Page 1

“Building Champions: In the Classroom and the Community”


© 2018 Saint Louis Chess Campus

April 12, 2018 – February 24, 2019




2017 Ultimate Moves Match.

Why Chess in Saint Louis? BY RANDY BAUER Board of Directors, United States Chess Federation

Ten years ago, I was having lunch with Rex Sinquefield, discussing the possibility of doing a study on the City of Saint Louis’ finances. At one point, the conversation turned to chess, and Rex’s passion for the game was immediately evident. I mentioned that the U.S. Championship was looking for a sponsor, and he expressed interest. I’ve been in literally thousands of similar types of business and civic meetings over the years, and few ‘expressions of interest’ ever pan out. None of those meetings, however, were with Rex Sinquefield. A contract was signed a few months later and the first of what will be 10 consecutive U.S. Championships was held in grand fashion at the similarly grand Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC). In the following years, besides the U.S. Championship, Saint Louis has hosted major international tournaments (the flagship being the Sinquefield Cup, which regularly attracts the world’s champions and top contenders), matches and other

national, state and regional events. It has become THE constant in U.S. chess—a beacon and gravitational force that regularly attracts ‘the best and the brightest’ to the STLCC and the city. The best players in the U.S.–and the world—have taken note. It is no accident that the top board on the 2016 U.S. gold medal winning Olympiad team Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana is a Saint Louis resident, and teammate Roy Robson attended college in the city. Former World Champion Garry Kasparov, commenting on the U.S. victory at the Olympiad, tweeted, “Rex Sinquefield and his CCSCSL are the beating heart of Team USA. He deserves a medal from chess!” Grandmaster Ben Finegold sums it up nicely: “Everyone in the world knows this chess club.” While the accolades of the world’s elite are noteworthy, equally impressive are the opportunities it provides to players at all levels—particularly kids. Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield are passionate about educational achievement for all, and they and the club are putting chess in local schools throughout Saint Louis. As former U.S. Women’s Champion Jennifer

Shahade puts it, “this is the Mecca of chess. Obviously, the financial contributions are so considerable and so generous. But a lot of the passion to donate money is that Rex really absolutely loves chess and sees the multifaceted nature of the game.” The recent heightened interest in chess in the U.S. is on display in movies, TV, magazines and advertisements. I would venture to say that much of that interest can be traced back to Saint Louis. Grandmaster Maurice Ashley explains it this way: “I think the American chess scene has become much stronger because of what’s happening in Saint Louis. The magic of the STLCC. The fact that they bring so many top, elite events to the U.S. Because of that, everyone’s inspired. Everyone—from the top players down to the collegiate ranks down to the scholastic level. And that’s going to continue. It’s a runaway train right now.” World Champion Kasparov echoed this sentiment in a fitting tribute to Rex’s vision: “now, here in Saint Louis, we are facing the renaissance of the great game of chess.”

2018 will be an eventful year in the chess world. This November, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, will defend his crown against Fabiano Caruana, wh o l a st we e k b e c a m e the first American since Bobby Fischer in 1972 to become the challenger for the undisputed World Chess Championship. Such a pairing would have sounded fantastical when I was climbing the chess Olympus in the 1980s, back when the mighty Soviet chess machine to which I belonged boasted a majority of the world’s elite players. Consider that Carlsen captured the t it l e f ro m Vi swa nat ha n Anand of India in 2013, and now, a Norwegian versus an American! Thanks largely to a generation raised with super-strong chess computers and the internet, chess has become truly global. Just as remarkably, to the extent that chess has a new center of gravity it is the United States, and in particular, Saint Louis, Missouri. Caruana won the right to challenge Carlsen by winning the Candidates Tournament on March 27, 2018 in Berlin. Among the eight players in that tournament were two Americans: Caruana and Wesley So. Both live in Saint Louis. Nor is this new, chesscentric Spirit of Saint Louis limited to hosting elite players. The upcoming championship clash will be followed live online by millions of spectators watching a broadcast from Saint Louis. That’s where three superbly entertaining Grandmasters will break down each move from a studio in the basement of the local chess club, a few blocks from Forest Park. These broadcasts have become a way for chess to transcend its small traditional audience, even if my cherished game is not quite ready to compete with the Super

Bowl for viewers. This April, the second floor of the same building will host the U.S. Chess Championships for the 10th consecutive year. Nearly half the participants in the U.S. Chess Championship will be Saint Louisan: Of the top 10 American players, not only Caruana and So but also Ray Robson and Varuzhan Akobian now live there. Top international players also flock to the Gateway City. In August, the world’s best will compete there in the sixth annual Sinquefield Cup, one of the world’s strongest events. This feast of chess talent is a classic American melting pot. Caruana was born in Miami, learned to play in Brooklyn, and spent most of his teenage years in Europe. So, the current U.S. Champion, was born in the Philippines, Akobian in Armenia, and Robson in Guam. So and Robson both moved to Saint Louis to attend Webster University in Saint Louis’s suburbs, on chess scholarships. Webster’s powerhouse team, coached by t he Hu nga r i a n- b o r n Grandmaster Susan Polgar, won the U.S. college championship five years running through last year. (Saint Louis University was a credible third in 2017). How did all of this come to pass? You can work your way back by following the money, but money without passion is often squandered. In this case, it leads you back to a man, and a family, with a remarkable passion for chess. In 2005, Rex Sinquefield, a Saint Louis native who had made a fortune in the fi nanc ial services bu siness, moved back home. One of his goals was policy influence; a conservativelibertarian, Sinquefield is now Missouri’s biggest— and therefore most controversial—political donor. But it was a lower-profile Sinquefield project that may turn out to have even longer-lasting influence in

Saint Louis Chess Club 10 Year Anniversary Celebration TUESDAY, JULY 17 | 10 A.M. – 10 P.M. Join us as we celebrate the Saint Louis Chess Club's ten year anniversary with family-friendly activities, live performances, simul games, special programs, and more on the Chess Campus.



Saint Louis Chess Campus GENERAL MANAGER Joy Bray DEVELOPMENT Lauren Stewart Tricia Crossey EVENTS Rebecca Buffington FINANCE Norah Friel Linda Davis Cathy Gallaher

SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Tony Rich CLUB MANAGER Ryan Chester ASSISTANT MANAGERS Mike Kummer Jonathan Schrantz PR & MARKETING Mark Niebling, Niebling & Associates SCHOLASTICS Kareem Talhouni Tony Chen Richard Pointer Kyle Weber ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Beth Deeken

WORLD CHESS HALL OF FAME CHIEF CURATOR Shannon Bailey ASSOCIATE CURATOR Emily Allred EDUCATION, OUTREACH & EVENTS Kathryn Adamchick Taylor Bardsley EXHIBITIONS MANAGER Nick Schleicher GALLERY MANAGER Matt Dauphin PR & MARKETING Brian Flowers Cabanne Howard, Kaleidoscope Management Group


GRAPHIC DESIGN Paige Pedersen Aidan Douglas IT SPECIALISTS Tammy Hyde Jesse Richardson PR & MARKETING FleishmanHillard Kiley Herndon

VIDEO PRODUCTION Danny Machuca Isaac Schrantz Ben Simon CHESS ASSOCIATES Emily Trask Nichole Boemecke Perry Colson Bobbie Fox Jada Howard Rachel Jones Dennis LaRue Angela Marchant Nick Risko Drew Sheffield Sam Shoykhet Angela Simmons Tracee Stewart OVER 50 CHESS INSTRUCTORS THROUGHOUT THE SAINT LOUIS METRO AREA.

BY SHANNON BAILEY Chief Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

The City of Saint Louis has a lengthy chess heritage that dates back to the 19th century. In 1886, the city hosted a segment of the first World Chess Championship, which culminated with Wilhelm Steinitz defeating Johannes Zukertort to become the first World Chess Champion. The 1904 World’s Fair drew national and international visitors to Saint Louis. It also served as an occasion to hold both the Seventh Annual American Chess Congress a n d t h e We ste r n C h e s s Association Championship (now known as the U.S. Open Chess Championship) in the city. The U.S. Open Chess Championship would later be held in Saint Louis in 1941 and 1960. From the 1940s through the 1970s, Robert Steinmeyer wa s M i s s ou r i’ s p re m i e r

chess talent, consistently winning the Saint Louis D i st r i c t C ha mp i o n s h ip. Leroy Muhammad (formerly Leroy Jackson) also shot to both local and national fame during the late 1960s, becoming the U.S. Junior Open Champion in 1966 and winning the Saint Louis City Championship from 1966-69. They were part of a lively chess scene in the city, which included the Capablanca Chess Club, named for famed World Chess Champion José Raúl Capablanca. Today, Saint Louis is well known as a chess center national ly and i nternationally, and was named the national chess capital by the U.S. Senate in 2014. Since 2008, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has hosted tournaments including the U.S. Chess Championship, U. S . Wo m e n’ s C h e s s Championship, U.S. Junior Championship, U.S. Girls’

Junior Championship, along with the Sinquefield Cup and the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, two tournaments that have drawn the best players from the international community. The World Chess Hall of Fame relocated to Saint Louis in 2011, mak-

BY FRANCIS SLAY Former Mayor of Saint Louis

INSTALLATION & RESEARCH Rob Storr Josh Castleberry Gabby Christiansen John King Jesse Nenninger Brittany Boynton Brittany Jasin Caitlin Isgriggs Natalya Narishkin Kathryn Reid Sarah Walters Layla Zubi

REGISTRAR Nicole Tessmer

Etching of Johannes Zukertort and Wilhelm Steinitz Competing at the 1886 World Chess Championship, which was partially held in Saint Louis, Missouri. ing the city a place where chess history happens, and where the game’s best players, history, and culture are celebrated.



Q BOUTIQUE Brian Flowers Josh Castleberry



Mayor Francis Slay presents a proclamation to Rex Sinquefield declaring May 2009 "Saint Louis Chess Club Month" at the Opening Ceremony of the 2009 U.S. Chess Championships.

Since its founding in 2008, the Saint Louis Chess Club has become not only a place where people can learn and play chess, but also an educational and cultural center. It is an important anchor and draw for the city’s Central West End, and a focal point and catalyst for events and activities that have drawn national and global attention and interest. Through the vision and generosity of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, and with the beautiful facilities and talented team at the Chess Club, Saint Louis has hosted both the U.S. Chess Championship and the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship for 9 straight years, and will be the host again this year. The prestigious Sinquefield Cup, billed as the strongest tournament

in the history of chess, has also been hosted here annually since its inception in 2013. The Chess Campus is has been officially recognized by the United States Senate as the Chess Capital of the United States of America and is the subject of a Forbes video: “St. Louis: America’s Premier Chess Destination.” It is also is home to the largest chess piece in the world as recognized by Guinness. And now, for the first time in Saint Louis history, a city resident, Fabiano Caruana, has qualified for the world title match to be held in November. All this chess activity has burnished the Saint Louis region’s image and is attracting visitors from around the world. On the occasion of the Chess Club’s 10th Anniversary, the Saint Louis region has much to be proud of and celebrate.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The World Chess Hall of Fame acknowledges Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield whose generous support makes our exhibitions possible. Authors: Tatev Abrahamyan Emily Allred Maurice Ashley Bradley Bailey Shannon Bailey Randy Bauer Frank Camaratta Akshat Chandra Ryan Chester John Donaldson Brian Flowers Graham Jurgensen Robert Hess Garry Kasparov Brian Kisida John McCrary Eric Mousel Katerina Nemcova Alexander Onischuk Paige Pedersen

design collaborative

Mike Podgursky Nick Ragone Alejandro Ramirez Bjorn Ranheim Kathleen Ratcliffe Tony Rich Jennifer Shahade Francis Slay Senator Jim Talent Kareem Talhouni Aaron Teitelbaum Nicole Tessmer Nick Schleicher Lauren Stewart

Special thanks to FleishmanHillard Arcturis R.G. Ross Construction Chi Chi LLC

Photographers: Harry Benson Michael DeFilippo Steve Dolan Nick Dunaevsky Austin Fuller Mike Klein Lennart Ootes Spectrum Studios

©World Chess Hall of Fame Printed on Recycled Paper

Thank you to our editor for this project, John Hartmann.

Related programming and a PDF of this newspaper are available for download at Donations support our exhibitions, programming, and events.

World Chess Hall of Fame 4652 Maryland Avenue Saint Louis, MO 63108 (314) 367-WCHF (9243) Share your #WorldChessHOF photos @WorldChessHOF      

Helping build Chess in Saint Louis for over a decade.




Saint Louis and beyond. His goal was to boost the popularity of a game he’d enjoyed since boyhood, chess. Partly he just wanted more of his fellow Saint Louisans to enjoy it. But he also believed, as I do, that the game chess helps instill self-discipline and strategic thinking in young minds. Sinquefield bought a 6,000 square foot building in an old neighborhood that evokes Washington’s Georgetown and whose residents had once included T.S. Eliot and Tennessee Williams. In July 2008, he reopened the structure as the

Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, with plush furnishings, an attractive game room, and a broadcast studio in the basement. Then the club, and the Sinquefields, started to build a chess culture in Saint Louis. It’s truly a family affair. Rex’s dynamic wife Jeanne was a driving force behind the Boy Scouts of America adding a chess merit badge. Their son Randy runs the state-of-the-art studio that brings the chess world to Saint Louis online. This isn’t just about money, but tremendous dedication and

hard work. Instead of looking for a quick splash, they have built a complete system for kids, parents, coaches, and schools. Half a world away from Moscow, Saint Louis is the true heir to the Soviet chess machine. Perhaps this is why it’s the only place I feel comfortable occasionally breaking my retirement vows to test myself at the board—albeit with more enjoyment than sporting success of late. Today there are chess programs in 140 schools across the metropolitan area, including the public schools in the city and in Ferguson, as well



Chess Club staff portrait during the 2009 U.S. Chess Championships.

as in several rural districts in central Missouri. The club offers frequent tournaments, group lessons, private lessons, lectures and even summer camps. With more than 1,000 members, it’s now among the world’s largest chess clubs. Before this Saint Louis chess Renaissance, the United States did not have a suitable venue for world-class tournaments. It didn’t have a deep-pocketed champion who would sponsor a world-class tournament out of his own pocket. It didn’t have programs to attract and develop world-class players

BY TONY RICH Executive Director, Saint Louis Chess Club

When Rex Sinquefield retired and moved back to Missouri, the modern-day re na i s sa nce ma n fou nd himself with more time to embrace his wide range of hobbies. In a meeting with local sculptor Bill Smith, chess entered the conversation, and upon discovering his interest in the game, Bill suggested that Rex should meet his Uncle Bob. That man was none other than Missouri Chess Hall of Fame inductee and National Master Robert “Bob” Jacobs. Among Rex’s many questions for Bob was this: “where do people play chess in Saint Louis?” Sadly, Bob had to admit the anemic state of chess in a city so steeped in the history of the game. People played wherever they could, including bookstores, libraries, and cafes when

capable of producing a gold-medal Olympiad team and a world championship challenger. Now the U.S. has all of those things—because Saint Louis has all of those things. I wouldn’t say that Rex Sinquefield did it entirely from scratch, however. After all, the first official world chess championship in 1886 included a brief stop in Saint Louis! But if Rex’s master strategy continues to bear fruit, the world chess championship may soon return to his beloved birthplace. It would be a fitting crowning achievement for what has become

space and time permitted. Serious tournaments were few and far between. So it was a cool fall evening in October of 2007 when Rex invited a group of chess players, organizers and tournament directors to dinner with the nebulous goal of starting a chess club. Two things were important from the outset. First, we wanted to introduce students to the game, both to develop a love of chess and to bolster educational outcomes. The second goal was to create a warm, inviting space for the local community to play. As we discussed this exciting opportunity, none of us could fathom where the club would be 10 years later. Construction began in January of 2008 with these goals in mind. Candidly, I must admit to being underwhelmed when I first saw the subdivided space that would eventually house the Saint Louis Chess Club. It seemed

like an impossible task to create one of the nicest clubs in the world from a dingy basement, outdated apartments, a worn retail area, and abandoned office space. But with each passing day, and as the construction crew painted, patched and rebuilt, the diamond in the rough began to take shape. The furniture was installed and chess boards were set up. Final touches were added with a fevered pitch. When the club officially opened to the public on July 17th, 2008, Saint Louis embraced us, coming in droves to play, learn and watch. We anticipated having less than 300 members within our first year of operation. To everyone’s surprise, we surpassed that number in just the first six months, and by year’s end there were more than 600 members. Today the club is proud to have more than 1000 members!


The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) is excited to announce its commemorative rebrand, coinciding with its tenth anniversary. For the past decade, the CCSCSL has built its reputation as the premier destination for chess from its Midwestern home. Throughout 2018, the Chess Club will celebrate its tenth year with commemorative tournament graphics, a robust programming calendar, and a brand new name—Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC). A DISTINCTLY SAINT LOUIS MARK Saint Louis pride is at the heart of every Chess Club endeavor, and what represents Saint Louis like the Gateway Arch? The “Gateway to the West is the Gateway to Chess” said a headline in 2016, and it’s never been more true. The Club’s new brand identity celebrates the city’s heritage with Saarinen’s modernist arch perched atop golden fleur de lis [a symbol of Saint Louis, and existing brand imagery for the Club], and highlights chess as a landmark of the United States' Chess Capital. The resurgence of chess in the United States, largely due to the efforts of the Saint Louis Chess Club, has encouraged chess organizations, publications, and brands to flourish across America. The STLCC needed to strengthen its brand recognition and refresh its image as a pioneer of chess in the digital age by streamlining the organization’s name. Colloquially known as the “Saint Louis Chess Club,” we've shortened the name. The simpler, straightforward moniker clarifies the brand and focuses its emphasis on the Saint Louis community. MONOGRAM Reworking the logo mark began on paper, starting with the centerpiece of the existing logo—the emblem. The Chess Club’s acronym was drawn over and over again, rearranging the letters into different shapes and combinations. About 100+ thumbnail sketches later, these drafts moved from paper to screen and continued to refine the mark by simplifying the forms for a refreshed silhouette. The widened base of the slanted 'L', combined with the 't' on top, mimics the form of the King piece with its signature cross-shaped finial—the flanking C’s remain, losing their engraved look and now enjoy a modern symmetrical curve and elegantly angled serifs. TYPOGRAPHY While finalizing the form of the new emblem, the need for versatility came to the forefront—business cards, letterhead, brochures, internet-based media, broadcast graphics, even embroidery and merchandise design—the new logo needed to to be responsive to its environment. Simplified variations on the primary logo design, paired

with a duo of versatile, workhorse typefaces, the letterforms receive a tailored, modern update. Typefaces Acta and TT Norms [aptly named for use by a chess organization] replace Trajan and Gotham. A wide range of weights, characters, and multilingual support in each, the clean, fresh newspaper serif and modern geometric Grotesk cater to both the classical elegance of the game, as well as the geometric minimalism and symmetry of the chessboard. COLOR While black and white have long been ubiquitous on the chessboard, the symbolic grid began in India as a field of red and green long before its European transition to black and white. Returning to chess’ vibrant roots, the modular color system unites the STLCC’s branded initiatives while celebrating the diverse history of the game and the breadth of programming across the campus. The existing colors— black, white, and gold—are expanded to integrate the brand refresh of the World Chess Hall of Fame [the arts branch of the Saint Louis Chess Campus] which shares several key staff members and coordinates its exhibitions with the Club’s tournament schedule. BUILDING CHAMPIONS: IN THE CLASSROOM & THE COMMUNITY Today, anyone with an internet connection can watch world-class chess matches and listen to expert commentators break down the tension of the game [for a layperson like me, this is essential] on one of the Chess Club’s online streaming platforms. These broadcasts reach hundreds of millions of viewers during national or international tournaments, and the branding of the Club needed to reflect their imprint on the global chess scene. Not only does the Saint Louis Chess Club host and broadcast the world’s highest-rated tournaments and matches—it’s a place where people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels are welcome to sit down and play. Offerings include a wide variety of classes, free events that bring chess outdoors, outreach that teaches critical thinking skills and confidence, and an overarching mission to elevate the citizens and neighborhoods throughout the city. These programs are central to the Chess Club’s mission and underline their investment in promoting the game both on a local and international level. Just as a Grandmaster considers his strategy many moves ahead, the Chess Club’s rebrand looks to the future of the organization [as well as representations of chess] and its presence worldwide. The visual lexicon of this ancient game is given new life as the Saint Louis Chess Club continues to innovate and pioneer American Chess in the 21st century.

