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Winning Gambit
Dan Greene
April 23, 2012
One school's bold move turns the tables in collegiate chess
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April 23, 2012

Winning Gambit

One school's bold move turns the tables in collegiate chess

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Call it a grandmaster flash: After guiding Texas Tech to its second straight national collegiate chess title early this month, Knight Raiders coach Susan Polgar and her entire seven-player A squad (all of whom carry the game's highest ranking), along with three other players, packed up their pieces to move to Webster University in St. Louis for next season. Her ambitions hamstrung by the bureaucracy of a state institution, Polgar (above)—a Budapest native who at 15 was the world's top-ranked female player—met with Webster provost Julian Schuster last year about a possible transfer, which was finalized in February. The lure of stronger financial backing and full scholarships helped persuade the coach and players. Helping too was St. Louis's chess culture: The city is home to the U.S. nationals, the World Chess Hall of Fame, and a 6,000-square-foot chess club funded by billionaire Rex Sinquefield. As Polgar told the AP, "It just seemed like a perfect fit."

Polgar's old school harbors no ill will, according to a university spokesman. Her new one, which has more than 100 campuses worldwide, hopes to attract stronger students both at home and abroad through chess success. "We made the right move," Schuster says, "and we are going to win this game."

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