You Should Have Had Webster in Your (Chess) Bracket

Apr. 4, 2013

You Should Have Had Webster in Your (Chess) Bracket

Webster University Chess Team Enters Tournament as No. 1 Seed

ST. LOUIS, April 4, 2013 – The NCAA “Final Four” will be under way at the Georgia Dome this weekend, but there will be another Final Four tournament taking place at the same time: the "Final Four of Collegiate Chess" (also known as the President's Cup), to be played among the nation's top four college teams, April 6-7 in suburban Washington D.C. The tournament is the final throw-down in determining the U.S. collegiate team chess champion.

Webster will enter the tournament as the top seed, because of the players' high international and national chess ratings and rankings. Webster's team has four starters and two alternates, all of whom are ranked as chess grandmasters by the World Chess Federation. In fact, the entire Webster chess team includes eight grandmasters -- unheard of in the world of collegiate chess. The entire country of Canada only has nine grandmasters.

Susan Polgar, Webster's chess head coach, said this is the first time in history that not only has a collegiate chess team made it to the Final Four in its first year at a school, but the first time that a first-year collegiate chess team has been ranked No. 1 in the Final Four. In fact, Webster has been ranked No. 1 since August 2012, when the team was officially formed.

Webster's six Final Four team members include:

*       Grandmaster Wesley So, freshman, who is the No. 1-ranked overall player in the Philippines and No. 2 under 21 player in the world. He also recently reached the "Super" Grandmaster rating, one of only about 50current players in the entire chess world of more than 700 million players to break that mark. 

*       Grandmaster Ray Robson, freshman, who is the youngest American ever to achieve the Grandmaster title, currently ranked No.6 overall in the U.S. and No. 9 under 21 player in the world.

*       Grandmaster Georg Meier, sophomore, ranked No. 2 overall in Germany. He is a member of the reigning Final Four Championship team.

*       Grandmaster Fidel Corrales Jimenez, freshman, the overall No. 3-ranked player in Cuba.

*       Grandmaster Manuel Leon Hoyos, freshman, ranked No. 1 overall in Mexico and reigning U.S. Open Champion. (alternate)

*       Grandmaster Anatoly Byhkovsky, junior, ranked No. 20 overall in Israel. (alternate) He was a member of the Final Four Championship team the past two years.

The Final Four is the most prestigious team tournament in collegiate chess; the winner is known as the national champion of college chess. To get to the Final Four, teams must first compete in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, held each year during the last week of December. Only the top four teams in this event qualify for the Final Four. This year, in addition to Webster, other schools competing in the Final Four include the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Texas-Dallas and University of Illinois.

In the round robin-format Final Four, each of the four school teams plays in three rounds of competition, playing one full match against each of the other schools. Each team fields a squad of four players, meaning that each team will play a total of 12 games. Game points determine the overall winner.

Updates from the Final Four will be posted on Webster's Twitter account at @WebsterU this weekend. A celebration welcoming the team back from the competition will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, April 8 in Marletto's. It is open to the campus community and will include a special treat from President Stroble.