Monday, April 04, 2016

The SPICE National Championship Records



The official records of SPICE National Championship Teams (3 wins - 3 ties - 0 loss at TTU and 12 wins - 0 tie - 0 loss at Webster).

We did not lose any match in 6 straight Final Four National Championships! 




SPICE at TTU - 2011 (2 W - 1 T - 0 L) 7-5 – National Champions


W 2.5 - 1.5 vs UTB
T 2 - 2 vs UTD
W 2.5 - 1.5 vs UMBC

GM Anatoly Bykhovsky - GM Davorin Kuljasevic - IM Itsvan Sipos - GM Andre Diamant (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar - Coach: FM Paul Truong)





SPICE at TTU - 2012 (1 W - 2 T - 0 L) 8-4 – National Champions


T 2 - 2 vs UMBC
W 4 - 0 vs NYU
T 2 - 2 vs UTD

GM Georg Meier - GM Elshan Moradiabadi - GM Anatoly Bykhovsky - GM Andre Diamant - GM Denes Boros - IM Vitaly Neimer (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar - Coach: FM Paul Truong)





SPICE at Webster - 2013 (3 W - 0 T - 0 L) 9.5-2.5 – National Champions

W 4 - 0 vs U of IL
W 2.5 - 1.5 vs UMBC
W 3 - 1 vs UTD

GM Georg Meier - GM Wesley So - GM Ray Robson - GM Fidel Corrales - GM Manuel Leon Hoyos - GM Anatoly Bykhovsky (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar - Coach: FM Paul Truong)




SPICE at Webster - 2014 (3 W - 0 T - 0 L) 9.5-2.5 – National Champions

W 4 - 0 vs U of IL
W 2.5 - 1.5 vs UMBC
W 3 - 1 vs TTU

GM Le Quang Liem - GM Georg Meier - GM Wesley So - GM Ray Robson - GM Fidel Corrales - GM Anatoly Bykhovsky (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar - Coach: FM Paul Truong)




SPICE at Webster - 2015 (3 W - 0 T - 0 L) 10-2 – National Champions

W 3.5 - 0.5 vs UMBC
W 3.5 - 0.5 vs UTD
W 3 - 1 vs TTU

GM Le Quang Liem - GM Ray Robson - GM Illia Nyzhnyk - GM Vasif Durarbayli - GM Fidel Corrales - GM Andre Diamant (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar - Coach: FM Paul Truong)





SPICE at Webster – 2016 (3 W – 0 T – 0 L) 8.5-3.5 – National Champions

W 3.5 – 0.5 vs Columbia
W 2.5 – 1.5 vs UT RGV
W 2.5 – 1.5 vs TTU

GM Le Quang Liem – GM Illia Nyzhnyk – GM Aleksandr Shimanov – GM Ray Robson – GM Vasif Durarbayli – GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar – Coach/Chief Strategist: FM Paul Truong)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Webster University 2016 Final Four Team

Webster U Chess Final Four 2015

Webster University - SPICE (by USCF rating order) 2016 Final Four Team
Mascot: Gorlok

GM Liem "Man of Steel" Le (Vietnam) - Junior/Finance - 2773
GM Ray "Fearless Attacker" Robson (USA) - Junior/International Studies - 2746
GM Illya "The Brain" Nyzhnyk (Ukraine) - Sophomore/Computer Science - 2720
GM Aleksandr "The Czar" Shimanov (Russia) - Grad Student/MBA - 2708
GM Vasif "Mr. CrossFit" Durarbayli (Azerbaijan) - Senior/Economics - 2686
GM Fidel "Pinar Romancer" Corrales Jimenez (Cuba) - Senior/Computer Science - 2593
Head Coach: GM Susan Polgar
Coach & Team Strategist: FM Paul Truong
Team Assistants: GM Manuel Leon Hoyos, GM Denes Boros, GM Ashwin Jayaram, IM Eric Rosen, IM Irene Sukandar, WGM Katerina Nemcova
The following 4 universities have qualified for the prestigious annual College Chess Final Four Championship:
  • Webster University #1 seed
  • Texas Tech #2 seed
  • University of Texas RGV #3 seed
  • Columbia University #4 seed
Round 1 (10 am – April 2):
Webster vs Columbia / Texas Tech vs UT RGV

Round 2 (5 pm –  April 2):
Webster vs UT RGV / Texas Tech vs Columbia

Round 3 (9 am – April 3):
Webster vs Texas Tech / UT RGV vs Columbia

Le Quang Liem-001 (2)
Ray Robson-001 (2)
Illia Nyzhnyk-001 (2)
Aleksandr Shimanov-001 (2)
Vasif Durarbayli-001 (2)
Fidel Corrales-001 (2)

Rules for the 2016 Final 4 of College Chess 

Eligibility:  Each player must satisfy the eligibility requirements established by the USCF College Chess Committee (CCC).  The requirements are the same as those for the Pan-American tournament played Dec 26-29.  If not already provided in advance, each team must furnish the Chief TD with their Eligibility Letter printed on University stationery on Friday evening at the Team Captains’ Meeting. 

Teams:  Each team has four players and up to two alternates.  Board-order based on March ratings (50-point transpositions allowed among USCF ratings) is also determined in the same way as for the Pan-American.

Scoring: The President’s Cup is a Team Round Robin scored by total individual points.  In the event of a tie, the teams are declared Co-champions.  The following tie-breaking systems are for sole possession of the President’s Cup and will be applied in this order:
  1.  Total team match wins.
  2.  Head-to-head outcome.
  3.  Armageddon (5-4 minute “shootout”).  White must win with 5 minutes, and Black must win or draw with 4 minutes.  There is no delay or increment time.  Winner of a coin toss chooses color.  Each team selects one team member to represent them.  This team member can be any Player or Alternate from your Official Team Roster for the tournament, it does not have to be your “Board 1” player.
Team rosters:  Each team’s Official Roster must be presented to the Chief TD no later than Friday at the Team Captains’ Meeting.  Rosters will identify which team member is the Team Captain.  If a Team’s roster is not in Board Order for Round 1, the Team Captain must ensure the Chief TD is aware of your team’s Round 1 lineup.  Round 1 Lineups will be posted by the Chief TD one hour before the start of the round.  After Round 1, Team Lineups for Rounds 2 and 3 must be submitted to the Chief TD at least one hour prior to the beginning of the next round.  Otherwise, if the Chief TD does not receive a Lineup change, he will assume the previous round’s lineup is being used for the next round.  The Chief TD will post the updated Team Lineups on the tournament web site as soon as possible and also will email copies to each team’s point of contact for the tournament.

