Magnus Carlsen | St. Louis Public Radio

Magnus Carlsen

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave holding his trophy after he won the Paris Rapid and Blitz Tournament in 2019.
Lennart Ootes | St. Louis Chess Club

Chess players can picture a tournament victory 1,000 times in their head. One can prepare, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, and show up to the event ready as you can possibly be.

Once the first move is played, however, those plans often get thrown out the window. 

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen was leading as the Grand Chess Tour began in Zagreb, Croatia on June 26, 2019.
Grand Chess Tour

After an exciting kickoff in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) will continue on in Europe.

The second leg of GCT will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, from June 25 until July 9. The new location is part of the expansion of the tour, as well as the first of the two classical events. The top players in the world will be competing for a total prize fund of $325,000 and tour points over 11 days.

On Chess: Grand Chess Tour Kicks Off In Africa

May 2, 2019
Hikaru Nakamura celebrating his victory with the trophy in the 2018 Grand Chess Tour.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The fifth edition of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) promises to be bigger, better and more international than ever. The tour has been expanded to eight tournaments spread over four continents. The number of tour participants has been increased to 12 players now fighting for a record prize fund of $1.75 million. The 2019 GCT will employ a combination of formats that have been used previously, combining classical chess with rapid and blitz, as well as an exciting finale in London at the end of the year.

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway claimed victory at the 2018 World Chess Championship in London on Nov. 28.
Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club

The Grenke Chess Classic, one of the top chess events in the world, is underway in Germany. The tournament runs April 20-29.

The event is a round-robin, all-play-all event, with 10 of the best players in the world competing. The most notable competitor is current world champion Magnus Carlsen, who is well-known in St. Louis and a regular participant of the Sinquefield Cup.

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway claimed victory at the 2018 World Chess Championship in London on Nov. 28.
Eric Rosen | St. Louis Chess Club

The American grandmaster, St. Louisan Fabiano Caruana, 26, had a splendid year. He started with winning the London Chess Classic in early December of 2017, and continued his great form into 2018.

In January, he won the “Wimbledon of Chess,” the Tata Steel event, which featured none other than the reigning world champion, grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 28. After these back-to-back tournament victories in December and January it was clear that game of chess found a worthy challenger for the championship title.

Fabiano Caruana draped in an American Flag, March, 2018
Nick Dunaevsky

American chess fans everywhere are cheering in the streets, as countryman Fabiano Caruana overcame the game’s elite grandmasters to win the recently concluded Candidates Tournament in Berlin, Germany. He is now qualified to play world champion Magnus Carlsen for his title in November. It is the first time an American will compete for the crown in more than two decades. The last victory for the United States was in 1972, when Bobby Fischer won an epic match against the Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Magnus Carlsen (right) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the two grand masters battling for the Grand Chess Tour 2017 crown
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The nine annual London Chess Classic will take place in the Olympia Exhibition Center in London from Dec. 1-11. Once again, it will be the final stop of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour and will produce this year’s winner. It has all come down to this event as the players will battle it out one last time for tour points, a $300,000 prize fund and a $150,000 bonus for the top two finishers of the tour. Of course, the much coveted titles of tournament winner and GCT champion will be on the line as well.

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.

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.

 Norwegian Magnus Carlsen was challenged by Russia's Sergey Karjakin
Lennart Ootes | Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The World Chess Championship is the pinnacle event of the chess world. The process to earn the right to challenge the reigning world champion is grueling, and the match itself is by far the most intense event in chess. The championship is 12 games played over three weeks.

This year's championship was held at Fulton Fish Market in the South Seaport neighborhood of New York City. The reigning world champion, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, was challenged by Russia's Sergey Karjakin, the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess. The prize fund? A cool $1.1 million.

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.

On Chess: Grand Chess Tour approaches second stop

Jun 16, 2016
Hikaru Nakamura celebrates.
Spectrum Studios | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Grand Chess Tour was introduced to the chess scene in 2015 to give the world’s very best players a new series of tournaments to compete in and also to promote chess to the general public. Not only were the players treated as superstars and got to play in three of the most beautiful places in the world for a large sum of money, but each tournament hosted many activities for the chess fans.

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 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.

On Chess: The world will be watching St. Louis

Aug 29, 2013

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.

On Chess: Bracket frenzy at the Chess World Cup

Aug 22, 2013

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.

Magnus Carlsen is 22 and the world’s highest-rated player ever. He will be in St. Louis for a tournament in September.
Ray Morris-Hill | 2013

Does anyone have a horse I can borrow? I want to ride one through the streets of the Central West End and holler at people.

Magnus is coming! Magnus is coming!

On Chess: The lambs of sacrifice in chess

May 22, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A sacrifice in chess is a move that gives up a piece in the hopes of gaining tactical or positional compensation in other forms.

Last week, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura sacrificed his crown as the King of America.

On Chess: Carlsen again takes the Tal Memorial

Jun 21, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 21, 2012 - Each year, the Tal Memorial brings together the strongest players in the world for a super-elite, round-robin tournament. Named after the “Wizard from Riga,” former World Champion Mikhail Tal, this year's event was the most exciting edition yet because it featured a number of decisive games. In last year’s event most of the games were drawn.

On Chess: Who's the man?

Sep 27, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2011 - When I was a much younger man, I saw a film titled "Who's the Man?"

It was a light comedy, but throughout the movie, the two main characters would pronounce, "You the man!" to each other.