Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Congressional Caucus Aims to Make St. Louis Chess Capital

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Congressional Caucus Aims to Make St. Louis Chess Capital

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Congress may be a partisan mess on many issues, but chess apparently is not one of them.

Two Missouri congressmen one Democrat, one Republican will head up a new Congressional Chess Caucus, part of an effort by St. Louis chess enthusiasts to get the city named the chess capital of the United States. Some big-name lobbyists and public relations firms are already behind it.

Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Jason Smith, R-Salem, will co-chair the caucus and preside over what they hope will be the first congressional chess tournament this year. Much of the promotion will be geared at ingraining chess into national educational efforts to improve science, technology education and math in schools.

The Post-Dispatch reported on STLtoday.com this week that the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis had hired former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and former Missouri Rep. Earl Thomas Coleman to lobby for a congressional resolution naming St. Louis the chess capital of the country. The measure is expected to be voted on by Congress this spring.

The chess group has also hired the public relations group FleishmanHillard to promote its initiative and today's announcement rollout.

Chess is big, educationally and economically, in St. Louis. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis will sponsor its sixth consecutive national tournament May 7-20. The tournament will pull in as many as 5,000 spectators over the two weeks to watch 22 nationally ranked competitors in two tournaments, one specifically for women, according to the center's executive director, Tony Rich.

An additional 50,000 people are expected to watch online coverage and commentary on the tournament, led by the nation's only African- American grand chess master, Maurice Ashley.

In today's announcement, the center will say that its efforts in Congress are aimed at raising "awareness of the scholastic benefits of chess and advocate for measures to bring chess programming into the lives of students nationwide.

"In particular the (congressional) caucus will highlight the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for rural and urban students learning chess," the announcement says. …

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