Last weekend, history unfolded at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Here, dozens of Boy Scouts, family members and visiting dignitaries celebrated brand-new Chess Merit Badge. Members of the Great Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America were the first to receive the badge, thanks to efforts led by Great Rivers Council Executive Board Member Jeanne Sinquefield. As of today (September 12), the Chess Merit Badge may be earned by scouts nationwide.
As the United States’ first Chess Merit Badge Counselor, Mrs. Sinquefield mentored nineteen area scouts in the fundamentals of chess. At the National Launch Event on September 10, chess pros (including Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura) joined eager leaners for a life-size game of “human chess” in St. Louis’ picturesque Central West End. The celebration took place outside, between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis and the World Chess Hall of Fame – a fitting homage to both organizations, which were founded and are generously funded by Mrs. Sinquefield and her husband, the philanthropist (and great chess player) Rex Sinquefield.
The National Launch Event garnered extensive media coverage. Now-famous scouts, including astronaut Greg Chamitoff, attended the event and signed the new Chess Merit Badge books. (Chamitoff also presented the Chess Hall of Fame with a very special gift – the chessboard that he took aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.) Thanks to the generosity of Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the dedication of the chess community, Boy Scouts will proudly earn the Chess Merit Badge for decades to come.