Relections of 2009 U.S. Championship

The St. Louis Arch

The St. Louis Arch during sunset hours.

Although I only arrived in St. Louis on the last rest day of the U.S. Championship, I was able to experience two full days of the event. What a grand event! I primarily traveled to St. Louis for three reasons… (1) to support Charles Lawton (2) to see the beautiful venue and (3) to cover the ground-breaking tournament. This tournament was special in that it exuded the class and prestige befitting of a national championship. As a journalist, I always enjoy interacting with the other journalists and trading tips. It is always interesting to see interact with players.

The venue is situated on Maryland Street in a bustling area of St. Louis called Forest Park. The area is frequented by the more affluent social elements and there are many shops and stores in the area. As you walk into the club, you are greeted by a reception desk with a prominent logo behind it and gleaming hardwood floors. There are flatscreen TVs throughout and and stations for purchasing books and paraphanelia. The conditions were excellent and that was the overall concensus. The participants stayed in the exquisite Chase Park Plaza Hotel and it was where the Closing Ceremony was held.

best memories were…

  • seeing Charles Lawton interact with the local kids at the club;
  • the overall beauty of the chess club (i.e., gleaming hardwood floors, classy ambiance, immaculate bathrooms);
  • smooth organization of tournament with an endless supply of refreshments;
  • friendly greeting from Hikaru Nakamura;
  • interaction with the public relations team in the press room;
  • Charles Lawton’s expression of relief after drawing Samuel Shankland;
  • chatting with tournament and club financier Rex Sinquefield who told me a bit about his career;
  • listening to John Henderson’s humourous stories;
  • chatting with Brana Gianocristofaro, creator of the ground-breaking Monroi;
  • chatting with Robert Hess and recalling our game years ago (interview);
  • conversation about baseball with Julio Becerra;
  • the professionalism of the security personnel;
  • seeing pedestrians gawking at the chess club as they passed by;
  • nice suite in Hampton after moving out of Chase Park… free Internet and parking(!);
  • meeting a group of scholastic players and coaches from inner city and showing them The Chess Drum;
  • seeing someone who looked like Armenia’s Gabriel Sargissian and realizing that it WAS him 🙂 ;
  • using a MacBook for the first time;
  • interviewing Charles Lawton;
  • seeing the arch from the Zodiac room of the Chase Plaza rooftop as the sun was setting.

worst memories…

  • working on a laptop with half a screen (backlight lamp malfunction);
  • Chase Park’s charging for parking $14/night for guests and $22/night for non-guests and for Internet access in the rooms… $9.95/night;
  • Chase Park’s lack of automatic doors, ramps and elevators to help a resident with luggage transport.

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.


  1. Lawton was very cool to talk to and I loved how he interacted with the kids. My daughter loved him and his laugh. He even helped her and another kid find the one last chess player from the tournament that had not signed their boards at the closing ceremony. We had a great time there and now my daughter is a member of the club and we are looking forward to the women’s tournament this fall and the return of this tournament next year.

  2. Looks like a lot more good than bad! I continue to be impressed by everything I hear about this year’s Championship.

    I don’t know Mr. Lawton but he sounded like a real fun guy whenever he dropped in on the live Internet commentary.

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