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Does Chess Still Matter?

A young grandmaster just did the impossible at a top chess tournament. No one paid attention. Does chess still matter?

Fabiano Caruana, of Italy, was the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, MO. His seven straight wins in the tournament are virtually unprecedented in the history of the game. (Courtesy US Chess Champs)

Fabiano Caruana, of Italy, was the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, MO. His seven straight wins in the tournament are virtually unprecedented in the history of the game. (Courtesy US Chess Champs)

Once upon a time, chess – the game of kings – was huge in America.  Bobby Fischer was world champ, and the chess champ of the world was on the cover of Time, Sports Illustrated.  Then the Cold War ended, video games moved in, and chess went off the radar.  Maybe we should bring it back.  There is incredible stuff going on in the world of chess, and around it.  Aliens, oligarchs, Norwegians, Las Vegas, Vladimir Putin and an Italian superstar named Fabiano.  This hour On Point:  Checkmate.  The wild, wonderful — and these days, much-ignored — world of chess.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Seth Stevenson, contributing writer for Slate. Author of “Grounded.” (@stevensonseth)

Jennifer Shahade, chess expert and author. Two-time American Women’s Chess champion. Author of “Play Like A Girl: Tactics by 9Queens.” (@JenShahade)

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate: Grandmaster Clash — “The title belt in chess, as in boxing, may be claimed only by defeating the reigning champ in an officially sanctioned, one-on-one matchup. Through a series of qualifying events, FIDE had chosen a challenger for Carlsen—the current world No. 5 Viswanathan Anand of India, who was not in St. Louis, and who lost to Carlsen in last year’s title match. “

New York Times: Feat of Historic Proportions for an Italian Grandmaster — “The last time a player racked up a winning streak nearly as remarkable as Caruana’s was in 2005 when Topalov began the World Chess Championship tournament in San Luis, Argentina, with six victories in seven games on his way to capturing the title.”

Five Thirty Eight: Fabiano Caruana Is Doing The Impossible At Chess’s Most Competitive Tournament –“Caruana’s seven-game streak deserves a place in history. It wasn’t just an undefeated streak, it was a winning streak — no games were lost or drawn. (And Caruana won the two games he played before the Sinquefield Cup.)”

Playlist

“The Soviet Machine” from the 1984 musical, Chess.

“General Principles” by GZA (with DJ Muggs).

Watch the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, Move-by-Move

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