Friday, January 25, 2013

Ladue News: Dynamic People

Dynamic People: Susan Polgar
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:00 pm
Updated: 11:59 am, Thu Jan 24, 2013.
St. Louis feels like home to Hungarian native Susan Polgar, the four-time Women’s World Chess Champion. “There is a nice metropolitan feel to St. Louis. There are more things to do, the people here are very nice, and the nearby hills and rivers remind me of home,” she says.
Born in Budapest in 1969, Polgar came to the United States in her mid-20s. Prior to St. Louis, she and her family lived Lubbock, Texas, for five years and in New York City for 13 years. Last year, Polgar moved her collegiate chess team and the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence program from Texas Tech University to Webster University.

Polgar says the board game has helped brighten her world and break the barriers she faced regarding age, gender, national politics and economics. “Chess is a miniature version of life,” she explains. “To be successful, you need to be disciplined, assess resources, consider responsible choices and adjust when circumstances change.”

Polgar picked up her first chess piece at the age of 4; and with her parents financing her chess education, she won her first tournament a few months later in Hungary, a Communist country in the former Soviet Union. The differences between her native country and the one she now calls home were not lost on Polgar. She notes that while Americans had abundance and could travel freely, people in the Soviet Union had plenty of restrictions. For instance, whereas all American homes were equipped with multiple phone lines, she says, “Few people in the Soviet Union even had telephones.” It was the same scenario for televisions. So while Americans enjoyed MLB and NFL games, people in Communist countries enjoyed chess.

The good chess players were groomed to be national representatives, and were allowed to travel throughout the Soviet Union and overseas to compete in tournaments. “Neighbors made a big deal of people returning home from a trip,” recalls Polgar, who began to view chess was an equalizer, of sorts. “I was a tiny girl of 4, playing and winning against people three to four times older or bigger than me,” she says. “It didn’t matter that we spoke different languages.”

By 1986, Polgar qualified to complete in the Men’s World Chess Championship Tournament, but officials prevented her from entering the competition. “My presence at the tournament belied its name,” she explains. The conflict eventually forced the World Chess Federation, the organization that regulates the tournament, to allow women to compete for the championship.

In 1991, Polgar became the first woman to earn the highest title in chess—Grandmaster—by achieving the specified standards. “That was a fulfilling experience because for years, a lot of people said that I couldn’t become a Grandmaster because I was a woman,” she says.
Polgar credits her parents for her success, saying they shielded her from society’s then-prevailing sentiments, sacrificed vacations and hard-earned money to pay for chess coaches, and instilled in her the belief that all people are born with equal ability and potential. “They told me that if I had the passion and put in the hours of work, then I should be as good as any man.”

After giving birth to her first child in 1999, Polgar retired from competitive play. But she came out of retirement in 2003 to achieve a few remaining goals, namely: for all children to benefit from playing chess, to use chess as a tool to improve education, to attract more women to the game and to raise its popularity in America. The next year, Polgar joined the U.S Women’s national chess team, winning two personal gold medals and helping the U.S. team secure the silver medal in the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Spain.

Since then, Polgar has patiently built the foundation to attain her goals. She won the Women’s World Chess Cup for the U.S in 2006, set a few international chess records, and developed the top-ranked college chess team in the nation, moving the program to St. Louis seven months ago. Webster University is one of few colleges offering full or partial college scholarships for chess players. Currently, there are 14 students under the Grandmaster’s wing at Webster. “That’s pretty good—after being in St. Louis for only one summer.”


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chess team qualifies for Final Four

Chess team qualifies for Final Four 
by Sam Masterson 
January 23, 2013

The Webster University chess team tied itself and four other schools for first place in the 2012 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship. In the competition, Webster’s A and B teams fought through six rounds of chess against the top college teams in the country.

Webster brought the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked teams in the country with its A and B teams, respectively. In a feat accomplished only once before in the 66-year history of the World Series of College Chess, both Webster teams tied for first. Forty-four different colleges competed in the tournament, which was held Dec. 27-30 at Princeton University (N.J.).