Team Captains:  There will be a Captains’ Meeting on Friday evening immediately after the Team Dinner concludes.  It usually takes about 30 minutes.  It is at this meeting where we all agree upon rules for certain situations that are not specifically addressed.  At this meeting be prepared to provide the Chief TD with the phone number and email address of your team’s Captain and a backup point of contact.  The Chief TD will use this information to distribute instructions, Lineup Changes, etc. during the tournament.

Communicating with others During Play:  No player whose game is in progress may talk with another person without the Chief TD being present before the communications begin.  This includes players wanting to talk with their Team Captain about whether to accept or decline a draw offer made by the opponent.

Cell Phones, Other Communication Devices and Calculation Devices:  We will discuss this at the Captains’ Meeting on Friday night.  The Chief TD’s initial position is:  No player with a game in progress is allowed to physically possess (e.g. have on their person during the game) or to have access to any communication-capable or calculation-capable device.  If you are playing a game during the Round, don’t bring such devices into the Playing Room.

Sets, Boards and Clocks:  DGT Boards will be provided by the Tournament Organizer for play.  They must be used.  The TD is responsible for the Time Control programmed into the clocks provided by the Organizer, not for incorrect Time Controls set on clocks provided by a team.

Pairings:  The team pairings/seeds are predetermined by the March 2016 US Chess Rating Supplement.  There will be a drawing for Round 1 and Round 3 colors on Board 1 at the Friday evening meeting before the tournament.
  •  Rd 1 1 vs. 4; 2 vs. 3
  •  Rd 2 1 vs. 3; 2 vs. 4
  •  Rd 3 1 vs. 2; 3 vs. 4
Official Time Controls: Game 90 with a 30-second increment each move.
The tournament is FIDE & US Chess rated.

Chief TD:  The Chief TD for this tournament is National Tournament Director and FIDE Arbiter Mike Hoffpauir from Virginia.  Mike has been the Chief TD (and organizer) of several College Final 4 Championships and also has been the Chief of the Pan Ams. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rules & Conditions for the 13th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational



Rules & Conditions for the 13th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational - the richest all-girls championship in the world!
($200,000+ in scholarships + $7,500 cash prizes)
July 23 (arrival day) – 28, 2016 at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri)

The Annual SPF Girls' Invitational, in its 13th year, is the most prestigious All-Girls event in the United States. It is also the first All-Girls event approved and sanctioned by the USCF back in 2003. It is an invitational event, and will once again be held at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri).

Each state, as well as each country in the American Continent (South, Central, and North America) is allowed to nominate one representative. Each Canadian province is allowed one representative to be nominated. In addition, automatic qualifying spots will be awarded to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar Foundation National Open for Girls and the Susan Polgar Foundation World Open for Girls.

Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus for all qualifiers!

• There will be an intense training session with Susan Polgar and members of the SPICE team, followed by a 6 round (g/90+30) FIDE rated championship tournament.
• The traditional Blitz, Puzzle Solving, Bughouse events will stay the same as in previous years.
• There will be many chess prizes awarded, as well as scholarships to Webster University.
Official representatives should be nominated by June 10, 2016. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than July 11, 2016. (Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow the host state / country to enter an additional qualified player.) Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow exceptions to the June 10 entry/alternate deadline. Should the state / country affiliate fail to respond to the notice for this tournament, Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may determine the candidate from that state / country.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state or country they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are under the age of 19 on July 22nd of the year in which the event is held or students who have never attended college on a full time basis prior to June 1 of the year in which the tournament is held, are eligible to represent the state in which they reside.

Exception: If a player graduates from high school early and is already attending college, she may still represent her state if nominated. This is the decision of each state affiliate or country.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The participants of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational DO NOT have to be high school students. Any qualifier under the age of 19 (by July 22nd of the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Special invitation for this year: All past participants of the SPNI and SPFGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2004-2015) are invited to participate in the 2016 SPFGI. The idea is to have the past participants learn my method of training so they can go back home and share their knowledge with the younger players. However, registration MUST be made ASAP since space is limited. There will be mutual training sessions for all, however separate section & prizes for alumni participants over the age of 19.

Players are required to furnish the organizer an emergency phone number and the e-mail address of a parent/guardian.

There is no entry fee to participate in the 2016 SPFGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel.

For alumni participants, wild card/special invites, coaches, parents, or other family members, inexpensive accommodations are available for housing and dining on Webster’s campus. Please note that all reservations and registrations MUST be made (and accommodation expenses prepaid) no later than June 15, 2016.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, Bughouse and the SPFGI Championship. Co-champions are recognized in the case of a tie, with each champion receiving a Champion’s Plaque or Trophy.

The Champion (or Co-Champions) of the main event will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: Webster University scholarship* (full tuition and fees approximately $25,000 + per year x 4 years)
2nd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $14,000 + per year x 4 years)
3rd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $12,000 + per year x 4 years)
(In case of a tie, a playoff will used to determine the level of scholarships)

* The scholarships to Webster University must be exercised no later than Fall of 2019, and are not transferable. In addition, these scholarships cannot be combined with other academic scholarships, or stacked. If players won scholarships in past events, they can choose to exercise the highest one.

Additional CASH SCHOLARSHIP this year!

1st place = $2,500
2nd place = $1,500
3rd place = $1,000
Top under 13 = $500
Top under 10 = $500
Triple-crown champion (main event, blitz, and puzzle solving) = $1,000
Biggest upset prize (each round) = $50 x 6 = $300 gift certificate
Best dressed player = $100 gift certificate
Best written essay about the SPFGI experience = $100 gift certificate

There will also be additional surprised prizes which challenge intellect and wit!
(In case of a tie, cash prizes will be shared)

The Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California, two for Texas, and two for Missouri), the District of Columbia, as well as each country in the American Continent (South, Central, and North America) represented. We strongly encourage each state and the District of Columbia affiliate to hold a scholastic championship tournament to determine each state’s champion and representative. Failing this, rating criteria may be acceptable. A scholastic girls’ champion or the highest rated girls’ scholastic player in a state who has no state affiliate of the USCF should contact the Polgar Committee as soon as possible.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee and its members may elect to award a limited number of wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational.

Special qualifying events: The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar Foundation National Open for Girls and the Susan Polgar Foundation World Open for Girls.

The SPFGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee (PolgarCommittee@gmail.com).

Contact info: Polgar Committee (PolgarCommittee@gmail.com)

The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-281-7424 or through info@PolgarFoundation.org.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rules & Conditions for the 12th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational


Rules & Conditions for the 12th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational
(Over $200K in prizes and scholarships)

July 25 (arrival day) – 30, 2015 at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri)

The Annual SPF Girls' Invitational, in its 12th year, is the most prestigious All-Girls event in the United States. It is also the first All-Girls event approved and sanctioned by the USCF back in 2003. It is an invitational event, and will once again be held at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri).

