Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The accumulative grade of the Texas Tech Knight Raiders chess teams (A team, B team, and women's team) last year was 3.28, with 3 players earning a perfect 4.0! Here are some of their majors: Economics, Finance, Math, Electrical Engineering, Psychology, Law, Spanish, English, Political Science, Biotech, and Microbiology, etc.
In addition to getting good grades, they also worked hard to improve their chess skills. Through the special SPICE training program, the 13 active members of the A team, B team, and women's team gained nearly 1,100 rating points in just this short time! That is an average improvement of nearly 90 rating points per player!
In addition, many members of the Knight Raiders also volunteered countless hours to teach and promote chess in the Lubbock community through schools, libraries, and senior centers, etc.
I am very proud of my players and we will work hard to continue the tradition of excellence on and off the board.
Monday, August 30, 2010
6th “Get Smart! Play Chess!” Open
Saturday, October 23, 2010
A 4 Round Swiss USCF Rated Tournament (Game/30)
Event Site: Science Spectrum 2579 S. Loop 289, Lubbock, TX
Contact Info: 806-742-7742 E-mail: Spice@ttu.edu
Description of Tournament: An open tournament for all players. USCF membership required.
Registration: On-site registration and check in 8:45am-9:45am. Late arrival will receive a ½ point bye for the first round.
Round schedule: 10:45am- 12:00pm- 1:30pm and 2:45pm.
Entry Fee: $15 by 10/9, $20 by 10/18; after or onsite $25. TTU students $5 off.
Prizes: 1st $100 2nd $50 Top U-2000 $50 Top U-1600 $50. All prizes are based on 20 paid entries.
Please send Entry Blank and Entry Fee to:
Susan Polgar Foundation at 6923 Indiana Ave. #154 Lubbock, TX 79413
Entry Form: Please PRINT all information and make check / money order to Susan Polgar Foundation.
Name: _____________________________Phone: (_____)_________
Address: ____________________ City/State:_________ Zip:_______
USCF ID# and expiration date:___________USCF Rating (if any) ______
Parent/Child Team_ Student/Coach Team_ Amount Enclosed $_ Check#__
6th “Get Smart! Play Chess!” Fall Scholastic Chess Championship
Saturday, October 23, 2010
A 4 Round Swiss System Tournament (Game/30)
Event Site: Science Spectrum 2579 S. Loop 289 Lubbock, TX
Contact Info: 806-742-7742 E-mail: Spice@ttu.edu
Description of Tournament: A USCF rated Individual and Team Chess Championship
Games are played in five sections: Primary (K-2), Elementary (K-5), Middle School (K-8), High School (K-12) and Novice (K-12). There is a total of 30 minutes maximum per player per game.
On-site registration 8:45am -9:45am. All players must check in by 10am. Later arrival will receive a ½ point bye for the first round. Bring chess set/board and clock if you have one!
10:30 AM / 11:45 AM / 1:15 PM / 2:30 PM
Entry Fees: $10 received by 10/9, $15 received by 10/18; after or on site $20. A valid USCF membership required, except for the Novice section. It can be obtained at www.uschess.org or onsite on 10/23 until 10am. Entry fee includes access to the museum OR one free IMAX movie. (For accompanying person there is an optional discounted entry ($4.50) to the museum or to the IMAX theatre. The discounted combined ticket is $7.)
Prizes: Trophies for top 5 individual and top 3 team finishers in each scholastic section. Team prizes are based on the top three scores from the same school/club in the same section. Also special trophy for top Sibling, top Parent/Child and top Coach/Student teams.
Prize giving ceremony will be held shortly after the end of the last game which is around 3:45pm.
Please send Entry Blank and Fees to: SPICE Box 45080 Lubbock, TX 79409-5080
Additional information on www.SPICE.ttu.edu
International Master Gergely Antal, an extremely valuable member of the Texas Tech Knight Raider A team, has just graduated with a degree in Economics (Arts and Sciences).
Congratulations to IM Antal!
2010 Susan Polgar Girls Invitational
By Bethany G. Carson
Hello everyone! I had a wonderful time at the Susan Polgar Girls Invitational at Texas Tech. We had four and a half days of training from Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, and one and a half days of tournament play. What impressed me most about Susan Polgar was the sincere care, love, and gentle strictness which she displayed toward her class.
We had a great educational trip (or was it a tour of the mid-west?). We left for Texas on July 20th. We took a jog north to visit the Ice Cream Capital of the World in Le Mars, Iowa. Then, since neither Daniel, nor Charity, nor I had ever been to South Dakota, we crossed the border into that state. After about 20 miles we reached Nebraska. We spent that night at a Lewis and Clark campground on the banks of the Missouri.
The next day, we headed west! Our itinerary stated that we should visit the Nebraska capitol building in Lincoln. It was very impressive, and we looked over the city of Lincoln from the 14th floor. It was quite an interesting structure to visit.
