Tuesday, June 19, 2007
This is a painting from the OS Museum - The reason why I chose this picture is to illustrate the misconception many people have about Texas, especially West Texas
This was an article that the Avalanche Journal published last month. After you read this article, I will share with you why I made my decision to come to Texas Tech and Lubbock.
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.
On the Internet: For more information on Polgar, visit her personal blog at http://www.susanpolgar.blogspot.com/, for more information about the Tech program, visit the Tech chess blog at www.texastechchess.blogspot.com.
Is the glass half emptied or half full? That was one of the key factors in my decision.
About 2 years ago, I first visited Lubbock and Texas Tech University on an invitation by Dr. Hal Karlsson, an associate professor at Tech, the chess guy on campus.
I have to admit that I knew little about this city. But one thing I learned when I was a young girl is never to judge a book by its cover.I immediately did some research about the city. I was intrigued by what I read and I was especially interested in knowing more about the University.
So I decided to accept Dr. Karlsson’s invitation and called him personally instead of having my business manager handle the details. I think I shocked him with this call.
But anyway, the time came for me to visit Lubbock. I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of the local residents, media and staff at Tech that I decided to come back the second time around a year later, this time with both of my young sons.
In between the two visits, I received an invitation by the President of Texas Tech to be the commencement speaker on May 12th of this year. Each time I came back to Lubbock, I became more and more attached to the city. In addition, when Dr. Karlsson told me about the idea of SPICE, I fell in love with it right away.
The final thing that made me want to relocate to Lubbock is when I asked my boys Tommy and Leeam about what they thought of Lubbock, Texas, they shouted simultaneously “I love it!”
When I asked them what they think about living in Lubbock, they both jumped and down and said “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Then they asked if we could move right away.
I wanted to know what they like about this city. They told me “Everything!” from the weather, the schools (they visited one of the local schools during the trip), the university (they both said that Tech is so cool) to the people (they said everyone was so nice) and they kept on raving about Lubbock.
This was the moment when I was convinced that this is the right move. When I posted about the idea of SPICE, Texas Tech and the city of Lubbock on my blogs and website, a number of negative comments were made ranging from, “What’s Lubbock?”, “Where’s Lubbock?”, “Why Lubbock?”, “Are you crazy?” to “There’s nothing in Lubbock!”
I was quite upset when I read these remarks. Most if not all of these people probably know very little or anything about Texas Tech or Lubbock. It is very wrong to be prejudice about anything or anyone. This is a similar pattern that I experienced in chess throughout my entire life and I took them head on every time.
My husband and I enjoy every city and every town we visit. Each has something unique to offer. Each has its own charm. This is why we are always puzzled as to why people seem to find negative things to say instead of focusing on the positive stuff.
I know that my husband and I are “the new kids in town” but we are determined to change this. We are very proud and happy to be a part of the community and the Texas Tech family and we want to tell the world how much we love this city and university.
We look at this a glass half full. We see this as a place with so much to offer and we would love to be a part of the cavalry and work with everyone to change and improve the image of Lubbock and Tech, especially for the benefits of chess and education. Remember, you can never judge the book by its cover and we love this book.
More than 50 people of all ages took part in the first ever Texas Tech SPICE / Knight Raider Chess Club meeting. This is with only 24 hour notice. We hope to follow the footstep of Brownsville and Texas (in general), New York, Illinois, Arizona, and the Northwest and have at least 5,000-10,000 young people in elementary, middle and high schools learning and playing chess in the near future. In addition, we also hope to invigorate adult chess in the entire region. Between SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation, I think this is a doable short term mission.
On the phone with the media, teachers, coaches and perspective students. The view behind me (where the trees are) is the campus of Texas Tech University.
Special thanks to Provost Marcy, Senior Vice Provost Brink and Dr. Karlsson for making SPICE happen. Also a big thanks to Peggy Flores for taking care of every little detail to ensure the success of SPICE.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
A Big Month for Chess (as published in my monthly column on www.chesscafe.com)
On May 12, 2007, an extraordinary event took place in Lubbock, Texas. I was invited by the President of Texas Tech University to give two commencement addresses to the graduating class of 2007. I have done countless speeches over the years; the largest was to a crowd of about 5,000. But at the United Spirit Arena at Texas Tech the crowd numbered nearly 25,000!
This was intimidating to say the least. Moreover, my speech was taped for broadcast by C-SPAN. Talk about pressure! But I knew that this was a very important occasion for chess, so it was well worth it. Here is the link to my second commencement speech, and here is some information about the entire event.
