For Cuban chess player, coming to St. Louis was the right move

St. Louis is widely known as a baseball town, but competitive chess players see it as their sport’s capital of America. The infrastructure built around professional chess in St. Louis attracts players from around the world, including 19-year-old Thalia Cervantes Landeiro.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Landeiro was always surrounded by the game of chess. “It’s a big part of our culture,” she said on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. She noted the importance in Cuban culture of Jose Raúl Capablanca, a chess legend and world champion who influenced generations of players.

In Cuba, Landeiro said: “I always saw people playing chess on the streets. I was very intrigued by it.”

Though chess was being played on street corners and parks, Landeiro was not bitten by the chess bug until second grade, when she practically fell into the game.

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