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On Chess: New 2019 Sinquefield Chess Tables Unveiled During Grand Chess Tour Events In St. Louis

St. Louis Chess Club co-founder Rex Sinquefield shakes hand with Nate Cohen across a "Sinquefield Table."
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

When the St. Louis Chess Club wanted to create new and innovative chess tables for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour events held in St. Louis, it reached out to longtime partner and supporter Nate Cohen.

Cohen, 30, is the chief financial officer of Cohen Architectural Woodworking, a 70-employee family-run business in St. James, Missouri, that supplies commercial millwork to companies nationwide. 

He is also an award-winning professional woodworker who actually started in the family business by sweeping floors at age 5. Cohen has enjoyed a 13-year friendship with Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, co-founders of the St. Louis Chess Club.

Nate Cohen: In his own words

The relationship with the Sinquefields began in 2005 when I was just 16 and was invited to the Sinquefield farm in Westphalia, Missouri, where Jeanne Sinquefield discovered that we shared a mutual love for fine woodworking. She showed me the woodworking projects she was working on and other high-end wood pieces the couple had purchased.

One year later Jeanne Sinquefield asked if I could build a chess table as a gift for her husband. While I had  never built a chess table or even played chess, I was up for the challenge. I put my mind to work and a few weeks later delivered a unique and beautiful table for Rex Sinquefield to enjoy.

In 2008, Jeanne Sinquefield reached out to again to discuss the couple's plan for a new chess club in St. Louis. They wanted some nice chess tables for the board room. I created a newly designed chess table that they began calling “The Nate Cohen Table." Over the years, more tables were added as the club hosted bigger tournaments and events.

To meet the demands of the increasingly popular Grand Chess Tour, Cohen Architectural Woodworking was asked to design an inventive group of tables that incorporated a fully computerized chess board to monitor player’s moves, clock times and also display other graphic and player information.

Rex Sinquefield commissioned our company to choose a design that was ultimately inspired by the chess table from the 1966 Havana, Cuba, Chess Olympiad on which American grandmaster Bobby Fischer played.

The end product resulted in a unique and creative design — what is now called "The Sinquefield Table." It features green leather padding and display screens with the latest electronic equipment inlaid that reflects the game being played to the audience, both local and worldwide. 

Nate Cohen (left) shakes hands with grandmaster Fabiano Caruana across a "Sinquefield Table."
Credit Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club
Nate Cohen (left) shakes hands with grandmaster Fabiano Caruana across a "Sinquefield Table."

These new chess tables were unveiled at the 2019 St. Louis Rapid & Blitz Opening Ceremony. They were used for that tournament as well as for the 2019 Sinquefield Cup. These two tournaments featured the top chess players in the world, including world champion Magnus Carlsen and 2018 world champion challenger Fabiano Caruana. They will continue to be used at the St. Louis Chess Club for future major tournaments and events.

Relationship building is what we do at Cohen Architectural Woodworking, and I am grateful to Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield for our great relationship and to be a part of this growing chess family. We had no idea at the time that the St. Louis Chess Club would evolve to where it is today.

It is a great privilege to have provided the tables for these world-class events and to have an impact on the game of chess as its popularity grows in St. Louis and on a worldwide basis.

Nate is the designer and builder of the “Sinquefield Table,” the chess tables used for major Grand Chess Tour events held at the St. Louis Chess Club, a partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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