Immediately after the conclusion of my first commencement address, Texas Tech President Whitmore asked Chancellor Hance and Regent Miller to join us at the podium. I did not realize what was about to happen, but they awarded me with an honorary Doctoral Degree from Texas Tech. It was quite an honor for me and the entire chess community.
After the graduation ceremony concluded, I was escorted to the press room for a monumental announcement that I believe will affect the chess community for years to come. Joining me were Texas Tech President Jon Whitmore, Provost Bill Marcy and Senior Vice-Provost Jim Brink. The announcement was to introduce the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE). This will be the first center of its kind in the world.
Our motto is Academic Excellence through ChessThrough SPICE, Texas Tech has focused the resources of a major university and Big 12 Conference member on providing scholarships for chess players, conducting research into various aspects of the game, championing scholastic, college and women’s chess and housing an outreach program bringing chess to enthusiasts of all ages.
Here is the vision for SPICE:
It will become the premier center for chess education, research, technology, and outreach in the nation.
It will help attract outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to TTU/HSC.
It will provide a substantial amount of scholarships to chess players.
It will be a world-leader in promoting women’s chess.
It will support the nation’s most elite chess programs.
The SPICE Mission
To promote chess as vehicle for enriching education.
To serve as the global center for chess research, education and development.
To support and promote competitive chess at the college level.
To recruit outstanding undergraduate and graduate students.
There are plans for much bigger projects, but we are not here to compete against any other universities or colleges. The goal of SPICE is to work with our friends and colleagues to enhance chess, education, technology, research, etc. Many more major announcements will be forthcoming.
I strongly believe that College Chess is a critical bridge between Scholastic and Adult Chess. If we can successfully promote College Chess, we will retain many more scholastic players and transition them to Adult Chess. Chess as a sport has plenty of room to grow. Therefore, it is vital that we work together and assist each other for the best interest of our sport.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Susan Polgar Commencement Speech
Texas Tech University
May 12, 2007
Click here to see the video of the commencement address at Texas Tech University on May 12, 2007
Chancellor Hance, President Whitmore, Regent Miller, members of the student body, faculty, parents, guests and, of course, most of all, the graduating students.
I am very honored to be here with you on this very special day. I can see the excitement in all of you sitting here as you are about to receive your diplomas, the happiness - some tears in your eyes, tears of happiness. You have spent the last number of years here at Tech, at this gorgeous campus, and you received a wonderful education.
Today, I bet, while you’re happy being here you can’t wait to get out and celebrate, have a day of joy with your friends and family. So I promise I won’t be very long.You may wonder who I am? Why did Texas Tech invite a chess champion to talk to you this morning? Believe it or not you would be surprised how many similarities chess has to life. I like to use a quote, a very famous quote that was delivered years before I was born. And even though it is meant in a different context, its life concepts are very dear to me.
Dr. Martin Luther King said on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “I say to you today my friends so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. Behold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”
You may wonder how these words about equality are relevant to you, to chess, or to me. Chess is a fair game. Chess has equality. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman; it doesn’t matter what your skin color is; it doesn’t matter what your religion is; it doesn’t matter what your height, size, strength or speed may be. When you play chess there are two opponents facing each other, each having 8 pieces and 8 pawns on a 64-square chess board. How much more equal can it be than that? That’s what I thought. Still I had to face countless acts of discrimination throughout my career. I fought for equality through chess all my life.
It all started when I was just four years old. One day in a search for a new toy I opened one of the cabinets and some interesting looking figurines fell out. I asked my mom what they were and while she didn’t know how to play chess at all, of course, she knew it was a chess set and she told me you need to wait until your father comes home. I couldn’t wait; I was so exited that I had found a new toy and after my father came home he explained to me this is a chess set and he introduced me to this wonderful game that I fell in love with right away. Little did I know how important that day was in my life.
A bit later my father took me to the local chess club in Budapest, Hungary, my native town. I was quite shocked by the chess club. I saw a room full of men with no women there. I thought there was something strange about this picture. The only ones who were more shocked were the men sitting there playing chess. What would a little girl do here? My father had asked for me to have a game with some of them and they were smiling at him and saying “Come on, why are you using your little daughter? If you just want to get a game just say so.” But he insisted no, no indeed it’s my little daughter who wants to have game. So after a while one of the men said, “Okay, I will play her a game,” but I could see in his face that he thought it would get rid of the question and he thought he would win easily and checkmate me within a few minutes. To his and many others amazement I managed to even win some of the games. So that was how it all started.
