Monday, February 06, 2012

TTU a little bland without SPICE

Champion chess team leaving TTU
Reported by: Brittany Price
Last Update: 11:21 pm

The SPICE program is named for coach and founder Susan Polgar. It has brought the university international attention during its four-year run, fielding numerous grandmasters and national champions. Now Polgar and several of her best will head to Webster University near St. Louis.

"We live like one big, happy family," said Vitaly Neimer, Texas Tech student and International Chess Master.

Neimer's devotion to this close-knit group, known as the Knight Raiders, is the reason he will transfer to Webster.

"We were all kind of surprised at first but for me it was very important ...," Neimer said.

It's no surprise that (scholarship) money is at the root of the move.

"We felt like we became the victims of our own speedy success. Tech wasn't able to accommodate the sudden growth of the program," said Susan Polgar. She established the SPICE program four years ago at Texas Tech.

Polgar said Webster University is a private school that is able to offer her players heftier scholarships than Texas Tech.

"In the best interest of the students we felt like we had no choice but to listen to other offers and opportunities for them so they can graduate," Polgar said.

There are 21 players on the Knight Raiders team. Polgar said eight of them (all members of the A team) have already chosen to transfer to Webster.

"Coming to Webster with Susan is very good for us," Neimer said.

Polgar said it was a tough decision to uproot her championship-winning chess team.

"On one hand we love Lubbock and we love Texas Tech University. We built something historic here, a legacy that nobody can take away regardless of the future," Polgar said.

Polgar will transfer to Webster on June first. She will leave behind her one regional, two state, and 12 national titles in Tech's honor.


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