Friday, April 06, 2012

College Chess Champions Switch Teams

College Chess Champions Switch Teams
By William Browning, Yahoo!
Contributor Network
1 hour, 44 minutes ago

College chess has just as much drama and strife in the world of athletics as football and basketball. Evidence of this can be found at Webster University in St. Louis. ESPN reports Susan Polgar, a legendary chess grandmaster and coach at Texas Tech, left her school and went to Webster.

She's taking her entire team of seven grandmasters with her because Texas Tech was unable to fund her program.

The move had been in the works since February, according to Webster's chess club blog. The move is a huge blow to Tech's chess club, as the program won its second straight President's Cup at the Final Four of Chess in Herndon, Va., held March 31 to April 1. Tech defeated New York University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Polgar's entire squad will get individual scholarships to Webster. Members of the chess team are highly recruited by employers for critical thinking skills. Cloud Analytics offered winners of the Final Four of Chess summer internships in Washington, D.C.

Imagine taking John Calipari and his entire coaching staff along with the players and recruits and moving them from the University of Kentucky to Louisville. That's essentially what happened when Polgar went to greener pastures at Webster. The suburban St. Louis university wasn't the only suitor for her services. When Texas Tech decided to cut funding, Polgar was heavily recruited.

Chess is highly competitive in collegiate circles. Only around 30 teams field serious enough clubs to offer scholarships. There are open tournaments all the time. Many colleges have chess clubs without scholarships that compete in local, regional and national open tournaments.

The United States Chess Federation oversees other official tournaments. The next national tournament is the National High School Championship to be held April 13 to April 15 in Minneapolis, Minn. Age levels from elementary age to seniors have their own tournaments throughout the year.

Chess is believed to have originated in India as the game "chatarung" from 600 to 1000 CE. Rules changes in Europe changed Medieval chess to the strategy game it is today with the queen and bishop becoming stronger pieces.

In the United States, the first national championship was held in 1845. The U.S. Chess Federation was formed in 1939. The organization's popularity doubled in the 1970s, thanks to legend Bobby Fischer's prominence as the world champion.

Chess is enjoyed seriously by over 100,000 people in the United States, according to Chess Life's ratings database.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor.


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