Originally published on March 2018



IN MEMORIAM Hans Berliner

the last days of 1966, but Browne’s record was almost as good in his first seven championships–a third place finish in his debut in 1973 followed by six consecutive wins (1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1981, and 1983). Though he never came close to winning another championship after 1983, Walter Browne’s place in chess history is secure.

(1929-2017) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

The impact of computers on modern chess cannot be underestimated. Today everyone from World Chess Champions to club players regularly use chess engines to study the game, and those who don’t do so at their peril. Hans Berliner is not solely responsible for this state of affairs, but he can take much of the credit as one of the fathers of modern computer chess. His program Hitech, developed while he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon, was the first chess computer to defeat a Grandmaster in a tournament game. Berliner was not the first computer chess programmer, but he had a unique perspective as the 5th World Correspondence Chess Champion.

a record 27 years, get the nod? Should Anatoly Karpov’s over 160 first places finishes in tournaments make him the greatest ever or does this honor go to Garry Kasparov who defeated Karpov and reigned from 1985 to 2000? Those who like their World Champions undefeated point to Bobby Fischer and his dominance of the 1971-1972 World Champion cycle where he scored 18.5-2.5 in three Candidates matches before defeating Boris Spassky.

and, with apologies to Akiva Rubinstein and Paul Keres, as the strongest player of all time never to become World Champion. Korchnoi, who was a candidate for the World Championship on ten occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988, and 1991), had the misfortune to hit his peak at exactly the same time Anatoly Karpov, one of the greatest of the greats, was at his zenith. The result was three lost matches, including a heartbreaking 6–5 (21 draws) defeat in 1978.

Robert Byrne

(1928-2013) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Robert Byrne is a perfect example of the handicaps top-level American chess players faced for much of the 20th century. One of a group of outstanding young players that came to the fore after World War II, which included fellow future U.S. Chess Hall of Famers Hans Berliner, Arthur Bisguier, Donald Byrne (his brother), and Larry Evans, Byrne only peaked as a player in his 40s. This was due in large part because he was only able to play full-time after the 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship brightened the prospects for professional chess players. Previous to this, like his brother Donald, he was a college professor.

Arthur Bisguier

Jeremy Gaige

(1927-2011) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Jeremy Gaige was not a strong player, nor did he organize important tournaments. None of the books he wrote were best-sellers, and yet his influence on the chess world has been profound. As Bill James, the pioneering statistician, is to baseball, so Jeremy Gaige is to chess, and to the great benefit of writers and historians. Before Gaige, much of what passed for chess history was anecdotal and often wrong. Through his groundbreaking works, including the monumental Chess Personalia: A Biobibliography, he led chess archivists out of the dark ages, and in so doing raised the bar for future chroniclers of the royal game.

Alla Kushnir

(1941-2013) World Chess Hall of Fame

Alla Kushnir, like Viktor Korchnoi, also had the misfortune of having her peak years overlap with those of one of the greatest of World Chess Champions, in her case the legendary Nona Gaprindashvili. The two met in Women's World Championship matches on three separate occasions from 1965 to 1972. Gaprindashvili won the first two matches 8.5-4.5 but in the third she faced a stiff challenge and won by only the narrowest of margins, 8.5-7.5. If not for Gaprindashvili it would have been Kushnir who sat on the throne for a lengthy stay.

(1929-2017) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

One of the most friendly and outgoing of American Grandmasters, Arthur Bisguier will be remembered for not only winning three U.S. Open Chess Championships, participating in two Interzonals and playing on five American Olympiad teams, but also as one of the great chess ambassadors. For over half a century, Bisguier regularly gave lectures and played simultaneous exhibitions at chess clubs, schools, and prisons around the United States. He further contributed to the popularity of the game through his writings, including a regular column in Chess Review magazine for many years called "Chess Biscuits" and a column for the Christian Science Monitor.

Larry Evans

(1932-2010) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Larry Evans won the U.S. Chess Championship four times and might have made it six titles if not for one Bobby Fischer. In 1963/64 and 1966 Evans finished second with 7.5-3.5, normally a winning score, but Bobby scored 11-0 and 9.5-1.5! Besides being one of the strongest American Grandmasters of the 20th century, Evans was a prolific chess journalist whose syndicated newspaper column ran for over four decades. He may be best remembered for a book he did not write, but in which he played an important supporting role—Fischer’s classic My 60 Memorable Games.

Bill Hall (1969-2016)

Bill Hall was the Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation from 2005 to 2013. A graduate of MIT and valedictorian of Cumberland County High School, Bill taught high school math before stepping into the role at the USCF. He was a scholastic chess player and continually promoted chess in schools. Bill oversaw the USCF's relocation from New York to Tennessee and awarded the Saint Louis Chess Club its first U.S. Championship in 2009. Bill's tireless work to promote the game he loved will live on in the legacy he created.

Anatoly Lein

(1931-2018) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Born on March 28, 1931, in Leningrad, Anatoly Lein only became a Grandmaster in 1968 at the age of 37. He immigrated to the United States in 1976 and quickly became a leading player, tying for first in the World and U.S. Opens that year and representing his new homeland in the 1978 Chess Olympiad. He and fellow U.S. Chess Hall of Famer Leonid Shamkovich were the beginning of a massive wave of immigration from the Soviet Union that would transform American chess. Lein played tournament chess into his 80s and will be remembered for his incredible passion for the game.

Walter Browne (1949-2015) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Walter Browne’s nickname, “Mr. Six-Time,” says it all. The Australian-born, but New York raised, Grandmaster was U.S. Chess Champion on six occasions, just two short of Bobby Fischer’s all-time record. Bobby won every U.S. Championship he played in from the end of 1957 to

Bobby Fischer

(1943-2008) World & U.S. Chess Halls of Fame

Who is the greatest chess player of all-time? Is it Paul Morphy, far ahead of his contemporaries, but with a brief career? Does Emanuel Lasker, World Championship

Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) World Chess Hall of Fame

James Miller (1952-2010)

Viktor Korchnoi will be remembered for the many beautiful games he played

a regular at the Saint Louis Chess Club. His outgoing personality and friendly demeanor made him an easily approachable opponent and a joy to play against. James had the ability to make you smile whether you were winning or losing, and his one-liners were a constant source of amusement for members and staff alike. With his death, the Chess Club lost not just one of our most loyal members, but also a part of our family. The unique brand of chess he brought to the Club on a daily basis earned him the nickname, “The James Game,” characterized by his uncharacteristic openings that could, at times, stymie his opponents. He liked the idea of forcing people out of their element by presenting them with challenging and unfamiliar positions. His upbeat personality and cheery disposition were infectious. James had the ability to brighten the room when he would walk in, and his presence at the Club is sorely missed.

James “The James Game” Miller was more than just

Jacqueline Piatigorsky

(1911-2012) U.S. Chess Hall of Fame

Few individuals have been as fully involve d in the chess world as Jacqueline Piatigorsky. Despite only taking up the game in her thirties, she became one of the top female players in the United States, even representing her country in a Chess Olympiad, but it is as an organizer and chess philanthropist that she is best remembered. The two Piatigorsky Cups were among the strongest tournaments held in the 20th century and were noted for the excellent conditions offered to both players and spectators. Her sponsorship of chess for youth and the disadvantaged was several decades ahead of its time.

Adonis Reddick (1970-2016)

Adonis was a fixture on the Saint Louis chess scene. Adonis played chess back when Saint Louis Chess was a small community of sidewalk players in the Loop in University City. When he became a member of the Saint Louis Chess Club, his infectious smile and laugh was an i nstant conne ction with all our members. While his smile and laugh were always present, so was his determination and confidence to play anyone and beat them. His passion for chess was second to his advocacy for the rights of the disabled. He was the founder of the Association of Spanish Lake Advocates,

an organization promoting disability rights, a member of the leadership team for the Coalition for Truth in Independence, and a member of the St. Louis ARC’s Social Justice and Human Rights Committee. In 2015 he won the Self Advocate of the Year Catalyst Award. The Saint Louis Chess Club and all of the Saint Louis Community lost a treasure of a man.

Bill Wright (1928-2011)

William H. (Bill) Wright was a stalwart member of the Saint Louis Chess community. Bill was a retired Marine who bore a pleasant, friendly demeanor. Because of his true love for chess, he was elected annually to represent the Saint Louis region as a Missouri Chess Association Board Member. In 2001, Bill bravely revived the Saint Louis Open in a sagging Saint Louis chess scene. Thanks to his organizational skills, the tourney managed to attract more than 60 players. The tournament has grown in strength and numbers in the intervening years, and it now is rightfully named after him. As a member of the original Board of Directors, Bill was integral in helping get the Saint Louis Chess Club up and running. He introduced Rex Sinquefield to Tony Rich and the rest is history. Bill would always greet new members of the Club with a smile. His enthusiasm for chess was contagious and our membership base far exceeded the club's expectations in the first year. Bill was always up for a challenge, and wouldn't miss a tournament in Missouri or the surrounding area. He often sold chess equipment at these events, sharing his true passion for the game with everyone in the process. Bill also had an impressive chess set collection, and he would loan parts of that collection to his local library for display use. In 2009, because of his lifelong dedication to the royal game, Bill was inducted into the Missouri Chess Hall of Fame. The Saint Louis chess community was lucky to know such a loyal, respectable man. Semper Fi, Mr. Wright.

APRIL 12, 2018 – FEBRUARY 24, 2019


National Saint Louis Chess Campus

Senate: Saint Louis is “Chess Capital of the United States” The Saint Louis Chess Club has become a very big player in the world of chess, and the United States Senate noticed. BY JIM TALENT Former U.S. Senator for Missouri

The Saint Louis Chess Club has become a very big player in the world of chess, and the United States Senate noticed it. Ten years ago, the Saint Louis area wasn’t on the map where chess was concerned. Sure there were players in the area–there are chess enthusiasts almost everywhere in the world–but there was no regional focus on the sport and no center of energy and activity. All that changed in 2008 with the founding of the Saint Louis Chess Club. It was the brainchild of Rex Sinquefield, who wanted to combine his love of chess with his support for the Saint Louis region. His vision was to bring the pleasure of chess to thousands of people (and especially kids) in the metro area, while making Saint Louis a recognized leader in the sport. The impact of the Chess Club was immediate. Saint Louis hosted the U.S. Chess

Championship and the Women’s Chess Championship four years in a row, from 2009-2012. It hosted the Junior Closed Chess Championship from 2010-2012. Those are the three most prestigious, invitation only chess tournaments in the United States. As a result, the U.S. Chess Federation named the Chess Club the “Club of the Year” in 2009 and 2011. In addition, the Saint Louis Chess Club became a center of education and outreach. In 2011 and 2012, the club reached over 3,000 students in over 100 schools and community centers across the region. Congress noticed this activity. In 2014, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Chess Club for its achievements and designating Saint Louis as the Chess Capital of the United States. Since then the Club has gone on to even bigger things: the Chess Club has gone on to host the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, introduce a new “Classic series” of tournaments for players just under the

super GM elite, host the inaugural Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz in which chess legend Garry Kasparov came out of a 12 year retirement to participate, sponsor the first ever international PRO Chess League champions, and backs the new collegiate powerhouse Saint Louis University. And there is more to come. Chess is a great game, but it’s much more than that. It promotes higher level thinking skills and problem solving. It offers young people the chance to develop critical reasoning and planning ability. And it’s a great equalizer: young or old, rich or poor, people of all different backgrounds compete on the same playing field. All they need is a board, the pieces, and enthusiasts of the game to teach and encourage them. With the advent of the Saint Louis Chess Club 10 years ago, chess became part of the rich heritage of our region. Saint Louis is the chess capital of the United States. Ten years from now, it may well be the chess capital of the world.


Photographs from the Congressional Chess Match in Washington, D.C., 2013.



U.S. Chess Championships BY ALEX ONISCHUK Grandmaster

T h e 2 0 0 9 U. S . C h e s s C ha mp i o n s h i p i n S a i nt Louis started a new era in American chess, and the Saint Louis Chess Club is the driving force behind chess in our country. The Club hosts the U.S. Championship each year, but it does a lot more than that! The Club organizes a lot of events for scholastic and junior players. It runs GM and IM norm tournaments, and it provides support for our national teams. All this activity has motivated many players, including myself, to work harder on our chess. The U.S. Championship has, as a result, become a much stronger event in just a few years. I have played in all the U.S. Chess Championships in Saint Louis. The exceptional organization and fantastic atmosphere make the event very special. People travel to Saint Louis from every corner of America to watch the games, and it is nice to see so many chess fans at the Chess Club. I always have friends that come to Saint Louis to support me during the U.S. Championships. I also enjoy watching all the broadcasts from Saint Louis. The students at Texas Tech follow all the major tournaments in Saint Louis on a big TV screen in my office. In the past ten years I have spent so much time in Saint Louis that it feels like my second home. I have made thousands of chess moves at the Chess Club and I have walked every trail in Forest Park. One of my greatest memories in chess is our team preparation for the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul at Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield’s farmhouse. I’m very grateful to everyone who makes the U.S. Championship and other events in Saint Louis so great, and I’m looking forward to new tournaments at the Chess Club, both as a player and a spectator.


(1) Playoff between GM Alex Onischuk and GM Wesley So during the 2017 U.S. Championship (2) 2009 U.S. Chess Championship Field (3) GM Hikaru Nakamura contemplates his next move during Round 10 of the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship (4) GM Sam Sevian vs. GM Ray Robson during Round 9 of the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship (5) GM Alex Onischuk during Round 1 of the 2016 U.S. Chess Championship.







U.S. Women's Chess Championships (1) 2016 U.S. Women's Championship

BY JENNIFER SHAHADE Woman Grandmaster, author, and commentator

In the stunning galleries of the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), Anna Zatonskih buried her head in her hands, her eyes covered with a thick black scarf. Anna Zatonskih played a five board blindfold simultaneous exhibition, much to the delight of visitors and fans, spellbound by the magnificent mental spectacle. The last man standing was tournament sponsor, Rex Sinquefield, the president of the Saint Louis Chess Club. Rex resigned. Anna, after two hours, five victories, and zero losses could remove the scarf and see the light again. The 2009 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, at the time a standalone event, kicked off with a Community Day and opening ceremonies at CAM. In addition to Anna’s breathtaking simul, there was my own favorite, hula chess, glamour photo shoots, and a group blindfold game. The Women’s Championship was held for the first time in Saint Louis in 2009. Anna Zatonskih won the ten-player round robin event with a magnificent 8.5/9, for a performance rating of 2765, the standard of a “Super Grandmaster.” In 2010, the event returned to Saint Louis and Irina Krush nearly matched Anna’s incredible record, scoring 8/9 for a performance over 2650. Starting in 2011, the tournament was organized in conjunction with the U.S. Championship, an event that is open to all genders. 2011 was a special year for the U.S. Women’s. Eight players were invited to play in a dramatic format that merged knockout style competition with round robin. Tatev Abrahamyan faced off against Zatonskih in the dramatic final, which went down to the wire, awarding Anna her fourth Championship title. In 2012, Irina won in a tight race that went to playoff. She recalls the game that gave her the title: “I was losing and then she hung a rook! The tiebreaks are always stressful and that was the most dramatic moment in any of them.” For the next three years, the Odessa born and Brooklyn raised Grandmaster captured each Championship. This brings Krush’s grand total of titles to an incredible seven, with Irina holding the winner’s ceremonial check four times in Saint Louis. She earned her very first at the age of 14 years old in Denver. Irina’s goal is to win at least ten U.S. Women’s titles. Reflecting on a decade of top women’s chess in Saint Louis, Krush said, "It's been wonderful to have such a stage for the U.S. Women's Championship these past ten years in Saint Louis. The prestige of the event has grown dramatically with stronger players, higher

(2) 2012 U.S. Women's Championship (3) WGM Sabina Foisor exits the playing hall after winning the 2017 U.S. Women's Championship (4) GM Maurice Ashley blindfolds WGM Anna Zatonskih during the Pop-Up Chess Demo, a 2016 U.S. Championship side event (5) International Arbiter Carol Jarecki looks on during the 2016 U.S. Women's Championship.






prizes, and unparalleled coverage.” The competition gets fiercer, younger and more determined with each Championship. 12-yearold Carissa Yip defeated the legendary Irina Krush in the 2016 Championship. In the broadcast booth, we knew that as strong and experienced our top two female players were, someone would eventually break Anna and Irina’s stronghold, not only in one game, but for the whole Championship. In 2016, Nazi Paikidze, 22 at the time, prevailed in an inspiring performance. She faced defending champ Irina Krush in the final round, and played a brilliant game with the Black pieces. After realizing that she won her first U.S. Women’s Championship, Paikidze covered her face with red nails, overcome with emotion: a career highlight for the Vegas resident born in Russia. Soon after this victory, Paikidze would become one of the most popular chess players in the world for her principled stand against playing the World Women’s Championship in Iran due to the requirement to wear the hijab during the games. 2017 saw the most magical U.S. Women’s Championship of all. Sabina Foisor entered the competition as an underdog, behind perennial favorites Irina Krush, Anna Zatonskih, as well as defending champ Paikidze. Beyond the board, Sabina had recently lost her beloved mother, Cristina Adela Foisor, also a chess champion. Despite her personal grief, Sabina channeled the spirit of the woman who inspired her chess career in a dramatic performance. She won the Championship with a score of 8/11, finishing the tournament off with a precise queen sacrifice in the final round against the young Apurva Virkud. Sabina said, “Winning the U.S. Women's Championship has been a goal I worked hard on for years and being able to win it in the memory of the most loving and supporting person in my life has made it exceptionally dear to me. I feel connected to the club as my 10 year anniversary of arriving to the United States is celebrated in the same year as the Club's hosting the U.S. Women's Championships for the 10th time! The new format and prestige of the U.S. Championships in Saint Louis has kept me motivated to [keep] playing chess seriously.”