Each state, as well as each country in the American Continent (South, Central, and North America) is allowed to nominate one representative. In addition, automatic qualifying spots will be awarded to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar Foundation National Open for Girls and the Susan Polgar Foundation World Open for Girls.

Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus for all qualifiers!

• There will be an intense training session with Susan Polgar and members of the SPICE team, followed by a 6 round (g/90+30) FIDE rated championship tournament.
• The traditional Blitz, Puzzle Solving, Bughouse events will stay the same as in previous years.
• There will be many chess prizes awarded, as well as scholarships to Webster University.

Official representatives should be nominated by June 8, 2015. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than July 6, 2015. (Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow the host state to enter an additional qualified player.) Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may allow exceptions to the June 8 entry/alternate deadline. Should the state affiliate fail to respond to the notice for this tournament, Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee may determine the candidate from that state or country.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state or country they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are 19 or under on the year in which the event is held or students who have never attended traditional college on a full time basis prior to July 1 of the year in which the tournament is held, are eligible to represent the state or country in which they reside.

Exception: If a player graduates from high school early and is already attending college, she may still represent her state if nominated. This is the decision of each state affiliate.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The participants of the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational DO NOT have to be high school students. Any qualifier who is 19 or under (on the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Special invitation for this year: All past participants of the SPNI and SPFGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2004-2014) are invited to participate in the 2015 SPFGI. The idea is to have the past participants learn my method of training so they can go back home and share their knowledge with the younger players. However, registration MUST be made ASAP since space is limited. There will be mutual training sessions for all, however separate section & prizes for alumni participants over the age of 20.

Players are required to furnish the organizer an emergency phone number and the e-mail address of a parent/guardian.

There is no entry fee to participate in the 2015 SPFGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel.

For alumni participants, wild card/special invites, coaches, parents, or other family members, inexpensive accommodations are available for housing and dining on Webster’s campus. Please note that all reservations and registrations MUST be made (and accommodation expenses prepaid) no later than June 15, 2015.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, Bughouse and the SPFGI Championship. Co-champions are recognized in the case of a tie, with each champion receiving a Champion’s Plaque or Trophy.

The Champion (or Co-Champions) of the main event will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: Webster University scholarship* (full tuition and fees approximately $24,000 + per year x 4 years) Champion's Cup. (In case of a tie, a playoff will used to determine the level of scholarships)

2nd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $14,000 + per year x 4 years)

3rd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $12,000 + per year x 4 years)

Additional prizes this year!

Top under 16: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2015 World Youth (if participating**)

Top under 14: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2015 World Youth (if participating**)

Top under 12: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2015 World Youth (if participating**)

Top under 10: $1,000 scholarship to help defray expenses to the 2015 World Youth (if participating**)

* The scholarships to Webster University must be exercised no later than Fall of 2018, and are not transferable. In addition, these scholarships cannot be combined with other academic scholarships, or stacked. If players won scholarships in past events, they can choose to exercise the highest one.

** After flight ticket has been purchased, a $1,000 reimbursement check will be sent to the winners.

The Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California, two for Texas, and two for Missouri), the District of Columbia, 
as well as each country in the American Continent (South, Central, and North America) represented. We strongly encourage each state and the District of Columbia affiliate to hold a scholastic championship tournament to determine each state’s champion and representative. Failing this, rating criteria may be acceptable. A scholastic girls’ champion or the highest rated girls’ scholastic player in a state who has no state affiliate of the USCF should contact the Polgar Committee as soon as possible.

Susan Polgar and/or the Polgar Committee and its members may elect to award a limited number of wild cards each year for the Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational.

Special qualifying events: The Polgar Committee will award automatic qualifying spots to the reigning winners in each section of the annual Susan Polgar Foundation National Open for Girls and the Susan Polgar Foundation World Open for Girls.

The SPFGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee (PolgarCommittee@gmail.com).

Contact info: Polgar Committee (PolgarCommittee@gmail.com)

The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-281-7424 or through info@PolgarFoundation.org.

2015 Webster University SPICE Chess Camp


www.webster.edu/spice

314-246-8075

chess@webster.edu

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2 world and 28 national titles since August 2012



If you would like to be a part of the #1 College Chess program in the United States, please feel free to contact me (SusanPolgar@aol.com). Full and partial scholarships available for qualified student players.

Webster University – SPICE Chess Program Top Facts

1. Webster University has 10 Grandmasters, and players from 16 different countries. The SPICE program has 4 World Champions, 12 Olympians, and 19 National Champions…
2. Webster University chess team has been ranked #1 in Division I College Chess since its inception in August 2012 (with 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore on the A team), which is over 125 consecutive weeks.
3. Webster University A team has never relinquished the top ranking and has never lost a match.
4. Webster University team members won 2 world championships and 29 national titles in the past 2+ years.
5. Webster University won the 2013 PanAm InterCollegiate Chess Championship with a perfect 6-0 score, and won all 3 Final Four matches, to close out the season with an unprecedented perfect 9-0.
6. Webster University sponsors and hosts the annual SPF Girls’ Invitational, the most prestigious all-girls event in the U.S., as well as the annual prestigious SPICE Cup.
7. Students of Webster University actively volunteer in the community to bring chess into schools. They, as a team, also maintain a very high GPA.
8. The SPICE chess program has won 5 consecutive Final Four Championships, and has not lost a match in 5 straight Final Four Championships.

2014 – 2015 Webster University – SPICE chess team members

1. GM Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) – World Blitz Champion, National Champion, Olympian
2. GM Wesley So (Philippines) – World University Champion, National Champion, Olympian (turned full time pro after winning Millionaire Chess)
3. GM Illia Nyzhnyk (Ukraine) – National Champion, European Champion
4. GM Ray Robson (USA) – National Champion, Olympian
5. GM Georg Meier (Germany) – National Champion, Olympian, European Champion
6. GM Vasif Durarbayli (Azerbaijan) – World Youth Champion, National Champion, Olympiad
7. GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Cuba) – National Champion, Olympian
8. GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico) – National Champion, Olympian
9. GM Andre Diamant (Brazil) – National Champion, Olympian
10. GM Denes Boros (Hungary) – National Champion
11. GM-elect Ashwin Jayaram (India) – National Champion
12. IM Vitaly Neimer (Israel) – National Champion
13. FM Jake Banawa (USA) – National Champion
14. WGM Anna Sharevich (Belarus) – National Champion, Olympian
15. WGM Katerina Nemcova (Czech Republic) – National Champion, Olympian
16. WIM Inna Agrest (Sweden) – National Champion, Olympian (graduated in December 2014)
17. WFM Luisa Mercado (Colombia) – National Champion
18. Mara Kamphorst (Brazil) – National Champion
19. Paul M. Truong (USA) – National Champion
20. Tori Whatley (USA)
21. Reginald Jackson (USA)

Webster students are around the world. There are 22,000+ students enrolled at Webster University – with students from 50 states and 148 countries around the world.

