Chess in Saint Louis

Chess in Saint Louis
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The success of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame have received international attention from the chess community, making Saint Louis the premiere chess destination worldwide.

In fact, the U.S. Chess Federation named Saint Louis “Chess City of the Year” in 2009 and 2011. The city of Saint Louis, however, is not without a lengthy chess heritage.

In 1886, Saint Louis hosted a segment of the first World Chess Championship, which culminated with Wilhelm Steinitz defeating Johannes Zukertort to become the first World Champion. Saint Louis again held a major chess event in 1890 when the U.S. Open, won by Jackson Showalter, came to the city and brought national attention from the chess community.

The 1904 World’s Fair drew national and international visitors to Saint Louis. It also served as an occasion to hold the Seventh Annual Chess Congress in the city. Frank J. Marshall, founder of the Marshall Chess Club in New York City, was named tournament champion. Saint Louis resident and founder of the St. Louis Chess Club, Max Judd, was awarded second prize.

Another Saint Louis chess notable was Mrs. Eveline Allen Burgess, named Woman’s Champion of the United States in 1907. Samuel Burgess, husband of Eveline, was also actively involved in the local chess community. He served as the vice president and later president of the St. Louis Chess Club, of which Eveline was an honorary member. Eveline was also an active member of the West End Chess Club while Samuel served as its president.

From the 1940s through the 1970s, Robert Steinmeyer was Missouri’s premiere chess talent, consistently winning the St. Louis District Championship. During that time, Saint Louis repeatedly drew grandmasters to the city for simultaneous exhibitions. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Reuben Fine, Larry Evans, Victor Korchnoi, and Tigran Petrosian were among those visiting Saint Louis to challenge Steinmeyer and other local chess players.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis opened its doors in 2008 and shortly thereafter became the new home for U.S. Championship Chess. Together with the WCHOF, Saint Louis has become the pre-eminent destination to play, learn, and experience chess in its many dimensions. More than a century after the World Championship match in 1886, Saint Louis has again caught the worldwide attention of the chess community and continues to celebrate the game with innovative programming and exhibitions.

The World Chess Hall of Fame will present a series of exhibitions highlighting the history of chess in Saint Louis.