HBO focuses on St. Louis Chess Club’s boom during pandemic

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HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” correspondent Soledad O’Brien, left, interviews St. Louis Chess Club founder Rex Sinquefield in 2018. They talked again, remotely becasue of the pandemic, for a follow-up piece scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the latest episode of the program. (HBO photo)


A little less than a year and a half ago, HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” profiled the remarkable rise of chess in St. Louis, bankrolled by wealthy philanthropist and controversial political donor Rex Sinquefield — who has made the city what has been called the worldwide capital of the game.

HBO’s first look discussed how Sinquefield has attracted numerous grand masters to not only play at the club, in high-profile tournaments, but also to live in St. Louis “on his dime.”

The show is back for Round 2, this time focusing on how the St. Louis Chess Club unexpectedly has flourished during the pandemic while the major sports have faced many obstacles. Chess’ success is fueled in large part by a rapid online growth of interest in the game, created in large part by people’s normal activities being curtailed and them looking for something else to do.

Soledad O’Brien again is the correspondent, in a report that is part of the latest edition of “Real Sports” that first airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday and also will be available on HBO Max. This segment mixes new and old material, with most of the original content coming early in the 12-minute piece.

As was the case with HBO’s first look at the Chess Club, there is no mention of some of the controversies Sinquefield has been in locally regarding his political and other contributions.



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