Webster University offers academic excellence in more than 100 programs offered at a vibrant home campus and at locations throughout the world, with all the benefits of a student-centered education and a real-world perspective.


A historic mission. An inviting home campus: Founded in 1915, with five students and a pioneering educational mission, Webster has a history of shaping the future of higher education.

Local and global: With 22,000 students at locations around the world, Webster is defining global education for the future.

Students from 50 states and 148 countries: You experience the diversity of the world in a richly educational way.

Average class size: 10 : Small, highly interactive classes encourage innovation, collaboration, and self-expression.

Faculty-to-student ratio: 1:9 : Students have all the advantages of a student-centered university that supports personalized learning and gives every student an opportunity to excel.

Global locations: We have metropolitan, military, and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe, and North America. Our Study Abroad programs are ranked in the top 2 percent by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges 2013.”

163,000 Alumni: A growing and involved alumni community are connecting online, in-person, and at worldwide events.

One and only: Webster is the only Tier 1, private, nonprofit university with campus locations around the world including metropolitan, military, online and corporate, plus traditional, American-style campuses in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Diversity is a core value: Webster is one of the most diverse universities in the country, which is an enduring part of our history and central to our future.Undergraduate and graduate programs. More than 75 different majors and around 60 graduate programs in a supportive, educational environment that allows students to excel.

A global, Tier 1, private, nonprofit university

* Global feature in academic programs. Globalized curriculum is our distinctive hallmark
* Academic programs engage your mind and stimulate your understanding beyond your home country and culture
* Every student experiences a global learning component
* Every student is exposed to a worldwide network of fellow students who live, work and study around the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia
* Learn in class today and apply it in real life tomorrow
* Five schools and colleges: Arts & Sciences; Business & Technology; Communications; Education; and Fine Arts

Titles won by Webster University – SPICE since August 2012 (2 world titles & 30 national titles)

World Championships (2)

June 2013
– 2013 World Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Le Quang Liem)
July 2013
– 2013 World University Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)

National Championships (29)

August 2012
– 2012 U.S. Open Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
– 2012 U.S. Open Rapid (g/15) Championship: 1st place (GM Andre Diamant and IM Vitaly Neimer)
– 2012 U.S. Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Andre Diamant), 2nd place (GM Anatoly Bykhovsky)
December 2012
– 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Both A and B team tied for 1st place
– 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top reserve player (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
April 2013
– 2013 College Chess Final Four: 1st place (GMs Georg Meier, Wesley So, Ray Robson, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, Manuel Leon Hoyos, and Anatoly Bykhovsky)
June 2013
– 2013 National Open: 1st place (GMs Wesley So and Manuel Leon Hoyos)
– 2013 National Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)
– 2013 National G/10 Championship at National Open: 1st place (GM Wesley So)
August 2013
– 2013 US Open G/15 Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
– 2013 US Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
October 2013
– 2013 US National G/30 Championship: 1st place (GM Georg Meier)
– 2013 US National G/60 Championship: 1st place (GM Georg Meier)
December 2013
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: 1st place (A team won with a perfect 6-0 score)
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 1 (GMs Le Quang Liem, Fidel Corrales Jimenez)
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 2 (GM Anatoly Bykhovsky)
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 3 (GM Wesley So)
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 4 (GM Ray Robson)
– 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top overall performance (GM Wesley So)
April 2014
– 2014 College Chess Final Four: 1st place (GMs Le Quang Liem, Wesley So, Georg Meier, Ray Robson, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, and Anatoly Bykhovsky)
June 2014
– 2014 National Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)
July 2014
– 2014 World Open: 1st place tie (GM Illia Nyzhnyk)
August 2014
– 2014 US Open: 1st place tie (GM Illia Nyzhnyk)
December 2014
– 2014 PanAm InterCollegiate Championship: 1st place (A team scored 5.5 – 0.5)
– 2014 PanAm InterCollegiate Championship: Top board 1 (IM Ashwin Jayaram)
– 2014 PanAm InterCollegiate Championship: Top board 2 (GM Illia Nyzhnyk)
– 2014 PanAm InterCollegiate Championship: Top board 3 (Ray Robson)
– 2014 PanAm InterCollegiate Championship: Top board 4 (Andre Diamant)
February 2015
- 2015 USATN: Top College Team (WGMs Anna Sharevich, Katerina Nemcova, WFM Luisa Mercado, Mara Kamphorst)
March 2015
– 2015 College Chess Final Four: 1st place (GMs Le Quang Liem, Ray Robson, Illia Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales, Andre Diamant)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Final Four Champions, Back to Back - Webster University!


Round 1

Webster University won 4-0 University of Illinois
TTU won 2.5-1.5 UMBC

Round 2

UMBC lost 1.5-2.5 Webster University
University of Illinois lost 1-3 TTU

Round 3

TTU lost 1-3 Webster University
UMBC won 4-0 University of Illinois

2014 Final standings:

1. Webster University 9.5 points
2. UMBC 7
3. TTU 6.5
3. University of Illinois 1.0




Round 1

Webster University won 4-0 University of Illinois
UTD won 3-1 UMBC

Round 2

UMBC lost 1.5-2.5 Webster University
University of Illinois lost 1-3 UTD

Round 3

UTD lost 1-3 Webster University
UMBC won 2.5-1.5 University of Illinois

2013 Final standings:

1. Webster University 9.5 points
2. UTD 7
3. UMBC 5
4. Illinois 2.5

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Welcome to the life of a female coach in a male dominated world!


Webster - SPICE Top 10 Facts

1. Webster University chess team has been ranked #1 in Division I College Chess since its inception in August 2012 (with 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore in the A team)!

2. Webster University A team has never relinquished the top ranking!

3. Webster University A team has never lost a match!

4. Webster University won the last 2 straight Final Four Championships, both by 2.5 points, the largest ever margin in College Chess history!

5. Webster University won the last PanAm InterCollegiate Chess Championship with a perfect 6-0 score, and won all 3 Final Four matches, to close out the season with an unprecedented perfect 9-0!

6. Webster University sophomore Wesley So won the World University Championship, and is ranked #15 in the world!

7. Webster University freshman won the World Blitz Championship, and is ranked in the top 40 in the world!

8. Webster University sponsors and hosts the annual SPF Girls' Invitational, the most prestigious all-girls event in the U.S., as well as the prestigious annual SPICE Cup.