As co-champions with three other institutions, Webster and these schools all earned spots in the College Chess Final Four, or President’s Cup, which is held April 6-7 in Herndon, Va. Webster’s A and B teams, however, will be forced to combine into only one team of six members. College Chess rules allow for only one team per school to compete in the Final Four.

Susan Polgar, Webster chess coach and founder of SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence), said she selected the final team based on the players’ competitive performances during the past few months.

The Pan-Am Intercollegiate co-champions and Final Four competitors are Webster, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Illinois.

Polgar said Illinois is a surprise team that upset the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Tech University. Polgar won the President’s Cup in 2011 and 2012 while at Texas Tech.

Preparing for the Final Four

Polgar has selected her final team of six to compete in the Final Four, but she withheld the players’ names so that opposing teams can’t adequately prepare for Webster.

That gives her team a leg up on the strategy side, since the other Final Four teams will most likely keep the same lineup they used at the Pan-Am Championship. Georg Meier, sophomore and team co-captain, believes Webster has a mental advantage as well.

“I was a professional player for a while, and I was playing for different teams and my national team, so I do not have any problems with pressure,” Meier said. “We got where we are because most of us have been playing for 10 or 15 years, and on a very high level.”

Meier and Wesley So, freshman SPICE player, agree that Webster deserves the No. 1 ranking and can win the 2013 President’s Cup — even with a shortage of experience in collegiate chess competition.

Webster is a young team, as four of the five players on the A team are freshmen. Polgar said she hasn’t seen the youth hurt the team at all.

“It was their first experience of the kind (in the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship),” Polgar said. “Even though they are very accomplished chess players individually, this collegiate style is their first. I help them in any way I can. A lot of them are not from the U.S., so I give 100 percent of myself to them and they are trying to do their best for me.”

Resumes of individuals on Webster’s team demonstrate why Webster is regarded as the best squad in the country.

—Freshman Wesley So is the No. 1-ranked Philippine player, No. 3-ranked player under 21 years old in the world and No. 66-ranked overall player in the world.

—Freshman Ray Robson is the No. 10-ranked under-21 player in the world and the No. 8-ranked player in the U.S.

—Freshman Manuel Leon Hoyos is the No. 1 player in Mexico and the reigning U.S. Open Champion — the first Mexican-born player to earn the title.

Wesley So and six of his teammates have represented their respective countries in the Olympic Games. Five players competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Polgar has no shortage of experience at the collegiate level. In the past two years as the coach at Texas Tech, Polgar led her team to victories in the 2010 and 2011 President’s Cup. 

Meier, who was on that team, said Polgar’s success stems from her being more than a coach.

“She is very good at keeping the team together and (having) an idea of what is going on,” Meier said. “It’s not so much about individual training but going for the good of the team, and Susan has been doing a very good job.”


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Webster University: What's Next: "100 Years"

Rules and Conditions for the 10th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational ($200K in prizes and scholarships)

Rules and Conditions for the 10th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls' Invitational (SPGI)
July 20 – 25, 2013 at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri)

Approximately $200,000 in chess scholarships, chess prizes, iPad mini, etc.

The annual Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational, the most prestigious all-girls event in the United States, will be held at Webster University (St. Louis, Missouri).

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

Each state is allowed one representative to be nominated by June 1, 2013. Official representative alternates may be substituted no later than June 15. (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 1 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.

Players must have been enrolled in a school (up to 12th grade) located in the state they represent, also of the year in which the tournament is held. Home-schooled students who are under the age of 19 on July 25th 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.

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 25th of the year in which the tournament is held) is eligible!

Special invitation for this year only: All past participants of the SPNI and SPGI (Susan Polgar National Invitational/Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2004-2012) are invited to participate in the 2013 SPGI. 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 2013 SPGI; however, players are responsible for their own travel. For all state representatives, and qualifiers from the SPNO or SPWO, Webster University will provide complimentary room and meal accommodation on campus. 

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 25, 2013.

Prizes: Trophies / plaques will be awarded to the winners of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girl’s Invitational Puzzle Solving, Blitz, and the SPGI 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) will automatically be invited to defend her/their title (must meet age requirement).

