St. Louis Chess Club upgrading!

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis (CCSCSL or St. Louis Chess Club) has been slowly expanding since its opening in 2008. The chess club is the home of the U.S. Championships, the Sinquefield Cup and Grand Chess Tour events. Since I have relatives in the St. Louis area, I usually stop by the chess club and the World Chess Hall of Fame.

The Chess Drum has covered several Sinquefield Cups and U.S. Championship events, and there has always been an increased public interest in events hosted in St. Louis. The chess club is touted as one of the best in the world and has sights on being a magnet for larger open events. When flying through St. Louis airport, you will soon learn about the proclaimed “Chess Capital.”

Advertisement at Lambert International Airport
Photos/Videos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

The St. Louis Chess Club is being renovated to add more floor space to the campus. There are notices on the building indicating renovation is taking place, and inside the club, a major section is off-limits. If a chess enthusiast has visited the club, they can attest to its grandeur. It is nicely decorated with chess memorabilia throughout, giving the visitor a sense of prestige. While there are no concept drawings of the renovation, there is anticipation of what the club has in store.

Renovations in progress!

World Chess Hall of Fame

When passing through St. Louis, it is always worth a half-day visit to the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Outside the museum is the gigantic king, entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. The king sits 20 feet tall and weighs about five tons. It has become a favorite backdrop for photos of people visiting the Central West End area. The museum sits directly across the street from the chess club and has exhibits that change every 3-6 months.

World Chess Hall of Fame

WCHOF Exhibit “Clash for the Crown”

I remember attending the World Chess Hall of Fame’s grand opening when it was located in Miami, Florida for a short period. The building was in the shape of a rook and was the corporate office of Excalibur Electronics. Since moving to St. Louis in September 2011, there have been hundreds of exhibits, including one of my favorites in the Fischer collection. The museum even hosted the “Living Like Kings” hip-hop chess exhibit in collaboration with Adisa Banjoko.

The current exhibit is “Clash for the Crown,” a journey through world championship matches from Wilhelm Steinitz to Ding Liren. Some authentic scripts are on display, including a hand-written letter from Jose Capablanca and a signed book by Alexander Alekhine. A chess set that belonged to Emmanuel Lasker is also on display.

The site of the 1886 World Championship match in St. Louis

Photos/Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

There was a poster of the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi. The Chess Drum was in Dubai to cover what could conceivably be the last match for Carlsen. This opened the gates for Ding Liren, who qualified due to the vacated crown left by Carlsen. Ding went on to defeat Nepomniachtchi in the 2023 match through tiebreaks.

Posters for the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi match in Dubai.
I was there! 🙂

If you have not been to the World Chess Hall of Fame, you can find the inductees on the top floor. Previously, plaques were neatly placed on a large wall, but managing space can be challenging as you add more. Several years ago, the museum mounted several interactive touchscreens where you can view all the inductees and read their profiles. If you look closely, you will see Maurice Ashley’s profile, a 2016 inductee.

The U.S. and World Hall of Fame inductees

“Match of the Matriarchs”

Down on the main floor, there was an exhibit titled “Match of the Matriarchs.” It was an interesting combination of exquisite chess sets and sculptures honoring the queen. One set featured the “Amazon Queen,” a piece with the movement of the queen plus the knight. The collection of chess sets never disappoints. In 2013, an exhibit, “A Queen Within,” included queens’ dresses. There was even the dress that Beyonce (AKA “Queen B”) wore on the cover of Vogue magazine. This one was less on fashion and more on symbolism.

Central West End

The Central West End area offers a pleasant environment for a meal, a drink, coffee, or ice cream. There are a variety of eateries near the club. One of my favorite spots is a wonderful Lebanese restaurant, which I always visit when I’m at the club. To my surprise, the Golden Grocer health food store next door to the restaurant moved in 2020, but Whole Foods is not far away.

Since I was attending a gala event later in the evening, I only stopped by for a pre-dinner appetizer. The Baba Ghanoush is one of my favorites. After eating a snack or meal, there are not many things better than spending the day in the Central West End area. You can even take in a movie at Chase Plaza Hotel, a partner of the chess club. The St. Louis Chess Club continues to expand, and perhaps they will be able to host even larger events. It is certainly a must-see for a chess player.

Photos/Videos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

Saint Louis Chess Club
4657 Maryland Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63108

(314) 361-2437

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