9. Students of Webster University actively volunteer in the community to bring chess into schools. They, as a team, also maintain a very high GPA.

10. The SPICE chess program has won 4 consecutive Final Four Championships, and has not lost a match in 4 straight Final Four Championships!

In spite of the clear facts that no other university even came close to the unprecedented achievements of Webster University - SPICE, and its students, we have NEVER won the College of the Year honor. Can you imagine Connecticut or Florida State not getting the top honor after winning the division I basketball and football national championships?

But in chess, that honor went to a team which did not make the Final Four last year, and a team which finished 3rd this year. There was even rumbling about not allowing any female coach (me) in men's division I chess.

That idea quickly went away after seeing how chess fans react, especially on Social Media. One fellow male coach even told me that the ONLY reason why my teams win is because of my looks, and it has nothing to do with my coaching ability and credentials!

Welcome to the world of College Chess in America! Welcome to the life of a female coach in a male dominated world!



Titled won by Webster University - SPICE 

World Championships (2)

June 2013

- 2013 World Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Le Quang Liem)

July 2013

- 2013 World University Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)

National Championships (23)

August 2012

- 2012 U.S. Open Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
- 2012 U.S. Open Rapid (g/15) Championship: 1st place (GM Andre Diamant and IM Vitaly Neimer)
- 2012 U.S. Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Andre Diamant), 2nd place (GM Anatoly Bykhovsky)

December 2012

- 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Both A and B team tied for 1st place
- 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top reserve player (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)

April 2013

- 2013 College Chess Final Four: 1st place (GMs Georg Meier, Wesley So, Ray Robson, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, Manuel Leon Hoyos, and Anatoly Bykhovsky)

June 2013

- 2013 National Open: 1st place (GMs Wesley So and Manuel Leon Hoyos)
- 2013 National Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)
- 2013 National G/10 Championship at National Open: 1st place (GM Wesley So)

August 2013

- 2013 US Open G/15 Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)
- 2013 US Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Manuel Leon Hoyos)

October 2013

- 2013 US National G/30 Championship: 1st place (GM Georg Meier)
- 2013 US National G/60 Championship: 1st place (GM Georg Meier)

December 2013

- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: 1st place (A team won with a perfect 6-0 score)
- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 1 (GMs Le Quang Liem, Fidel Corrales Jimenez)
- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 2 (GM Anatoly Bykhovsky)
- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 3 (GM Wesley So)
- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top board 4 (GM Ray Robson)
- 2013 PanAm Intercollegiate Championship: Top overall performance (GM Wesley So)

April 2014


- 2014 College Chess Final Four: 1st place (GMs Le Quang Liem, Wesley So, Georg Meier, Ray Robson, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, and Anatoly Bykhovsky)

June 2014

- 2014 National Open Blitz Championship: 1st place (GM Wesley So)

July 2014

- 2014 World Open: 1st place tie (GM Illia Nyzhnyk)

August 2014

- 2014 US Open: 1st place tie (GM Illia Nyzhnyk)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The importance of College Chess


Paul Truong, coach of the Webster chess team and Director of Marketing & PR for SPICE, just made the following statement regarding the recent big surge in interest in College Chess. Due to space limitation, he decided to have it posted here and provided a link for readers of the Washington Post and FOX Sports:

First of all, kudos to Mike Rosenwald, the author of this article, and Louis Ojeda, Jr., author of this article for covering a very interesting issue.

Secondly, I would like to correct a few misconceptions about College Chess, budgets, and recruiting, etc. College Chess has a long history; however, it has grown dramatically in the past seven years, and now receives serious attention from the media.

As I pointed out to Mike in an email, the secret of building a national championship team has little to do with an arms race. As a head coach, Susan Polgar has led her teams to four consecutive Final Four Championship wins with 2 different universities. The first victory came with a team that was dubbed the “Cinderella team,” the organization with the smallest budget, and by far the lowest rank. No team had ever won the Final Four being the bottom seed until her team did it in April 2011.

So how did they win? Hard work, team work, good strategy, and good coaching! She knows how to coach and how to motivate her players. Her players respect her and they will always fight hard for her.

She is labeled as the most controversial chess coach. Why? Because she sets very high standards for her students, and constantly challenges them to achieve these goals! She demands that her student players focus on their school work. The average GPA of the national championship team is around 3.6 or 3.7, with multiple players with 4.0. She insists that they work out physically to stay in shape and enhance stamina. Many members of her team do CrossFit, and all of them pay attention to fitness. She also asks her players to volunteer in the community, conduct themselves professionally on and off the board, respect one another, stay out of trouble, and be productive global citizens. Some think that is too much to ask. She disagrees.

Today, many universities have world class coaches such as Onischuk, Macieja, Yermolinsky, Milovanovic, etc. Being the only female coach in a division I men’s chess team, Susan has to work much harder to prove that she belongs on the male-dominated elite level. Therefore, she knows that her every move will be severely scrutinized by doubters and sexist individuals. Being a pioneer is never an easy task.

As for the size of the budgets and scholarships, this is another major misconception. As the Washington Post has pointed out, UMBC provides full tuition and a $15,000-a-year food and housing stipend for their fellows. That is quite a bit more than Webster currently offers (when the full value is calculated) and there is no way Webster could match that. The size of chess teams from UT Dallas, Texas Tech, and UT Brownsville, etc. also are all bigger than Webster, so when the full value of their programs are calculated, they too exceed what Webster spends. Webster provides academic and need-based scholarships to the Chess team members, and those students qualify for these types of scholarships just as any other students.

To compare budgets between various chess programs is like apples and oranges. Some programs count office space, utilities, office supplies, and other various miscellaneous expenditures as a part of their budgets while others do not. Some programs are under various Deans / Provosts, which means that whole sections of their budgets aren’t actually counted as being part of the “chess” budget, but rather are calculated as part of someone else’s expenditures. As the famous saying by Mark Twain: "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." This was explained to reporters, but all failed to mention this in their stories.

Another completely false narrative is the reason why Webster University chess team is ranked #1 in the country and won the last two Final Fours. Many have repeated the myth all members of the Texas Tech team left with Susan and enrolled at Webster. This is completely false and can easily be debunked. The fact is four of the five top members of the Webster University National Championship team were freshmen (Grandmasters Wesley So of the Philippines, Ray Robson of the US, Manuel Leon Hoyos of Mexico, and Fidel Corrales of Cuba), and therefore weren’t even in college when Susan left for Webster. This year, grandmaster Le Quang Liem of Vietnam also came to Webster as a freshman. Only one of the top five players on Webster’s team transferred from Texas Tech. He was a sophomore when he did that, having only spent one year at Texas Tech.

