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.
- 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.