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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.

February 2019
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Chess set made by Boy Scout at Sinquefield Invention Lab
now on display at World Chess Hall of Fame

by Dean Minderman

A metal and wood chess set designed and built by a Boy Scout at the Sinquefield Invention Lab now is on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

Chandler Francis, a 17-year-old who lives in Blue Springs, MO and is a Life Scout in Troop 49 in Nelson, MO, made the set during the summer of 2018 to earn his Metalworking merit badge.

The Sinquefield Invention Lab, which is located at the Great Rivers Council’s Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation near Laurie, MO, was established in 2017 “to facilitate hands-on education and invention of new ideas and technologies, while utilizing problem-solving skills, creativity, and imagination in a team environment.”

The Metalworking badge requires learning about alloys, metalworking techniques, and safety. The Scout chooses one of four options – sheet metal mechanic/tinsmith, silversmith, founder, or blacksmith – and then must complete a project.

Francis (pictured) used the Invention Lab’s Epilog laser to create the wooden board for the set, and, with the assistance of camp counselor Justin Tattich, made the metal pieces at the reservation’s nearby blacksmithing pavilion.

While the badge requires Scouts to forge two objects — one with a decorative twist and one with a hammer-riveted joint – Francis created all 32 pieces needed to make a complete set using a variety of forging techniques.

“We congratulate Chandler on being featured at the World Chess Hall of Fame,” says Doug Callahan, Scout Executive of the Great Rivers Council. Callahan says the camp and council are “proud to have helped him in this endeavor, and we hope his creativity inspires other Scouts.”

October 2018
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now on display at World Chess Hall of Fame

Sinquefields to donate $50 million to St. Louis University

by Dean Minderman

Saint Louis University on Tuesday, August 28 announced that Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield are donating $50 million to the University.

It’s the largest gift in SLU’s 200-year history, and will fund a new Saint Louis University Research Institute to serve as the focal point for the University’s efforts to grow “the scale and eminence of its research and scholarship.” The gift also will establish a new Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, and provide annual support to SLU’s chess team.

“On behalf of the entire Saint Louis University community, I want to thank Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield for their transformational gift and for their unparalleled support of our University,” said SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. in a news release.

“Through their immense generosity, the Sinquefields will provide the gift of knowledge to the world, bring further attention to the region as a research hub, and draw more outstanding scholars and students to St. Louis,” Pestello continued. “For all this and more, we are deeply grateful.”

The gift received extensive coverage in St. Louis media, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/STLToday.com, St. Louis Business Journal, St. Louis Public Radio, and television stations KSDK (NBC), KMOV (CBS) and KTVI (FOX).

In addition, an Associated Press story was picked up by media outlets across the country, and the gift also was noted in stories in specialized publications including Inside Higher Ed, The Journal of Philanthropy, and Philanthropy News Digest.

September 2018
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