Texas Tech Professor Honored by U.S. Chess Federation

The U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) honored Texas Tech University professor Hal Karlsson as volunteer of the month in the May edition of Chess Life magazine.

Written by: Ben Samples

Karlsson, an associate professor of geosciences, revolutionized the chess scene at Texas Tech with his vision of a university-supported chess institution. He was instrumental in bringing international chess mogul Susan Polgar to the university; and in May 2007 his brainchild came to life in the form of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), which focuses on chess education, research, technology and community outreach.

"It is great to be acknowledged for contributions by one’s peers and a national organization, such as the USCF," Karlsson said. "SPICE has grown quickly because it had a solid foundation to build upon – thanks to the Knight Raiders, students, faculty, staff and community members who have labored diligently in the background."

In only one year of existence, SPICE has not only cultivated local support, but also gained the attention of chess enthusiasts across the globe, said Paul Truong, director of marketing and public relations for SPICE.

"Due to Dr. Karlsson’s selfless and tireless dedication to enhance the image of Texas Tech and Lubbock, this university and city are now the talk of the chess world," Truong said. "Last year, more than 10 million people followed the first SPICE Cup, which was held on Texas Tech’s campus."

The next SPICE Cup will be held September 19 – 28 at Texas Tech and is expected to have an audience of 20 million chess fans worldwide.

"The intent of SPICE and the chess program has always been to strengthen Texas Tech's public image as an academically viable research and teaching institution," Karlsson said. "I hope it will become a vibrant catalyst for developing a community-based network for chess.

"The next step will be to develop the research arm of SPICE," Karlsson said.

Karlsson has served as Region One Director for the Texas Chess Association and is currently on the USCF’s Chess College Committee. He also has served as faculty advisor for Texas Tech’s Knight Raider chess club since its inception in 2003.

CONTACT: Paul Truong, director of marketing and public relations, SPICE, Texas Tech University, (806) 392-0758 or paultruong@aol.com.