Texas Tech Formally Welcomes Chess Champions

Texas Tech University formally welcomed at a Thursday reception the new Knight Raiders chess coaches and heads of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.

Written by Cory Chandler

Texas Tech University formally welcomed chess dynamos Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, who will oversee the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) and coach the Knight Raiders chess team, during a Thursday reception at the International Cultural Center.

The event presented the first such occasion for red-carpet treatment of the international stars since their May hiring. Polgar and Truong spent the summer establishing the institute and traveling to an international slate of chess-related and academic events.

"This is our opportunity to present these acclaimed individuals to the campus and to the Lubbock community," said Jim Brink, senior vice provost for academic affairs, noting that SPICE will be involved with Lubbock schools through its K-12 outreach efforts.

The reception also served as a venue to promote the 2007 SPICE Cup International Invitational Chess Tournament, slated for Nov. 9-16 in Lubbock.

Organized by Polgar and Truong, the tournament will have an average participant rating of approximately 2,527, making it a category 12 event. Categories of top-level tournaments are based on the average rating of the participants and are formed within a 25-point range. Players with a rating of above 2,400 are considered senior masters by the U.S. Chess Federation.

"This prestigious tournament will be one of the strongest international invitational round robin tournaments held in the United States in the past decade," Polgar said.

Polgar is director of SPICE and coach of the Knight Raiders chess team. She has won four women’s world chess championships, five Olympic gold medals, and is the only world champion in history to win the triple-crown (classical, blitz and rapid women’s world championships).

Truong, a multiple-time national champion, is the director of marketing for SPICE and the Knight Raiders assistant coach. He was the captain of the 2004 U.S. Women’s Olympiad Team, which captured two silver and two gold medals – a first for the U.S.

SPICE includes academic and outreach components and provides an almost unprecedented forum for academic research on the game.

CONTACT: Jim Brink, senior vice provost for academic affairs, Office of the Provost, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2184 or jim.brink@ttu.edu.