All of Webster’s players were heavily recruited by other universities, including many of our rivals. So why did they choose to come to Webster? They did not choose Webster because of better scholarships. If they were interested in a free education, they easily could have gone to other schools that offer top chess players full scholarships, room, board, book money and stipends, something Webster does not do. These players chose Webster because of the reputation of the coach, just like Nick Saban of Alabama football or Mike Mike Krzyzewski of Duke basketball. These players want to learn and play for the best. Simple as that! None of them has ever heard of Webster until the chess program was announced.

And Susan helps them achieve success. Two of her players won world titles last year. Le Quang Liem became the World Blitz Champion and Wesley So won the World University Championship. Three of her players qualified for the World Cup. Eight of her players are Olympians from different countries. This is unprecedented. When Wesley So came to Webster University in August 2012, he was ranked 99 in the world. After a little more than a year training with Susan, he shot up to #18, while winning 11 big events. This is why there is a long list of students wanting to train with the Head Coach of Webster.

So what is the bottom line? Webster University is a small global private tier one university in St. Louis with students from all 50 states and 148 countries around the world. They offer excellent education but they do not have the billions of endowment as some other big universities. They obviously could not match the financial numbers of other giant schools. But the top administrators at Webster University, President Stroble and Provost Schuster made a compelling pitch to why Susan Polgar and her SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) program should relocate to Webster in the Summer of 2012. They understood the value which a top level chess program can bring to any institution in major publicity, image building, and recruiting, etc. They also understood the importance of chess in education and in the global market. A few weeks ago, Susan co-taught a credit course at Webster with Professor O’Bannon: SPICE’ing up Business Strategy with Chess. It was a huge success with big turnout. She is working with several Deans and Professors to incorporate chess into various grad/undergrad courses. This is just the beginning of the new revolution, chess in higher education and the real business world.

That is why she picked Webster over others, and for less money. Winning national championships is great but it is a secondary thing. Giving young deserving students a great education, on and off the chess board, and building characters, are much more important. And this is what Webster University and SPICE is all about!

Paul Truong
Coach of the Chess Team
Webster University

Monday, September 09, 2013

#1 again in 2013


Sep 6, 2013, 12:58pm CDT
Webster Chess team: We’re No. 1
Matthew Hibbard
Social Engagement Manager

St. Louis Business Journal

Webster University’s chess team has only completed two weeks of the school year, but they’re already getting high marks in the chess community.

The chess team was ranked the No. 1 Division I team in the United States by the U.S. Chess Federation, according to Susan Polgar, Webster’s coach, chess grandmaster and World and Olympiad champion.

Polgar said the top rating allows Webster to attract the best chess players in the world and further brands St. Louis, and specifically Webster, as a chess powerhouse.

“Everyone wants to be the top seed,” Polgar said. “It’s a great honor.”

Although the distinction puts the chess club in the spotlight, it also comes with added pressure to keep its No. 1 status. To keep the positive momentum strong, Polgar plans to harness the power of her 14 chess players.

That team includes two chess champions, Wesley So and their newest member, Le Quang Liem. Liem joined the team this semester from Vietnam, Polgar said.

“It’s always a big challenge as a coach to make sure individual stars work together as a team,” she said. “Adding new team members changes the chemistry.”

If she can get that chemistry just right, Webster may have what it takes to keep that No. 1 status till the end.

Polgar and her Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence relocated in June 2012 to Webster University.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Magnus Carlsen visits Webster University


World's #1 Magnus Carlsen is in St. Louis to compete in the Sinquefield Cup. But before the hot and heavy action on the chess board against Aronian, Nakamura, and Kamsky, he visited Webster University to play soccer and basketball with members of the nation's #1 ranked SPICE chess team. Here is the link to some of the photos (12 nations, 10 GMs, competing in sports):

https://picasaweb.google.com/116302832360230031699/MagnusCarlsenAtWebsterUniversity

Magnus is a new type of chess player, on and off the chess board. He is known for torturing his opponents on the chess boards for 5-6-7 hours. He will play out positions where most grandmasters would be content to agree to a draw. 


He is the same on the soccer field and basketball court. He is extremely fit and athletic. He physically wears out his opponents. Magnus simply shatters the false old stigma that chess players are nerdy.

Friday, September 06, 2013

2013-2014 Webster University Chess Team


http://www.webster.edu/spice

A new year of College Chess has begun and Webster University is once again the #1 ranked Division I team in United States (both USCF and FIDE ratings). There are 9 grandmasters from 9 different countries on this year's roster. 

Here are top 10 rated players of Webster University:

Title - Name - FIDE - USCF 


GM Le Quang Liem - Vietnam - 2702 / 2802 (World Blitz Champion - Olympian - Former #1 under 21 in the world) 

GM Wesley So - Philippines - 2710 / 2747 (World University Champion - National Open Champion - Olympian - #2 under 21 in the world) 

GM Georg Meier - Germany - 2630 / 2693 (Olympian - European Team Champion - 2 time Final Four Champion)
 

GM Ray Robson - USA - 2623 / 2707 (Olympian - US Junior Champ - Final Four Champion)
 

GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez - Cuba - 2640 (Olympian - Final Four Champion - Philadelphia Open Champion)
 

GM Manuel Leon Hoyos - Mexico - 2552 / 2614 (Olympian - US Open Triple Crown Champion & National Open Champion)
 

GM Anatoly Bykhovsky - Israel - 2521 / 2618 (3-time Final Four Champion)
 

GM Denes Boros - Hungary - 2502 / 2546 (Final Four Champion)
 

GM Andre Diamant - Brazil - 2465 / 2526 (Final Four Champion)
 

IM Vitaly Neimer - Isarel - 2384 / 2449(Final Four Champion)

FM Jake Banawa
WIM Inna Agrest
Mara Kamphorst
Paul M. Truong

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Susan Polgar


Susan Polgar
by RYAN KOHLS on Aug 23, 2013 • 12:53 pm

“People truly believed it was impossible for women to play good chess or become a grandmaster. They really were convinced that because no other woman had done it before me it was impossible. But I learned chess quickly and it became part of my mission.”

If you love a good tale about women who are socially constructed geniuses, smash gender barriers and humiliate sexist men in sports, I’ve got someone I want you to meet.

Her name is Susan Polgar. She’s Hungarian. She’s a genius. And, she was the first woman to ever achieve grandmaster status and compete with men in chess world championships.

