You are here


'Chess For Life' Program Kicks-Off At Siteman Cancer Center


St Louis, MO, Oct. 9, 2009 -- Chess for Life, the partnership program founded by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, kicked-off at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. The program's mission is to bring chess into Siteman for patients and their families.

"Chess for Life is special for us. Playing chess can help bring an escape and enjoyment in a time of tremendous stress," said Chess Club Executive Director Tony Rich to the crowd, which included competitors in the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.

Chess for Life provides chess tables, boards and pieces, along with volunteers who will play and offer instruction. In addition, Siteman patients will be able to access a website allowing them to play with other people or a computer.

"Our goal is to grow our Chess for Life outreach program throughout the U.S., and we are honored to have the program launch here at the Siteman Center," said Rich.
Chess for Life was inspired by Jim Corbett, a Siteman patient who was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. During his treatment, Corbett's mood was lifted when he began playing chess. The Chess Club established Chess for Life as a tribute to Corbett who died last December.

For more information on how to volunteer for Chess for Life call the Siteman volunteer office at 314-747-7222 or the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis at 800-600-3606 or visit

View More

Sperreng Middle School Students Take on Top US Female Grandmasters


A dozen area chess champions from Sperreng Middle School visited the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on Friday to test their skills against two of the best female players in the country. The duo of Battsetseg Tsagaan and Camilla Baginskaite played a tandem simultaneous exhibition on their day off; the two women are in town competing in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.

Sperreng Middle School has won the Missouri State Middle School Chess Championship for three of the past five years, and the 12 children chosen to play the masters were picked because they are the best from the school chess team, said Rick Nelson, who has coached the team for the past 11 years.

“They’re so excited,” said Nelson. “This is an event they didn’t want to miss.”

View More

Melekhina Might Be Young, but She's Proving Formidable at U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Past the halfway mark of the 2009 U.S. Women's Championship, two of the three leaders will use their day off to rest and regroup, but one player will not have that luxury. She has homework to do.
Alisa Melekhina, 18, of Philadelphia, is the youngest player in the field as she competes in her second U.S. Women's Championship, an invitation-only event held this year at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. During the only free day from competition, Melekhina, a sophomore at Drexel University, has to spend the morning studying for a test in cognitive psychology.  In 2007, she played in her first championship, and she was again the youngest.

After five rounds of play this year, Melekhina is tied for second place (with a woman more than twice her age) with 3.5 points out of five. She trails only the defending champion, Anna Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., who is 13 years her senior, a virtual extra lifetime in the world of chess experience.
"I'm not that young anymore," she insisted.

View More

Round 5 Photos

Check out the images from Round 5! The players have an off day on Friday, and play will resume Saturday at 2 p.m. See if Alisa Melekhina can upset defending champion Anna Zatonskih to pull into a first-place tie!

View More

Long Matches End With Zatonskih Extending Lead At U.S. Women's Chess Championship

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 9, 2009 -- At the dawn of the tournament's only rest day, the fifth round of the 2009 U.S. Women's Championship on Friday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, gave every player both added incentive to fight hard and a reason to be nervous. After many careful calculations, all 10 participants found themselves low on time and close to forfeiture, with several women within 10 seconds of losing by not making the required 40 moves in the first two hours. In the end, all boards cleared the time hurdle, and a hectic scramble gave way to a clearer picture of who has the best chance to win.
Defending champion and pre-round leader Anna Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., won her fourth match in five rounds (the other was a draw) to increase her tournament lead to one point. She said her position against Tatev Abrahamyan, of Glendale, Calif., was approximately equal, but tournament rules prohibit players from agreeing to a peaceful tie before 30 moves have been made. The two played on and Zatonskih eventually found a pawn advance that irreparably weakened Abrahamyan's king.
One of Zatonskih's two closest rivals, who she will play in round six on Saturday, remains the tournament's youngest player, 18-year-old Alisa Melekhina, of Philadelphia, Pa. She drew the No. 3 seed Rusudan Goletiani, of Hartsdale, N.Y. In her five games, Melekhina has 3.5 points from two wins and three draws. Melekhina has adopted a new opening system for the championship against the popular Sicilian Defense, and it was good enough to split the point against her favored opponent.

