Historic Cairns Cup Opens with Saint Louis Chess Club’s $100,000 Gift to US Chess

From left to right: Kimberly Doo McVay (member of US Chess Women’s Committee), Rex Sinquefield (co-founder, Saint Louis Chess Club), Carol B. Meyer (US Chess Executive Director), Sophia Rohde (US Chess Women’s Committee), Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield (co-founder, Saint Louis Chess Club), Maureen Grimaud (Chair, US Chess Women’s Committee), Jennifer Shahade (US Chess Women’s Program Director)

ST. LOUIS, MO: At the opening ceremony for the Cairns Cup, Jennifer Shahade, the newly-named Women’s Program Director for US Chess, began with a bombshell: “I am proud to announce a partnership between the Saint Louis Chess Club and US Chess Women that includes a $100,000 commitment from the club to help us continue on our drive to promote, retain, and encourage girls and women in chess.”

The Cairns Cup is an elite tournament for the top female players from around the world. The nine-round classical chess tournament is taking place in St. Louis from February 5th through 16th and brings together the strongest international field ever assembled in women’s chess on U.S. soil with one of the largest prize funds ever for an all-female tournament.

Shahade’s new position is focused on identifying, developing, and executing key program initiatives that support the growth of chess among girls and women. To this point, the two-time U.S. Women’s Champion (2002 and 2004) continued, “Last week members of the Cairns Cup field and I led a Scouting workshop where the first girls in history earned their chess merit badges. This is incredible synchronicity as we are now set to make history with the first Cairns Cup. These types of experiences are why this event is so important; girls all over the world—and boys and adults too—look to these women for inspiration, for the dream of playing on this grand stage, and for representing their country and chess.

“As US Chess Women’s Committee Chair Maureen Grimaud stated in a recent Sports Illustrated article, ‘It’s a total and complete numbers game.’ What the Women’s Committee is trying to do is to grow the base. Here at the Saint Louis Chess Club, Rex and Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, Joy Bray, Tony Rich, and the staff agree with this ethos that we need to introduce more girls to this incredible game that teaches so many life skills.”

“We are very excited to be able to support the US Chess Women’s Initiative,” said Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield. “It’s so important to provide more opportunities to women and girls to learn and play the great sport of chess.”

Kimberly Doo McVay, a member of the US Chess Women’s Committee, echoed Shahade’s sentiments, stating, “Thank you so much to Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield for their incredibly generous gift of $100,000 to US Chess to further the women’s initiative of promoting and empowering women and girls through chess. The Women’s Committee greatly appreciates the support [of the Saint Louis Chess Club] and also the leadership of US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer and Jennifer Shahade!”

For more information and photos, please see Jennifer Shahade’s report here: https://new.uschess.org/international-events/historic-cairns-cup-opens-100000-commitment-womens-programs/. For more on the Cairns Cup, please see https://uschesschamps.com/

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