Champion: Webster University scholarship (approximately $23,000+ per year x 4 years) + iPad mini + Champion's Plaque / Trophy
2nd and 3rd place: Webster University scholarship (approximately $13,000+ per year x 4 years)
Top under 13: iPad mini
Top under 10: iPad mini

The scholarship must be exercised no later than the Fall of 2016.

The New Polgar Committee’s goal is to have all 50 states (including two representatives for California, two for Texas, and two for Missouri) and the District of Columbia 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 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 NO for Girls (New Orleans) and the Susan Polgar World Open for Girls (Chicago).

The new SPGI Chairperson is Martha Underwood (AZ).

NOTICE TO ALL STATE OFFICIALS: Please send the nomination from your state to the Polgar Committee (

Contact info: Polgar Committee (

The Susan Polgar Foundation can be contacted at 806-281-7424 or through

Webster University is located at 470 E. Lockwood Avenue Webster Groves, MO 63119

BIG THANKS to President Dr. Beth Stroble and Webster University for hosting and sponsoring this very prestigious event for girls!

* Scholarships may be upgraded but may not be stacked. For previous winners of partial scholarships, a maximum of $1,000 per year may be added to the previous scholarship.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SPNO to return to beautiful New Orleans! Over $100,000 in scholarships and prizes!

Information and online registration here.

Mar. 1-3 SPNO Boys & Girls Championships

at Holiday Inn Downtown/Superdome, New Orleans, LA. 6 Rd. SS G/45 d/5 scholastic up to 9 sections: USCF Rated Secs. grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 & 9-12, sep. for Girls & Boys; 1 Unrated K-12 Reserve sec. Side events: 3 hour chess camp (max. 30); GM Polgar Simul (max 25 bds.); Blitz Championship, 2 secs., K-6 and 7-12; Bughouse; Puzzle Solving Championship; "Breakfast with Susan" at Brennan's Restaurant (former home of World Champ. Paul Morphy).  

Schedule: Rds. Sat., 3/2 - 10 a.m., 12, 2 p.m.; Sun 3/3 - 11 a.m., 1, p.m., 3 p.m.;  

Side events: Fri 3/1 - Camp 2-5 p.m.; Puzzles, 6 p.m., Bughouse 7 p.m.; Sat. 3/2 - Blitz 4.p.m., Simul 7 p.m.; Sun. 3/3 - Breakfast 8:30 a.m.; side event awards before rds 4 & 5; main event awards 4:45 p.m.  

Prizes: Over $100,000 in Webster U. Scholarships, tablet computers & chess prizes; Trophies to top 5 ea. sec. (more poss. in lg secs.; top 20% based on pre-reg. as of 2/10); Side event awards: Blitz - top 3 boys & top 3 girls ea. sec. Bughouse - top 3 teams. Puzzles - top 3 Boys & Girls in rating gps. Under 800, Under 1500 & Open. All players receive commemorative medals. Team awards: top 3 school & top club team ea. sec. of main event & blitz (Student may rep. only 1 team; commit by rd 2).  

Reg. fees: All secs. of G/45 Main Event: $45 by 1/10/13 ; then $55 by 2/1/13; $65 thereafter. Camp - $40 by 1/10/13; then $50. Puzzles $10 by 2/1/13; then $15. Bughouse - $20/team by 2/1/13; then $30. Blitz - $15 by 2/1/13; then $20. Simul - $25: "Breakfast with Susan" Sunday Brunch at Brennan's Rest. (Paul Morphy home) $55 adults; $30 children.   

Host hotel: Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome, King or 2 Doubles $149/nt, 2 night min. til sold out or 1/18/13. Overnight Parking $15; free wi-fi, fitness center, pool; 10% food & bev. disct. if staying on-site. To reserve call 1-800-535-7830 & request Polgar Chess Rate. Alt./Overflow hotel: SpringHill Suites downtown, 301 St.Joseph St., (1 mile from Holiday Inn): King + sofa sleeper or 2 Queens + sleeper, $209/nt. til sold out or 2/8/13. To reserve call 1-888-364-1200 & request Polgar Chess Rate. 

