St. Louis centre of US Chess

Saint Louis
Until a few years ago St. Louis was a relative backwater in US Chess circles. Now all chess-related activity in the US seems to centred in the largest city in the mid-western state of Missouri. The latest development is that the World Chess Hall of Fame is moving from Miami, Florida (birthplace of Fabiano Caruana) to St. Louis (present home city of Hikaru Nakamura).

Saint Louis has come to the fore, in the minds of many chess followers, largely due to the participation of the top players in recent US Championships. Indeed, an excellent prize-fund and a widespread media coverage has made these St. Louis events some of the most exciting US Championships ever. Despite only being the 15th largest metropolis in the fifty states, St. Louis has been able to take chess development far beyond what any of the bigger cities can offer. Their chess club and 'scholastic center', for example, is unmatched in the whole North American continent.

It may be news to some 'Blitz addicts', but chess is not only a 'battle of wills' or 'an intellectual version of gladiators'. There are in fact many other cultural activities where the 64 squares are featured.

Many people 'like' chess, but prefer the artistic or creative aspects, rather than the competitive. Indeed, from time to time, the old subject crops up, where various folk discuss whether the game of chess is simply a pastime, or should instead be considered as a sport, educational tool, or even a form of art.

In my humble opinion, chess is such a rich experience with so many facets, that it can be many different things to different people.

The new version of the World Chess Hall of Fame wil open on the 9th of September 9 2011. I have been assured of the following:

" It will present the game of chess in a new light by offering exhibitions of artistic and historical significance, as well as interpretive programs, such as dance, music and art performances."

This already gets one thinking. Chess players should hold their heads high, our game is a respected part of mainstream culture!

Some of specific exhibits will be:

• The first commercial chess computer (invented by Sidney Samole).

• Some extraordinary chess sets, going back to the year 900AD (India and Persia) and forward to the present. 

• The 'chess piano concert in three movements' will be performed on the 13th of September 2011, on a unique musical instrument! A major event as this be only the second time that US chess/music fans will have had a chance to be present for a live performance on US soil. Some top local string musicians will be involved, as well as Dutch artist Guido van der Werve.

For those, especially in the US, who have been thinking of visiting the St. Louis Chess Club, well you now have another good reason to start checking on flight times to the mid-west! The Hall of Fame will be just opposite the club.

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