Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Polgar could help put city on the map
DURING THE May 12 Texas Tech commencement ceremony, speaker Susan Polgar surprised many in attendance with an announcement - she will be working with Texas Tech in developing a chess program, the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE).
Ms. Polgar, of course, is more than qualified to run this program. She is the top women's chess player throughout the US and ranked second in the world in 2005.
When people think of Lubbock, they do not immediately equate it with a "chess town." Unfortunately, Lubbock isn't seen as a very sophisticated town in the eyes of many. There are no city chess teams, clubs, or tournaments in Lubbock.
Ms. Polgar hopes to change this perception with her program and the Tech team. Other plans are to research the correspondence between chess and academics, as well as develop new software and hopefully form a winning chess team for Tech.
She saw past the unfair stereotype Lubbock has received and decided this was a city worth taking a chance on.
"Chess is the purest form of strategy out there, period. It does wonders for developing analytical skills and cognitive abilities." said Mad Hatter, owner of Mad Hatter's House of Games. And, yes, for those of you who may not know, that's his name.
"As a former United States Chess Federation (USCF) player I welcome any attempt to promote chess here locally in Lubbock. But, Lubbock in general should be enthusiastic about this endeavor because it will help develop the mental skills required for a successful life amongst Lubbock's youth."
Both Tech and Ms. Polgar have expressed interest in drawing different kinds of students with a chess program, even by offering chess scholarships. Tech recognizes that the kinds of students that will be coming to play chess are exactly the kind of students they want at their school.
Tech is well known for its traditional sports teams, but now we expect they will be among the colleges with a strong chess team as well. This will attract the additional media attention Tech has been vying for as well as draw younger kids to the game of chess.
Ms. Polgar is also known for her work with girls' chess education, and is sure to continue her work with younger generations as well as with Tech students. This program will have more ramifications than Ms. Polgar or Tech has imagined, and will influence the city for the better. The city should thank her for all the opportunities that will be brought our way.