ST. LOUIS — This week, all the eyes of the chess world turn to St. Louis.
The Sinquefield Cup is underway through Sept. 11, and it’s bringing all the big names of chess to the chess capitol of the world – St. Louis. The biggest name is probably Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, the reigning five-time world chess champion.
The tournament is taking place at the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is located right across the street from the World Chess Hall of Fame, at Maryland and Euclid. That facility is now dedicated entirely to an exhibit titled “1972 Fischer/Spassky: The Match, its Origin, and Influence.”
The Sinquefield Cup is the fifth and final stage of the 2022 Grand Chess Tour, a series of five events with a total prize fund of more than a million dollars.
September marks the 50th anniversary of American "Bobby" Fischer's historic win over the Russian Boris Spassky in the legendary 1972 World Chess Championship. The show features more than 500 artifacts, including chess pieces used in pivotal game three of the "Match of the Century.” Fischer’s win ended 24 years of Soviet dominance in the sport.
For chess people, this is hallowed ground.
Chess Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez said, “This is the chess set that they played for the third game of the world championship match in 1972, and it was a pivotal point for chess history. Fischer was trailing 0-2 and he plays a very specific move, completely redefining how we think about chess strategy. Spassky must have had a shock when he saw this move, and it completely changed what we thought about dynamics in the game of chess. You can almost live through Spassky’s surprise and the spirit he must have had, facing this move 50 years ago.”
Ramirez is a St. Louis resident, thanks to chess, and serves as chess coach at St. Louis University.
World Chess Hall of Fame Curator Emily Allred discussed the historic and recent popularity of chess.
“There are a lot of people who became interested in chess during the pandemic,” said Allred. “And then, of course, you have the "Queen’s Gambit, which was a huge hit over Netflix. It brought a lot of women, particularly, to the game. We had a lot of first-time visitors who were new, female chess players.”