By Carlos Perdomo, with Tricia Hill
With the 2014 Sinquefield Cup being played August 27 – September 7 in St. Louis, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see a city I had never been to before, visit the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre founded by Rex and Jeanie Sinquefield, tour the World Chess Hall of Fame – and perhaps rub elbows with some of the greatest chess players of our time.
Because of the success of the Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame right across the street, St. Louis has truly become a mecca of sorts certainly for chess aficionados, but also for those that are simply curious about learning about the history and importance of the game. Not only does the World Chess Hall of Fame boast the largest giant chess piece outside, there are numerous pictures, artifacts, and chess boards to document chess’ most famous masters and its growth and change throughout the years. Exhibits do rotate and the Bobby Fischer exhibit was currently at the Hall of Fame with artifacts such as manuscripts with notes by Fischer and even some of Fischer’s furniture on which he used to play.
If you want to catch a drink, the pub across the street offers inside and outside seating – with plenty of room to set down your pint whilst playing a friendly game.
Webster University, also in St. Louis, is home to the now two straight Final Four chess titles, currently under the coaching of Susan Polgar. An April Washington Post article alluded to the university spending $1 million to dominate college chess. Georgia’s own Reece Thompson received a $56,000 scholarship to attend the school. St. Louis truly is becoming quite the world hub for chess.
I was fortunate enough to run into many friends from the chess community and met some news ones, including the organizer for the upcoming millionaire chess tournament in Vegas, GM Maurice Ashley. Maurice is very passionate about promoting chess to a wider audience by demonstrating the increase in cognitive ability for critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making through the use of technology. This tournament has the largest ever cash payout for an Open chess tournament. I decided to play in the tournament because I wanted to be part of creating more awareness for the game. I will be attending the tournament along with other Georgians FM Kazim Gulamali, CM Jim Mundy, WIM Carolina Blanco, Grant Oen, Reece Thompson, Stephen Eisenhauer, and the young prodigy, Arthur Guo. For more information about the tournament or to follow next week’s results, go to: http://millionairechess.com/.
As for the results of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, GM Fabiano Caruana clobbered the completion with a score of 8.5 with World Champion Magnus Carlsen a distant second with 5.5 points. In an article in Slate magazine, much was made about Caruana’s win (and Carlsen’s losing) and the waning popularity of chess. Greg Shahade had a terrific response to the article on his blog. Both articles can be accessed here: http://www.gregshahade.com/home/amazing-things-happening-in-chess-that-no-one-noticed.
The city of St. Louis is nice and some areas are beautiful and it felt much smaller than Atlanta. The people were amazingly helpful and very accommodating. I was fortunate to even find time to go up in the St. Louis famous arch!
I do hope someday that Atlanta could also be home to a world renowned chess center. Physical sports help the physical body (and are important), but we need to remember that chess is a sport that improves the mind. For a good article on how chess improves the mind and can be used “outside of the game itself,” please see FM Alisa Melekhina’s article, “5 Ways that Chess Can Boost Your Resume.”
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QuickStart! 2014 Results