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On Chess: St. Louis goes international – again – with Sinquefield Cup

Fabiano Caruana, left, defeated the inaugural cupholder Magnus Carlsen in the first round of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Starting next week, St. Louis will not only be the capital of chess in America – it will hold the attention of the entire world. At that time, the inaugural Grand Chess Tour will start its second leg: the Sinquefield Cup, now in its third year.

Last year's edition was the strongest tournament ever held, and this year's will host nine of the top 10 players on the globe.

Even before the tournament starts there is a serious amount of speculation about the preparation of some of the players. World Champion Magnus Carlsen was the clear favorite to win Norway Chess 2015, the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour. Not only did he fail to take first, he had a shameful tournament overall, including a loss to his countryman in the last round. Rumors are that he has set up a strong training camp post Norway as he prepares to bounce back with a vengeance.

The “old-guard” is made up of those who come to the Sinquefield Cup at the top of the standings. Both Veselin Topalov, from Bulgaria and Vishy Anand, from India, scored the top positions in Norway, despite being the only players above the age of 40! Topalov is unpredictable and can have a good tournament or produce a total disaster. Anand is one of the most consistent scorers in the elite. We will see if they can continue their good form.

As far as the Americans go, the news is excellent. First, Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning U.S. Champion and America's #1 player by rating, will be attempting to turn a 180 on last year's performance where he finished in dead last. Second, Fabiano Caruana, recently switched federations from Italy to his native USA and is the reigning champion of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. The third, Wesley So, is a young and charismatic Filipino-born player who has had his fair share of drama in St. Louis. He forfeited one of his rounds for writing notes on his scoresheet in the 2014 U.S. Championships in April. 

The remaining players are also some of the crowd favorites. Levon Aronian will be attracting fans from around the U.S. to see their Armenian idol. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave made waves with his strong performance in last year's Sinquefield. Finally, Anish Giri and Alexander Grischuk are hoping to make a lasting impression with their first appearance at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

If you are in any way a chess fan, there is simply no way to miss this event. The world will be tuning in to watch the action unfold featuring live grandmaster commentary at www.grandchesstour.com. As for St. Louisans, they have a unique opportunity to see history in the making. Join us at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St, Louis for onsite commentary and to view the tournament rounds in-person. Tickets are available at www.saintlouischessclub.org.

Alejandro Ramirez has become a frequent guest of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, through roles as both the Club’s Resident Grandmaster rotation and as a player in the nation’s elite events. On Chess is provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.