Thursday, November 1, 2007
Chess adds some SPICE
Chess adds some SPICE to Texas
...However, with the fall of the USSR, Russia is no longer capable of funding the Royal Game (Marxists would cringe at such a moniker, of course). Many of the chess academies have since closed their doors and, with the demise of 'fortune' (although 'fame' still follows top chess players), many professional Russian players have fled to greener pastures in Western Europe and America.
Of course, along with the Russians came Russian ideas about how to promote chess. As such, something of a philosophical renaissance has occurred in America over the last few years. Soviet ideas on chess have been dusted-off, amended to fit into the American laissez faire economic system, and put into action.
One such example is the recent announcement that Texas Tech University will now establish its own chess 'institute' to explore the many aspects of this fascinating game! The press release reads:
[The university announced Saturday that it will establish the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) and hire chess powerhouses Susan Polgar and Paul Truong to head the program.
Polgar, four-time women's world chess champion and five-time Olympic chess champion, has been hired as director of SPICE and coach of the Knight Raiders chess team.
Truong, 11-time national champion, is the institute's business manager and assistant coach.'
We are obviously very excited about SPICE and the opportunities it will provide," said Polgar. "We plan to build one of the world's premier centres for chess research and outreach while solidifying Texas Tech as a national chess contender."
The institute will include academic and outreach components and provide an almost unprecedented forum for academic research on the game.
Situated under the Office of the Provost, SPICE will allow researchers across disciplines to study chess from angles as diverse as artificial intelligence, cognition, and women's studies.
Research could probe the influence of chess on learning, for example, or tap the university’s High Performance Computing Center to create sophisticated computer programs.
Institute developers also intend to use SPICE as a way to promote and support collegiate-level competitive chess and to promote chess outreach to players of all ages.]
I definitely think this will prove to be a boon to chess in the United States. Not only will such a program further cement the relationship between chess and academia, but it will also serve to promote chess at an entirely new level. Furthermore, it is even possible that programs such as SPICE will help create an entire new class of professional chess players in America!
At long last, we might be able to wrest back the world championship title that was lost with the mercurial antics of Bobby Fischer back in 1974. Whether or not such a lofty goal is achieved, news of this sort is making something very clear: the 21st Century chess world is going to become increasingly volatile as nations tap into the vast experience of the Russian people to jump start their own programs. International competition will become fierce and chess will benefit as a direct result. Fasten your seatbelt, things are about to become real interesting!
Here is the full article.