We continued south, and finally crossed into Kansas. We visited an original Pony Express Station, now a museum, before heading to Glen Elder State Park. After a refreshing time swimming and wading in Waconda Lake, we ate dinner, and slept. We left early the next morning and saw the largest ball of sisal twine (in Cawker City). Then we visited an oil well drilling company in Hays. Our entertainment director (Charity) did a great job. Pretty soon we were at the World's Largest Hand Dug Well, in Greenfield, KS.
Next, we stopped at Clark State Fishing Lake, ate dinner, took a walk, and then decided to explore! Papa started the pickup and we headed around the lake. We saw beautiful cliffs, drove up and down steep hills in the truck's lowest gear, saw a rattlesnake, and finally arrived at the other side of the lake. Clark Lake is very beautiful, and it was a wonderful place to spend my birthday. I am so thankful to Jesus Christ for his grace which has seen me through these years (and miles).
The next morning we visited St. Jacob's well, and saw the buffalo which roam around it. We reached Oklahoma and ate lunch at a cafe in Gate, Oklahoma. There we enjoyed 3 hamburgers, a grilled cheese sandwich, 3 soda pops, and glass of water for about $27! I was surprised at how quickly the panhandle of Oklahoma can be driven through. We soon saw the Texas state line.
We arrived in Lubbock the next morning, and after some wandering, found the English building (where the opening ceremony was to be held), the impressive Texas Tech library (where we spent much of our free time), and the dining hall (where we enjoyed excellent service and a very good selection of foods on the lunch buffet the whole time we were at the SPGI). We spent the night at a very pleasant campground in Littlefield, Texas.
On the morning of July 25th, we left Littlefield, and spent time at the Texas Tech library. I am almost tempted to say that the library has more computers than it does books, but that is because I only visited the 1st floor. Many students study there, but we were mainly interested in chatting with my youngest sister and Mama, who were at home. We also played chess online, scheduled and played team league games, emailed friends, and watched movies.
We arrived at the opening ceremony early, but soon the other 41 girls and Susan Polgar entered the room. All of us girls were called to the first four rows, while parents, siblings, and coaches were permitted to watch from the other rows. My family and I are very thankful that Charity, my sister, was permitted to join the class as a special guest. We enjoyed the lesson about 10 Critical Rules of Chess, taught by Susan Polgar and Paul Truong.
Monday, we were divided into two classes according to rating. Classes were from 9:00-12:00 and from 1:30-4:30. My sister and I were in Paul Truong's class. He is a very good teacher, and I took a lot of notes and enjoyed the class. We participated in the puzzle solving championships. Charity and I each got 6 out of 10 correct. At 6:00 we played bughouse. My sister and I chose to be partners, and our team was the Carson Sisters. There were 5 rounds, and we scored 3 points. We played more bughouse with friends. Soon I had to hurry back to the Texas Tech library for my team league game which was scheduled for 8:00 p.m. I tried to use the information I had learned, and I didn't lose. However, probably due to my insufficient endgame knowledge, I drew. The game lasted just short of 3 hours, and we finally reached our campground at about midnight.
The next morning we had classes with Susan Polgar from 9:00-12:00 and from 1:30-4:30. I enjoyed Susan Polgar's class (and yes, I took a lot of notes). IM Gergely Antal stopped by to say hello to everyone, as he just finished his last exam at Texas Tech.
Wednesday we had a very good class with Susan Polgar from 10:00-12:00, and then a class with Paul Truong from 1:30-4:30. Some of the girls in our class were determined that somehow they could beat NM Paul Truong. So, Mr. Truong gave each girl who wished to play him 5 minutes on her clock, and gave himself 1 minute. He beat each one. While I waited, I exchanged math problems with Tori Whatley of South Carolina, and Charity and Rebecca Deland of New Mexico studied a game they had just finished. I was delighted when the time came to return to studying. That evening, the blitz championships were held. It was fun and a great warm-up for the G-30 tourney; Charity and I both finished 3.5 out of a possible 6.
Thursday we had a question and answer class before going outside to have pictures taken with Susan Polgar and the Masked Rider of Texas Tech. After lunch and a short opening ceremony, round 1 of the tournament started. Just as in the blitz tournament, I found myself facing Rebecca Lelko on board 2. We had an interesting game which ended in a draw. I played Mandy Lu in round 2. Although I reached the endgame in a drawn position, insufficient endgame knowledge again became my nemesis and resulted in a loss. I won my round 3 match against Mina Wang. After each round, Paul Truong or Susan Polgar gave me advice, showing Rebecca Lelko and I the critical position in our game, and telling Papa and me that I must study endgames. (I'm now reading Silman's Complete Endgame Course which they recommended--the most interesting chess book I've ever read.)