Melekhina was also the youngest competitor during her first U.S. Championship in 2007. She said she prefers being in the underdog role, as there is less pressure. The college sophomore said she had not yet thought about preparing for the pivotal battle with Zatonskih; Melekhina has an online test to take at noon Friday.
Melekhina is joined in second place by the tournament's oldest player, 42-year-old Camilla Baginskaite, of Sioux Falls, S.D. She defeated tournament tail-ender Yun Fan. Like Melekhina, she has two wins and three draws for 3.5 points. After a period of semi-retirement following motherhood and a return to college, Baginskaite has been hinting that she wants to rededicate herself to chess.
In a battle of good friends and shared names, the favored Irina Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y., fought to a wild draw with Iryna Zenyuk, of Pittsburgh, Pa. After a peaceful opening that offered a stalled initiative, Krush found a unique breakthrough, but missed a win with only seconds remaining on her clock. Only in the post-game analysis was the winning shot found, but with only seconds remaining on her clock, Krush overlooked it during the game. So far Krush has scored a dismal 50 percent, calling Friday's result a "never-ending disappointment." Following the game, the two friends analyzed with good humor, but only one was satisfied with the result. "Why is Irina playing chess?" Krush said.
Battsetseg Tsagaan, of Ellicott City, Md., again played the longest game of the round for the third day in a row. She upset Sabina Foisor, of Baltimore, Md., who has dropped two games in a row since briefly approaching the top of the standings.
For complete standings, go to

The players have Friday off from competition, but many will be doing civic and charity events around St. Louis. Round six play resumes Saturday at noon Central time. Games can be followed live at and the broadcast can be heard at

View More

Round 4 Photos

Round 4 brought us four hard-fought draws by our competitors and one victory by Alisa Melekhina over Sabina Foisor. That victory brought her within one-half point of the tournament lead.

Round 5 is sure to bring some exciting action as the players move closer to the crowning of the 2009 U.S. Women's Champion. Check out the photo gallery form Round 4!

View More

And Then There Were 3 Undefeated Players At U.S. Women's Chess Tourney

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 7, 2009 -- The quartet of undefeated women was reduced by one in Wednesday's round four of the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship, held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. All four women played each other today, with 18-year-old Alisa Melekhina making a dramatic comeback against Sabina Foisor to remain unbeaten, while top-seeded defending champion Anna Zatonskih drew with 2000 champion Camilla Baginskaite.

Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., now has three wins and one draw for 3.5 points, while Melekhina, of Philadelphia, Pa., the tournament's youngest player, is in clear second with two wins and two draws for three points. Looking ahead, Zatonskih and Melekhina, who have the best chance to win the record $15,000 first prize, will play in round six of the nine-round championship on Saturday. Baginskaite, of Sioux Falls, S.D., remains unbeaten as her one win and three draws gives her 2.5 points, the same number as Foisor, of Baltimore, Md.

View More

Round 3 Photos

Round 3 featured a marquis match-up against the number one and two seeds in a rematch of the final game that decided last year's champiosnhip.

The other four matches offered equally impressive play. Check out the images from Round 3!

View More

No. 1 Beats No. 2 In U.S. Women's Chess Championship

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 6, 2009 -- The most anticipated encounter of the 2009 U.S. Women's Championship took place in round three, with the top two seeds facing off for the first time since their controversial finish to the 2008 Championship. This time, as last time, the top seed, Anna Zatonskih, took the victory at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., the top defending champion, took the black pieces against second-seeded Irina Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y. The two had not faced each other since Zatonskih won a blitz tiebreaker in last year's tournament, causing Krush to object to her opponent's etiquette.

View More

Round 2 Photos

Day two of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Championship saw the two main favorites both win.

IM Anna Zatonskih won her second game in a row, this time a victory over WIM Battsetseg Tsagaan, who insisted on complicating the position when she had little time left on the clock.

IM Irina Krush sent a message to the rest of the competitors with a fighting win with the black pieces against one of her major rivals, IM Rusudan Goletiani.

Having being held to a draw with the white pieces in round one, Krush saw this game as a “must win” and succeeded in her quest to not fall a full point behind Zatonskih.

WGM Camilla Baginskaite moved into joint second place but was kicking herself after her game against WIM Alisa Melekhina as she felt she had a winning position towards the end but she, like Krush in the previous round, fell victim to Melekhina’s stubborn defense and a draw was agreed.

WIM Iryna Zenyuk got off the mark with a win against Yun Fan although check out the analysis for Fan’s not very obvious missed draw opportunity at the end of the game.

And last but not least, WGM Sabina Foisor and WFM Tatev Abrahamyan had a complicated affair that eventually fizzled out to a draw.

View More