Recently, we embarked on a road trip to visit the chess capital of the United States. Unless you are part of the chess community, you and many other folks may be unaware that the city of St. Louis is the chess capital of the country. In the Spring of 2013, the United States Congress had declared St. Louis, Missouri to be the chess capital of America, and surely, this “Gateway to the West” town has truly lived up to that title.
In the past decade, there has been one name synonymous with the growth of the chess capital—Rex Sinquefield. He, along with his wife Dr. Jeanne, helped establish the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is now considered the American headquarters for chess. Here, you will find a tournament hall, library, classrooms, and play areas.
Hundreds of players from all skill levels can be found participating in various events in the 6,000 square feet center.
Looking across from the Chess Club, your eyes are automatically drawn upward to a 20 foot tall chess piece (a king) structure in front of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). The building consists of three stories which includes a floor with jumbo touch screens that allow you to access information on the latest Hall of Fame inductees, chess memorabilia from the greats like Bobby Fischer, trophies and medals, temporary exhibits of some of the greatest players, historic games, and more. The WCHOF has been dedicated to teaching visitors the artistic and cultural influence of chess in our world. Thousands of visitors have walked the halls of the WCHOF since its opening in 2011.
Over the past few years, the resurgence of chess in America, as a result of Rex Sinquefield and Dr. Jeanne’s efforts (dubbed the “Sinquefield Effect”) have placed America back on the forefront of the world’s chess stage.
America has now become one of the top chess nations in the world.
In 2013, the Sinquefield Cup tournament was established and has attracted the participation of some of the world’s top chess players to St. Louis. Prior to the beginning of the main tournament, there are numerous tournaments, big and small, occurring during the entire month of August. The tournaments draw in spectators and news media outlets from around the world–hence the chess party. This is when chess players, young and old, get the opportunity to meet the best of the best in the world, maybe collect a few autographs, observe live matches of their favorites, and more.
If you are interested in partying with the best, take a road trip to St. Louis this month and get your chess on! Here are some ways to get started.
Upcoming Chess Events & Programming