Webster University Chess Team to Help Community Members Improve Their Game

Apr. 14, 2015

ST. LOUIS (APRIL 14, 2015)  – St. Louis is home to the top-ranked college chess team and three-time national college chess champion (Webster University), one of the best high school teams in the country (St. John Vianney High’s chess team won the national H.S. championships in 2011 and 2013) and the World Chess Hall of Fame, housed at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Recently, the national chess championship was held in St. Louis.

In other words, there are a lot of great chess player in town. But there also are many people who don’t play chess well, or don’t know how to play at all.

Webster University has two programs to help more people feel included in the growing chess community. The chess program will offer a chess summer camp for children ages 6 to 18 this summer. In addition, it has recently started a free program to the community where people can get chess advice and practice their game.

“Chess is an international game and also a great mind exercise for people of all ages,” said Susan Polgar, coach of Webster’s chess team and director of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE). “Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly play chess are better at math, science, and also better at using strategy in their careers. I believe playing chess exercises the analytical part of your brain, and just like exercising your muscles in the gym, giving your brain a workout only makes it stronger.”

This semester, the SPICE program and Chess Team started hosting a community chess gathering every Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Luhr Building, located on Lockwood Avenue across from Webster Hall on the University’s home campus. During these weekly meets, any member of the community can play chess against other members, challenge members of the Webster team for games, or ask the chess team members for advice, hints or tips on how to improve their game. The weekly event is free.

This summer, SPICE also will host two chess summer camps for children age 6 to 18. The camps will be held June 15 – 19 and July 13-17 on Webster University’s home campus. Registered students will receive coaching from Polgar and members of Webster University’s team. The camp is designed to help young chess players strengthen their understanding of the strategies behind the game, as well as teach those who have never played the rules.

Students can attend either half-day or full day sessions. Registration by May 10 costs $180 for the half-day schedule, $360 for full days. After May 10, the cost increases to $225 for the half day, $400 for the full day.

This isn’t the first community outreach program from SPICE or the chess team. Two years ago, Polgar and members of the team worked with teachers at every public school in the city and taught them how to play chess and apply it to other subjects in the classroom. As a result, every public school in Webster Groves now has a student chess club. Last year, Webster helped run the first ever Webster Groves School District chess tournament. This year’s event will be held on April 25, and is open to Webster Groves K-8 students.

SPICE also hosts an annual chess tournament for girls 19 years and younger each year. Polgar has spoken to several community groups during the past year to discuss chess, strategy and its connection to business.

For more information on SPICE and Webster University’s chess team, visit http://www.webster.edu/spice/.

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

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