U.S. Junior Chess Championships



The U. S. Ju nior Ches s Championship has long been one of the most exciting chess events in the country. The invite-only tournament has served as a platform for young and ambitious juniors to display their prowess while fighting for the coveted title of U.S. Junior Champion. A strong performance in this tournament is a good indicator of future success, as many past winners went on to become Grandmasters. Even the great Bobby Fischer tested his mettle in this tournament, winning in 1956

with a score of 8.5/10. The evolution of this tournament over the years has been intriguing to follow, and something I’d like to take a closer look at. For many years the U.S. Junior Championship led a nomadic life, as each year the city and venue changed. Enterprising local organizers did their best to seek sponsorship and organize a professionally conducted tournament. Everything changed in 2010, however, when the U.S. Junior Championship found a more permanent abode at the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC). The last edition of U.S. Junior before it transi-

tioned to its new home was organized by chess player and coach FM Alex Betaneli in 2009 in the city of Milwaukee. The move to Saint Louis was a turning point in the tournament’s history, as the STLCC built greatly on the successes of the previous organizers and worked hard to elevate the Championship profile. The tournament also benefited from the meteoric rise of the chess vibe in Saint Louis. At its new home, the Junior Championship acquired the publicity and marquee status that was not always visible earlier. In talking with GM Varuzhan Akobian, who


won the 2002 edition, he related to me how the conditions have changed since he played in the U.S. Junior. “It is much more prestigious, and the tournament has a great prize fund,” he said, and he laughed as he tried to recall whether there were even monetary prizes when he won the tournament! In addition to the much-improved prize fund, the publicity and playing conditions of the Junior Championship have never been better. The games are now played on elegant wooden electronic boards and are broadcast online. There is a live commentary team at the Club’s studio that

covers the tournament and post-game interviews. But to me, the greatest reward of winning the U.S. Junior Championship is earning an automatic qualification to play the U.S. Championship, a privilege that was added during the Championship’s tenure at the Club. I won the U.S. Junior event in 2015 in my very first appearance and had the honor of participating in the 2016 U.S. Championship. Saint Louis, as the nation’s chess capital, has become the proving grounds for future top chess players, and it is only fitting that the U.S. Junior Championship found its permanent residence here.

From left to right, Jeffery Xiong during Round 8 of the 2016 U.S. Junior Championship; 2017 U.S. Junior Championship, Round 6.

U.S. Girls' Junior Chess Championships BY JENNIFER SHAHADE Woman Grandmaster, author, and commentator


From top to bottom, WFM Carissa Yip vs. WIM Akshita Gorti during Round 2 of the 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship; Round 5 of the 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.

In 2014, Annie Wang broke Irina Krush’s record for the youngest American female chessmaster in history. Annie was 11, and as the New York Times pointed out, she broke a record older than she was. Less than a year later, Carissa Yip broke the same record. On the International stage, and in the same year, Jennifer Yu became the first American girl to win gold at a World Youth Championship since 1987. Do you sense a pattern? The top girls in American chess are becoming stronger with no sign of slowing down. Many all-girls tournament helped to foster this incredible new generation of female talent. Among them: the National Girls Tournament of Champions, the All-Girls Nationals, a n d t h e S u s a n Po l ga r G i r l s’ Invitational. All-girls’ events may be controversial, but their track record in the U.S., as well as their social benefits, are indisputable. A crown jewel in the new feast of formidable girls’ championships is the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, founded in 2014 in New Hampshire. Then-US Chess President Ruth Haring said, “The 1st Junior Girls Closed is even stronger than U.S. Women's Championships in the 70s and early 80s.” Claudia Munoz took the 2014 title on tiebreak. The 2015 event was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Ashritha Eswaran claiming the title. In 2016, the event moved back to New Hampshire, where Emily Nguyen took clear first with 6.5/9. T h e U. S. G i r l s' Ju n i o r Championship moved to Saint Louis in 2017, to coincide with the U.S. Junior Championship, adding

attention and excitement to both events. Emily Nguyen was thrilled to play in the 2017 edition in Saint Louis: “The Saint Louis Chess Club is probably the nicest club I will ever go to. The playing conditions are perfect, and the community is amazing as well.” Her favorite part of playing was the camaraderie with other girls. For aspiring participants, Emily advises, “do not feel too much pressure from the lights and cameras and interviews,” but try your best to get in because “Saint Louis and the Girls' Junior [are] really worth it.” Akshita Gorti won the 2017 title with a commanding score of 7/9, 1.5 points ahead of Maggie Feng, her nearest rival. She agreed with Emily about the location. “In my opinion, the Saint Louis Chess Club is the best place to have chess tournaments. The chess club has amazing playing conditions and I loved the live commentary [hosted by WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and GM Alejandro Ramirez.]” The leisurely one game a day schedule is great practice for prestigious international competitions, in which these same girls represent the United States on a regular basis. It allows ample time for preparation and game analysis, and the girls relax and bond between games, creating lifelong friendships. Gorti recalled celebrating Maggie Feng’s bi rthday, and se ei ng Wonder Woman with fellow competitors. The biggest prize of all was a chance for Gorti to be our Wonder Woman. Winning the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship earned her a ticket to the 2018 U.S. Women’s Championship.

APRIL 12, 2018 – FEBRUARY 24, 2019


International Saint Louis Chess Campus


Fabi Wins! For the first time since 1972, an American contends for the undisputed World Chess Championship BY MAURICE ASHLEY Grandmaster, author, and commentator

American chess fans everywhere are cheering in the streets as their countryman Fabiano Caruana overcame the game’s elite Grandmasters to win the recently concluded Candidates tournament in Berlin, Germany. In doing so he qualified to play World Champion Magnus Carlsen for his title in November 2018. It is the first time an American will compete for the crown in over two decades with the last victory for the United States coming in 1972 when Bobby Fischer

won an epic match against the Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. Caruana, 25 , who was born in Miami, raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and currently resides in Saint Louis, Missouri, had to recover from a potentially devastating loss in round 12 of the marathon 14-round event that took 18 days to complete. After a rest day to collect his nerves, the new challenger bounced back with two dominating victories to seal his place in history. Asked how he got over the difficult loss, Caruana replied, “we watched a movie which was nice, because for

two hours I could just forget about chess, which is what I needed. The Shape of Water, which was excellent.” Caruana, who became a Grandmaster just shy of his 15th birthday, rose to prominence when he won the prestigious Sinquefield Cup in 2014 with a performance that is hailed as one of the greatest individual results in the history of the sport. His perfect 7-0 start, which included a victory against the World Champion, catapulted him into the limelight with chess pundits predicting that he was clearly the rightful next challenger to the throne. However, in

2016 at the last Candidates match held in Moscow, he was dealt a crushing blow in the final round, killing all his hopes of winning the event. Two years later, he now sits atop all his rivals for a shot at the title. “I know he deserves it,” said his mother, Santina Caruana. “It was too stressful for me to follow the event, so I just didn't watch. I only found out yesterday that he was leading and for some reason we thought he had won. We had to suffer one more day, but he did it. My heart is pounding.” “He runs the show,” added his father, Lou. “A long while

ago he asked for more and more control of his career, and now he is the boss. He has been on a long journey and it has paid off.” The family de cide d to relocate to Europe when young Fabiano was twelve so that he could play on the more competitive European circuit. He competed under his mother’s Italian flag until 2015, when he decided to switch back to playing for his home country. He became U.S. Champion in 2016 and played 1st board f o r t h e U. S. t e a m t h a t won the Chess Olympiad later that year in Baku, Azerbaijan. This was the first

gold medal victory for an American team in 76 years. Now he will represent the U.S. as he fights for the title of the best chess player on the planet. “ We a lway s k n e w we would come back,” said Santina, “to win it for the U.S. It’s just right to do it back home.”

Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, March 2018



Universal Rating System™ Opens Doors for Global Chess BY GRAHAM JURGENSEN Technical Director, Grand Chess Tour

January 2, 2017 may well prove to be a landmark day in chess history as it marked the launch date of the new Universal Rating System (URS™). This exciting new system is expected to make it much easier for chess players across the world to achieve an international chess rating. Development of the new rating system was co-funded by the Saint Louis Chess Club and the Kasparov Chess Foundation. Its launch follows more than two years of research. The URS™ has already had a major impact on many of the world’s top players as the January 2017 rating list heavily impacted the selection of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour wild cards.

The launch of the URS™ system represents a quantum leap in the way that chess ratings are calculated and is a completely new approach compared to the historical systems that have been in use since the late 1960s. It introduces the concept of a universal chess rating which is calculated by considering a players results across all time controls. The system recognizes that there is useful information about a player's strength in all games regardless of the time limit. As the speed of play increases, less importance is allocated to the game results while older games are also given less importance than more recent ones. All games played within the last six years are taken into account but players' ratings are simultaneously reassessed whenever a new rating list is generated. In this way, the

new ratings are always self-consistent and do not depend on any prior rating list. The first URS™ rating list was published on January 1, and was accompanied by the launch of an official website, which explains the new methodology in detail. T h e r a t i n g a l g o r i t h m wa s designed and developed by a research team which consisted of Maxime Rischard, J. Isaac Miller, Mark Glickman, and Jeff Sonas. This team conducted extensive testing before finalizing the rating algorithm and found that the URS™ consistently predicted game results better than the existing ELO system used by the World Chess Federation. The superior results were observed “on a consistent basis, from year to year, and across all three rating categories.”

Another major draw-card of the URS™ rating system is that it will be free to use for any local organizers or chess federations that wish to make use of it. This is expected to be a major attraction as it will allow scholastic players and locally based

amateur players to quickly achieve a URS™ rating by simply playing in their local events. Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, February 2017

Saint Louis, the Chess Olympiad, and World Team Championships

BY JOHN DONALDSON International Master and Chess Historian

A s i d e f r o m t h e Wo r l d Championship, no event is more important in the chess world than is the biannual Chess Olympiad. Held since 1927, this tournament now attract over 170 countries from around the world, with close to 1500 competitors competing in Open and Womens sections. On off years FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), the governing body for international ches s, hold s the World Team Championship where the top ten teams in the world compete against each other in an all-play-all format. Since its founding in 2008, the Saint Louis Chess Club has played an important role in sending American teams to both of these competitions, held in a variety of locations from Tromsø, Norway, to Ningbo, China. The Saint Louis Chess Club has not only been a sponsor alongside US Chess and the Kasparov Chess Federation; it has hosted training camps and sent coaches to both the Olympiad and the World Team. In a few cases the Saint Louis Chess Club has been the difference between the United States sending a team or staying home. With no other sponsors available, it stepped in at the last moment and flew Hikaru Nakamura, Alex Onischuk, Yury Shulman, Varuzhan Akobian,

Ray Robson, and Robert Hess to Bursa, Turkey, where they finished second in the 2009 World Team Championship. Nakamura and Onischuk led the way, winning individual gold on Boards One and Two. A similar situation occurred in 2013 when the United States needed to qualify to compete in the World Team Championship. This required winning the Pan American Team Championship, an event the United States had never competed in. No money had been budgeted for it, but once again the Saint Louis Chess Club stepped in and provided the funding. It proved to be a good investment. The team won the event held in Campinas, Brazil, ahead of top-seeded Cuba, even without the services of Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, the top-two rated American players at the time. This led to the United States playing in the 2013 World Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey, where they finished fourth, just half a point from the bronze medals, and where they defeated the first place Russian team 3-1, thanks to wins by Hikaru Nakamura (over Vladimir Kramnik) and Ray Robson (over Nikita Vitiugov). The United States team of Fabiano C a r u a n a , H i ka r u Naka mu ra , Wesley So, Sam Shankland, and Ray Robson finished first for the first time in forty years at the 2016 Chess Olympiad held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The team was once

again sponsored by US Chess, the Kasparov Chess Foundation, and the Saint Louis Chess Club. This backing was quite different from that of fellow contenders Russia, China, and Azerbaijan, all of whom were funded by their national governments. The United States will attempt to repeat as Olympiad Champions this September in Batumi, Georgia. This feat, accomplished only once (Armenia in 2006 and 2008) this century, will not be easy, but the Saint Louis Chess Club will be helping the American players to do their best.

Clockwise from top left, Closing Ceremony at the 2016 Baku, Azerbaijan, Chess Olympiad; GM Aleksandr Lenderman, GM Hikaru Nakamura, IM John Donaldson, GM Sam Shankland, GM Ray Robson, GM Wesley So, GM Fabiano Caruana at the Closing Ceremony of the 2016 Baku, Azerbaijan, Chess Olympiad; Opening Ceremony at the 2016 Baku, Azerbaijan, Chess Olympiad PHOTOS CHESS.COM/MIKE KLEIN



GRAND CHESS TOUR BY GRAHAM JURGENSEN Technical Director, Grand Chess Tour

When the first edition of the S i nqu ef i e l d Cup wa s he l d i n September 2013, it featured just four players. At the time, no one could have predicted the chain of events that would ultimately result in the creation of the Grand Chess Tour! By 2014, the tournament had already expanded to 6 players and it was suddenly the strongest tournament in the history of chess! Boasting a total prize fund of over $300,000, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup saw a truly historic performance. GM Fabiano Caruana recorded an incredible run of seven straight wins on his way to securing the highest tournament performance rating in the history of chess! The success of the 2014 tournament catapulted the city of Saint Louis to the center of global chess. The Saint Louis Chess Club was quickly recognized as a key institution and it deservedly served as the host venue for the official launch of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) in April 2015. The first leg of the Tour took place early the following year and the annual Sinquefield Cup has been a cornerstone of the Tour ever since. GCT events have been held in locations as diverse as Stavanger, Paris, Leuven, and London, and the Tour has spectacularly achieved its primary purpose of providing more opportunities for elite players. The Tour has also attracted corporate sponsors like Vivendi, Canal+, and Colliers International as well as non-profit organisations such as “Your Next Move” in Belgium. By involving Spectrum Studio’s and employing only the best commentators in the World, the Tour has opened doors for both Internet and TV broadcasting. It has also introduced the concept of Pro-Am events, and there are always Tour events involving school children. With simultaneous exhibitions and photograph sessions, the world's

top players can share their experience and inspire the children to play and study chess. The GCT prize pool has grown over the years and the participants now compete annually for a prize pool worth more than $1 million. World Champion Magnus Carlsen was the deserving winner of the inaugural Tour in 2015 while GM Wesley So dominated the 2016 Sinquefield Cup on his way to securing overall victory in the 2016 Tour. Magnus was back on the Tour in 2017 and narrowly edged out GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Levon Aronian for overall honors. The 2017 Tour events in Saint Louis were especially memorable for other players and other reasons. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave secured what he considers to be the highlight of his career when he captured the 2017 Sinquefield Cup! He was followed to the winner’s circle by GM Levon Aronian, who became the only player to secure two GCT Tour titles in Saint Louis, adding the 2017 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz title to his previous triumph at the 2015 Sinquefield Cup. Perhaps the greatest highlight in 2017 was the historic return to competitive chess of the legendary 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. Garry came out of retirement after an absence of 12 years to bravely fight against the best players of the modern game. He did this to promote the Grand Chess Tour, and millions of his worldwide fans found themselves captivated by every move and grimace as he battled over the board. These incredible memories have all been created through the generosity of Dr. Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield who have been instrumental in founding and maintaining the direction of the Tour from the outset. They have gifted the chess world with many memorable moments as part of the chess legacy that they are still in the process of creating. SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/AUSTIN FULLER

From top to bottom, 2017 Sinquefield Cup Winner Maxime Vachier-Lagrave; John Urschel challenges Rachel Lee during the 2017 Ultimate Moves Match.




WCHOF Exhibits in Europe on Grand Chess Tour: A Trip of Firsts BY NICK SCHLEICHER Exhibitions Manager, World Chess Hall of Fame

A Curator's Perspective:


Art of Chess 2017

BY EMILY ALLRED Associate Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2017 is the World Chess Hall of Fame’s (WCHOF) first traveling exhibition, created to accompany each of the stops on this year’s Grand Chess Tour. Staging a show to accompany this elite circuit of chess competitions was a natural choice for us. Since 2013, the WCHOF has created mini-exhibitions of artifacts and photography during the Sinquefield Cup at our sister organization, the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC), Kingside Diner, and the WCHOF itself. For Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2017, I had the great fortune to be part of a four-person team that traveled from June 19 to July 4 to install the exhibition at the Château d'Asnières in France and Leuven Town Hall in Belgium during the first two Grand Chess Tour events: Pari s Grand Ches s Tou r and Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour. This team also included our Senior Gallery Attendant, Jesse Nenninger; our Exhibitions Manager, Nick Schleicher; and the newest member of our fulltime staff, our Registrar, Nicole Tessmer. As Assistant Curator, my role before the exhibition traveled was to assist in the selection of artifacts and artworks to display as well as developing label text in English, French, and Dutch for each of the pieces on view. However, during the trip to Paris and Leuven, I also got to help out with assembling displays and installing artwork and artifacts. My favorite of these “other duties as assigned” was being a gallery attendant in our temporary exhibition spaces, which allowed me to information about our institution and artifacts with visitors. Each of the pieces included in Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2017 has been displayed in Saint Louis as part of a past or current exhibition or installation. For most of our European visitors, it was their first opportunity to see historic treasures like Bobby Fischer’s Red Book from the collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield or the silver service presented to Paul Morphy for his victory in the 1857 American Chess Congress. It was such a pleasure to talk to our visitors at each of the tournament venues and hear new perspectives on artifacts that we are so familiar with as

well as their own stories about their connections to the game. Two of my favorite visitors were a woman and her fiveyear-old son who visited two days during the Leuven installation. She said that not only had her son taught himself to play chess, but he had also taught her! His favorite piece in the show was well-liked among many of our youngest visitors—the simple Asterix and Caesar’s Gift chess set, borrowed from our 2017 exhibition POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics. It was also very exciting to see our artifacts exhibited in new venues. In Asnièressur-Seine, we set up the exhibition in the Château d'Asnières, a castle built from 1750-1752 and recently restored. The beautiful castle served not only as the setting for our exhibition but also hosted a number of other activities for people watching video of the Paris Grand Chess Tour. One of these was a youth chess tournament that took place on the lawn outside. The second venue, Leuven Town Hall, was also historic. Restored following damage during World Wars I and II, the Town Hall was originally constructed in the 15th century. The facade was changed during the 19th century to add sculptures of prominent local citizens, which the city’s tourism website refers to as its “hall of fame.” W h e n we v i s i t e d t h e M-Museum in Leuven, we learned that the town hall had once hosted a collection of artifacts related to local history that later evolved into the museum. It was interesting to learn that we were far from the first to present an exhibition there. In Leuven, we shared space with spectators listening to commentary by Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Nigel Short and the tournament itself took place upstairs. Of course, the World Chess Hall of Fame team also spent time seeing historic sites and museums when we were not working. While visiting the Musée National Gustave Moreau, we even noticed a chess set! Can you guess what we spotted about the setup of the set? Members of the World Chess Hall of Fame staff will travel again later this year to present the exhibition during the London Chess Classic, but we will first be setting it up again in Saint Louis for the Sinquefield Cup and the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz.

The Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2017 travelling exhibition was the first overseas traveling exhibition for the World Chess Hall of Fame as well as my first time traveling abroad. With stops in Paris, France, and Leuven, Belgium, this trip was filled with many new and exciting learning experiences! When traveling an exhibition to a non-museum location, the Exhibitions Manager has many considerations that need to be addressed beyond the choice of artifacts for display. What displays, for example, will house the artifacts? What are the display location conditions and accessibility to the building when delivering large crates? What is the usable display space in the exhibition and can it accommodate our displays? What tools will we need to bring in the event of any unexpected problems? Can the location store our empty crates during the life of the exhibition without intruding on public space?