Email questions to: 

Susan Polgar New Orleans Commemorative Tee-Shirt with Players' Names Printed on Back 

A commemorative Tee-Shirt will be available for $18 at the tournament with the Players' names printed on the back. In order to have your name printed on the shirt you must place your order by February 1, 2013. Those who do not order by that date may not have their names added to the shirt, so please order early by clicking the link below:

SPWO with over $100K in chess prizes (including iPad Mini) and scholarships

Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls 

November 2 – 3, 2013
Special 3 hour Camp – November 1, 2013
Crowne Plaza Hotel – Northbrook, IL (near Chicago)

Over $100,000 in Chess Prizes (including iPad Mini) and Scholarships to Webster University 
(Home of the #1 ranked College Chess Division 1 team in the nation!) 

The winners of the Girls K-3, 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12 will receive automatic invitations to the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational
(late July 2014 at Webster University in St. Louis), which includes free room and board.

All winners from the 2012 SPWO (Boys and Girls) receive free entry to the 2013 SPWO

6R-SS in 8 sections: (K-3), (4-5), (6-8), (9-12) 
Time Control (all sections): Game-45 w/5-sec delay 
Round Times (all sections): Sat & Sun: 11:00am, 1:30pm, 4pm 

Side Events: 

Puzzle Solving – Saturday 6:00pm
Simul * – Saturday 7:00pm
Blitz – Sunday – 9:00am

*Simul is limited to 30 participants with maximum 10 adults as available 

Book Signing with GM Susan Polgar: Saturday 3:00pm 

Q&A with GM Susan Polgar: Saturday 12:30pm 

Special 3 hour chess camp with GM Susan Polgar: Friday 11/1 – 5:30pm – 8:30pm 

Unrated Tournament*: Must be unrated, No USCF membership required

K-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12 sections
Boys and Girls together
4R-SS Game-45 w/5-sec delay
11am, 1:30pm, 4pm, 6:30pm
Trophies 1st thru 5th per section and top 2 teams 

Prizes (Boys and Girls - rated sections)

9th-12th Grade Section 

1st – Webster University  Scholarship
2nd – $150 value of chess prizes
3rd – $100 value of chess prizes
4th – $75 value of chess prizes 

4-5, 6-8 

1st – iPad Mini
2nd – $150 value of chess prizes
3rd – $100 value of chess prizes
4th – $75 value of chess prizes 


1st – $250 value of chess prizes
2nd – $150 value of chess prizes
3rd – $100 value of chess prizes
4th – $75 value of chess prizes 

Trophies (in all rated sections) 

Trophies to Top 10 individuals
Trophies to Top 3 school teams 

Tournament Entry Fees: 

$40 by October 12, 2013
$50 by October 26, 2013
$60 thereafter and onsite

Side events – $15 each or $40 for all three if purchased by 10/26; $20 each thereafter and onsite
1/2 day camp – $40 in advance, $60 onsite – camp limited to 40 participants 

Unrated Tournament Entry Fee 

$10 by October 12, 2013
$15 by October 26, 2013
$20 thereafter and onsite

Questions: or call 847.423.8626 and mention Polgar tournament in your message. 

Chess Vendor Onsite with Huge Selection! 

Payments to be mailed to (payable): 

North American Chess Association
4957 Oakton Street Suite 113
Skokie, IL 60077
All equipment will be provided (boards, sets, clocks). Organizer provided equipment must be used.

Crowne Plaza Chicago-Northbrook Hotel  
2875 N. Milwaukee Avenue 
Northbrook, IL 60062
$99 room rate; must call hotel directly and ask for CHESS rate.

Monday, January 07, 2013

NYT spotlights Webster U's chess masters

New York Times spotlights Webster U's chess masters 
St. Louis Business Journal by Greg Edwards, Reporter
Date: Monday, January 7, 2013, 11:28am CST
Greg Edwards
Reporter- St. Louis Business Journal
Webster University’s chess teams were spotlighted in the New York Times this weekend for their first-place performances at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship Dec. 27-30 at Princeton University.

Both the A and B chess teams at Webster tied for first place with teams from three other universities, including the University of Illinois. Teams from the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland were other two. Forty-four schools competed.

“So why were there more strong players than ever? Part of the answer is that players today are becoming grandmasters at younger ages than they did 30 and 40 years ago,” the Times wrote. In addition, schools see chess as a way to set themselves apart.

