Before 2010, Los Angeles, California had a growing chess community. Casual blitz games and weekly rated club tournaments were common. Occasionally, the Southern California Chess Federation (SCCF) would host seasonal open events with large prize funds that would capture the attention of skilled players from across the United States.
In 2010, an unfortunate turn of events took place as John Hillery, one of California’s most accomplished tournament organizers, passed away. His departure left SCCF with the responsibility of finding a replacement capable of managing its regularly scheduled events.
In response to the decline of chess activity, more community clubs developed and held tournaments with prizes distributed among the different class levels. Chess was recovering, but lacked competitive opportunities for titled players.
The demand for high-level chess tournaments led to the creation of Metropolitan Chess, Inc. in October of 2010. Metropolitan organized and directed numerous FIDE rated international master and grandmaster norm tournaments throughout 2011 and 2012.
In conjunction with the tournaments, instructional chess camps and grandmaster simultaneous exhibitions were held on occasion. The Los Angeles chess scene was being revitalized as word spread about Metropolitan’s norm awards and summer chess camps.
2012 was an excellent year for chess in Los Angeles as Metropolitan Chess, Inc. was able to arrange a visit from the reigning world chess champion, Viswanathan Anand.
Anand spent five days as the lead instructor for Metropolitan’s August chess camp. It had been his first visit to California and certainly will not be his last.
All this success has led many to consider Los Angeles as the chess capital of the West Coast and the city’s prospects for the game strengthen as its players do.
In light of these considerations, the United States Chess Federation awarded Los Angeles as United States’ Chess City of the Year for the Year of 2012.