The history of chess is a complicated one. Early forms of the game originated in India around the 6th century AD, and by the 10th Century chess made its way to Europe. Fast-forward to the 1800s, chess underwent various rule changes and became the competitive sport we know today. The first official World Chess Championship was hosted in 1886 and 134 years later it went viral.
First, the pandemic sparked interest in the game. More and More locked-down families around the globe began buying boards and playing chess. Covid-19 also drove hundreds of thousands of others to play Chess online. And then Netflix put it over the top. The release of their giant hit “The Queen’s Gambit” was followed by a massive surge of interest in the game.
These days, thousands of Americans spend their day playing chess in parks around the country, but did you know that a lifelong chess player transformed his hometown of St. Louis into the Chess Capital of the United States?
His name is Rex Sinquefield. And in a previous life, he pioneered the first index funds, the investment vehicles that track financial assets like the S&P 500. In 2008, the retired multi-millionaire founded the Saint Louis Chess Club and then provided the funding to move the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis. Now, the chess pioneer is being recognized for his accomplishments by being inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame along with his wife, Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield.
In this episode of the podcast, Rex shares what chess has meant to his life, what he thought about “The Queen’s Gambit”, and what the future of chess looks like in St. Louis and around the world.
About Rex Sinquefield:
Raised in Saint Louis, lifelong chess player Rex Sinquefield has transformed his hometown into the Chess Capital of the United States. In 2008, he founded the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) with his wife, Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, and they later provided the funding to move the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis. The STLCC has become home to championship chess in the U.S., hosting numerous national tournaments, in addition to bringing the benefits of chess to over 75,000 students. Rex has also made history through the creation of the Sinquefield Cup and Cairns Cup, the strongest-ever tournament and strongest women’s tournament held on American soil. His efforts, including supporting the U.S. national team and creating tournaments that allow new chess talents to grow, have attracted top players and revitalized chess in the United States.