National championship chess team bolts for new university
By Chris Chase
Mon Apr 09 12:07pm EDT
The Texas Tech coach and her seven chessmasters who won their second straight national championship this month will all return next year to defend their title. But they'll be doing it at a different school.
In an unprecedented move in the world of college competition, Texas Tech's entire team will transfer to Webster University in the chess hotbed of St. Louis, home to the World Chess Hall of Fame. The private university promised more funding for the team and access to a new, 6,000-square-foot learning center in the city.
Unlike athletes who play college activities governed by the NCAA, chess players can transfer without sitting out for a year.
Coach Susan Polgar chose Webster because of its ties to its home city's chess community. "St. Louis today is the center of chess in America," she told the Associated Press. "It just seemed like a perfect fit."
Polgar is a self-taught prodigy from Hungary who became the top-ranked female player in the world at 15 and has multiple world records related to the game. She developed Texas Tech into an unlikely chess powerhouse since her arrival in 2007. The team's success drew numerous suitors from universities looking to improve their chess programs. When Webster offered full scholarships for all players, Polgar was sold.
Her foreign team -- members come from Iran, Germany, Israel, Brazil, Azerbaijan and Hungary -- said it had no qualms about moving.