Saint Louis Named Chess Capital; Top Players Gather
SAINT LOUIS, May 6, 2014 – On the eve of hosting the most prestigious chess tournaments in the nation, St. Louis received national recognition from the United States Senate, which passed an official resolution late Monday night naming St. Louis the National Chess Capital.
The resolution, which was introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), also seeks to raise awareness of the educational benefits of chess and to encourage schools and community centers to engage in chess programs that promote important developmental skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, spatial awareness and more.
"The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosts all major U.S. chess competitions and has been a driver in educating children throughout the State since its inception," Senator McCaskill said. "The intellect and creativity needed to learn and compete in chess also helps students think creatively and strategically in traditional academic areas, including math and science. We are proud St. Louis is leading the way in competitive American chess while providing students the problem-solving and critical thinking skills needed in an ever-advancing world."
“I’m pleased the Senate approved our resolution to designate St. Louis as the National Chess Capital,” Senator Blunt said. “Chess programs like those offered by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis challenge young people academically and help motivate them to succeed."
The news comes just days after the announcement that a Congressional Chess Caucus has been formed to promote the educational benefits of chess and just days before the top chess players in the country will compete in St. Louis for the title of U.S. Champion and U.S. Women’s Champion.
The 2014 U.S. Championship and 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship will begin May 7 and continue through May 20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL).
This marks the sixth consecutive year that each of these prestigious events will be held in St. Louis. The opening ceremony takes place At the World Chess Hall of Fame on May 7 at 6 p.m., and the first round for both events will kick off at 1 p.m. on May 8.
The 2014 U.S. Championship will feature a 12-player round robin and a guaranteed total prize fund of $172,000. The winner will take home $45,000.
In addition, the CCSCSL is sponsoring a “$64,000 Fischer Prize,” to be awarded to anyone who wins all 11 of their games outright without a single draw or defeat. The prize is named in honor of the 50th anniversary of Bobby Fischer’s accomplishment of that feat -- the only time anyone has ever done it -- at the 1963-64 U.S. Championship.
Last year, Grandmaster Gata Kamsky of New York City won his fourth U.S. Championship title. Kamsky, 39, seeks to defend his title this year against 11 strong competitors.
The 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship will feature 10 players and a guaranteed prize fund of $72,000. Grandmaster Irina Krush, 30, of New York City looks to defend her U.S. Women’s Championship crown.
Tony Rich, executive director of the CCSCSL, said these tournaments provide a learning opportunity for spectators and create role models for students of the game.
“Chess offers developing students a wide array of benefits including critical thinking, planning and sportsmanship, just to name a few,” Rich said. “Hosting these events allows us to showcase the top players in the country and also tell the world about the fantastic educational benefits chess can offer.”
Annual members of the Chess Club can attend the event for free, and annual membership to the CCSCSL costs just $50 for students or $100 for adults. Tickets for individual rounds of the event are available for $10 per day.
In addition, the CCSCSL is hosting a free student weekend May 17 and May 18, which will waive the $10 ticket price for all K-12 students.
For more information on the players and the U.S. Championships, visit www.uschesschamps.com.