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Sinquefield Cup

On Chess: A Senior Grandmaster In St. Louis

Feb 27, 2020
GM Joel Benjamin concentrates on his move during Round 8 of the U.S. Senior Championships in 2019.
Crystal Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

As a veteran grandmaster (GM), I’ve seen a lot of chess sponsors come and go.

When I first arrived in St. Louis for the St. Louis Chess Club’s inaugural event, the 2009 U.S. Championship, I could see right away that I was witnessing a unique development in American chess.

The St. Louis Chess Club was a beautiful, comfortable site for tournaments. The U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championships were in excellent hands, and a promising scholastic program was underway. 

Ding Liren of China upset the favorites to win the top prize at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup.
St. Louis Chess Club

The 2019 Sinquefield Cup came to an exciting conclusion on Aug. 29, in a tiebreak match between Ding Liren and Magnus Carlsen.

The day kicked off with two rapid games, both of which concluded in draws. In the first game, the world champion had to resort to passive defense to save the half-point with the white pieces, then went on to draw comfortably with the black pieces.

As of Aug. 21, 2019, Fabiano Caruana of St. Louis was the leading the field of contenders in the Sinquefield Cup held at the St. Louis Chess Club.
St. Louis Chess Club

There was finally a shake-up in the standings Wednesday as Fabiano Caruana defeated Levon Aronian.

The American joins Viswanathan Anand in the lead as the rest of the games were drawn. Caruana’s win is the second decisive result in the first four rounds. 

On Chess: St. Louis' Summer Of Chess

Aug 15, 2019
Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in conversation with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley. Vachier-Lagrave had a strong showing at the Grand Chess Tour's fourth leg, the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz in August 2019.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The summer season may be nearing a close, but the “Summer of Chess” at the St. Louis Chess Club is in full force. For the next three weeks, the leading chess grandmasters from across the world will gather in the chess capital of the U.S. to battle it out in different formats over the 64 squares.

The hectic month of August kicked off with the Grand Chess Tour’s fourth leg, the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz. This tournament has become a staple on the chess calendar and attracts the top players who are competing in the tour as well as three wildcards. 

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. 

On Chess: Three co-champions take home the Sinquefield Cup

Aug 31, 2018
Fabiano Caruana, world champion Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian share the crown as winners of the Sinquefield Cup in August 2018.
Tatev Abrahamyan | Grand Chess Tour

Three players were crowned as winners of the sixth annual Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Normally, a playoff takes place to determine the sole winner of a tournament, but in an unprecedented turn of events, the players decided to share the title. 

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, his challenger Fabiano Caruana and the Armenian superstar Levon Aronian disliked the rule of eliminating one player by drawing lots and came to the unanimous decision, approved by the chief arbiter, to share the title. Thus, the “no-repeat-winner” tradition of the Sinquefield Cup was broken, as all three have won the previous editions.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won the 2017 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The 2018 Grand Chess Tour arrive in  to the United States for the second annual St. Louis Rapid and Blitz from Aug. 10-16, which will be the third leg of the tour. It will be followed by the Sinquefield Cup from Aug. 17-28, the only classical event of the tour this year.

Going into the second half of the tour, two Americans, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura, are leading with 21 and 20 points respectively as the competition for the top four places heats up. They are closely followed by Sergey Karjakin who has 19 points and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with 15 points.

A scene from the 2017 Your Next Move event in Leuven, Belgium, the location of the first stop of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The fourth annual Grand Chess Tour is right around the corner — this time with a new format. Instead of the London Chess Classic being just a stop of the tour, it will be the final stage for the Grand Chess Tour. At the end of the Sinquefield Cup, the top four players with the most points accumulated across the four events will proceed to the finals in London, where they will compete in a series of matches for additional prizes and the title of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour Champion.

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.

Alejandro Ramriez (the author) and Fabiano Caruano play on the giant chess board outside the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Courtesy of Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center

St. Louis has established itself, without a doubt, as the capital of chess in America. The most important series of tournaments annually, the Grand Chess Tour, has its only North American stop here for the Sinquefield Cup, and the club hosts such important events as the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship, which results in great talent migrating to St. Louis.

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.

Magnus came, saw and conquered

Sep 16, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 16, 2013 - The results are in and the favorite won the Sinquefield cup in the chess tournament that brought four of the world's best players to St. Louis. St. Louis’ Hikaru Nakamura had the early lead, but Magnus Carlsen of Norway came away with the trophy and the  $70,000 first-place award.

Much of the buzz that led up to the tournament centered on the world's number 1 ranked player participating in a major U.S. tournament.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon,  Sept. 13, 2013 - 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.

Sinquefield Cup is living up to expectations

Sep 11, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 11, 2013 - All eyes of the chess world are locked on St. Louis this week as four of its greatest titans battle it out for the 2013 Sinquefield Cup held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, 4657 Maryland Ave.

The top two ranked players in the world: GM Magnus Carlsen (2862) and GM Levon Aronian (2802) are mixing it up with the top two U.S. players GM Hikaru Nakamura (2774) and U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky (2741) over a week-long, double round robin style tournament.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 5, 2013 - As the current resident grandmaster at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, I was initially hesitant when  asked to write a guest column about the upcoming Sinquefield Cup. After all, I was brought to St. Louis because of my chess abilities, not my writing skills. My first reaction was: Really? Me? But, why? What have I done?

On Chess: The world will be watching St. Louis

Aug 29, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 29, 2013 - 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: A smart September in St. Louis

Aug 8, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 8, 2013 - If you happen to be in St. Louis in September, you have the opportunity to breathe the same rarified air as four of the world’s most brilliant minds. If you’re lucky, a little of their genius might rub off on you.

The world’s No. 1 and No. 2-ranked chess players, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian, and the U.S.’s No. 1 and No. 2, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky will compete for the Sinquefield Cup at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. The tournament, which runs from Sept. 9-15, features a total prize fund of $170,000.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 19, 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!

I hate secrets. I’m terrible at keeping them. Call me a journalist: The truth will set you free.