The World Chess Hall of Fame was created in 1986 by the United States Chess Federation and its president at the time, E. Stephen Doyle.
Originally known as the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, the museum opened in 1988 in the basement of the Federation’s then headquarters in New Windsor, New York, with an exhibition featuring a book of chess openings signed by Bobby Fischer, the Paul Morphy silver set, and cardboard plaques honoring past grandmasters. In 1992, the U.S. Chess Trust purchased the museum and moved its contents to Washington D.C. From 1992 to 2001, the collection grew to include the World Chess Championship trophy won by the U.S. team in 1993, numerous chess sets and boards, and the U.S. and World Hall of Fame inductee plaques.
In 2001, the institution moved into a new, multi-million dollar facility at the Excalibur Electronics headquarters in Miami, Florida and was renamed the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sidney Samole Museum. As General Manager of Fidelity Electronics, Samole conceived of the first chess computer, Chess Challenger 1, in 1977, and the new museum’s name was a tribute to his pioneering work at the intersection of chess and modern technology. Under the leadership of Executive Director Al Lawrence, the museum continued collecting chess sets, books, tournament memorabilia, advertisements, photographs, furniture, medals, trophies, and journals until it closed in 2009.
Due to the vibrancy of Saint Louis and the growing international reputation of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, it was then proposed that the contents of the Miami institution be moved to Saint Louis. Realizing the potential to provide area youth with a vital educational resource, Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield provided seed funding to relocate the institution to Saint Louis. U.S. Chess Trust President Jim Eade, Mr. Sinquefield, and other staff and board members from both the Trust and the USCF approved the move in August 2010.
The World Chess Hall of Fame opened on September 9, 2011 in Saint Louis in the Central West End, a bustling neighborhood located directly across the street from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The World Chess Hall of Fame is housed in a historic 15,900 square-foot residence-turned-business and features the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, displays of artifacts from the permanent collection, and temporary exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games, and rich cultural history of chess. The WCHOF partners with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national, and international audiences.