I sourced some incredible traveling display cases through Gaylord Archival for this exhibition. These display cases come unassembled with assembly taking roughly 10-15 minutes per case. Once each exhibition concludes, the cases can then be fully disassembled for flat storage and shipping, including the UV protective plexiglas bonnets! This saved a lot of shipping space for the six additional crates we had containing the artifacts and tools. We only needed one truck when transporting the crates from location to location. While in the exhibition spaces, I was able to create a simple 3D rendering of each space using SketchUp, so we will have greater ability to plan the layout of each exhibition before our return visits. This further reduces the chances of any issues arising during installation. With these hurdles behind us, we put ourselves in a very comfortable position to take on any installation challenges that come our way while traveling future exhibitions abroad!

Building an Exhibit:

Experiences Traveling a Chess Exhibition

BY JESSE NENNINGER Senior Gallery Attendant, World Chess Hall of Fame

From June 20th to July 4th, 2017, I was honored to help with the first international pop-up exhibit by the World Chess Hall of Fame. I was excited for the opportunity to work in two amazing places, The Chateau d’Asnieres in Paris, France, and The Leuven Stadhuis in Leuven, Belgium. I assisted the Exhibition Manager in preparation for this trip by helping to determine what tools, and supplies would be needed, and ensuring that all the needed supplies would be on hand. We had to anticipate for the unpacking of artifacts, the

The French Federation had many events on the grounds of the Chateau that drew people in and added a celebratory feeling to the event. On Saturday, there was a children's tournament which had 200 participants playing on top of boxes outside the building. The children visited he exhibit between rounds and seemed particularly interested in the Asterix set, which was currently featured in the POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics show at the World Chess Hall of Fame. There were also wo French national tournaments on Sunday, in addition to the G ra n d C h e s s To u r : t h e Wo m e n’ s C u p, a n d t h e French Cup.

Chess Collection Goes on the Road BY NICOLE TESSMER Registrar, World Chess Hall of Fame

I was both nervous and excited as I arrived in Paris for the first time in ten years. I had just stepped into the position of Registrar a few months prior, and this was the first time I would be traveling for work. Early the next day we h e a d e d to t h e C h â te a u d’Asnières where the exhibition would take place. Once the truck with our artwork arrived, we were ready to get started. We spent the next several hours getting ready for the World Chess Hall of Fame’s (WCHOF) first international exhibition. The first things I noticed was how warm the Château was. Paris was unusually hot and humid for that time of year, thoroughly reminiscent of Saint Louis in the summer. As the temperature continued to climb throughout the day, my concern for the artifacts grew. I carefully monitored the temperature and humidity within the vitrines. To my amazement, I was able to create a stable microclimate within the vitrines over the next few hours, putting my mind at ease. The next stop on the Grand Chess Tour was Leuven, Belgium, a quiet, little college town. This was a welcome change of pace from the non-stop action of Paris, and I was eager to get started installing the show in a new location. We decided to set up a smaller version for the simul that would take place with grandmasters and the local

children. The simul was a great event. We passed out World Chess Hall of Fame pins and the children were instructed to put the pins on prior to play. The visuals were amazing, as the event was televised. Several children were interviewed after they finished playing, each proudly wearing their WCHOF pins. Once the simul ended, we set up the complete version of the exhibition that would run throughout the course of the tournament. Our main contact in Leuven was Luc Englebos, and he was extremely helpful in a number of situations. Luc was gracious enough to donate a 2016 Your Move, Grand Chess Tour signed board. He made sure to get us a 2017 signed board, as well as a signed copy of Garry Kasparov’s new book Deep Thinking for our collection. The exhibition was well received by everyone in both Paris and Leuven, and we had over 2,100 people attend. The best part was seeing the children’s faces light up when they saw the Asterix and Obelix chess set. The main thing I will take away from this experience is to always plan for the unexpected and go with the flow. We had a few unforeseen circumstances come up and by remaining calm I was able to handle them with ease. I can’t wait for the next events on the Grand Chess Tour. Each tournament is another great opportunity for the World Chess Hall of Fame to showcase its collection to the world!


assembly of the displays, as well as any other issues that may arise. Since we were working in a foreign country, it was vital to have these supplies, so we made sure that we had many redundancies. As things turned out, none of those redundancies were needed. B e c au s e t h e fa c i l i t i e s themselves just as much artifacts as the pieces we brought, mindfulness was an absolute necessity as we walked the cases and artifacts into the space. In both facilities, we were fortunate enough to easily store our crates inside, but on one occasion our lack of proficiency in spoken French nearly cost us! We interrupted a group of French Chess Federation staff who were carrying supplies out of the Chateau at the same time we were moving a crate inside. None of us were able to explain what we were planning to do, outside of gesturing at each other and around the room which created some confusion. That, fortunately, was only time the language barrier was a problem during this exhibit.

While the Paris exhibit stop was separate from the playing hall, the Leuven Stadhuis was a different experience altogether. The exhibit was on the main floor of the building while the game was played in the room directly above. The exhibit was displayed on one side of the hall and the other half featured seating and commentary from GM Nigel Short and GM Maurice Ashley. This arrangement allowed visitors (and myself) to view the exhibit while being more aware of the tournament itself. After the tournament was over in Leuven, we began to take the exhibit down and crate all the supplies and artifacts. I was proud to have been a part of a successful pop-up exhibit, and proud to be connected with the Grand Chess Tour. While there, I enjoyed making connections with the many visitors. Some were familiar with the World Chess Hall of Fame but had not been able to visit, while others were just being introduced to the Museum for the first time. For me, it was a very gratifying experience.

Blogs originally published on, July 2017.



Opposite, from top to bottom: Exhibition team—from left to right: Nicole Tessmer, Emily Allred, Jesse Nenninger, and Nick Schleicher—at the Château d'Asnières, Paris, 2017; Jesse Nenninger, and Nick Schleicher pose with garden-size chess pieces at the Château d'Asnières, Paris, 2017. (1) Ball, Black, & Co. and Eoff & Sheppard, Paul Morphy Silver Service, 1857. Collection of the U.S. Chess Trust (2) Leuven Town Hall exhibit space, 2017. (3) Nayler Brothers, Hamilton-Russell Cup, 1927. Collection of the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (4) Château d'Asnières exhibit space, 2017. (5) Olympia, London exhibition space, 2017. (6) Emil Pott, Manufactured by Tiffany & Co., Tiffany & Co. Silver Chess Set and Board, c 1970s. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Bernice and Floyd Sarisohn




Why Fortune 500 Companies Should (and Do) Support Chess In Saint Louis BY LAUREN STEWART Development Manager, Saint Louis Chess Campus

Chess has had Saint Louis business owners and executives talking since the Saint Louis Chess Club opened in 2008. They understand that it takes hard work, persistence, confidence and, most importantly, strategy to run a business. A successful business needs a leader thinking 5, 10, or even 15 moves ahead. Has chess influenced every mover and shaker in Saint Louis? Perhaps not, but they do see the importance of the game of chess for students starting at an early age. Chess has been on the Saint Louis scene for 10 years, inspiring Saint Louis’ Fortune 500 companies to give their philanthropic dollars to a cause that is changing young lives and shifting the focus about a game that can seem highly intimidating. Our hometown companies are investing in a game that brings new perspective and

dreams to our city’s most valuable resource, our students. It turns out that Saint Louis’ philanthropic game is strong. Companies understand the value of investing now for a better future, and the Chess Club’s Fortune 500 supporters continue to grow. Ameren, Edward Jones, Emerson, Graybar, and the Monsanto Fund are among this growing list of sponsors. Implementing chess in classrooms throughout the city of Saint Louis has given educators a holistic way of teaching while inspiring cognitive thinking, teaching patience and sportsmanship. All these traits are highly valued by Fortune 500 companies. Investing in our future leaders has longterm benefits for both students and companies, on and off the board. Together the Saint Louis Chess Club and our supporters are building a better future for our beloved city! SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/AUSTIN FULLER

Community Day Event at Koch Elementary.


Saint Louis Chess Club Dominates YouTube Saint Louis Chess Club Media Impressions 2009

• 2009 U.S. Championships: 3,200,000


• 2010 U.S. Women’s & Junior Closed Championships: 24,626,802 • 2010 U.S. Chess Championship: approx. 12M


• 2011 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Championships: 44,000,000 • 2011 Junior Closed Championships: 4,066,058

2014 • • • • • •


BY BRIAN FLOWERS Marketing Communications Coordinator, World Chess Hall of Fame

On September 14, 2011, three years after opening its doors in the historic Central West End, the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) launched its channel (@stlchessclub) on the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. A few months later, its first video was uploaded—a behind-the-scenes look at the 2011 U.S. Chess Championships, with a little more than 500 modest views. Presently, the same channel garners an average of 27,000 views… every single day! What keeps the STLCC’s 150,000+ subscribers watching? In addition to hundreds of lectures and lessons

from celebrated Grandmasters and colleagues, the STLCC boasts the best chess tournament coverage around the globe. Fan-favorite commentators like GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade, and GM Maurice Ashley keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, move by move and play by play. Following the STLCC coverage of the 2018 Candidates Tournament, YouTube user @bwgolem commented: “This [channel] is easily the best out there for chess. Analysis on all the moves, looked at other elements of the tournament. Interviews with key chess figures. This is the gold standard…” The reach and impact of the STLCC’s tournament broadcasts have penetrated audiences in all corners of the world. Coverage of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT), a circuit of international

events including the Sinquefield Cup and Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, is a testament of how this channel engages the masses. In fact, GCT live views alone jumped to 2.6 million in 2017— almost triple the number from the previous year. In a world where YouTube is available, quite literally, at our fingertips, whether in the privacy of our homes or on the bus to work, the Saint Louis Chess Club helps keep us connected to chess. All we have to do is press play.

2014 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Championships: 152,092,967 2014 Senate Resolution: 45,371,073 2014 Chess Caucus: 31,793,978 2014 Junior Closed Champiionship: 2,681,851 2014 Congressional Tournament: 36,697,563 2014 Sinquefield Cup: 607,264,019

2015 • • • • • •

2015 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Championships: 594,719,707 2015 Grand Chess Tour: 195,066,040 2015 Fabiano Caruana Federation Change: 99,775,155 2015 Junior Closed Championship: 39,054,862 2015 Sinquefield Cup: 633,012,091 2015 Ascension Partnership: 144,489,255

2016 • • • •

2016 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Championships: 1,125,411,657 2016 Junior Closed Championship: 57,112,084 2016 Sinquefield Cup: 668,372,255 2016 Other Coverage: 10,529,781

2017 • • • • •

2017 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Championships: 1,031,731,246 2017 Junior Closed Championship: 174,897,450 2017 Sinquefield Cup: 1,000,940,691 2017 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: 1,071,754,896 2017 Other Coverage: 222,813,087



Awards & Accolades, Facts & Figures 2007–2018


The Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) was founded in 2007 and opened its doors in July of 2008. It is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to promoting the game of chess both locally and nationally, with a specific focus on bringing the benefits of chess to Saint Louis area schoolchildren. • On Monday, May 5, 2014, the United States Senate passed a resolution that officially recognizes Saint Louis as the Chess Capital of the United States. • Located in the historic Central West End District of Saint Louis, the STLCC is a three-level, 6,000-square-foot community center featuring a classroom, library and world-class tournament playing hall. • The Chess Club is widely recognized as the premier chess facility in the nation and one of the best in the world. • The Chess Club has established a partnership with the Kasparov Chess Foundation to seek out the top young chess players in the country and offer them intensive instruction. • The Chess Club’s scholastic outreach brings chess to thousands of students in more than 100 different classrooms and community centers across the greater Saint Louis area.

• The Chess Club is open 7 days per week, 12 hours per day and offers kids classes, adult beginner classes and intermediate classes free for members on a weekly basis.

Finally, the United States Chess Federation (US Chess) has recognized both the Chess Club and the city for their extraordinary accomplishments with the following awards:

• The Chess Club currently boasts more than 1,000 active members and has more than 100 tournaments on the schedule for 2018.

• In 2009 and 2011, US Chess awarded Saint Louis the title of “Chess City of the Year.” • In 2010, the STLCC was named “Chess Club of the Year.”

• Membership is remarkably affordable at just $10/month or $50/year for students and $15/ month or $100/year for adults. Family memberships are just $150/year.

• In 2009 and 2010, Executive Director Tony Rich won “Organizer of the Year.” The 2014 award was given to the STLCC, as a whole.

• Saint Louis has hosted the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship each of the past 10 years (2009-2018) and the U.S. Junior Championship (2010-2018). These are the three most prestigious, invite-only chess tournaments in the United States. The U.S. Girls' Junior Championship was hosted in Saint Louis for the first time in 2017, and will return in July 2018.

• From 2009-2013, and once again in 2016, Club founder Rex Sinquefield has won the George Koltanowski Award, given to the person who does the most to further chess in the U.S. each year. • In 2012 and 2013, club founder Jeanne Sinquefield also was awarded the George Koltanowski Award for her work in establishing the Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge for Chess.

• In addition to the Chess Club’s affordable student rates, it offers summer camps, field trips, private lessons, and free classes in an effort to make the game accessible to all students. SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/LENNART OOTES

• The Chess Club always has a fulltime Resident Grandmaster on staff. This rotation of the country’s top players is an invaluable resource for our members. These top players give private lessons and present special lectures, free for members, multiple times per week. They also present a free kids’ class on Sundays. No other chess club in the U.S. has a fulltime Resident Grandmaster.

From top to bottom, Round 1 of the 2017 Sinquefield Cup; Rachel Lee at the 2017 Ultimate Moves Match.








of C






@ ST 




LC h








dA ve sC nu lub  e, Sa  S i nt T  LC Lo he  ssC uis, MO lub | (3 US 14) Ch 36 es 1.C sC HE ha SS mp (24 s es





.CO M 37



The Sound of Chess: A Musical Odyssey AR3

The Early Days of the Chess Club


WCHOF Inductions AR4-5

Major Donations AR7

The Benson Connection




World Chess Hall of Fame


Chess Museum Moves to Saint Louis Chief Curator Shannon Bailey reflects on curating chess, with reflections from John McCrary. BY SHANNON BAILEY Chief Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

The United States Chess Federation (US Chess) founded the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) in 1986. Originally known as the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, the small museum opened in 1988 in the basement of the Federation’s thenheadquarters in New Windsor, New York. The institution contained a modest collection, including a book of chess openings signed by Bobby Fischer, the silver set earned by Paul Morphy at the 1857 First American Chess Congress, Edward Lasker’s personal chess set, and cardboard plaques honoring Hall of Fame inductees. In 1992, the U.S. Chess Trust purchased the museum and moved its contents to Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Chess Center. The focus of the

Hall of Fame under David Mehler shifted into chess education for youth, especially those from underserved areas in the D.C. area. From 1992 to 2001, the collection grew to include the World Team Chess Championship trophy won by the U.S. team in 1993, numerous chess sets and boards, and the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee plaques. The institution moved in 2001 into a new facility at the Excalibur E l e c t ro n i c s h e a d q u a r te r s i n Miami, Florida, and was renamed the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sidney Samole Museum. The Museum began inductions in 2001, and continued collecting chess sets, books, memorabilia, advertisements, photographs, furniture, medals, trophies, and journals until it closed in 2009. Due to the vibrancy of the chess scene in Saint Louis, Missouri, and the success and growing interna-

tional reputation of the Saint Louis Chess Club (which opened July 17, 2008), it was proposed that the contents of the Miami institution be moved to Saint Louis. Realizing the potential to provide area youth with a vital educational resource, Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, the founders of the Saint Louis Chess Club, provided funding to relocate the institution to Saint Louis. Saint Louis’ first Hall of Fame inductions were held on September 8, 2011. The Hall of Fame itself was opened to the public the next day, September 9th, in Saint Louis’ bustling Central West End neighborhood, directly across the street from the Saint Louis Chess Club. Housed in a renovated, historic 15,900 square-foot residenceturned-business, the WCHOF is the permanent home of the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame. It also displays of artifacts from the

permanent collection alongside temporary exhibitions that highlight the great players, historic games, and cultural and artistic impact of chess. The WCHOF partners with the Saint Louis Chess Club to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national, and international audiences. The organization has welcomed over 78,000 visitors since it opened its doors. It is an honor that this remarkable institution has found its home in Saint Louis. Many of the original founders and contributors are still very active in the growth of the World Chess Hall of Fame. One in particular, John McCrary, has always lent his expertise, and at times his personal objects, to the exhibitions here in Saint Louis. McCrary, who is a past US Chess President, past President of the U.S. Chess Trust, and past Hall of

Fame Committee Chair, was asked about the transfer of the museum to Saint Louis. His reflections were striking. “When time came to move on, the Hall of Fame moved up! From a basement in New Windsor, to its own building in Saint Louis in the middle of America, and from being an occasional afterthought in the chess world, to an integral part of the synergy of a chess center that is bringing together the many elements of the world’s best intellectual game into one place. Most importantly the World Chess Hall of Fame has achieved, and continues to achieve, its contributions to the many educational benefits of chess.”




The Sound of Chess: A Musical Odyssey BY BJORN RANHEIM Music Director, World Chess Hall of Fame

I often have to pinch myself to believe that I am fortunate enough to make my living as a professional cellist with the world-class St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Bringing life to the music of the greatest composers throughout history is an honor and privilege that I never take for granted. Each week I arrive at Powell Hall to rehearse and perform a different program of works painstakingly selected by conductors and artistic administrators, but which I have

had no personal part in choosing. You can then imagine what a thrill it is for me to serve as the Music Director for the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), where I am entrusted with curating 18 concerts a year that span all genres and styles of music. Stepping back from my role as a performer to conceive of a cohesive concert series has allowed me to tap into a previously unused part of my musical brain in crafting meaningful experiences for our inquisitive and dedicated audiences. One downside of being an active performer is that my schedule often prevents me from attending

other concert events around the Saint Louis area. The biggest perk of my job with the WCHOF is that I get to take in all of the incredible concerts that we present as an active audience member, reveling in the talents of performers from across the musical spectrum. I am able to book musical groups for our Monthly Music Series that I admire and want to hear more of. With our Composers Spotlight Series, I select chamber music works by composers that are near and dear to my heart and then invite my friends and colleagues from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to perform them. While

we all play together on a regular basis within the orchestra, it is a rare treat to hear individual performers step up from the ranks and shine in the small group environment. There have been many concert highlights of my relatively short time with the WCHOF, but one of my favorites was a September 2017 event that allowed me to combine many of my strengths in creating a concert program entirely inspired by the game of chess. I was cocollaborator on one of the submissions chosen for the Imagery of Chess: Saint Louis Artists exhibition. I also curated a unique cul-

minating event for the exhibition, featuring myself and other musicians in world premiere performances of three new works by local composers. The works were created specifically for the event and inspired by the game of chess. It was such a thrill to shepherd the concept through from inception to completion and to witness the excited reactions of those in attendance. I truly feel like a kid in a candy shop in getting this special opportunity to create programs, build audiences and foster this burgeoning musical center of our community!

Clockwise from top, Monthly Music Series: The 442s, 2016; Composer Spotlight Series: Brahms, 2017; The Sound of Art, 2013.

