• renowned support for the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
  • committed to improving EDUCATION for all children
  • CHESS CLUB & SCHOLASTIC CENTER OF SAINT LOUIS
  • visionaries behind MIZZOU NEW MUSIC INITIATIVE

University of Missouri launches competitive chess team

by Dean Minderman

Officials of the University of Missouri have announced the launch of a competitive chess team with help from a grant of nearly $800,000 from the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Christian Chirila (pictured), a 28-year-old grandmaster from Romania who has won chess titles and tournaments all over the world, will coach the team. He already has begun recruiting undergraduate and graduate players from around the world to compete in intercollegiate chess competitions for Mizzou starting this fall. These players will get university scholarships, live and practice together in dedicated space in Respect Hall, and travel to competitions throughout the year.

“Mizzou is home to top athletic teams, and I am planning for the MU Chess Team to continue that tradition of excellence and be a top competitor from year one,” said Chirila, who attended the University of Texas at Dallas on a chess scholarship and had been coaching chess in the Bay Area of California.

According to a news release, as the program is developed, Mizzou will collaborate with the Saint Louis Chess Club to become a chess resource for the state of Missouri. There are plans to develop chess summer camps, state and national high school chess tournaments, distance-learning courses on chess, and chess teacher certifications. The university also is interested in hosting new collegiate events in cooperation with the U.S. Chess Federation to create more opportunities for collegiate players to compete.

“The MU Chess Team is a welcome addition to the Mizzou family,” said Patricia Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science, which will be the team’s academic home. “Chess teaches important skills, such as logic and focus, that everyone needs. Learning more about this sport will benefit the entire university and community.”

Opened in 2008, the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center and the World Chess Hall of Fame provide extensive educational and competitive opportunities that have made chess synonymous with Missouri, and have led some to call St. Louis “the chess capital of the world.”

“The Saint Louis Chess Club is thrilled to partner with the University of Missouri and is looking forward to working with the team as we continue to grow and advance chess,” said Rex Sinquefield, who co-founded the club with his wife, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, and serves as its president.

Tuesday
5
March 2019
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Sinquefield Charitable Foundation gives
$2.5 million to Mizzou New Music Initiative

by Dean Minderman

The Sinquefield Charitable Foundation is continuing its support for the Mizzou New Music Initiative with a new gift of $2.5 million to fund MNMI’s operations for the next three years.

Announced by University of Missouri officials in a news conference on Thursday, February 21, the gift will support all of MNMI’s activities, including the costs of faculty and staff, graduate student assistantships, and two full-tuition scholarships per year for undergraduate composition majors; presenting the Mizzou International Composers Festival; bringing guest composers and performers to campus; funding the Sinquefield Composition Prize; and more. The University will match the $300,000 portion designated for undergraduate student scholarships, increasing the amount to a grand total of $600,000.

Speakers at the gift announcement event included Mizzou chancellor Alexander Cartwright; Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation; Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences; and Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music. The presentation also included video testimonials from Mizzou composition alumni Grant Fonda, Stephanie Berg and Trey Makler, talking about the opportunities they’ve gained from being part of MNMI.

A brief slide show of photos from the past ten years featured some numbers quantifying what MNMI has done during that time, noting that 70 students have received full scholarships and assistantships; 505 pieces of new music have been performed or created by Mizzou composers; and 164 guest composers and performers of new music have visited campus, including three Pulitzer Prize winners and four Grammy Award winners.

Attendees also enjoyed a performance of sophomore composition major Jack Snelling’s “Stream of Consciousness” (pictured), conducted by the composer and performed by flutist Jane Wang, clarinetist Tricia Carver-Horner, and pianist Danny Singh.

The event was reported in a feature story in the Columbia Missourian, and also got coverage from KOMU, the Columbia Daily Tribune, and various other media outlets around the state. You can see the entire gift announcement event in the embedded video player below.

Tuesday
26
February 2019
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$2.5 million to Mizzou New Music Initiative

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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