“Webster is an example of this philosophy. Last year it hired Susan Polgar, a former women’s world champion who was the coach at Texas Tech. When Polgar took the job at Webster, she also persuaded many of the players she had recruited for Texas Tech to follow her.

“At the championships, Webster’s teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 3 and included eight grandmasters: Wesley So of the Philippines, Georg Meier of Germany, Manuel León Hoyos of Mexico, Fidel Corrales Jimenez of Cuba, Anatoly Bykhovsky of Israel, Andre Diamant of Brazil, Denes Boros of Hungary and Ray Robson of the United States.”

You can read more here.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Webster A and B team tied for 1st at 2012 PanAm

Webster University
Department of Public Relations
470 E. Lockwood Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119 

Webster University’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ Chess Teams Tie for First Place in 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Chess Championship 

Webster Now Advances to the Final Four of Collegiate Chess

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 2, 2013 – No. 1-ranked Webster University’s “A” and no. 3-ranked “B” chess teams tied for first place in the 2012 PanAm Intercollegiate Chess Championship – also known as the World Series of College Chess – last week at Princeton University. The top four schools will now advance to the College Chess Final Four, to be held April 6-7 in Herndon, Va. Since only one team per school can qualify for the Final Four, six players from Webster’s “A” and “B” teams will be selected to represent the University in the Final Four.

Webster’s “A” team was the top seed in the World Series of Chess, while the “B” team ranked third. Both teams are coached by Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar, World and Olympiad Champion, and director of SPICE, the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, at Webster University.
Webster’s “A” team members include:

  • Grandmaster Wesley So, Webster freshman, currently ranked No. 1 in the Philippines and No. 3 under 21 player in the world
  • Grandmaster Ray Robson, Webster freshman, ranked No. 8 in the U.S. and No. 10 under 21 player in the world
  • Grandmaster Fidel Corrales Jimenez, Webster freshman, ranked No. 3 player in Cuba
  • Grandmaster Georg Meier, Webster sophomore, ranked No. 4 in Germany
  • (Alternate) Grandmaster Manuel Leon Hoyos, Webster freshman, ranked No. 1 in Mexico and reigning U.S. Open Champion
Webster’s “B” team members include:

  • Grandmaster Anatoly Byhkovsky, Webster junior, ranked No. 21 in Israel
  • Grandmaster Denes Boros, Webster junior, ranked No. 28 in Hungary
  • Grandmaster Andre Diamant, Webster sophomore, ranked No. 12 in Brazil
  • International Master Vitaly Neimer, Webster sophomore, ranked 46  in Israel   

44 top college chess teams competed for the prestigious national title, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, University of Chicago, NYU, Penn State, University of Texas (Dallas), University of Texas (Austin), University of Texas (Brownsville), Texas Tech, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Arizona State, Washington University in St. Louis and Lindenwood University. 

The first PanAm Intercollegiate Chess Championship took place in New York in 1946. Webster University was the first team in history to enter the World Series of College Chess as the No. 1 seed in the first year competing in this event.

Webster will enter the Final Four as the #1 seed. The other three universities which also earned a berth in the Final Four include the University of Illinois, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and University of Texas in Dallas.

About Susan Polgar and SPICE

Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar, World and Olympiad Champion, and her Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) relocated to Webster University from Texas Tech University on June 1, 2012. In addition, all key members of the reigning national collegiate champion Texas Tech “A” chess team transferred to Webster and are now enrolled at the University. Webster’s No. 1-ranked chess team includes eight Grandmasters and two International Masters.

Polgar, who is one of the strongest female chess players in history, is the winner of four world championships and the only world champion in history – male or female – to win the Triple-Crown (Rapid, Blitz and Classical Chess world championships). She is the first woman to break the gender barrier to qualify for the Men’s World Championship Cycle, earn the Men’s Grandmaster title, and to receive the Grandmaster of the Year Award. At Webster, SPICE and Polgar are leaders in promoting chess as a vehicle for global diversity and academic excellence, for enriching the education of children and for promoting women’s chess. In 2011, Polgar became the first female head coach to lead a men’s collegiate Division 1 chess team (Texas Tech University) to the national title, a feat she repeated in 2012.

About Webster University

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe and North America. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
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