By Leo Solal, Premier Chess Business Development Manager
Chess is a game of skills, focus and dedication like many other sports but unlike soccer, basketball and many other popular athletics only practice doesn’t make perfect. Playing against an experienced and talented player without the required preparation is comparable to making a lightweight fighting against a heavyweight in boxing. Failures and crushing losses are more likely to arise, and more than once, when trying to perfect our chess understanding but there are some misunderstanding around that beautiful art – “I understand, as any history chess has been surrounded by many myths” – Garry Kasparov.
Today is the official National Chess Day, October 9th, supposedly celebrated the 2nd Saturday of October, and proclaimed in 1976 by the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford – “For both professionals and amateurs, chess is a game that sharpens the mind, tests human faculties and encourages healthy competition. It has captivated the attention of players and spectators world-wide and will continue to do so as long as competition and excellence challenge mankind.”
Nowadays it is widely accepted that this is one of the greatest game that we ever created, and geopolitically appreciated as a sport. There could be an argument to make on the physical conditions necessary to be a good chess player but there is none to be made regarding its thousands of miles of years it went through to be where it’s at today. Indeed if we look back it’s fair to say the rules evolved quite a bit over the years, as much as seeing chess variants appearing such as “Go” in China and “Shogi” in Japan.
Originally appeared in India around the 5th century, chess was later introduced to Persia and was perceived as a characteristic of education and power. The pieces were already divided in different classes that were representing the four divisions of the military : infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariotry. After the Islamic conquest of Persia (9th century), the Muslim would transport “chaturaṅga” (chess) to Western Europe via North-Africa over the courses of centuries. Let’s call the rest history, since it is already somewhat universally known that it is in Europe that it took its modern form.
It is great to see the energy that chess brings around its development and proliferation all over the United-States. Tournaments are happening every now and then and more and more programs are appearing in the public and private school sectors. In fact we are happy to be here to notice and take part at chess’ expansion and positive vibration. Actually Premier Chess’ CEO Evan Rabin is going to Canada tomorrow to play in the Canada International Open that brought over 200 players last year among of which 15 countries were represented.
Finally Saint-Louis has taken a prominent place in the chess world as America’s embassy. With barely half a million of population, and some discontinuous societal hardships, Rex Sinquefield invested in the town’s center by building a 6000 square ft communal’s center for chess enthusiasts, which became the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St-Louis. In 2009 it hosted for the first time the U.S Chess Championship which bring over some of the strongest players (Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura …). Now it has also flourished in a popular chess club where players from different background and skill levels can better themselves over the board by listening to various chess teachers giving lectures such as GM Akhobian or GM Seirawan.
Jumping forward Saint-Louis was proclaimed chess capital by the United States Congress in May 2013. Shortly after the new heart of American Chess Culture opened its door to the first Edition of the Sinquefield Cup with a serious cash prize of 170 000$. It is pleasant to observe chess still receiving major contributions and getting more and more recognition as a real sport and a true culture and not just a common game. There are many more tournaments ahead of us and if you would like to learn more about those check out the United States Chess Federation’s Website.