By the age of 15, Susan Polgar was the best female player in the world. From there the barriers began tumbling down as she defeated men, won countless tournaments and became one of chess’ greatest players. During her career she also had the opportunity to play some of the greats: Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Boris Spassky, to name a few.Polgar’s gender-defying ride is now the stuff of legend. Her father, László Polgar, was a psychologist and chess enthusiast who believed strongly that “geniuses were made, not born.” The key was to focus a child’s energy on one thing from an early age. Susan, at the age of 4, showed interest in the chessboard. László noticed and began to hone her skills. Together, Susan and her father began playing and practicing chess for thousands and thousands of hours. It was an experiment he had always wanted to try, so he did…and it worked.

Susan isn’t the only Polgar to excel at chess, however. She has two younger sisters, Judit and Sofia. Both followed in her footsteps, received the same treatment from their father and became chess champions. The Polgar Sisters are mainstays on the chess circuit and a popular trio of inspirational women in sports.

The Polgar’s upbringing has been widely reported and even featured in an episode of National Geographic’s “My Brilliant Brain” program.

Following an extensive career at the top of the chess world, Susan Polgar retired from professional play in 2005. Since then, she’s focused her energy on coaching university chess teams, first for Texas Tech and now at Webster University in St. Louis. She’s also started her own foundation: The Susan Polgar Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to promote chess, and its educational benefits throughout the U.S., especially for girls.

Polgar has also used her extensive experience to author numerous books on chess strategy and her rise to grandmaster status.

There is much I WANNA KNOW from one of chess’ greatest players.

I caught up with Susan Polgar over the phone from her home in St. Louis.

From the strategies of chess, to her confrontations with Bobby Fischer, to breaking gender barriers and defeating male grandmasters, we cover it all.

Ryan Kohls: Your story begins with you stumbling upon a chessboard in your home. Can you describe what made you fall in love with chess at such a young age?

Susan Polgar: First of all, the shape of the pieces. I thought it was very cute. Later, my father introduced me to the essence of the game and I thought it was very fascinating, with the combinations and possibilities. I think also the fairness of the game. I liked the fact that it’s contained, 8 x 8, lot’s of symmetrical elements. Also, I was a small girl and it was something I could do. It didn’t matter what age, size or color you were. Unlike physical sports, where an adult will have a big advantage over a child in terms of knowledge of physical ability and build, in chess all of that disappears.

RK: You mentioned your father. When you research your family’s story, there’s a very special connection with the experiment he conducted on you and your sisters. It’s obviously made you successful, but have you ever held any resentment that he focused your energy on one thing?

SP: No, not really because although the focus was chess it was never the only thing. I was learning languages or involved with other sports as well. I travelled a lot . It was not just the chessboard, even though it was a main part of my life.

RK: Your father seems like a very fascinating man. How would you describe his character?

SP: I guess he’s a visionary. He’s very goal oriented. He sets high goals and he’s very ambitious. At the same time I think he’s a very fair person. He always takes into considering the interests of his community and the general good of society at the time.

RK: You’re the eldest of three chess grandmasters. What role did you play in developing the talents of your sisters?

SP: Well, obviously, by the pure fact that I was the oldest one, and a master level player when they started playing, I helped them a lot; hundreds and thousands of hours in practicing together. At first it was purely teaching and then it became practice partners. It was pretty important for their growth in chess.

RK: How do you practice chess for thousands of hours? What kind of strategy is involved in that?

SP: At an initial level you would practice different checkmate patterns on different setups and themes that may involve destroying the defence in front of a king. Then you try to solve examples from other people’s games or made up practice positions. That’s one aspect; to build the pattern recognition. That’s true for all levels, from beginner to grandmaster. That’s something you never stop because the sharpness in calculating and recognizing patters, efficiently and quickly, is really a big chunk of what chess is about. You find them for yourselves to gain an advantage and also to prevent your opponent from such ideas. It’s more difficult in a way because we all tend to look for ways to win and are less eager to prevent our opponent from winning. But in order to not fall for their traps it’s important to look for opportunities on both sides.

We practice from different situations that were already played by former grandmasters or champions and learn from what they did in certain situations. Chess is like an ocean with endless possibilities, but at the same time ideas and patterns repeat themselves even though circumstances are different. It’s like life. You’re from Kenya and Canada, so you travel a lot. When you travel in airports it doesn’t matter which airport you’re at, you know you go to the check-in counter, you check your luggage, go through security, find your seat, and so on. For someone who hasn’t travelled in their life it’s scary. How am I going to find things? But once you have the experience it doesn’t matter if you’re in Nairobi or Toronto or New York. The gate may look different, but yet the patterns are the same. So in a chess game it’s the same way. According to some research it has been determined that an average Grandmaster is familiar with 20,000 different patterns.

RK: How many patterns are there in chess? Is it infinite?

SP: It’s probably not infinite. I don’t know the exact number. I guess it’s 20,000 that’s important. I wouldn’t say that there are that many more. People discover news one, but with 20,000 you’ll be one of the best players in the world, you’ll be in the top 1000 for sure.

RK: Did you know 20,000 patterns?

SP: I would think so, yeah. But you know, knowing them is one thing, another thing is to be able to apply them at all times and not make mistakes. When grandmasters lose games it’s not because they don’t know them but because of the time constraints. Even though you’re familiar you don’t have the time to calculate it all out or compare the different options and evaluate which is better.

RK: You’re a bit of a chess historian. How did chess become, and remain, so popular in Eastern Europe?

SP: Well, I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert in chess history. But growing up in Eastern Europe and being in the Soviet Union numerous times, I can certainly say it has been part of the culture for a couple hundred years by now. It’s partly because of the weather, in Russia for example a lot of the year it’s cold and the activities you can do outdoors are restricted. It’s inexpensive, anyone can afford it. You can play chess in your own home, in a club, on the beach, on a car, a bus. You can play with your child, your grandparents. It doesn’t matter what your build is, or gender, or religion, it crosses through all boundaries. I think that is the secret behind it. If you want to play basketball, being 6 feet tall has an advantage over someone who is 5’4. And someone who is an adult has an advantage over an eight year old child. It’s probably the simplicity and availability to anyone, anywhere.

RK: You talked about the lack of barriers in chess. But a huge part of your story is how you broke down the gender barrier in the 70s and 80s. Back in those early days, what was the meanest thing anyone ever said or did to you?

SP: (laughs) Well, there were quite a few. The meanest thing was probably when I qualified to represent Hungary at the World Championship in 1986. I wasn’t allowed to compete in the Men’s World Championship. The title of the event included the word men. Therefore, I wasn’t allowed to play. I had many nasty comments about how women aren’t allowed to play chess and they made up all kinds of arguments why not, like women’s brains are smaller and can’t keep quiet for that amount of time. That has been a major part of my young years, that fighting and discrimination. I have to say, in many cases, people truly believed it was impossible for women to play good chess or become a grandmaster. They really were convinced as a fact of life because no other woman had done it before me it was impossible. But I learned it quickly and it became part of my mission.