2018 U.S. and World Inductees from left to right, Bill Goichberg, Alex Onischuk, Aron Nimzowitsch, Richard Reti, and Kira Zvorykina.





The Early Days of the Chess Club BY BRADLEY BAILEY Associate Professor, Saint Louis University

I enjoy telling the story of my involvement in the early days of the Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame because it required such an intricate series of coincidences that it stretches one’s faith in destiny (or lack thereof) to believe that it came together the way it did. Shannon [Bailey, chief curator of the WCHOF] and I moved to Saint Louis from Texas in the summer of 2007 because I got a job at Saint Louis University. We had been in town less than a year before I was introduced to Susan Barrett, Rex Sinquefield’s cultural attaché. Susan had the unenviable task of looking for someone locally who might have some knowledge of the arcane topic of the intersection of art and chess, and who could be involved in helping with some programming to coincide with the opening of the STLCC, which was soon to take place in July of 2008. To this end, Susan had consulted with then-director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (and founding WCHOF board member) Paul Ha. Paul told her that it just so happened that a guy who wrote his dissertation on that very subject had just moved into town, and it was Shannon’s husband! Susan soon came to see me present a lecture and apparently liked what she saw, as she immediately put me to the task of coming up with ideas regarding how to contribute to the upcoming opening of the Chess Club, and particularly in regard to the permanent video art installation by Diana Thater. I suggested that I do a quick presentation on the history of the interrelationship between art and chess, followed by a conversation with Diana, and Susan found this proposal more than agreeable. There were maybe 75 people there for the presentation and conver-

sation. I recall that I took the slim but potentially disastrous chance of losing the favor of the audience— the vast majority being either chess players, Saint Louisans, or both— from the get-go by informing them at the opening of the talk of a certain irony in opening such an ambitious chess club in Saint Louis. King Louis IX of France, our city’s namesake, was a notoriously bad loser when it came to chess matches. He banned chess from the kingdom following his return from the Crusades, during which he was reputed to have thrown a chess set overboard during a post-defeat tantrum while sailing from Egypt to the Holy Land. Worse, and in true poor-sport fashion, he once proclaimed chess to be a “useless and boring game.” If memory serves it got a decent laugh, though video evidence may prove otherwise. The rest of the talk was well received, and the conversation with Diana was both enlightening and entertaining. Diana is a brilliant artist with a wonderfully witty sense of humor, and I wish that our paths crossed more often. For me, the presentation proved that there was content in art and chess, that the content was compelling and entertaining, and that there was an audience for it. All of these elements were crucial in the formulation of the first major event in Saint Louis that brought art and chess together less than a year later: the 2009 U.S. Championship, the first major tournament held at the STLCC, and the exhibition and book on the chess career of Marcel Duchamp at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art. That, of course, is a story for another time.

Pictured from left to right: Larry List, Bradley Bailey, Jennifer Shahade, and Francis Naumann at the lecture and book signing for The Art of Chess


Inductions to the Chess Halls of Fame

BY EMILY ALLRED Associate Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

Since 2011 , Saint Loui s has hosted the induction ceremonies for the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, honoring those who have contributed the most to the game as players, writers, promoters, and organizers. The 2011 inductions coincided with the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) in Saint Louis, which houses displays commemorating their accomplishments. Inductions have since been held during the opening ceremonies of the U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships. There, inductees’ legacies are celebrated before the best players in the United States, some of whom may become future

inductees themselves. Harold Winston, Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Trust, puts it well when he says that “the Hall of Fame inductions in Saint Louis, which began during the Grand Opening ceremony of the World Chess Hall of Fame, have been exciting and dramatic and having an audience of the players in the U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships makes the occasions even more memorable.” The 2011 inductions welcomed two players, Boris Gulko and Andy Soltis, to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in light of their many achievements. Soltis, who earned praise for his accomplishments as a player as well as an author, is now in turn a member of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame Committee, which nominates candidates for induction.

The Hall of Fame Committee consists of Harold Winston (Chairman), Joel Benjamin, Frank Camaratta, John Donaldson, John Hilbert, Al Lawrence, John McCrary, Sophia Rohde, Jennifer Shahade, and Andy Soltis. Their list of nominees is then sent to the U.S. Chess Trust for a vote on induction. This year, the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame is honoring 2006 U.S. Chess Champion Alex Onischuk, who is also competing in the 2018 U.S. Chess Championship, and Bill Goichberg, an innovative organizer of thousands of chess tournaments. The 2011 inductions also marked an important moment in the history of the WCHOF—the induction of Vera Menchik, the first Women’s World Chess Champion and the first female member of the WCHOF. A number of other Women’s World

Chess Champions and contenders have been commemorated since then, including 2018 inductee Kira Zvorykina. Representatives of the World Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or FIDE) select the inductees to the World Chess Hall of Fame. FIDE Vice President Beatriz Marinello said of this process: “My main involvement in the World Chess Hall of Fame has been about recognizing women and their legacies in chess. Why shouldn’t women have their fair share of fame? As the first woman elected President of US Chess and the first woman to be elected Vice President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), I am proud and happy that FIDE and national federations as well as other chess organizations are now committed to supporting

women and girls in the game.” “Women became active tournament chess players a few hundred years after men,” Marinello continued. “This is a relatively new field for us. The future is waiting for brilliant girls and women players to join and play beautiful chess games. It is my hope that girls and women of all backgrounds, not just a select few, are supported in their chess endeavors, not just in their games, but supported in chess as a career.”

The 2018 U.S. and World Chess Hall of Fame inductees, from left to right: FM Bill Goichberg, GM Alex Onischuk, GM Aron Nimzowitsch, Richard Réti, WGM Kira Zvorykina.



Club Installations Celebrate Inductees BY EMILY ALLRED Associate Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

On the Saint Louis Chess Campus, chess fans can learn about important moments in the game’s history as they watch many of the best American and international players compete in elite tournaments. The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) has presented exhibitions at the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) since 2013. These installations celebrate important moments in chess history in a space where history is being made. The first of these exhibitions occurred in connection with Jacqueline Piatigorsky: Patron, Player, Pioneer (October 25, 2013 – July 13, 2014), a show that spotlighted the first important archival donation that the WCHOF received at its Saint Louis location—the archives of 2014 U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Jacqueline Piatigorsky. The donation contained a number of artifacts related to Piatigorsky’s achievements as a player as well as a promoter of the game who held important tournaments and organized scholastic chess activities. Many of her accomplishments in supporting the game are forerunners


Jacqueline Piatigorsky with the Winners of the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup Tournament, GMs Tigran Petrosian and Paul Keres. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the family of Jacqueline Piatigorsky

of the activities occurring at the STLCC today. Coincidentally, the donation occurred as the STLCC was planning the first Sinquefield Cup, one of the strongest tournaments held in the United States since the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup, which included one World Chess Champion (Tigran Petrosian) and two future World Chess Champions (Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky). Since 2013, the WCHOF has presented a new mini-exhibition at the Saint Louis Chess Club in connection with each of its third-floor history exhibitions, covering topics as diverse as chess during World War II, the legacy of Bobby Fischer, and colorful posters from Chess Olympiads. In some cases, the exhibitions have even included photography and artifacts related to more recent achievements at the STLCC, such as the photographs from the U.S. Women’s Chess Championships at the Club that were displayed in connection with Her Turn: Revolutionary Women of Chess. In staging its current exhibition The Sinquefield Effect: Resurgence of American Chess, the WCHOF is bringing this effort full circle, celebrating the Club’s achievements alongside the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, which honor the greatest national and international chess figures.


Major Donations: Preserving Chess History BY NICOLE TESSMER Registrar, World Chess Hall of Fame

The World Chess Hall of Fame has received many i mp o rta nt d o nat i o n s o f artifacts since it opened in Saint Louis in 2011. These artifacts have related to the game’s best players as well as the art and culture of chess. Among the donations that have allowed us to tell new stories about American chess in our exhibitions are those related to U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductees Jacqueline Piatigorsky, Abraham Kupchik, Hans Berliner, Walter Browne, Isaac Kashdan, and Arthur Bisguier. Additionally, the Delucia Family Foundation donated effects related to World Chess Hall of Fame inductee Emanuel Lasker. IM John Donaldson, a chess historian and the Chess Director of the Mechanics’ Institute, has also been an especially prolific donor to the WCHOF, building its

collection of periodicals as well as numerous artifacts relate d to 20 th-centu ry chess. Art Laffer’s donated Hungarian chess set, one of the finest in the collection, has elevated the WCHOF’s chess set collection. Joram Piatigorsky and Jephta Drachman • Donated objects related to the life of U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Jacqueline Piatigorsky. • Objects include the Piatigorsky Cup; photos of Jacqueline Piatigorsky, Herman Steiner, and Samuel Reshevsky; books; scoresheets; and letters which have been featured in many exhibitions at the WCHOF. Raquel Browne • Donated objects related to the life of her husband, U.S. Hall of Fame inductee Walter Browne. • Objects include photographs, medals, trophies, correspondence, Chess Olympiad materials, and a

chess set made by Robert Rudolph Hollendonner. • His memorabilia has been featured in many shows at the WCHOF, and most recently in our first international exhibition in conjunction with the Grand Chess Tour.

• Objects include photos, Chess Olympiad memorabilia, books, materials related to his correspondence chess career and the development of Hitech, and correspondence, some of which were featured in Open Files.

Kathy Cella • Donated photographs and letters related to U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Abraham Kupchik.

The Family of Curt and Rita Brasket • Donated objects related to the life of FIDE Master Curt Brasket. • Objects include periodicals, books, correspondence, and photographs.

The Delucia Family Foundation • Donated objects related to the life of World Chess Hall of Fame inductee Emanuel Lasker. • Objects include original manuscripts and Lasker’s travel chess set, both of which were featured in Open Files II. Carl Ebeling • Donated objects related to the life of U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Hans Berliner.

The Family of Arthur Bisguier • Donated many objects related to the life of U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Arthur Bisguier. • Objects include chess sets, trophies, photographs, correspondence, and other memorabilia. • One of his Staunton chess sets is featured in The Staunton Standard: Evolution of the Modern Chess Set.

Richard Kashdan • Donated objects related to the life of his father, U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Isaac Kashdan. • Objects include photographs, letters, medals, and chess sets, some of which were featured in the exhibition Global Moves: Americans in Chess Olympiads. IM John Donaldson • Has made several large donations over the years to the WCHOF. • He has helped to grow our research library by donating many newspaper articles, magazines from various chess publications from across the world, and books. • He has also donated many photographs, medals, and other memorabilia related to chess tournaments across the world. Jon Crumiller and GM Ray Keene • Donated photos taken by photographer Barry

Martin, including one featured in Open Files II. Art Laffer • Donated an ornate Hungarian chess set that was featured in Open Files II as well as the pop-up exhibition at the Sinquefield Cup and the PINNED! A Designer Chess Challenge Unveiling at Windows on Washington. Saint Louis Chess Club • Has donated objects such as scoresheets, player cards, medals, trophies, photographs, and other various memorabilia in conjunction with the many tournaments that take place at the Saint Louis Chess Club.


(1) Tiffany & Co., Piatigorsky Cup Trophy, 1963. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the family of Jacqueline Piatigorsky

(2) Photographer unknown, Hans Berliner, Date unknown. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Carl Ebeling

(3) Photographer unknown, Fritz Brieger with GM Samuel Reshevsky, GM Isaac Kashdan, IM Al Horowitz, GM Reuben Fine, and GM Frank Marshall at the 1937 Stockholm, Sweden, Chess Olympiad. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Richard Kashdan

(4) Robert Rudolph Hollendonner, Hollendonner Chessmen, 1978. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Raquel Browne

(5) Hungary, Silver and Copper Enamel Chess Set and Board, Early 20th century. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the Traci L. and Dr. Arthur B. Laffer family


(6) IM John Donaldson's Team Gold Medal from the 2016 Baku, Azerbaijan, Chess Olympiad. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of John Donaldson




2013 Sinquefield Cup Chessmen by The House of Staunton BY SHANNON BAILEY Chief Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

In 2013, the Saint Louis Chess Club commissioned Frank Camaratta from the House of Staunton to create a unique chess set for the STLCC flagship event, The Sinquefield Cup. Camaratta made a total of 10 sets and they are now in the collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, Randy Sinquefield, Katie Sinquefield, Luke Sinquefield, Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Gata Kamsky, the Saint Louis Chess Club, and the World Chess Hall of Fame. The tournament took place September 9-15, 2013. The average FIDE rating for the field was 2797, making it the highest rated tournament to that date. Frank was asked to describe his process and inspiration: “The Sinquefield Cup Chessmen are actually a smaller version of the Imperial Collector. My very first House of Staunton chessmen design was the Collector Series. One day, while perusing a shop with my wife, I noticed a small statue of a unicorn. Something just lit up in my head. I took a picture of it and edited it in Photoshop by removing the horn. Voila, my next Knight design!

I carved a wooden model of the modified unicorn head and fit it onto the base of a Collector Series Knight. I then had the modified Collector chessmen scaled up in size to a six inch (Imperial-sized) King. The Imperial Collector was born! A few years ago, Rex asked me if I could make a set of high quality chessmen that could be used on he DGT chessboard for the U.S. Chess Championships and his new Sinquefield Cup Tournament. He didn’t like the crop of DGT-enabled chessmen currently on the market. Since Rex had purchased one of my Imperial Collector sets and seemed to really like it, I suggested that we use that design for his championship events. Another deficiency of all DGT-enabled chessmen is that they are unweighted, hence they are very light. In spite of warnings from the DGT engineering Department that it was impossible to add weight to the chessmen (because of interference with the embedded sensors), I told Rex that I had figured out a way to add significant ballast without interfering with the communication between the chessmen and the DGT chessboard. My technique worked like a charm and, as they say, the rest is history.”


The House of Staunton, 2013 Sinquefield Cup Chess Set and oversized knights.

Chess Campus


BIG BY BRIAN FLOWERS Marketing Communications Coordinator, World Chess Hall of Fame

What do a female giraffe, the Statue of Liberty’s fingernail, and chess have in common? If you guessed they are all similar in size to the Saint Louis Chess Campus’ giant chess piece, you’re no stranger to this larger-than-life landmark. The Saint Louis Chess Club, in conjunction with the World Chess Hall of Fame, unveiled the 14-foot-6inch behemoth as the “World’s Largest Chess Piece,” a title approved by Guinness World Records as the new record holder on May 7, 2012. The momentous occasion was one of several events kicking off the U.S. Chess Championships that year, along with a special proclamation designating Saint Louis’ “Gateway to Chess Day” by former Mayor Francis Slay. Building the giant chess piece was no small feat, as you can imagine. Luckily, R.G. Ross, a Saint Louisbased construction company, was up for the large (mild pun intended) challenge: “Figuring out how to cut all of the different shapes needed to build the piece was quite challenging,” said project manager, Ed Rhomberg. “The model piece was scanned by a 3D computer program, then magnified to the size desired in proper scale. That electronic file was then used to provide all of the necessary dimensions— angles, radii, etc.—used to make the individual sections or horizontal slices, if you will.” Over the years, the giant chess piece has taken on quite a large personality of its own, attracting a kingsized compilation of paparazzi pictures and selfie stick shenanigans. Visitors from around the globe have shared shots of the piece wearing its oversized Saint Louis Cardinals jersey, lucky leprechaun top-hat and chic chessboard scarf. Although Saint Louis temporarily gave way to a new world record holder in 2014, the vision and scope for the giant chess piece imagined by Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield would not be eclipsed. The Chess Campus recaptured the record with a brand-new, 20 foot tall African sapele mahogany king in April of 2018. Hand-carved and sculpted—with grinding wheels, chainsaws, belt sanders, chisels, and various power tools—the oil-sealed Staunton piece is a precisely scaled version of the custom-made House of Staunton king designed for the 2013 Sinquefield Cup. The giant king continues to greet enthusiasts and passers-by, and reminds all of us that hard work makes big dreams come true.

Clockwise from top, Former World Champion Garry Kasparov with the Participants of the Match of the Millennials, July 2017; Mike Matheny, Chess Campus Spokesperson and Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, visits the World Chess Hall of Fame, 2017; WGM Katerina Nemcova's Ladies' Knight Chess Class pose with the World's Largest Chess Piece and Garden Size Chess Set, 2017; World's Largest Chess Piece decorated as a Snowman for the Annual Central West End Window Walk, 2017. PHOTOS SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/ AUSTIN FULLER




World-renowned photographer Harry Benson was the only person to have private access to Bobby Fischer during the entire 1972 World Chess Championship match in Reykjavík, Iceland. Benson captured intimate images of this time with Fischer and was the first person to deliver the news to Fischer that he had won the match! Benson began photographing Fischer when on assignment for LIFE magazine in 1971. Sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina to cover the 1971 Candidates Tournament, Benson began to cultivate a relationship with Bobby, who was known for being notoriously camera-averse, guarded, and socially awkward. Fischer defeated Tigran Petrosian at the Candidates Tournament, qual i fying him for the World Chess Championship match. With this victory, Fischer not only continued his rise among chess players, but also became a pop-culture sensation. At the height of the Cold War, the media played up the impending battle between the American a n d t h e Ru s s i a n B o r i s Spassky, the defending World Chess Champion. News outlets referred to the upcoming match as the “Match of the Century” and used headlines such as “Fischer vs. Spassky: A Major Struggle in the Cold War.” During the 1972 World Ches s Championship, Benson continued to cultivate a journalistic friendship with Fischer. The two spent many hours together during the nearly two months in Iceland, walking and talking night after night through the hills of the Icelandic countryside. Benson noted that the pressure on Fischer was enormous—it is known that Fischer received several phone calls from Henry Kissinger encouraging him to play the match when he

threatened not to. Noticing Fischer’s lack of social skills and recognizing his loneliness and isolation, Benson stated, “Bobby regarded the press as enemies, yet there had to be one friendly face in the enemy camp, and I figured it might as well be me.” Harry Benson and his wife, Gigi, have been great friends to the Saint Louis Chess Campus. Benson was a huge part of the HBO documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World (2010) directed by Liz Garbus. Benson’s photographs were used throughout the film and his interviews helped to shape a sympathetic image of Bobby. The World Chess Hall of Fame p a r t n e re d w i t h G a rb u s to host the premier at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010, and later that year both the New York and Saint Louis debuts. Benson had a solo exhibition: BOBBY FISCHER: Icon Among Icons in 2012 at the World Chess Hall of Fame. In 2014, Benson photographed the players of the Sinquefield Cup including World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen a n d n o w -Wo r l d C h e s s Championship challenger, Fabiano Caruana. Once again, the World Chess Hall of Fame will show Harry’s work with previously unseen photographs of Fischer alongside the photos he took in Saint Louis in 2014. It has been an honor getting to know Harry more and more over the years and hear the legendary tales of Fischer who Benson has said is “the most eccentric and most fascinating person I have ever photographed.”

