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Juniors Help Congress at Capitol Hill Tourney Print E-mail
June 21, 2014

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Garry Kasparov watch as Jeffrey Xiong and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) make their next move at the first-ever Congressional Chess Match in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/AP)

WASHINGTON D.C. (June 19, 2014) - Members of the newly formed Congressional Chess Caucus competed in the first Congressional Chess Tournament to promote the game's educational benefits, and they had a little help from some of the nation's top junior chess players. 

Students from the Young Stars - Team U.S.A. program helped coach congressional representatives throughout the match. The students were in town for a series of intensive training sessions with legendary World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. 

The chess match started out with a few ceremonial first moves between Kasparov, who played for the Republicans, and Rex Sinquefield, the founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL).

Then Congressional Chess Caucus co-sponsors Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) played out the first half of the game before handing it over to Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). After 38 moves and almost an hour of play, the Republican team emerged victorious.
Back row L to R: Jeffrey Xiong, Kayden Troff, Rex Sinquefield,Sam Sevian and Ashritha Eswaran; Front, center: Garry Kasparov (Photo by Paul Morigi/AP)

"Today was a milestone for American chess," Kasparov said. "This event will help to continue to raise awareness of the many educational benefits of chess."

The CCSCSL and the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) launched the Young Stars program in 2012 to help develop the top American chess prodigies from across the United States. The Young Stars present at the event included Kayden Troff, 16, of West Jordan, Utah; Sam Sevian, 13 of Southbridge, Mass.; Jeffrey Xiong, 13, of Coppell, Tex.; and Ashritha Eswaran, 13 of San Jose. Three of the four prodigies will compete in the Junior Closed Championship from June 19-29 at the CCSCSL.

The Congressional Chess Caucus was established to encourage schools and community centers to engage in chess programs that encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills.

"Chess stimulates the intellect and interest of our nation's young people and helps them develop critical thinking and discipline," said Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay.  "The tournament we are hosting today demonstrates what happens every day in schools and community centers in St. Louis and around the country.  The World Chess Hall of Fame and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis are two jewels in the heart of my congressional district, and I am so proud to represent them."

In May, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing St. Louis as the nation's chess capital. The news came just days after the announcement of the formation of the first-ever Congressional Chess Caucus. 

"We have Congressional sport tournaments to highlight the role sports play in teaching teamwork and commitment, so we thought it equally as important to highlight the benefits of chess and chess programming around the country," said Congressman Jason Smith.  "In Missouri, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis works to improve social interaction, increase math and science scores among students, and give at-risk kids skills to be proud of. 

"Chess has been a tremendous tool in building community in Missouri.  It is the goal of the Congressional Chess Caucus to encourage schools and community centers nation-wide to engage in chess programs that bring the educational values of chess to underserved schools, districts, rural and urban communities, and populations throughout the country."