Archive for the ‘World Chess Hall of Fame’ Category


Cairns Cup brings top female chess players to St. Louis

by Dean Minderman

Ten of the world’s top female chess players came to the Saint Louis Chess Club in February for the first-ever Cairns Cup, an elite-level tournament created specifically for women and named in honor of the co-founder of the club, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield (née Cairns).

Beginning Wednesday, February 6 and continuing until Saturday, February 16, the tournament had a total prize fund of $150,000, including $40,000 for first, $30,000 for second, and $20,000 for third.

Players competed in a classical round-robin, with one round played each day (except for a rest day), and in the end, GM Valentina Gunina (pictured, top) was the first place winner, with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk taking second place and GM Irina Krush finishing third.

“We are really excited to introduce this new international chess tournament for women,” said Dr. Sinquefield. “We hope this will inspire more women to play chess on a competitive level. We look forward to hosting this tournament for years to come and for it to become one of the premier chess tournaments in the world.”

In conjunction with the tournament, the Saint Louis Chess Club also held a “community day” for girl chess players seeking to earn their Chess Merit Badge for Scouts BSA. With the Boy Scouts of America officially becoming Scouts BSA and opening its programs to girls in February 2019, the event was the first such opportunity ever for the young players (pictured, center) to earn their badges, while also getting tips, photos and autographs from the pros.

The Chess Merit Badge has quickly become one of the most popular badges in the Scouts BSA merit badge catalogue, with more than 200,000 Scouts earning the badge since it was introduced in September 2011.

Tuesday
19
February 2019
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U.S. Senate names St. Louis “National Chess Capital”

by Dean Minderman

chessclub-logo2014

On the eve of hosting the most prestigious chess tournaments in the nation, St. Louis received national recognition from the United States Senate, which on Monday, May 5 passed an official resolution naming St. Louis the “National Chess Capital.”

The resolution, which was introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), also was intended to raise awareness of the educational benefits of chess and to encourage schools and community centers to engage in chess programs that promote important developmental skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, spatial awareness and more.

“The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosts all major U.S. chess competitions and has been a driver in educating children throughout the State since its inception,” Senator McCaskill said. “The intellect and creativity needed to learn and compete in chess also helps students think creatively and strategically in traditional academic areas, including math and science. We are proud St. Louis is leading the way in competitive American chess while providing students the problem-­solving and critical thinking skills needed in an ever‐advancing world.”

“I’m pleased the Senate approved our resolution to designate St. Louis as the National Chess Capital,” Senator Blunt said. “Chess programs like those offered by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis challenge young people academically and help motivate them to succeed.”

The news came just days after the announcement that a Congressional Chess Caucus has been formed to promote the educational benefits of chess and just days before the top chess players in the country competed in St. Louis for the title of U.S. Champion and U.S. Women’s Champion.

The 2014 U.S. Championship and 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship took place May 7 through May 20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL).

This was the sixth consecutive year that each of these prestigious events was held in St. Louis. Grandmaster Gata Kamsky repeated as the U.S. Chess Champion, his fifth time holding the title, after defeating GM Varuzhan Akobian 1.5-0.5 in a playoff on Tuesday evening. As well, GM Irina Krush turned in a three-peat as the U.S. Women’s Champion, her sixth year as title holder, after knocking out WGM Tatev Abrahayam 1.5-0.5 in their own playoff on Tuesday. Though both champions admitted struggling with the 2014 fields, Kamsky and Krush were the only players to finish undefeated.

Wednesday
28
May 2014
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Check Mate

by Dean Minderman
Rex Sinquefield

Rex Sinquefield (Photo by BUCK)

From the May-June 2013 issue of Sophisticated Living magazine
By Craig M. Kaminer

As the developer of some of the first index funds and the co-creator of a multibillion-dollar investment firm, Rex Sinquefield’s success in the business world was immense. After retiring in 2005 from his firm, Austin, Texas-based Dimensional Fund Advisors, Sinquefield returned to his hometown of St. Louis to tackle what he considers some of his most important work. In his roles as an activist and a philanthropist, he has brought a myriad of changes to St. Louis, much as his business career has changed the investment field.

Sinquefield has donated time and money to many organizations, including the St. Louis Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation and the St. Louis Symphony. One of his biggest projects – and biggest successes – is guiding the city to become the epicenter of the competitive chess world.

Thanks to Sinquefield, the Central West End is home to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, which is perhaps the best chess center in the world, and the World Chess Hall of Fame. A who’s who of tournament players have moved to St. Louis because of Sinquefield’s passion for and investment in chess. The club’s membership has topped 1,000, and traffic to its website reached nearly 500,000 during the past year.

I caught up with Sinquefield recently at the World Chess Hall of Fame to talk about his philanthropy and why he has committed so much time and money to chess. I was interested in learning more about his interest in chess and how he (almost) singlehandedly has changed the course of chess history.

As a boy, he says, he was fascinated by chess. When Sinquefeld was 13, his Uncle Fred taught him the game. “To his surprise, I beat him the second game we played, and from that point forward I was hooked,” Sinquefield says.

He played on the chess team at Bishop DuBourg High School and began playing in tournaments while in business school at the University of Chicago. “But I slowed down for many years because of family and kids, and came back to it when I had more time,” he says. “Now I have a chess lesson once a week from Jennifer Shahade, who is a two-time chess champion. I study and play online every day. Currently I’m playing 16 games at a time via computer. Sometimes I play speed chess, and other times I do ‘tactics.’”

He estimates he’s played thousands of games, but only 180 of them have been in tournaments.

“I love chess because it’s so beautiful,” he says. “It’s stimulating and so demanding. And the fact that it is one of four things that stave of dementia — chess, bridge, foreign language, and playing music – it’s good for me, too!”

His powers of concentration help him succeed, and not just in chess. “When I play, I don’t think about anything else,” he says. “Other players often do. I only focus on the game I am playing.” Chess is like life, he says, requiring good judgment, constant study and problem solving. And like life decisions, a chess player’s moves have consequences. “Tat’s why I think it is so important for schools to teach chess to children. I would like nothing more than to have chess taught in every school. “

With that in mind, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center employs more than 20 instructors who travel to more than 100 classrooms and community centers. “We even have a partnership with a judge in the juvenile courts who approached the Chess Club to teach at-risk kids the game of chess,” Sinquefield says. In addition, more than 70 children visit the Chess Club each Sunday to learn from grandmasters who teach at the club.

“I am most proud of the reception the club has received,” he said. “Our work is covered by media around the world, including being the cover story of more than one magazine. We’ve had visits from many famous players, including Anatoly Karpov, who was the world champion from 1975-‘85. Ironically, we wanted to show Karpov what we are doing for chess, but he came here in part because he always wanted to see the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.”

Sinquefield is working to create a match featuring six of the top players in the world. “We want to invent a specific event associated exclusively with the club and St. Louis,” he says.

When I asked, “What do you want people to know about you?” he responded quickly. “I don’t think about my legacy,” he said, adding that he hoped the Chess Club, World Chess Hall of Fame and Show Me Institute, which proposes solutions to state and local policy issues, would continue to thrive.

“My message is that individuals can make a big difference,” he says, whether through charity or by starting a business. “People shouldn’t underestimate their power to do good.”

Tuesday
21
May 2013
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