RK: When you started beating these male grandmasters, was it hard to keep the smile off your face?

SP: Obviously it was very satisfying and felt good. I have to say that doesn’t happen over night. At first I was beating club players and experts. It was actually harder for those guys who lost to me in the initial years because even though they were only club players their egos were bruised. They were not used to it. It did not happen in any sport that women would beat men. They were teased a lot and reminded of it for a long time. However, when I started regularly beating masters, they slowly got used to it and it wore off the novelty element of it. It wasn’t such a sensation. Though, I am very proud that I paved the road. Now there are about two dozen women who achieved the grandmaster title, the highest ranking in chess.

RK: I was arguing the other day that baseball is the most strategic sport in the world. Do you think chess is the most strategic?

SP: Probably by definition it is. That said, I don’t underestimate the importance of strategy and psychology in other sports. People would think that because other sports are physical it’s all about what you do physically. I know in tennis or football, strategy is extremely important. But the ratio is perhaps different between the strategy and the physical effort extended in chess versus other sports. It does exist in both though the ratio may be different.

RK: That’s a very diplomatic answer.

SP: I think it’s very true. People underestimate the physical effort that people make in chess. People doubt or question whether it’s a sport at all. You can ask anybody who competes in chess and has to fight for 10 to 11 grueling hours and see how much it takes out of them physically and mentally.

SP: (laughs) Sometimes, but it’s certainly not the norm. If it’s a match you’re playing for two months, like (Kasparov) did against Anatoly Karpov in the 80s. Or for 50-60 days in a row you’re under pressure and every single move you make has a great weight on your shoulder and things are not going your way on top of it. Moments like that, when you feel you’re putting in all the sleepless nights and the result is not there, it can be very painful. If he wants to use the word torturous that’s his choice of words, but it’s certainly very, very tough.RK: I read a quote from Garry Kasparov where he described chess as “mental torture.” Do you agree with that?

RK: Back in the day, how hard was it to turn your mind off of the game? Were you constantly dreaming about chess?

SP: I would say that in every world champion’s life there is a concentration of a few years, before they become world champion, where they prioritize chess as the most important thing in their lives. They pretty much underline everything towards that goal of becoming a world champion. That will include physical exercises to enhance endurance and energy during the competition. It may include a special diet , a special sleeping schedule that will accustom towards one at a big championship. They sacrifice entertainment and social aspects. So, I would say when you live those years, obviously you have times that you even sleep with some specific chess positions or patterns. In fact, I know numerous people who come up with great ideas in dreams. It happened to me as well. You’d be surprised, I heard it even from athletes in physical sports. They dream about tennis and then implement what they practiced in their dreams.

RK: There’s a lot of mind games in chess. There’s this video on YouTube ofKasparov playing Magnus Carlsen. He walked up to the table, didn’t shake his hand, played and then walked away. What were some of your strategies for getting the upper hand mentally?

SP: Well, I never used any of those tactics. Garry is famous for intimidating his opponents. I don’t like those type of tactics. In some cases, it’s part of the game. I was just on the other end. I got prophylactic by those things. The majority of the players don’t try anything special. They may try to ignore their colleagues before a big match or minimize communication. That’s understandable. I wouldn’t go an extra mile to intimidate them.

RK: What do you remember about playing Bobby Fischer?

SP: It was a great honor and it was something magical in a way. All chess players of my generation were fascinated by Bobby Fischer’s games. He was a hero to most of us. He defeated the world by himself. It was a very inspiring story. When I actually met him and became friends and he stayed at our house while he lived in Hungary for a number of years, it was a great pleasure to spend time with him and play chess. I’m quite happy with the scores I had against him. He was still a strong player at that time. But, he of course had a problem of keeping consistency. He was in his early fifties. He wasn’t competing much at that time.

RK: There’s a fascinating story online about you confronting him about his anti-semitic views. You’re Jewish and you said you “tried to change his views but was unsuccessful.” What were those encounters like?

SP: At first it was shocking to me that he really believes those things. When I confronted him about those things he was defensive. The bottom line is that in his younger years he had some very negative experiences with people who happened to be Jewish. Some people who influenced him the wrong way and took advantage of him. Instead of evaluating that those particular people did that to me so I hate them, he was generalizing that this group of people is this way. But when I confronted him he was giving me examples like, “Look what this guy did to me.” So, at the time when he was still in Hungary he was clearly less extreme than he became later in some of his interviews. We’re talking about 1993-1994, when I used to spent time with him.

RK: You blogged about the new centre dedicated to him in Iceland. Do you think that overall his impact on chess remains more positive than negative?

RK: Because it’s not really you anymore? SP: Absolutely. I honestly despise the fact that there’s so much focus on a negative side. He was a sick person and became mentally ill. He deteriorated over the later years of his life. Imagine today you and I all of the sudden grow a mental illness and become crazy. What does it matter what we say?

SP: Exactly. It’s not in his control. He’s sick. Let’s say someone gets in an accident and loses his legs and can’t run. Even though he was an Olympic champion runner, why should that take away from what he did before? His common sense and his mental state wasn’t the same when he made those crazy statements about 9/11 and so on. In my mind, it doesn’t take a thing away from his amazing skills on the chessboard or how he revolutionized chess. I would say he single handedly created professional chess that thousands of people benefit from. And yes, it’s very sad the things he said and how crazy he became. It’s just unfortunate he didn’t have anyone near him to control the damage to his image from those crazy statements.

RK: Do you remember where you were when you heard he died?

SP: I believe I was in Texas at an event my foundation was doing.

RK: Kasparov famously played IBM’s Deep Blue computer. I heard you were declined a chance to play. Do you think you could have defeated Deep Blue?

SP: We’ll never know. I actually had an opportunity for a friendly encounter at the IBM headquarters. I played there against Deep Blue. It was a draw.

RK: You’re still young enough to play professionally. What made you decide to step away from the game?

SP: I pretty much achieved all the titles I could – world championships, Olympic medals. I think I can inspire the next generation and motivate a lot of people and help our game grow through my stature in the world of chess.

RK: You have a chess foundation now and focus on bringing women into chess. Has focusing your energy on those endeavours been satisfying?

SP: Yes, very much so. It’s nice to see the number of women’s participation growing and the level of self-confidence in women growing. Even the women who never become professionals, it gives them confidence in their lives and careers. So for thousands of girls who I affected through my foundation, I get so much feedback that it’s life changing for so many young people.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUSAN POLGAR:

1) Her official website: www.susanpolgar.com

2) Follow her on Twitter: @SusanPolgar