Posts Tagged ‘Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis’


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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Intense Action Marks End of US Women’s Chess Championship

by admin

The 2009 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, already had a clear winner going into the final round, but there was heavy drama in the battle for money, place and qualification for other tournaments.

Defending U.S. Champion Anna Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., finished off the tournament in style with a positional crush of Yun Fan, of Greencastle, Ind. She won the record $15,000 first place prize fund. Zatonskih ended with eight wins and one draw in nine games, and her 8.5 points were tied for the best result in the championship in more than 20 years. She said the championship was the best performance of her career.

“I think it was the strongest U.S. Championship I ever played,” Zatonskih said.

She scoffed at the idea of taking a short draw today.

“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “I had such a good position out of the opening.” She added that the superior quality of the tournament organization and conditions “made me feel like I was doing something important.”

The battle for second place, which began with three women mathematically eligible, crystallized when 42-year-old Camilla Baginskaite, the tournament’s oldest participant, rebounded from a rough eight loss. Baginskaite, of Sioux Falls, S.D., finished with six wins and one draw after beating Sabina Foisor, of Baltimore, Md., in the longest game of the day to pull one point ahead of both Alisa Melekhina and Irina Krush.

Melekhina, of Philadelphia, Pa., found a late checkmate tactic to beat Battsetseg Tsagaan, of Ellicott City, Md., and briefly pulled into a tie with Baginskaite, whose game was still in progress.

Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y., failed to keep pace. She began the round on equal second with Baginskaite but could not stay tied, as she lost to Tatev Abrahamyan, of Glendale, Calif. Krush’s loss ended her streak of three consecutive wins.

With the win, Baginskaite won $12,000 and avoided a complicated tiebreaker system that would have left second place highly in doubt. This was especially important because the top two finishers in the tournament qualified for the next Women’s World Chess Championship, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.

Zatonskih and Baginskaite are the only two American women to gain births so far to the 64-player knockout event. Krush may still qualify based on her high rating.

Baginskaite said she noticed that Krush lost and all she needed to do was draw her position to clinch second place. But judging that her game was better, she risked thousands of dollars in prize money and her world championship qualification to play for the win.

“I couldn’t see any way for (Foisor) to hold. Why should I play for a draw?” she said. “It’s about self-respect. You have to win this position.”

After more than 30 years of playing chess, Baginskaite also earned her first international master “norm,” a title she will acquire with two more norms.

Melekhina, the youngest player in the event, finished in a tie for third place with Krush at 5.5 points. They will both take home $7,500.

All five games were decisive in the last round. The last draw was in round five, more than 20 games ago. In many men’s events, more than half of the games end in draws. At this championship, fewer than a quarter ended peacefully.

For final standings, go to www.saintlouischessclub.org/US-Womens-Championship-2009/standings.


Wednesday
14
October 2009
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