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      St. Louis Chess Club masters the checkmate

      Executive Director Tony Rich and Mike Wilmering square off at a blitz round of chess.

      "For St. Louis, this is it. This is really where it's happening. This is the epicenter for chess in the U.S.," Grand Master Yasser Seirawan said.

      Every second counts as time and concentration compete against each other in one match after another at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

      "I would describe chess as a gymnasium of the mind," Seirawan said.

      Executive Director Tony Rich and Mike Wilmering duke it out during a blitz round at the club.

      "You're attacking on the queen side and I'm attacking on the king side, so we'll see who breaks through first," Rich said.

      This weekend, Rich will oversee one of the top tournaments in the world, the U.S. and Women's Chess Championships. Thirty four professional chess players will compete for the two biggest and most prestigious chess titles in the U.S., right here at his club.

      Anyone who can master the boards can make anywhere from $250,000 to $2.5 million a tournament. There's even more money for those who can do it blindfolded.

      It's a challenge one can take on at any age in the competition.

      "The great thing about chess is, it doesn't matter how old you are, what your background is or your economic status is, you sit across the board from somebody and its your mind against theirs," Rich said.

      Anyone can tour as well as play chess at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, at 4657 Maryland Ave. You can stop by on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays noon to 11 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. The chess club offers one-on-one mentoring with people wishing to learn the game as well as those wishing to conquer it.

      Fans of the U.S. Chess Championships can participate in Fantasy Chess for free.

      While you're in St. Louis, don't forget to visit the World Chess Hall of Fame directly across the street from the club, at 4652 Maryland Ave.

      That's where you'll find the world's largest chess piece and other memorabilia.