From top, Fischer vs. Spassky, Game One, Iceland, 1972. Collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield; Fabiano Caruana plays Black against Levon Aronian during Round 9 of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. PHOTOS © HARRY BENSON


One of world’s most famous games has found a home in Saint Louis with the opening of the Saint Louis Chess Club in 2008. From hosting regional, national and international events, and through the leadership and vision of Rex Sinquefield, the Chess Campu s has b e come a mai nstay of the thriving Central West End neighborhood and a global destination for enthusiasts of the game. More than 25 million visitors come to Saint Louis for leisure, conventions, meetings and business travel each year. Those visitors spend over $5.3 billion and help to generate 88,000 jobs for area residents. While they may come here for a variety of reasons, one of the key elements that makes Saint Louis a destination of choice is the region’s diverse and plentiful cultural attractions and offerings. This

includes the continued growth of the Saint Louis Chess Club and World Chess Hall of Fame. With prestigious tournaments like the U.S. Chess Championships, U.S. Women's Chess Championships, U.S. Junior Championships, U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships, as well as the venue’s signature event, the Sinquefield Cup, the Chess Club has shone a global spotlight on Saint Louis. In addition to offering fans a front row seat for these tournaments, the events are simulcast online for worldwide audiences. Viewers can check out the live action along with play-by-play analysis from some of the game’s most trusted experts. Explore St. Louis uses their ongoing partnership with the Club during these broadcasts to offer viewers commercials and information promoting Saint Louis as a travel destination. While chess fans may be logging in to watch a world-class match, the commercial spots help educate them on the diversity and


Spectators watching the 2017 Ultimate Moves Match. wealth of cultural and entertainment offerings in the region. Each tournament brings new economic activity and worldwide publicity to Saint Louis. The fans and players also add to an already vibrant neighborhood, with a growing mix of cultures and languages from around the globe. The tournaments and the Chess Club’s robust calendar of program-

ming drives visitation to the Central West End neighborhood, the World Chess Hall of Fame and Kingside Diner. The Club’s community outreach with chess players in schools and after-school organizations has helped to elevate and amplify the region’s focus on education, one that is spurring impressive local growth in technology, scientific research, and innovation.

T h e n o to r i e ty o f t h e S a i nt Louis area as a destination for chess—alongside the famous cultural attractions and innovative food and beverage scene— has exploded because of the investments made in Saint Louis with the Saint Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame. Well done Dr. and Mr. Sinquefield!





LADIES’ KNIGHT: A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE ON CHESS 10/29/2015–5/1/2016 KINGS, QUEENS & CASTLES 10/31/2015–9/11/2016

MARCEL DZAMA: THE END GAME 3/9/2012–8/12/2012









President George Washington's Chess Set, as seen in Power in Check: Chess and the American Presidency, 2013.













Contemporary artist Glenn Kaino plays World Champion Magnus Carlsen during Kaino's performance art piece: The Burning Boards, 2014.


Prized and Played: Highlights from the Jon Crumiller Collection, 2013.


Chief Curator Shannon Bailey gives remarks at the opening reception of Ladies Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess, 2016.


Scholastic Chess & Student Outcomes: What the Research Says SC4

Your Move Chess: Ascension Partnership



Boy Scout Chess Merit Badge SC6

C.H.E.S.S. Cops SC8

Chess Club Hosts GMs in Residence



Saint Louis Chess Club

APRIL 12, 2018 – FEBRUARY 24, 2019



SCHOLASTICS: The Soul of the Chess Club The Saint Louis Chess Club’s scholastic offerings go well beyond school-based chess instruction. Page SC2.

Kids' Activity Sheet

Local News

Page SC3

Page SC5




The Soul of the Chess Club BY KAREEM TALHOUNI Scholastics Coordinator, Saint Louis Chess Club

The French composer and chess master, François-André Danican Philidor, is credited with one of the most memorable maxims in chess history: “Pawns are the soul of chess.” Here on the Chess Campus, we often say that scholastics are the soul of the Saint Louis Chess Club. T h e s c h o l a st i c d e p a r t m e nt launched when the Club opened. As it became clear that the Club was poised to become a major force in chess both here in the city and beyond, the decision was made that the benefits of chess should be made available to the city’s school children, especially kids from families that couldn’t afford to pay for private lessons. This new arm of the Club started out modestly, providing chess instruction via a handful of afterschool programs in and around the city. But as the Club quickly grew in size and stature, it became apparent that the scholastic department needed to match that pace. In the fall semester of 2014, the Club taught 52 classes weekly in 44 schools reaching nearly 700 students. Three years later, in the fall semester of 2017, over 200 weekly classes were taught in over 80 schools with approximately 2,500 students attending.

Part of this dramatic growth is thanks to the generous board and donors of the Club who have supported the scholastic program with significant financial and operational support. Their backing empowered the Club to offer free chess instruction to the Saint Louis Public School system beginning in 2016. Ascension has underwritten the Ferguson-Florissant school district since 2015 and Emerson has done the same for the Jennings school district. Several independent low-income schools are also sponsored by the Club’s giving network. The Club’s scholastic offerings go well beyond school-based chess instruction. Since its launch in 2011, and thanks to the leadership of Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, over 170,000 Boy Scouts have earned the Chess Merit Badge nationwide. Our bi-monthly Merit Badge workshops at the Club regularly attract 30-40 Scouts. In 2016, we saw the advent of a monthly scholastic tournament series in partnership with Saint Louis University, who hosts over half of events on their campus. The Club additionally enlists experts in education and public policy to administer and curate our research on the benefits of playing chess for school children. Our research partners have devised qualitative surveys that consist-

ently demonstrate the positive effects of chess in the classroom. These effects include increased self-esteem, greater aptitude for difficult tasks and higher likelihood of attendance on days that offer chess classes. These experts have also been key collaborators on the Club’s development of a set of complete educational standards for chess and a matching curriculum. Initial testing of these standards is underway in the classroom with the scholastic faculty, who currently number thirty-four teachers. Our instructors providing invaluable feedback on the curriculum and contribute ideas for additional components. We would be remiss in not acknowledging Grandmaster Maurice Ashley’s efforts in creating this “gold-standard” of instructional chess resources. The scholastic team is justifiably proud of its accomplishments over the past decade, which also include a robust offering of chess summer camps, both fee—and scholarship— based. We have reached impressive milestones in our first ten years, and we have many more ambitious goals to reach. Stay tuned to see what the next ten years will bring. We’re going for great in 2028!

Scholastic Chess and Student Outcomes:

What the Research Says BY BRIAN KISIDA AND MIKE PODGURSKY Saint Louis Chess Club


From top, Turkey Tango Scholastic Tournament; Mason Elementary Field Trip; Mayhem in May Scholastic Tournament; Normandy Field Trip; Koch Elementary

Scholastic chess is a common and growing element of school curriculums across the globe, and it is currently compulsory in Poland and Armenia. In the United States, chess has been introduced into the school day in places like Success Academy’s network of charter schools in New York City, as well as the Broward County, Florida school district. Saint Louis Public Schools joined the ranks of scholastic chess pioneers in 2016 by partnering with the Saint Louis Chess Club to offer chess during the school day in more than 100 classrooms. Educators and policymakers who are looking to bring chess into their schools are motivated by more than creating the next generation of competitive grandmasters. Chess is much more than a game, they argue. Chess teaches students to think more critically, improves concentration, increases executive functioning, and aids in spatial reasoning and pattern recognition. A growing body of research confirms these claims. A systematic review of studies examining the overall impact of scholastic chess on students finds that it has a positive impact on cognitive outcomes and academic ability generally, with stronger benefits in mathematics performance in particular. At the

same time, only a fraction of existing studies adhere to rigorous “goldstandard” experimental methodologies, or even quasi-experimental approaches. One such “gold-standard” study in Italy found positive math achievement effects for primary school students. Similarly, a recent quasiexperimental study in Denmark found that replacing one traditional math lesson with a math lesson based on chess instruction improved math test scores. Of particular note, the Dutch researchers found that the impacts from chess were larger for children who were unhappy or bored in school. Such findings bolster theories that chess has benefits greater than just student achievement and may extend to so-called non-cognitive skills. Many educators believe that scholastic chess increases concentration, builds self-confidence, and raises student engagement. Research in Ferguson-Florissant and Saint Louis Public Schools bears this out. Students in those scholastics chess programs report that chess has taught them they can complete difficult tasks if they work hard, and has made them more confident they can learn difficult material. They also report that they look forward to school more on days when they have chess, suggesting the game may be a valuable tool to combat chronic absenteeism. This is important because recent research in edu-

cation finds that non-cognitive skills are important predictors of later-life outcomes. The cognitive benefits of chess may also be of value beyond the classroom setting. Some psychologists and educators speculate that it may be valuable for students with autism. Others have suggested that there may be benefits that counteract the social, physical, and mental effects of aging in elderly populations. Limited research has linked chess to lower rates of dementia. The Chess Club is partnering with researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in studying the benefits of chess for early stage Alzheimer’s patients. On balance, the existing research base demonstrates that chess has many promising benefits for students, but there is much more to be learned. Strong foundational knowledge about the implementation and measurement of chess in schools is an essential step forward. Future randomized studies that rigorously measure the impact of chess in schools, across a broad range of outcomes and with a highdegree of implementation fidelity, will be essential additions to the state of scholastic chess research. Researchers working with the scholastic team at the Saint Louis Chess Club will be adding to this literature in coming years.





Your Move Chess: Ascension Partnership Elevates Ferguson-Florissant School Students BY NICK RAGONE Ascension, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

On behalf of Ascension, we would like to congratulate the Saint Louis Chess Club for an extraordinary ten years of making a difference in our community. Thanks to the Chess Club—and Rex Sinquefield’s vision—Saint Louis is now the epicenter of chess in the United States, and arguably the world. This has benefited Saint Louis in a myriad of ways: attracting some of the world’s elite players to relocate to Saint Louis; establishing the premier chess event— the Sinquefield Cup—in our city; revitalizing the game, not only in Saint Louis but around the United States; and strengthening the college programs at Webster and Saint Louis University. But where the Chess Club has had the greatest impact is with elementary and middle school children—introducing them to this wonderful game, exciting them about the prospects of learning and competing, inspiring them to imagine how the

pieces on the board can work to accomplish a goal. We at Ascension are grateful for our partnership with the Chess Club in creating the Your Move program to serve underserved school districts that would like to offer chess to their students. It began with the Ferguson school district, and has gradually expanded to other communities, including in Chicago and Nashville! Now in the third year of the program, we’ve been fortunate to touch thousands of local students who might not otherwise be exposed to competitive chess and all it has to offer. The program is teaching them chess, but as one student noted, the same lessons apply to life: thinking ahead, being both patient and resourceful, developing a long-term strategy, weighing the risks and benefits of every decision. Not every student in the Your Move program will b e come a Grand master, or even an elite player, but hopefully they’ll all take away a life-long love of the game, of learning, of all that it has to offer, both on the board and in the game of life.


Ascension Partnership Kick-off Event, September 2015.

Boy Scouts of America Chess Merit Badge BY EMILY ALLRED Associate Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame

September 2016 marked the five-year anniversaries of two important events on the Saint Louis Chess Campus— the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) and the launch of the Boy Scout Chess Merit Badge. These milestones would n o t have b e e n p o s s i b l e without the vision, leade r s h i p, a n d su p p o r t o f D r. Jea n ne S i nqu ef i e l d. She and her husband Rex founded the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) in 2008, and in 2011, they provided the funding to move the WCHOF to Saint Louis, creating the foundation for the city’s eventual designation as the national chess capital of the United States. At the same time that preparations were being made for the opening of the WCHOF, Jeanne was leading the process to create the Boy Scouts o f A mer i c a ( BSA ) che s s merit badge. Involved with the organization for 30 years, Jeanne Sinquefield is passionate about the BSA and the benefits that it provides to participants. When she learned that there had been discussions of creating a chess merit badge for 40 years, but it had not yet been realized, she dedicated herself to making it a reality. Through her friend Christina Gables, the Troop Committee Chair for Troop 400 of the Western Los Angeles Council, she was able to contact the National Executive Board and worked with Janice Downey, Senior Program I n novat i o n Ma nage r, to begin the process of creating the badge. Ralph Bowman,

Jerry Nash, and US Chess helped develop the merit badge requirements, which include learning the rules of the game as well as its history, benefits, and etiquette, among other tasks. Scouts must not only learn how to play the game, but also teach it to another individual, ensuring that the benefits of chess are shared with others. While these requirements we re b e i n g s e t, Je a n n e organized the launch of the badge in Saint Louis.

Determined to create an experience that the first 20 scouts to receive the chess merit badge would remember for the rest of their lives, she contacted NASA to request that astronaut Greg Chamitoff attend the launch. In September 2008, Chamitoff had begun the first Earth vs. Space chess match while on the International Space Station (and completed the game after his return, finally conceding in December 2009). He playe d agai nst the t h i rd g ra d e U. S. C h e s s Championship Team and its chess club teammates from Stevenson Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington, but people around the world could vote on the Earth team’s moves. When this request was approved, Jeanne set to work training the first 20 recipi-

ents of the merit badge, who were members of the Great Rivers and Greater St. Louis Area Councils, so that they could receive the badge on the day of its launch. She also coordinated with the STLCC and the WCHOF to make the event part of the WCHOF’s opening weekend, organizing a human chess game with the Boy Scouts as pieces and Grandmasters Ben Finegold and Hikaru Nakamura as the kings. Participants reenacted the Earth vs. Space game, which was reinterpreted by commentato r s Gra nd ma ster Yasser Seirawan and chess champion and author Jennifer Shahade as a draw. Chamitoff gave the chess merit badge to the 15 scouts in attendance. Spectrum Studios documented the historic event. Though the chess merit badge launch is tied to our opening, the Saint Louis Chess Campus has continued to be involved with the BSA. On July 13, 2016, we honored Kayden Troff, the first grandmaster to also earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a distinction received by only 4% of scouts. Troff’s Eagle Scout project involved facilitating a chess camp for children with disabilities. The STLCC also teaches workshops for scouts hoping to earn the chess merit badge. As of April 1, 2018 over 170,000 boy scouts and counting have earned the chess merit badge, making it one of the fastest growing badges in the program.


From left to right; Boy Scouts of America Chess Merit Badge, 2011. © Boy Scouts of America; Lori Matler, Boy Scouts of America Chess Merit Badge Launch Event, September 10, 2011.

APRIL 12, 2018 – FEBRUARY 24, 2019


Local Saint Louis Chess Campus


Saint Louis' Reputation as Chess Capital Grows as Another Grandmaster Makes the City Home GM Alejandro Ramirez reflects on Saint Louis' thriving chess scene, and recent addition to the city's chess-playing residents. BY ALEJANDRO RAMIREZ Grandmaster, Coach of the Saint Louis University Chess Team

Saint 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 Saint Louis. The world's No. 4 player and America's No. 1 recently decided to move to Saint Louis to live. Fabiano Caruana is definitely a super star in the chess world, and his accolades

are too many to count. His most impressive result was precisely here in Saint Louis, where he started with a historic winning streak of 7-0 in the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, achieving the highest rating performance ever—a record that is still unbroken. Despite the fact that most major tournaments are still held mainly in Europe, Caruana’s move to Saint Louis seemed natural. “It's a great place to live for a chess player,” said Caruana, who is also the current U.S. Champion. It isn't only Caruana who is moving to the Gateway to the West. With the Saint Louis University chess team starting in a couple of weeks, three additional grandmasters will

be calling Saint Louis home. Darius Swiercz from Poland; Francesco Rambaldi from Italy/France and Yaroslav Zherebukh from Texas will also be frequent guests at the Saint Louis Chess Club. The Club is becoming a magnet for chess talent. Players looking to seriously improve their game are moving to the city with a high concentration of grandmasters and international masters. With the addition of Caruana, the SLU team, and Susan Polgar's Webster University team, Saint Louis will have one of the highest concentrations of grandmasters in the world. Caruana is playing in the 2016 edition of the Sinquefield Cup, and has started with five draws. I asked Clockwise, from top: GM Fabiano Caruana at the 2017 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament; GM Varuzhan Akobian at the Opening Reception of Open Files II: Celebrating 5 Years of Collecting, 2016; GMs Wesley So and Akshat Chandra record games on a DGT Board at the Opening Reception of The Imagery of Chess: Saint Louis Artists, 2017.

him if he felt any pressure as he is now the “local boy,” but he said when a tournament starts, he simply focuses completely. The schedule doesn't get any easier for the new Saint Louisan; he will be spending some here in the city training before his next big event, representing the USA in the 2016 Chess Olympiad, which begins September 1st, in Baku, Azerbaijan. With Fabiano's recent transfer to the USA and as the top board, America's chances to medal are quite significant. Competition will be stiff, however, because the Russian team will be sending a very strong contingent. The reigning champions from China, are always extremely well prepared.

“Wit h t he rev ital i z at i o n o f American chess, lead by America’s top-10 trio of Caruana, Nakamura, and So, fans across the country will be rooting for a red, white, and blue gold [ me dal ] at the Olympiad,” said the Club’s executive director, Tony Rich. Fabiano's move to Saint Louis has come as no big surprise, and I would expect that many more talented youth, grandmasters and aspiring chess professionals will be making their way to the chess capital of America.

Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, August 2016



Chess Pocket Parks Popping Up BY RYAN CHESTER Club Manager, Saint Louis Chess Club

The Saint Louis Chess Club has several Pocket Parks scattered throughout the city. A Chess Pocket Park is a small designated area that is provided for public use to play chess. Our first Pocket Park was built by hand in the “Old North” neighbor-

didn’t have before, something that makes the whole surrounding community better,” said Nancy Rodney, the Old North project’s manager from the Rosemann group. “The idea is finding places where young people are supported, you give them something that has great tangible benefits, and then you use that to attract other families into the neighbor-

Chess Club to immerse itself i n commu nities arou nd the city. At the Forest Park opening, our founder Rex Sinquefield remarked that chess is “…a tremendous mental building tool for children. You use every part of your brain playing chess, [including] judgment, intuition. You make a lot of decisions in a chess game that have consequences.” Forest

"The pocket parks are a way for the Saint Louis Chess Club to immerse itself in communities around the city." SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/AUSTIN FULLER

hood near the legendary ice cream shop, Crown Candy. At this Pocket Park, we gave weekly instruction and had pieces available for the public to play. “[The] Chess Pocket Park is sustainable not only because of designs to keep it low maintenance, but it also substantially provides the community with something they

hood. It’s a win-win in terms of sustainability, in many ways.” O u r next Po cket Pa rk was built in the worldfamous Forest Park near the Steinberg Ice Skating Rink. We held a ribbon cutting ceremony and invited local Boy Scouts to help us celebrate! The Pocket Parks are a way for the Saint Louis

Park Forever President Lesley Hoffarth says the partnership is a natural fit. “The skills you learn from that are transferable to so many different areas. And having something like this partnership—the chess tables in Forest Park— is only going to strengthen Forest Park’s ties within the community.” In 2017 we built another

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Francis Park in Saint Louis Hills. pocket park in south Saint Louis Hills at one of the oldest parks in Saint Louis, Francis Park. Francis Park has special meaning to the Club as it is located near our founder’s alma mater, Bishop DuBourg. STLCC Assistant Manager

Mike Kummer is also a graduate of Bishop DuBourg, and St. Gabriel’s School, which boasts Club Manager Ryan Chester as an alumnus, is at the other corner of the park. The chess tables are located near the tennis courts, so when you are done exercis-

ing your mind you can easily exercise your other muscles! O u r next Po cket Pa rk opening in 2018 will be at the historic Grand Center Arts District, located near the Fox Theater, Saint Louis University, and Jazz at the Bistro.

