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Originally published in Alive Magazine

Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte, Ray Charles and Marlon Brando were all stellar chess players?

Or that the number of possible unique chess games is far greater than the number of electrons in the universe? For those of us upset with ESPN’s nonexistent reporting of the cerebral sport (though they do offer a hearty selection of competitive eating competitions), St. Louis now has the answer – the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. This three-story coliseum of all things chess, located in the Central West End, promotes the brainiac game in and around the metro area by endorsing school programs, showcasing exhibitions and giving amateurs and novices alike a place to gather and compete.

The center is a graceful and lavish testament to the game, offering a particularly stylized setting for the dedicated chess enthusiast. Composed of pristine, antique-white walls, hardwood floors and dark wooden chairs bearing the symbol of the ubiquitous king, this state-of-the-art arena also features several large plasma televisions that are electronically connected to DGT chessboards to show games unfold in real time.

The lower level is a classroom where you can listen to spirited lectures on strategies and histories or peruse the bookshelves filled with biographies of Karpov, Morphy, the Cold War connections of chess and, of course, America’s greatest gaming dynamo, Bobby Fischer. Upstairs is the lounge, decorated with lush, forest green carpets, elegantly framed photos of previous chess demigods and beautiful tables with inlaid boards, handcrafted by local woodworkers specifically for the venue.

The Scholactic Center is also one of the few (perhaps only) chess centers in the U.S. fostering bourgeoning partnerships with local universities – in particualar St. Louis University – for studying the cognitive and behavioral effects of chess. Memberships are available for adults, students and families, or you can enjoy a day of chess for $3. With a stadium like this, who needs ESPN?


Chess Club and Scholastic Center

4657 Maryland Avenue

Central West End


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