Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Worthwhile Chess Gambit in West Texas

Excellent move: Grandmaster coming to Tech to start chess program
BY elliott blackburn

Deep in the land of Frito pie and high school football, a grandmaster will launch her latest gambit.

Susan Polgar announced during a Saturday commencement speech at Texas Tech the creation of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, or SPICE, at the university.

Officials related to the project believe it is unique among programs in the world, sporting an ambitious array of research programs and headed by a world champion player.

From her base at Texas Tech, the chess celebrity hopes to research the ties between scholastic chess and academic achievement, develop new software and build, of course, an elite collegiate team.

She leaves an established metropolitan chess community to do this, choosing a city where schoolchildren dominate the game. There is no centralized chess club in Lubbock and no city tournament.

But Lubbock has no attitudes on the game to change, Polgar said. And the university hopes chess will help find and entice strong students from around the world as supporters believe the number of young U.S. players will soon swell.

"Huh? You're moving off to where?" her husband Paul Truong, said, laughing while trying to predict the reaction from the rest of the chess community.

"And that will be a good thing, because it will create curiosity," he said. "They will know that if Susan agrees and committed to do this, there must be something there."

But while quick to note the academic strengths of their current student athletes, Tech administrators liked the ring of a chess team. Tech has been a football school and a basketball school - a chess school separates the university from the rest of the country's established sports programs in a game evocative of scholarly strength.

"Obviously, universities are looking for students that have the kind of skills that chess players have," said Jerry Nash, scholastic director for the U.S. Chess Federation and its liaison to the sport's international organization. "They're saying, 'Yes, gosh, we can have teams that can compete, but in addition to that, we're getting the kinds of students that we need."

Tech offers Polgar a chance to build a program from the ground up, focused on her priorities - chess and education, chess and computers, girls in chess - all of which administrators believe will attract widespread attention to Tech.

There have been early discussions with high-speed computing and programming faculty about building competitive chess software or tools that could link schools together for chess instruction, faculty said. The university was in late April bidding to host elite collegiate tournaments that would bring top players from around the country to Lubbock.

Polgar will be the face of Tech at myriad high school tournaments filled with high-achieving prospective students and will assist in the university's fundraising efforts.

And then there are the benefits for the home team. Tech will have an expert chess player for its students to study under and one that will attract other younger masters who will seek out her instruction.

Source: LubbockOnline
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eric moskow said...

Susan, go find the football coach, tell him you have a link to st thomas aquinas football where my son elliot played and next son jeremy is about to play, it will be a great gambit, tell him he needs soth florida speed. go raiders.;oh and they move thye pieces too. maybe a combined foootbal chess schororship would be novel. go getem

SusanPolgar said...

Dear Eric,

Yes, we are attempting to connect chess and basketball and chess and football.

I met Bobby Knight yesterday. I will probably meet Mike and others in my next trip.

Thanks for your support!
Susan Polgar

Anonymous said...

WOW Susan this is bigger and better than I realized yesterday. You are moving to Texas and going to run the program there. Just incredible, I can only guess that you are soon to be a University Professor and a chess coach and more.

You have my support Susan. This is just so exciting. Congratulations. Who would have thought all this would happen when you were a little girl playing chess.

You have already made a major impact on the positive aspects of chess. I know your work is just beginning. You are already a wonderful success.

I am really excited about your career. You are the most incredible positive roll model for all little girls everywhere. Even if they are not into chess, they can still follow your example in whatever area they have an interest.

Anonymous said...

I simply think the world of you Susan. If you were my daughter I would give you a big hug every day and I would say.

"Go get um Susan. There are a lot of people in this world who love you and they will help you in your mission for chess."

Anonymous said...

Now that you and Paul have these new responsibilities are you still planning on serving on the USCF Executive Board?

And will the Polgar Chess Center be closing?

Also, will you still be running the various Susan Polgar tournaments for girls around the country?

SusanPolgar said...

Nothing changed. Still running for the board. Still planning on fixing the USCF. Still keeping the Polgar Chess Center open. Still organizing events for young people. Still planning to elevate US Chess to another level.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

Anthony said...

So, now you're one of the SPICE Girls? :D

Seriously, congratulations. This could be very big for Chess in the US. :)

eric moskow said...

susan, tell me how much you need,we can show the uscf that one woman with a vision can change things. Pauls story is moving as well. If you go on temple kol tikvahs website in parkland florida you will see I made a 1 million dollar gift, no reason we can not fund change in american chess in a similar way given your recent position. In fact the ruth and joseph moskow endowment at brain was created in similar fashion. Good luck, and all you need to do is call. Off the blogs for now as my email wont stop. Again good things follow good people and you have the support of the wealthiest chess players who are also actually prominent in their own right. People bet the jockey and we bet on u. congrats.

John Philip said...

I just wanted to give you a West Texas welcome. I'm not originally from this area, but attended school here. I moved away for 8 years and felt drawn to come back-- best decision I've ever made. Great people out here and lot's of exciting things happening at Tech and in Lubbock. Best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

WHAT???? You're MOVING TO TEXAS? What's going to happen to the Polgar Chess Center in New York? I had seen stuff about SPICE but I thought maybe your involvement would be something like Kasparov's involvement in the Botvinnik school, operating mostly remotely and visiting there a few times a year.

Anyway best of luck with it and I hope you'll still come back to New York sometimes. I don't live there any more but I visit there now and then, and have always wanted to stop by the PCC sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

as a Texas Tech grad......this is very exciting news.......and i wish you all the best......

Guns Up and Go Tech......

SusanPolgar said...

Anon 2:26PM, one thing that separate me from others is I do not lend my name too often. I show up for every single one of my events and stay for the entire duration.

The Polgar Chess Center will remain open. Nothing will change.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

Michael C.M. said...

WOW.Everytime I think you can't come upwith anything new,you do something else no one else has ever done.Congratulations and good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan

I will be interested to see the results of your research into the correlation between chess and academic ability. I hope however that you are careful as not bias your results, being that you are so heavly involved in chess promotion.

My guess is chess study will provided a minor improvement in academic ability, but that better results would be achieved by spending the same amount of time studying the particular academic field that you wish to improve in.

Kerry Liles said...

Am I the only one who didn't know that Paul and Susan are married??


Congratulations Susan - this is a major event in the history of chess and I can think of no other one who deserves to make that step.

Chris Falter said...


Congratulations to you and Paul on your marriage! I think that the two of you are a dynamic duo indeed. May you be blessed with a long and joyous life together! And this from the Bible: "A cord of three strands is not easily broken."

So many new and wonderful things have been revealed in the past few days. Keep up the good work.

All the best,