
Ben Finegold

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis held another GM norm tournament July 16-22, 2015.  These tournaments are important for rising stars trying to earn the most coveted title in chess: Grandmaster.

The International Chess Federation, or FIDE, has a set of criteria to determine how one can earn the title. 

The tournament is underway.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For the sixth consecutive year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis is hosting the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. 

The Junior Closed is a round-robin (all-play-all) event comprised of 10 of the strongest male American chess players under the age of 20. This year, the prize fund has doubled from the 2014 event with more than $20,000 being distributed.

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.

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

Ten years ago in the city of San Luis (not St. Louis!), Argentina, Veselin Topalov crowned himself World Chess Champion. He played in a tournament that brought together the eight strongest players on the planet, and the Bulgarian super-star simply dominated the field. He won the tournament with a full round to spare and finished with a massive 1.5 point lead. His sharp, attacking style was rewarded.

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.

On Chess: Grand Chess Tour set to make history

Jun 10, 2015
Fabiano Caruana, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup Champion
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Kevin Duggin

Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Dortmund, Baden-Baden, Reggio Emilia.

When chess players hear the names of these cities, they are immediately transported. Those are places in which chess history has been made - where the greatest players of all time dueled over the royal game.

Youngsters can learn the basic of chess.
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When I was learning chess, my dad was a chess master, my brother was better than me, and I wondered at which age I would excel. My dad told me that 35 years old was the age most chess players peak. Well, that was in 1975, and in 2015 it seems most of the best players are around 20! In fact, 35 is ancient in today’s chess world. Gone are the days of world champions older than 50, like Wilhelm Steinitz and Emanuel Lasker.

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

At the beginning of the 2014-15 FIDE Grand Prix cycle there was just one American attempting to qualify for the Candidates Tournament; but by the end of the series, two American flags topped the leaderboard. As previously reported, American-born Fabiano Caruana changed federations mid-cycle to once again represent the U.S.

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.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of FIDE
A.Slavin | Wikipedia

I want to believe.

On the possibility of aliens, I absolutely want to believe that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, ruling president of the World Federation of Chess (FIDE), has been visited by friends from another world. By now his claim has been openly discussed for more than a decade, the story well known by details easily researched, ranking as the No. 1 evidence when describing the Russian oligarch’s widely accepted, eccentric behavior.