For many chess players, the introduction into the game begins in childhood. Either through school or family, they learn the movement of the pieces and the etiquette of play.
Eventually, the talented and dedicated among them compete for the most coveted prizes in competitive youth chess. In the United States, these high-level scholastic competitions have been portrayed in major motion pictures, such as Searching For Bobby Fischer and have been the subject of numerous bestselling books.
A fascination with young, talented chess players has long been part of the American public’s imagination. Perhaps it is the game’s complexity that causes us to admire young players who can compete at a very high level. What’s more, a young, teenage grandmaster sparks visions of possible once-in-a-lifetime genius.
In 1958, Bobby Fischer famously achieved the title at 15 years old, three years earlier than his future 1972 World Championship opponent, Boris Spassky. More recently, the word prodigy has been applied to U.S. players like Grandmaster Ray Robson, Grandmaster Samuel Sevian, and the current top American player in the world Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Each has made their way through the ranks of U.S. scholastic chess.
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is currently hosting the crowning event in U.S. scholastic chess: The United States Junior Closed Championship. The championship runs through July 16 at which time the winner will be able to call himself the 2015 U.S. Junior Champion, and will earn a special invitation to play in the U.S. Championship next year. In addition, the Junior Closed format introduces these players to a more international style of tournament–a round robin where every player faces every other player in the field. Gaining this important experience has helped past participants become world class players.
This prestigious event is taking place in Saint Louis, the chess capital of the United States, for the sixth straight year and gives the public a chance to witness potential future chess superstars in action. Among this year’s participants, Grandmaster-elect Jeffery Xiong, who recently took clear first at the 2015 Chicago Open, looks to be playing very well. International Master Akshat Chandra, the highest rated player in the field, will find tough opponents like FM Awonder Liang, who won the U.S. Junior Open last month in Illinois. Regardless of who wins this year’s U.S. Junior Championship it is sure to be filled with challenging, exciting chess.
Each day’s round begins at 1:00PM CST, and continues daily until the final round on Wednesday, July 16th. Stop by the Chess Club to witness the action or tune in to watch our special coverage featuring commentary by GM Benjamin Finegold and Fide Master Aviv Friedman online at US Chess Champs.