ST. LOUIS - The reigning World Chess Champion is in town and so is his competition. They've come to play at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End.
Grandmasters live for the game. A dozen of the world's best are in St. Louis competing for the 2018 World Chess Championship. Tony Rich, executive director of the St. Louis Chess Club, says the eyes of the world are on the Gateway City, the third stop on the Grand Chess Tour.
“It is a circuit of tournaments that happen around the world. We’ve toured already in Europe, the next two are here in St. Louis, and the last event will be in London,” Rich said.
The World Championship is in December. Magnus Carlsen of Norway is the current champion. Fabiano Caruana will challenge him for the title. Caruana is from Italy but now lives in St. Louis.
The Grandmasters will play in two tournaments here: The St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, and The Sinquefield Cup. Prize money for both tournaments combined is about a half-million dollars.
“We’ll be seeing them play chess from very fast time controls to where they will play many games per day. All the way to playing slow, what we call classical chess where they play one game per day and one game might take six hours,” Rich said.
Rich says St. Louis is now known as the chess capital of America. And people come from out of town for this event.
“You can stand just a few feet away from the people that are playing here. It’s very intimate. A lot of places in Europe, you might be quite a distance from the players,” said Leslie Solheim, visiting from Chicago.
Chess is a game that allows you to play with benefit.
“Chess gives you so many important life skills like critical thinking, how to plan ahead, how to understand how one action you make right now, is going to impact you down the road later on,” Rich said.
While the Grandmasters compete inside St. Louisan Amon Aziz plays a casual game and brings his grandson.
“It brings a lot of good visitors to St. Louis who know how to play chess. Tough opponents,” Aziz said.
Jean Sinquefield and her husband Rex founded the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center to share their love of the game.
“It’s very exciting. We also have over 100 tournaments we have over 200 schools, 5,000 kids playing chess in the St. Louis area. And you can tell this is a neighborhood place,” Sinquefield said.
The public is invited to enjoy the St. Louis Chess Club anytime. You can do day passes or memberships. But there are just a few days left for the Sinquefield Cup. It runs through August 28.