C.H.E.S.S. Cops! City of St. Louis Police Work with Students in Public Schools "Cops Helping Enhance Student Skills — or C.H.E.S.S." BY SCHRON JACKSON St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Public Information Division

The current climate of community and police relations in our country has forced law enforcement agencies to examine what tactics work well and what areas pose challenges. Officers work extremely hard day in and day out to keep the citizens of our community safe. However, the focus on building relationships while performing their jobs should also be a priority and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is committed to finding opportunities to build better community relationships, especially with youth. Now, they are doing so through chess. So, when the SLMPD was approached by the St. Louis Police Foundation with a plan for interacting with students

in a unique setting, the police welcomed the opportunity. After months of conceptualizing, planning and training, the Saint Louis Cops Helping Enhance Student Skills—or C.H.E.S.S.—program became a reality. The program is a collaborative effort between the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the Saint Louis Chess Club and the St. Louis Public Schools. The initiative, which started February 22, 2017 pairs Saint Louis police officers with students to teach them the game of chess. “Our officers are so excited to be a part of this program,” said Lt. Perri Johnson. “It is critical for law enforcement to establish positive relationships with members of the Saint Louis community early on, and this program helps us do just that.” At this point, eight police officers have gone through a certification process to

become accredited chess instructors. Once certified, the police officers teach fundamental chess elements to students. The curriculum incorporates lessons on critical thinking, planning and logic. The program is also designed to foster positive relationships between the police department and the community. After all, by playing chess both students and officers interact in an environment where they may not otherwise have a chance to meet. During the chess matches, officers and students sit across from one another and learn about each other. “Saint Louis C.H.E.S.S. Cops truly exhibits the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis’s positive involvement in the community and current affairs,” said Tony Rich, STLCC executive director. “It is a prime example of how chess can teach fundamental


Officer Nate McCraw enjoying a chess game with St. Louis Public School students. lessons, build constructive relationships and ultimately make a difference in the lives of young people.” While there are a number of sports programs that connect youth and police officers, not every child is athletically inclined. Introducing chess to students provides yet another opportunity for

positive interactions on a different level. “We are very pleased to see organizations like the Saint Louis Chess Club working to promote programs that actively involve our city’s youth,” said Kelvin Adams, superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools. “Chess gives our students

a constructive outlet. Now, when our students see a police officer, we hope they will see a mentor.”

Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, March 2017



Chess in the Community

(1) 2017 U.S. Chess Championship Community Day. (2) 2017 U.S. Chess Championship Community Day. (3) Normandy School Field Trip, 2017. (4) Simul at Vogt Elementary, 2017. (5) GM Maurice Ashley visits St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center, 2017. (6) GM Eric Rosen gives simul at Vogt Elementary, 2015. (7) Visitors to the Saint Louis Chess Club play chess on outdoor chess tables, 2017.




Chess Club Hosts Grandmasters in Residence BY KATERINA NEMCOVA Woman Grandmaster


From top to bottom, WGM Katerina Nemcova participates in a Pop-up Chess Demo during the 2016 U.S. Championships; Katerina Nemcova poses with her Ladies' Knight class in front of the green screen at the opening reception of POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics, 2017.

The Saint Louis Chess Club has been an incredibly important figure for chess in the United States and Saint Louis is deservedly seen as our Chess Capital. Most chess players know that the STLCC has been promoting chess globally, through elite tournaments, tournament broadcasting, and support of both young talents and top players. I th i n k it i s al s o ver y important to highlight the STLCC’ s great efforts in teaching our royal game through scholastic programs and the Grandmaster in Residence program. I have never seen the Grandmaster i n Re s i d e n c e p ro gra m implemented anywhere else in the world and I feel fortunate to be part of it. The STLCC offers classes for players of all ages and levels, opening chess to all people who are interested in playing, learning, improving, or just trying out the game. I think this is by itself wonderful; it doesn’t focus on the smartest and youngest as is common in today’s world. Teaching skilled and focused players and watching their interest and skill improve is as enjoyable for me as teaching young children to pick up on the game and find the sparkle in it. What I probably enjoy the most the total beginners, those who are hesitant about starting their chess journey and who perceive chess as a game for ‘smart people,’ who come here to try their hands at our beloved game. Their authentic surprise and happiness as they learn to play is beautiful and rewarding. The “Ladies’ Knight” class, intended for female beginners of all ages, is a real success story, helping to shape a new generation of female players who enjoy the game and play it with their friends and family members.

The GM-in-Residence program also provides gratifying experience for the grandmasters and benefits them as well. It is important to understand that when grandmasters play chess, they tend to think about chess in terms of performance and competition. We work hard to play the best possible games and to finish at the top of the table. Viewed only through this narrow p ersp e ctive, we sometimes forget that chess is not only about results, but also about the appreciation of and love for the game. The activities at STLCC p rov i d e u s w i t h a n i c e reminder. In teaching chess through various weekly lessons, responding to people’s questions, analyzing games with those eager learn, or playing blitz and bughouse, we can “zo om out” and remember how to truly enjoy our royal game. It also doesn’t hurt that the magnificent facility is a dream come true for chess players. Filled with pictures of historical and modern chess heroes, and with the atmosphere created by the presence of all the chess legends who competed here over the years, the environment in the STLCC fosters the realization that chess is something extremely special, beautiful, and enjoyable. It is much more than wins, titles, or fame. Last—but certainly not least!—I find it important to stress the professionalism and friendliness of STLCC’s staff. Their attitude and respect for chess and grandmasters makes this Residency program such a unique and excellent program that I feel fortunate to be part of. Thank you, Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, for supporting and promoting chess, and for changing the way we enjoy chess. Thank you for making it better.

Eat Like a King BY AARON TEITELBAUM Owner, Kingside Diner

Three years ago, leadership at the Saint Louis Chess Club approached the Herbie’s team with a request. Could we jointly create a restaurant in the vacant space east of the Club? We knew we needed to create a brand concept that would be synergistic with chess and the Saint Louis Chess Campus. With the help of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, and the Club’s creative geniuses, we came up with a great concept. The Kingside Diner was born. We decided that the Diner should be a place where people could play chess, take lessons, learn about the history of chess, and enjoy great food and drink. Today, we have accomplished just that. You can learn about chess in classes managed by the Chess Club in our side room, from displays on the walls, and in the chess library. You

can play chess freely in the chess room or out on the patio that overlooks the campus and the Central West End neighborhood. We serve a full breakfast and lunch menu seven days a week in a welcoming, unassuming, and friendly manner. Our menus are expansive and expertly executed, and there is a full bar program including specialty cocktails, wines, and milkshakes, among many others. The Kingside facility has two distinct patios, with one on the roof and one on the front sidewalk. It also has a chess classroom, a private room for up to 12 guests— known fondly as the Bobby Fischer Room—and our large main dining room that seats 90 guests. Reviewers have lauded the service at Kingside as both friendly and efficient. The te a m at Ki ngs i d e quickly became part of the Chess Campus and their amazing team. The Kingside

Diner is involved in events, like the Caissa Club Dinner and the annual Campus Holiday Party. We offer discounts and host commentary during tournaments, and we even help with extra space for World Chess Hall of Fame programs and events. The Chess Campus in Saint Louis is a truly unique experience, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. There is not another restaurant concept like this in the world that we know of. We are grateful to Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield for making this possible, and for the support and partnership Joy Bray and the Chess Campus has shown us. As owner, I couldn’t be more proud of Kingside Diner and to be a part of this oneof-a-kind Chess Campus. It has exceeded all of my expectations and dreams so far, and we look forward to growing the business and the brand with the Saint Louis Chess Campus.


Rex Sinquefield, Lyda Krewson, and Aaron Teitelbaum perform the ribbon-cutting at Kingside Diner, April 23, 2015.


THE BIG THREE: Caruana, Nakamura, So SP2

The Pro Chess League Returns


Behind the Scenes —and Cameras—of the Grand Chess Tour SP4

Key Games Played in Saint Louis




Saint Louis Chess Club

FEBRUARY 24, 2019


Let's Talk About Chess "I am a chess commentator. That is a sentence I write with pride." BY MAURICE ASHLEY Grandmaster

I am a chess commentator. That is a sentence I write with pride. For more than twenty years, I have been blessed with a front row seat watching the game’s greatest players spend hour after hour in pitched battles trying to rip each other to shreds. I was there, in 1994, in a small booth overlooking the stage inside the Kremlin in Moscow during the epic Intel World Chess Grand Prix tournament. It was the first time a major chess event had ever been held inside that grand complex, and I was bellowing so loudly from the excitement of the games that Klara Kasparova, the then World Champion’s mother, switched her headphones from the Russian channel to the English one to hear what all the fuss was about. A year later, I partnered with the legendary Danny King as Garry

Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand duked it out for the title inside a (mostly) sound-proof booth, a match that began on September 11 on the 107th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. In 1997, I helped to call the 2nd Man vs. Machine match when IBM’s super computer Deep Blue dealt a digital blow of revenge against Kasparov, who had defeated it the year before, sending a collective shiver down the spines of humans everywhere as the cold truth stared us in the face that the silicon entities had irrevocably surpassed us in our precious pastime, if not (yet) in actual intelligence. Jump ahead two decades and now I travel the world calling the games of a new generation of chess giants. When I witness Magnus Carlsen time and again cut through a field of elite warriors in elaborately staged Blitz competitions, I often feel like an over-enthused

fan getting paid to whoop and holler in a stadium while watching Michael, Kobe, or Lebron bully their way through the opposition in the NBA Finals. I get to work alongside a team of Hall of Fame talents (Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, Alejand ro Rami rez, Cristian Chirila), as we argue over complicated ideas in front of a live worldwide audience eagerly following every move of their favorite players. Why is a commentator important? Well, it’s the commentator’s task to pull back the curtain to reveal the hidden excitement of chess games full of dramatic twists and turns, hidden subplots, psychological intrigue, intense mood swings, and moments of pure devastation. While we may use engines as partners as they spit out lines of often brilliant analysis, it is up to the human expert to tell the tale behind the reams of

code, to artfully infuse dry variations with compelling story lines. Commentators bring their contrasting opinions and personalities into the mix all the while keeping track of multiple games that build in tension toward the almost inevitable pulse-racing moments of acute time pressure. In the postgame interviews, commentators gently cajole players who have just stumbled out of the heat of battle to reveal something of their innermost thoughts and feelings they had during a game they may have just lost. We ride the waves of emotions as we recall how we feel when we play, and we empathize with the game’s geniuses as they suffer over move after move, round after round, day in, day out, till there is only one champion left standing. As someone who lives to promote our royal game and who wishes to see it become more mainstream, I relish my role as a part of the evo-

lution of broadcasting chess as sports entertainment. I fully appreciate that we are on the front lines of progress and potential growth, looking to gain the level of respect many other sports have already attained. While it’s certainly easier to call a physical activity where the athletes swiftly dart about the field or court, we chess commentators embrace the challenge of making thirty-two wooden pieces come alive on a flat board of sixty-four squares. I am a chess commentator. I write those words with a satisfied smile.

Above, Legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov interviewed by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley during Round 8 of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup.




The Big 3: Caruana, Nakamura, So BY ROBERT HESS Grandmaster

When Americans hear of a “Big Three,” nostalgia might take their minds to competitors in the automotive industry or the early television networks. Fans of the runaway NBC television hit This is Us may shed uncontrollable tears when hearing the phrase. Today’s American chess fans k n ow Gra n d ma ste r s Fab i a n o Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and Wesley So as the “Big Three” representing the United States. Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) have played an integral role in raising the standards of American chess. The first of ten straight U.S. and U.S. Women’s

Championships held in Saint Louis were played in 2009, with Nakamura, then a newly-minted 2700 FIDE, reigning supreme for his second title. S i nce that cha mp i o n s h ip, Nakamura has tacked on two more and become a mainstay in the world top ten, reaching his peak of world number two in October of 2015. He scored an impressive international victory in Wijk aan Zee (2011) and three-peats at the Zurich Chess Challenge and the Gibraltar Chess Festival (2015-17). Nakamura’s strong play in the 2016 Grand Prix qualified him for the Candidates’ Tournament, whose winner earns the right to face the World Champion. His quest for additional U.S. Championships

has been halted by Caruana and So, both of whom are also firmly entrenched among the world’s elite players. Caruana, a dual citizen who switched to the Italian federation in 2005 before returning to compete under the American flag in 2015, acknowledged that the STLCC played a vital role in his decision to depart Europe. A historic seven straight wins during his domination at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, arguably the greatest performance ever recorded, undoubtedly influenced him to establish residence in Saint Louis. As a result of that tournament, Caruana became the third highest rated player in history. In 2018, Caruana will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the

World Champion title. S o, b o r n a n d ra i s e d i n t h e Philippines, initially came to the U.S. to join the chess program at Webster University. After leaving school to make the game his profession, So’s rating has soared. Opportunities in Saint Louis have aided So in his journey to world number two and qualification for the 2018 Candidates’ Tournament. The 2016 Sinquefield Cup was his first super-tournament victory and propelled him to the top of the 2016 Grand Chess Tour. He followed up that breakthrough success by winning the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship. The trio have been fierce competitors, but together formed a potent one-two-three punch at the

2016 World Chess Olympiad. The United States team, supported by the STLCC, won gold in Baku for the first time in four decades. The Saint Louis Chess Club, founded by generous benefactors Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, has been the catalyst for chess development in the United States. There are numerous events held every year for living legends and blossoming prodigies alike, including the Champions Showdown, quarterly norm tournaments, and the U.S. Junior and Girls’ Junior C h a mp i o n s h i p s . I n sp i re d by Caruana, Nakamura, and So, the next generation of American chess talent has more opportunities than any of its predecessors, all thanks to the Saint Louis Chess Club.

The Pro Chess League Returns BY DENES BOROS Grandmaster

The inaugural Pro Chess League season ended with a resounding victory by the Saint Louis Arch Bishops last year. The Pro Chess League, originally the U.S. Chess League, used to be an online chess tournament where American chess teams, from different states and cities, competed for first place., the founder of the Pro Chess League, decided to innovate and expand on this league by inviting players from other cities, countries and continents. The first event was a great success, as teams from all over the world joined to play. There were contestants from cities like Paris, London, New York, and of course, the Chess Capital of the United States: Saint Louis. Surprisingly, the teams from London and Paris didn’t manage to get into the finals. Instead, the final was played between a Norwegian team, the Norway Gnomes, led by none other than reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The Norway Gnomes faced the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in a tough fight. The Saint Louis Arch Bishops, led by Saint Louis resident and U.S. Champion Wesley So, triumphed— helping the Saint Louis Chess Club team become the first champions of the Pro Chess League. This year, the Pro Chess League returns with some new rules and new faces. The time control did not change; players will still get 15

minutes for the whole game, with an extra two-second increment for every move. Matches between two teams take roughly two hours, with 16 total games played. There are some changes though. Every team will post their four-player lineup prior to the start of the match. This change means that there will be no substitutions allowed during game play, so players can’t just sit in for one game; they will have to play all four rounds. A f ter the ru l e s cha nge a nd league surprises were announced, the league draft was in full swing. The first surprise was Fabiano Caruana’s departure from the Montreal Chessbrahs, as he now joins the ranks of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops. In fact, that is not the only recruitment. Mike Kummer, the team manager of the Arch Bishops, also enlisted Annie Wang, the reigning World Under 16 Youth Champion. The Saint Louis team is not the only one gearing up for a new and even more combative season: The Montclair Sopranos are now joined by Alex Lenderman, and by Africa’s first ever Elite grand master, Amin Bassem, who just recently crossed the magical rating of 2700. The league grew so much that many more countries joined the action. China and India both have a team representing them at the Pro Chess League this year with players like former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in their ranks. The Montreal


Chessbrahs, shocked by the loss of their team leader Caruana, did not despair and recruited Hou Yifan, the strongest female player of recent years. The 2018 season began on January 18th, and ends in an exciting, public final in San Francisco hosted by and Twitch. The world's best chess players will battle it out at the Folsom Street Foundry for

the first ever chess eSport event April 7-8, 2018. The teams battling it out this year are the Armenia Eagles, Ljubujana Turtles, Saint Louis Arch Bishops, and Chengdu Pandas.

Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, January 2018

2017 Saint Louis Arch Bishops, from left to right: NM Nicholas Rosenthal, GM Wesley So, GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, GM Dariusz Świercz, GM Varuzhan Akobian, GM Francesco Rambaldi, GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi, GM Ben Finegold, and International Arbiter Mike Kummer.



Behind the Scenes -and Cameras-of

Grand Chess Tour BY ERIC MOUSEL Broadcast Editor

“This game will be over in two moves.” “…and how long will that take?” “It could be 20 seconds. It could be two hours.” Let’s get one thing clear–20 seconds is a lifetime when it comes to live television. It’s the real world equivalent of deciding what to wear on a first date, or which of 50 toppings to smother on your Froyo. These things take time. [Ed. Note: I should point out that none of the technical staff, “TV People,” at the Saint Louis Chess Club are what you’d call “chess people.” But that doesn’t matter in the same way a chef doesn’t need to know the Sicilian open to make Hikaru Nakamura spaghetti and meatballs.] So, how do you combine a game notorious for long, protracted mental battles with the frantic, fast-paced format of sports broadcasting? First, you’re going to need a Yasser, a Maurice, and a Jennifer. Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley are both Grandmasters and Jennifer Shahade is a chess champion and author. This dynamic trio make up the Grand Chess Tour commentary and analysis team that you see on-air. Our analysts are the tip of

the spear, the cherry on top, whatever sits aloft the things you like! Energetic and exciting commentary is the backbone of our show and all of our commentators produce both in enormous sums. Want proof? Even I, a 'TV Person', can understand what they’re talking about (sometimes). Besides, imagine if we instead hired Ben Stein. You’d be in cryogenic sleep halfway to Mars by now. Second, you need an exceptionally good team for broadcast. And, as you might’ve guessed, that’s not an easy thing to come up with on a whim (I’ve yet to see a billboard for “Exceptionally Good Broadcast Team” as I was cruising down I-70). We have... Producers, who make sure everyone is doing their jobs and on time; Directors, who call all the shots and direct the on-air talent through their ear pieces; Camera and sound crew who capture all the sights and sounds to bring the action to life; IT, post-production, social media, and the broadcast editor who produce all the graphics for every show. All come together to produce the best chess show on Earth (and probably Mars, too).

Few of us work for the same company and many are freelancers, but we’re all family, which makes each major tournament we cover feel like a homecoming. Similar to when a bunch of superheroes join together to fight a supreme evil, but with less violence, and it’s catered. Third, and last, we need you–the fans. [What, did you think we’d forget to include you in this back-patting session?] Chess is a world sport and so we are an international production, dedicated to giving you the best coverage possible. And when I say dedicated I mean “walking into the studio at 5 a.m. wearing yoga pants and clutching an espresso” dedicated. I f you’ ve b e e n e nj oying from afar, think about making a trip here. We’d love to see you in person. In 2016, our broadcasts of the Grand Chess Tour tournaments alone garnered millions of viewers around the world. Not bad for a group of nomads coming together in Saint Louis to produce one of the most unique broadcasts in all of sports.

Originally published on St. Louis Public Radio, December 2016

(1) Commentators WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Yasser Seirawan seen from behind the camera. (2) GM Maurice Ashley analyzes a game during live commentary. (3) Legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov joins the commentary team to interview former World Champion Viswanathan Anand. (4) Inside the production van. (5) GM Cristian Chirila filming the show opening.