A few months later I entered my first competition, the City Championship of Budapest for girls under 11. But the first challenge was to reach the chess board, so they had to help me by bringing some pillows or phone books for me to sit on. And, to everybody’s surprise and amazement, not only did I play with girls two or even almost three times my age, I won all my games, scoring perfect 10 - zero.
You would think, after such a successful start, everything went simply and easily. However, I had plenty of roadblocks and challenges to overcome. At first, I had to face age discrimination. At a number of events that I wanted to compete at when I was real young, they said “you cannot play, you’re too young.”
Then, for example, from 1982 until 1985 I was not allowed to accept my international invitations. I couldn’t travel to compete in chess outside of the Iron Curtain which existed at that time. Luckily, it is no longer there. Even though I was already the No. 1 ranked woman player in the world in 1984, in 1986 when I qualified for the Men’s World Championship as the first woman ever to do so, I was not allowed to compete. They told me this is the Men’s World Championship. Women are not allowed.
I was very frustrated. I was very hurt. I was in a lot a pain but I didn’t give up. I believe in hard work, and I believe that if I try again eventually the boundaries will come down. And they did. Luckily by the time the next world championship came around the International Chess Federation, because of my incident, they renamed the event erasing the word Men’s. Today, it is the Chess World Championship.
Each time I faced discrimination it motivated me to work even harder to achieve my goals and to prove myself over the chess board. In critical moments, it always gave me strength knowing that I have put in the hard work. I have put in the hours so therefore success will come. Sometimes you have to be patient because the results don’t come immediately. But they will come.
Through chess I learned some of the most important lessons in life: concentration, focus, perseverance, logical thinking, creative thinking, time management, planning and many more. In chess every move is a new decision. Every move has consequences and we have to be responsible for them. In chess we set short and long-term plans. However, there is an opponent in chess and they want to stop our plans. There are constant changes in the situation, in the position on the chess board and we have to adjust to them.
What is my message to you today? After graduating from this fine university, you are starting with at least equal if not better chances than anyone, than anyone out there. The most important thing is to find your passion. To find something that you really care about, that you’re happy to wake up every morning and learn and do and work more in that direction. Work hard, be diligent and never let any excuse stand in the way of your success. There will be days when you fail; there will be times you won’t succeed right away. But what’s important is not how many times you fail but how many times you pick yourself up and try again. And you will succeed.
President John F. Kennedy said on January 20, 1961 “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” I have slightly different advice, ask not what others can do for you. Ask what you can do for yourself. No one should feel that they are entitled to anything. I know I worked very hard for every thing that I ever achieved. And that is why I appreciate what I have today and the limitless opportunities that await me tomorrow.
You have received a wonderful education. But this is just like an opening of a chess game. It may give you confidence. It may give you a jump start in your career. But the rest of the game is now up to you. Combine your passion, the knowledge you’ve acquired here at Tech with hard work and you will be a success. Starting today you are embarking a new chapter of your life and if you remember these words, live by these principles, you will succeed. There are no miracles in life. Success is 99 percent diligence, hard work and perseverance and 1 percent luck. Miracles can come only from within you. You have the power to set your life on any road you choose. Go out today and choose your own road. Go out today and make a mark in life. Go out today and begin the rest of your wonderful life.
I wish you all the very best and remember you can make it happen and don’t ever give up. Thank you.
Special thanks to Texas Tech for making this transcript available since I did not have one written down when I gave the commencement address. I had some bullet points and the rest came from the heart.
Board of Regents Chairman J. Frank Miller III dies
By: Alex Ybarra
Hours after participating in the Texas Tech Board of Regents meeting that approved an increase in tuition Friday, Chairman J. Frank Miller III died suddenly of a heart attack in Dallas.
The recently elected chairman was 55.
"This is devastating news for all of us in the Texas Tech family," Chancellor Kent Hance said in a statement released Friday. "Frank Miller was one of the best men I've ever known. He loved God, his country, his family and Texas Tech. He had friends all over the nation and everyone had the utmost respect for Frank."
Miller was appointed to the Board of Regents Nov. 18, 2003. Before he was elected chairman, he served as vice chairman from Jan. 31, 2005, to May 11, 2007. Miller's term was set to expire Jan. 31, 2009, according to a press release.
Here is the full press release.