On Tuesday, October 5, 2021, the NSCF’s Executive Director Sunil Weeramantry, acting in his capacity as a trustee and vice-president for scholastic chess of the US Chess Trust, had the distinct privilege of inducting Rex Sinquefield and Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield into the US Chess Hall of Fame. Rescheduled from 2020, the inductions of Rex and Jeanne were presented as part of the Opening Ceremony for the 2021 U.S. Chess and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships.
The Sinquefields together founded the Saint Louis Chess Club in 2007 and opened its doors in 2008. With its commitment to chess in the community and to hosting events that attract the highest-level chess players in the world, the Sinquefields have established Saint Louis as the preeminent city for chess in America. The club has hosted the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship since 2009, the U.S. Junior Championship since 2010, and the U.S. Juniors Girls’ Championship since 2017.
Part of Rex’s vision was to provide financial support for the strong American players and help them rise on the world stage. He invited Sunil’s stepson, GM Hikaru Nakamura, to be grandmaster in residence and Hikaru continues to be an ambassador for the club. Rex provided the funding to establish the Sinquefield Cup, with a prize structure modeled on prestigious European tournaments such as Monte Carlo and Linares where there was a substantial award for all competitors ensuring the event would attract the strongest players in the world. By the 3rd year, the Sinquefield Cup became part of the Grand Chess Tour and is considered by many as the Crown Jewel in the international circuit.
In 2011, Rex and Jeanne provided a new home for the World Chess Hall of Fame when it moved from Miami to Saint Louis. Housed across the street from the chess club in Saint Louis’s historic Central West End neighborhood, the WCHOF houses many chess artifacts and presents exhibits and performances that explore the connections between chess, art and music.
Sunil says he was particularly honored to be able to induct Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield who has long-shared the NSCF’s commitment to the value of chess in education. Jeanne earned her doctorate in demography from The University of Chicago and worked alongside Rex in the financial services firm Dimensional Fund Advisors while also raising their family. With a long history of supporting organizations that enhance music, art and education, Jeanne believes that exposure to the arts and quality learning opportunities have life-long benefits for children. She was a volunteer with Boy Scouts of America for more than 20 years and, in 2010, just two years after opening the chess club, Jeanne championed the creation of the Chess Merit Badge. It quickly became one of scouting’s most popular merit badges, earned by over 225,000 scouts.
In 2019, Jeanne wrote a book about chess notation, Learn to Read and Write Chess. The book is downloadable through our site.
Also in 2019, Jeanne established the Cairns Cup, a world-class women’s chess tournament that was held again in 2020 and returns in 2022. As part of Jeanne’s mission to promote chess to women, the Cairns Cup, with its $180,000 prize fund, invites 10 of the world’s best female chess players to compete in the strongest all-women’s tournament in the world.
“Being asked to conduct these inductions was especially meaningful to me because of my longstanding friendship with both Rex and Jeanne,” Sunil said. “They have brought grandeur and elegance to the presentation of chess in America. Players are given the courtesy and respect that is afforded sport figures and artists in other fields. And they have extended that first class experience all the way down to the chess enthusiasts who frequent the Club or watch the events online. Their contributions to chess cannot be overstated.”
You can see photos from the event on our special events gallery page.