Texas Tech Chess Institute Announces Donation

A gift given by an anonymous donor will provide $320,000 in chess scholarships and pay to install chess tables on campus.

Written by Cory Chandler

Texas Tech University’s Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence announced a more than $320,000 pledge that will fund scholarships for recruiting chess talent and pay to install three public chess tables on campus.

The gift, given by an anonymous donor, will provide $320,000 in scholarships that Knight Raiders team coaches Susan Polgar and Paul Truong can use to attract chess players to Lubbock. It builds upon $25,000 already given to Texas Tech’s chess program by the benefactor in 2007 and will provide revenue over five years beginning in the fall.

Additional funds will support the installation of three concrete chess tables between Texas Tech’s Student Union Building and Library in hopes that the public setting will create more exposure and enthusiasm on campus for the game and attract more student players.

SPICE leaders hope the money will spur further support for Texas Tech’s chess efforts. The university has enjoyed a growing number of inquiries from student chess players as it built its program over the past three years; Polgar’s hiring in 2007 broadened the university’s recruitment reach as she garnered interest from an international pool of potential checkmaters.

"Our benefactor feels that chess is an outstanding surplus preparation for the real world, such as the marketplace," said Haraldur R. Karlsson, associate professor in geosciences and faculty advisor to the Knight Raiders. "Chess helps nurture and develop critical thinking skills. He hopes that other donors will follow his lead and help build SPICE into a world renowned institution."

Polgar is a winner of four women’s world chess championships and five Olympic gold medals. At the age of 21, she was the first woman to earn the Grandmaster Title.

"The amazing attention SPICE has received from potential students from around the world is testimony to Grandmaster Polgar’s reputation," said James E. Brink, associate vice provost of the Heritage Consortium for the Natural and Historic Southwest, who coordinates SPICE efforts. "Outstanding chess players are most often outstanding students, and this scholarship support will greatly assist us in recruiting a world-class chess team."
SPICE promotes chess as academic and outreach tool and provides an almost unprecedented forum for academic research on the game.