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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sports Illustrated Features New Chess Queen in Town

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM

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Congrats to Susan Polgar, the incoming coach of Webster University's new chess team, for her sidebar article, "Winning Gambit," inside the current issue of Sports Illustrated (NFL Draft cover).

We first introduced Polgar back in February. The Budapest native, former world champion and, until recently, coach of Texas Tech University's national championship squad, was prepping her eventual move to Webster, with nearly half of her Texas Tech players accompanying her.

Polgar's strategic move to St. Louis has now captured the attention of a national audience. Writes SI:

"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 tree other players, packed up their pieces to move to Webster University in St. Louis for next season."

Polgar was the top-ranked female player in the world at age 15. SI reports that her move to St. Louis was based on her frustration with the bureaucracy and limited financial resources of a state institution.

Of course, it didn't hurt that St. Louis is home to the national chess championships, the World Chess Hall of Fame, and a fancy little chess sanctuary -- the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis -- tucked into the busiest intersection of the Central West End and funded by Rex Sinquefield.

Prior to Polgar's arrival, the biggest name on the St. Louis board had been Hikaru Nakamura, one of the world's top-ranked players to relocate here and which helped get us named the United States Chess Federation's Chess City of the Year for 2011. For a great read on Nakamura, who's as bold and enigmatic as he is talented, check out Kelsey Whipple's July 21, 2001, feature, "Hikaru Nakamura Is the Next Bobby Fischer -- and the Reason St. Louis is Suddenly the Epicenter of American Chess."

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