Key Games Played in Saint Louis BY TATEV ABRAHAMYAN Woman Grandmaster

Countless memorable games have unfolded at the Saint Louis Chess Club, many of which have become integral parts of modern chess history. From junior players to Magnus Carlsen, chess players have essayed their best moves right here at the U.S. Chess Capital. Major tournaments hosted in Saint Louis include the U.S. Junior and U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, the U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championships, and the Sinquefield Cup. Some players have experienced the biggest heartbreaks of their careers during those events, while other have set records and reached career milestones. ————————————————————— In 2009, Anna Zatonskih scored an incredible 8.5/9 to clinch the title of the U.S. Women’s Champion for the second year in a row. She secured the title with one round to spare with a win over future US Women’s Champion Sabina Foisor with an idea reminiscent of the famous endgame between Topalov and Shirov from 1998. Queen’s Gambit Declined [D35] WGM Sabina Foisor (2320) IM Anna Zatonskih(2462) USA-ch (Women) Saint Louis (8), 12.10.2009 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.Qc2 c5 7.e3 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6 After several transpositions we reach a symmetrical pawn structure. 9.Bb5 Qb6 10.Nge2 0–0 11.Bxc6 Qxc6 12.0–0 Be6 13.Rac1 Rac8 14.f3 Qd7 15.g4 This move is unnecessary and the beginning of White's problems. 15. … b5 16.a3 Ne8 17.Qb3 a6 18.Bg3 Rc4 19.Rcd1 f6 20.Rfe1 Bf7 21.Nf4 Nc7 22.Qc2 b4 23.axb4 Bxb4 24.Qf5 Qxf5 25.gxf5 Nb5 26.Nfe2 Nxc3 27.bxc3 Bxc3 28.Nxc3 Rxc3 Black is now up a pawn in an opposite-colored bishop ending. 29.Kf2 Rfc8 30.Re3 Rxe3 31.Kxe3 Rc3+ 32.Rd3 Rxd3+ 33.Kxd3 The exchange of the rooks should favor White, as these endgames give the side with less material great drawing chances. However, White has pawn weaknesses that Black's bishop can exploit. 33. … Bh5 34.Ke3 a5 35.Bd6 Kf7 36.Kf4 Ke8 37.Ba3 a4 38.Ke3 Kd7 39.h3 Kd8 40.Bf8 Ke8 41.Bc5 If 41.Bxg7?? a3 42.Bxf6 a2 and the pawn will promote. 41. … Kf7 42.h4 Kg8 43.Kf4 Be8 44.Ba3 Bb5 45.Ke3 Kf7 46.Bb4 Bc4 47.Kd2 Bf1 48.Ke3 Bh3 49.Kf4 Ke8 50.Ba3 Kd7 51.Bf8 Kc6 52.Ke3 Bxf5 53.Kd2 g5 54.Be7 gxh4 55.Bxf6 h3 56.Be5 Be4!!

XABCDEFGHY 8-+-+-+-+( 7+-+-+-+p' 6-+k+-+-+& 5+-+pvL-+-% 4p+-zPl+-+$ 3+-+-+P+p# 2-+-mK-+-+" 1+-+-+-+-! xabcdefghy A brilliant way to end the game! Black will have three passed pawns, and White can’t stop them all. 0–1

In a recent interview, Fabiano Caruana called his win over Levon Aronian at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup one of his best games ever. It was the fourth in his amazing series of seven consecutive wins at the event. RUY LOPEZ (C77) Fabiano Caruana (2801) Levon Aronian (2805) Sinquefield Cup 2nd Saint Louis (4), 30.08.2014 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.Nc3 d6 9.a3 Na5 10.Ba2 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.b4 Nc6 13.Bd2 d5 14.Re1 Qd6 15.Na2 Caruana spots the outpost on c5 and decides to bring his knight there. 15. … Nd7 16.Qe2 d4 17.Reb1 Nb6 18.Nc1 Na4 19.Nb3 Rf7 20.Rc1 Rd8 21.Ng5 Rf6?! 21...Bxg5 22.Bxg5 Rdf8 23.Rf1 Nc3 was a better option for Black. 22.Qh5 h6 23.Nf3 Rdf8 24.Rf1


IM Nazi Paikidze vs. WGM Tatev Abrahamyan during Round 10 of the 2017 U.S. Women's Chess Championship. Re gro u p i ng h i s p i e c e s a n d defending the f2 pawn. 24. … R8f7 25.Rae1 Bf8 26.h3 g6 27.Qh4 Qe7 28.Qg3 Bg7 29.Na5 Nxa5 30.Nxe5! The most accurate move. 30.bxa5 Rxf3 31.gxf3 Kh7 32.Kh2 Rf6 followed by … Qf7 would give Black counterplay. 30. … Nb7 31.Nxg6 Qd8 32.e5 Rf5 33.f4

XABCDEFGHY 8-+-wq-+k+( 7+nzp-+rvl-' 6p+-+p+Nzp& 5+p+-zPr+-% 4nzP-zp-zP-+$ 3zP-+P+-wQP# 2-+PvL-+P+" 1+-+-tRRmK-! xabcdefghy Black is up a piece, but all of his pieces are useless, scattered all over the board. 33. … c5 34.Nh4 Rh5 35.Nf3 Kh7 36.Qg4 Rhf5 37.Nh4 Kh8 White wins the material back and converts his advantage. 38.Nxf5 Rxf5 39.Qg6 Qe7 40.g4 Rf8 41.f5 Qe8 42.Qxe8 Rxe8 43.f6 Bf8 44.f7 Re7 45.Rf6 Nb6 46.Bxh6 Nd7 47.Ref1 cxb4 48.axb4 Bxh6 49.Rxh6+ Kg7 50.Rh5 1–0

8.0–0 0–0 9.Qb3 Nc6 10.Nxd5 B c 5 11 . Ne 3 Bg 6 12 . Qxb 7 Nd 4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.d3 Nc5 15.Qb5 Rb8 16.Qc4 Ne6 17.f4 Bxb2 18.Rb1 Qd4 19.Rxb2 Rxb2 20.Bg4

XABCDEFGHY 8-+-+-trk+( 7zp-zp-+pzpp' 6-+-+n+l+& 5+-+-zP-+-% 4-+Qwq-zPL+$ 3+-+PsN-+-# 2Ptr-+-+PzP" 1+-vL-+RmK-! xabcdefghy This is the critical moment. 20. … Rb4?? Simply retreating with 20...Qb6 and keeping the knight pinned would have kept the game going. Play might have continued 21.Bxb2 (21.f5? Rb4 22.Qc2 Rxg4) 21. … Qxe3+ 22.Kh1 Bxd3 23.Qc3 Rb8. 21.Qxd4 Rxd4 22.f5 Now White will win a piece and the game. 22. … Nf4 23.Nc2 Ra4 24.Bxf4 h5 25.Bd1 Bh7 26.Ne3 Rxa2 27.e6 fxe6 28.Bb3 Re2 29.fxe6 Re8 30.e7+ Kh8 31.Bg5 1–0 —————————————————————

Alexander Onischuk defeated Jeffery Xiong in a must-win final rou nd ga me at the 2 01 7 U. S. Championship, tying for first place with Wesley So and forcing the first playoff since 2014. So defeated Onischuk in the first game of their rapid match and drew the second, making him the 2017 U.S. Champion.

Going into the last round of the 2017 U.S. Junior Championship, Awonder Liang was half a point behind the tournament leader, Kayden Troff. The tables were turned when Kayden found himself outprepared and collapsed, allowing Awonder to surpass him with a win. The young prodigy did not miss his opportunity to squeeze his way to victory, winning the U.S. Juniors and qualifying to 2018 US Championship.

MIKENAS ATTACK (A18) Wesley So (2822) Alexander Onischuk (2667) USA-ch playoff Saint Louis (1), 10.04.2017

RUY LOPEZ (C66) Awonder Liang (2536) Michael William Brown (2508) USA-ch U20 Saint Louis (9), 16.07.2017

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.Be2 Be7

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 5.0–0 Bd7 6.Re1 g6 7.c3 Bg7 8.d4 0–0 9.Ba4 h6 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.h3 a5 12.Qb3 Qc8 13.Qd1


The players enter a sharp variation. Wesley later tried the same line with the Black pieces against Caruana and lost. (See Caruana-So, Paris 2017, for the game.)

White's last two moves are a sign that he is not quite sure how to handle this position.

13. … Nb8 14.Bc2 Bc6 15.Bd3 b6 16.Qc2 Na6 17.a3 Qb7 18.b3 Nh5 19.Bb2 Nf4 20.Bf1 Bd7 The position is closed, so the players are shuffling their pieces around until one side finds a break. 21.b4 Nb8? 21...axb4 22.axb4 b5 would give Black more room. 22.b5! Grabbing more space on the queenside. Now the knight on b8 is stuck. 22. … Be6 23.Kh2 Qc8 24.Ng1 g5 25.g3 Ng6 26.Nc4 f5 With the closing of the queenside, attention shifts to the kingside. 27.exf5 Bxf5 28.Qd2 Nd7 29.Bg2 Rb8 30.Re2 Be6 31.Ne3 Nf6 32.Qc2! Exploiting the weaknesses of the light squares. 32. … Bf7 33.Rae1 e4 34.f3 d5 35.fxe4 dxe4 36.Rf1 Nf8 37.c4 Bg6 38.Ref2 Qd8 39.d5 N8d7 40.Ne2 Ne5 41.Nd4

XABCDEFGHY 8-tr-wqr+k+( 7+-zp-+-vl-' 6-zp-+-snlzp& 5zpP+Psn-zp-% 4-+PsNp+-+$ 3zP-+-sN-zPP# 2-vLQ+-tRLmK" 1+-+-+R+-! xabcdefghy The knight will land on either e6 or f5, devastating the Black king. 41. … Nh5 42.Ndf5 Nf3+ 43.Bxf3 exf3 44.Rxf3 Kh7 45.g4 Bxb2 46.gxh5 Be5+ 47.Kh1 Bxh5 48.Ne7+ Kg7 49.Nc6 Qd7 50.Nf5+ Kh8 51.Re3 Bf6 52.Nxb8 Rxb8 53.Re6 Rf8 54.Ng3 1–0 ————————————————————— With this dominating victory in round 7, Akshita Gorti extended her lead in the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship to 1.5 points. She convincingly won the tournament with a round to spare and qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Championship.

KING’S INDIAN DEFENSE (E71) Akshita Gorti (2232) Agata Bykovtsev (2045) USA-ch U20 Girls Saint Louis (7), 14.07.2017 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0–0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 a5 8.c5 Na6 9.cxd6 cxd6 10.Nf3 Bd7 10. … Nd7 is more accurate. Black needs a knight on c5. 11.Nd2 Nc5 12.Bxc5! Akshita shows great positional understanding in giving up her important bishop to weaken Black's pawn structure. 12. … dxc5 13.a4 Ne8 14.Bb5 Bc8

XABCDEFGHY 8r+lwqntrk+( 7+p+-+pvlp' 6-+-+-+p+& 5zpLzpPzp-+-% 4P+-+P+-+$ 3+-sN-+-+P# 2-zP-sN-zPP+" 1tR-+QmK-+R! xabcdefghy 15.Bxe8! Giving up the other bishop to ensure the knight doesn't land on d6. Now both of Black's bishops are useless while the White knights will dominate the board. 15. … Rxe8 16.0–0 f5 17.Nc4 f4 18.d6 Be6 19.Nd5 Qg5 20.Ra3 Defending the h3 pawn while positioning the rook to attack the black pawns. 20. … Rf8 21.Ndb6 Rad8 22.Kh1 Rf7 23.f3 Bf8 24.Rd3 Qh5 25.Qd2 Bg7 26.b3 g5 27.Kg1 Qg6 28.Qxa5 The pawns fall, one by one. 28. … Rdf8 29.d7 Rd8 30.Qxc5 Bxc4 31.Nxc4 Bf8 32.Qc7 Qf6 33.Nxe5 Rg7 34.Rfd1 h5 35.Rd5 g4 36.hxg4 h4 37.g5 Qxg5 38.Ng4 Qe7 39.Nh6+ Kh7 40.Nf5 Rxg2+ 41.Kxg2 Qg5+ 42.Kh2 h3 43.Rg1 Qf6 44.e5 Qxf5 45.Qxd8 Qc2+ 46.Kh1 Qf2 47.Qh4+ Qxh4 48.d8Q Qf2 49.Rd7+ 1–0





The Saint Louis Chess Club has been a vital part of its community and the chess world at large since its inception in 2008. From local events for children to world class events, the Chess Club has welcomed players of all levels. Here are some photos from a few of those memorable events. (1) Magnus Carlsen wins the 2013 Sinquefield Cup. (2) Fabiano Caruana wins the 2014 Sinquefield Cup after a record-setting 7 game streak. (3) Rex Sinquefield and Chess Campus staff partake in a Human Chess Match, 2010. (4) Garry Kasparov joins Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan for commentary, 2015. (5) The “World” team wins the Match of the Millennials, 2014. (6) 2015 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Champions: Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush. (7) Garry Kasparov returns to competitive chess at the 2017 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Tournament. SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB










Magnus Carlsen, 2013

Fabiano Caruana, 2014

“I’d like to thank Rex and Jeanne again, and if everything goes well, I’ll be back.”

“In terms of this tournament, it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever played.”



Wesley So, 2016 “I can’t really describe how I feel. It’s like a dream. This is definitely my biggest win ever so far.”

Maxime VachierLagrave, 2017 “Saint Louis is more than the Sinquefield Cup. There is so much going on. The Club is expanding and the Hall of Fame... I think it goes to show their dedication to bring chess to the highest levels.”

Levon Aronian, 2015 “I want to say that in the history of chess, I don’t know anybody who sponsors chess with so much love and with the feeling that they don’t really want anything back from chess. So I want to thank Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield for their support, and I want to say that for me, every time I come here, and I see them, I’m very happy. I know that our game is respected and loved, and will flourish as long as their work continues.” SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/AUSTIN FULLER



Tournament Winners 2009–2017 2009


U.S. Championship Hikaru Nakamura

U.S. Championship Hikaru Nakamura

U.S. Women's Championship Anna Zatonskih

U.S. Women's Championship Irina Krush

2010 U.S. Championship Gata Kamsky U.S. Women's Championship Irina Krush

U.S. Junior Championship Akshat Chandra SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB

Sinquefield Cup Levon Aronian Battle of the Legends Garry Kasparov

U.S. Junior Championship Sam Shankland

Showdown in Saint Louis Fabiano Caruana Hou Yifan



U.S. Championship Gata Kamsky

U.S. Championship Fabiano Caruana

U.S. Women's Championship Anna Zatonskih

U.S. Women's Championship Nazi Paikidze

U.S. Junior Championship Gregory Young

U.S. Junior Championship Jeffery Xiong

Kings vs. Queens Hikaru Nakamura Ben Finegold Kevin Cao Jacek Stopa Marc Arnold

Sinquefield Cup Wesley So

Saint Louis International Match Hikaru Nakamura Ray Robson


Champions Showdown Viswanathan Anand SAINT LOUIS CHESS CLUB/AUSTIN FULLER

U.S. Championship Wesley So


U.S. Women's Championship Sabina Foisor

U.S. Championship Hikaru Nakamura

U.S. Junior Championship Awonder Liang

U.S. Women's Championship Irina Krush

U.S. Girls' Junior Championship Akshita Gorti

U.S. Junior Championship Marc Arnold

Match of the Millennials Haik Martirosyan Andrey Esipenko Aleksey Sarana Anton Smirnov Aryan Chopra Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu Nodirbek Abdusattarov Bibisara Assaubayeva Nurgul Salimova

Clash of the Kings Anatoly Karpov

2013 U.S. Championship Gata Kamsky U.S. Women's Championship Irina Krush U.S. Junior Championship Daniel Naroditsky Sinquefield Cup Magnus Carlsen


Sinquefield Cup Maxime Vachier-Lagrave


Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Levon Aronian Champions Showdown Hikaru Nakamura Fabiano Caruana Wesley So Magnus Carlsen

U.S. Championship Gata Kamsky U.S. Women's Championship Irina Krush U.S. Junior Championship Kayden Troff Sinquefield Cup Fabiano Caruana Showdown in Saint Louis Hikaru Nakamura




SLU Adds Chess Team to Elite Sports Roster


BY ALEJANDRO RAMIREZ Grandmaster, Coach of the Saint Louis University Chess Team

Saint Louis University (SLU) has added another sport to its elite roster: chess. Coached by Grandmaster (GM) Alejandro Ramirez,

the Billikens made their first major appearance in a collegiate team tournament by taking second place in the 2016 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship. 60 teams participated in the competition, including elite universities such

as Princeton, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. The Saint Louis region had a strong rep re s e ntat i o n, i nclu ding Saint Louis University, Wa s h i ngto n Un ive r s i ty, Lindenwood University and the overall winners, Webster University, who are coached by GM Susan Polgar.

The inaugural SLU team was comprised of the following players: GM Dariusz Swiercz Sophomore, Poland, Business GM Yaro Zherebukh Grad, USA, Applied Financial Economics GM Francesco Rambaldi Freshman, Italy, Economics IM Cemil Can Ali Marandi Freshman, Turkey, Computer Science Nozima Aripova Junior, Uzbekistan, Biology Improvement in the SLU squad has been apparent based on the good results that they have had since this tournament. SLU chess team members have have represented the Billikens in competitions worldwide. Dariusz participated in the 2016 Chess Olympiad in the Polish squad, and had a strong showing in the Aeroflot Open in Moscow. Yaro scored an excellent 50 percent in the 2017 U.S. Championship and

hopes to improve that score in the 2018 edition. Cemil Can has played in numerous events, elevating his ranking from International Master to Grandmaster. The SLU team strengthened its ranks by recruiting IM Dorsa Derakhshani and GM Alexander Ipatov in the Fall of 2017. Saint Louis has attracted some of the brightest chess minds in the world. With Webster University and SLU, the two highest rated chess teams are now in this city. The Webster team, which was brought here from Texas Tech by Susan Polgar in 2012, has been amazingly successful, winning all of the Final Fours that it has participated in. One of their top players, GM Ray Robson, was part of the 2016 American Olympiad team that took the gold medal in Azerbaijan. The move from Texas Tech to Webster was controversial, as Polgar uprooted her students to the suburban

college. “The program grew rapid ly, and Texas Te ch wasn't ready to grow with the speed of the program," said the coach, who founded the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, known as SPICE, in 2007. “Saint Louis today is the center of chess in America. It just seemed like a perfect fit.” Texas Tech has since hired former U.S. Champion and 2018 U. S. Ches s Hal l of Fame Inductee Alexander Onischuk to be their new coach, and their program is also rapidly progressing. As collegiate chess competition gets tighter and tighter, the Gorlocks and Billikens will be looking to recruit and strengthen their ranks with grandmasters from around the globe.

GM Alejandro Ramirez coaching at SLU.

The Sinquefield Effect  

The Sinquefield Effect celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Saint Louis Chess Club and the rapid resurgence of chess in the United States...

The Sinquefield Effect  

The Sinquefield Effect celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Saint Louis Chess Club and the rapid resurgence of chess in the United States...