Friday was the final day of the tournament. I won my first two games and lost my third. Charity, however, who had gained only one point the day before, scored several upsets, and won every game. She finished the tournament a half point ahead of me and gained nearly 300 rating points. After the tournament there was an hour of spare time before the closing ceremony. Upon encouragement from classmates and permission from Paul Truong, Charity and I tuned our guitars and her violin and played a few songs for our classmates, Susan Polgar, and Paul Truong. The closing ceremony came all too soon after this wonderful week. Congratulations to Anu Bayar who won the event (puzzle solving, blitz, and G-30), and to Rebecca Lelko who won the G-30 tournament. Charity finished in 13th place, and I finished in 16th place. We bade farewell to our new friends and left for Iowa, arriving home after a safe trip during the early hours of August 1st. "Amazing grace...shall lead me home."
Thank you very much to Susan Polgar and Paul Truong for holding this event. I hope this tradition will continue for many years to come.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Here are some of the 2010 Knight Raiders
L to R back row: GM A. Diamant (Brazil), IM I. Sipos (Hungary), GM A. Bykhovsky (Israel)
L to R front row: C. Watters (Texas / Co-Captain), GM D. Kuljasevic (Croatia / Co-Captain)
L to R back row: J. Flores (NM) B. James (VA), B. Cassidy (AZ)
L to R front row: R. Lelko (OH), Z. Haskin (TX)
Greet the Knight Raiders: First official group meeting set for today
Posted: August 29, 2010 - 12:14am
Today, the Knight Raiders will have their first official get-together of the year. The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Student Union Building (Mesa room) on the second floor. Chess fans are welcome to come by to meet and greet all members of our nationally ranked chess team.
The Fischer Legacy
One of the questions I am most often asked is about Bobby Fischer. Countless chess fans are interested to know what he was like on and off the board. In my opinion, he was arguably the greatest chess player in our time. Some of the accomplishments during his illustrious career may never be equaled.
The downside to Bobby is he often said some of the most outrageous, hurtful, and controversial things, especially during the latter years of his life. Even though I don’t agree with many of the things that Bobby said, and I told him so on a number of occasions, he had the right to say them. When we live in a society that offers freedom of speech, this is one of the consequences that we must accept. We cannot trample on one’s right to free speech. Everyone can choose to accept or disregard what he said.
However, Bobby was and will always be of the most recognized and colorful world champions in history. We should recognize and remember his genius at the chess board. I do.
He contributed many valuable ideas to chess, such as the Fischer clock and Fischer Random chess. I had the honor and pleasure to play many Fischer Random games with Bobby when he was living in Hungary. At one time, he even stayed at my family’s summer home. I truly enjoy playing Fischer Random chess and I even used to organize Fischer Random tournaments at my own chess club in New York.
As for off the board behavior, he was nice and respectful toward me. He was very “normal” in casual environment except when a certain “hot topics” came up.
Below is one of Bobby’s instructional games that I discussed in my DVD series which can be found at http://www.polgarchess.com/. In this game, he defeated the former Armenian world champion Tigran Petrosian, who in his prime one of the most solid and difficult players to defeat.
Here is the full article.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Polgar appears on international radio show
By Jon Arnold
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010
Updated: Friday, August 27, 2010 02:08
Susan Polgar, the executive director of Texas Tech’s Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, was featured as an expert Thursday on the BBC’s international debate program “World Have Your Say.”
Thursday’s discussion centered on the book “Bounce” by British author Matthew Syed, who also was on the program. The book argues that too much importance is placed on natural ability when it comes to determining who will end up being successful. Polgar’s story is mentioned in the book to back up this claim.
“My father had written a book even before I was born exactly on the same topic,” Polgar said. “He was a firm believer that success is ninety-nine percent sweat and one percent talent.”
Polgar’s father’s work came to fruition in the form of Susan and her sisters. Her father trained the girls in chess from a very young age, and Susan became the first female Grandmaster to earn the title in regular play. One of her sisters became the second female to accomplish the feat. She has another sister who is an International Master.
Ros Atkins, the presenter of the show, said this made Polgar the ideal guest to discuss the topic at hand.
“Well, she’s the real deal, isn’t she?” Atkins said when reached at the show’s London studio via phone. “She’s the living proof of the theory which Matthew Syed espouses. So if you believe in what he says, Susan Polgar and her sisters, there is no better example.”
Atkins went on to say that Polgar’s presence brought the discussion from theory to real life.
“You can talk about things hypothetically, but if you want to bring a discussion alive, clearly people who have lived something rather than just believing it brings something special to any conversation.
“There’s an authority which comes from someone who has reached the top, which the rest of us who haven’t reached the top just can’t have,” he said.
In addition to Syed and Polgar, former NBA player John Amaechi joined the discussion, as well as callers from around the world.
Polgar said the experience of listening to and debating with such well-accomplished people was fascinating. She said the worldwide exposure her experience provided for Tech and SPICE will help increase awareness about Tech’s academic profile.
“It’s bringing visibility and credibility to this fine university that is well known for its athletic department and I think should be more known for its academic field that we’re so good at,” she said. “I’m hoping that through my celebrity status, at least in the world of chess, I can contribute something to the university that others can’t.”
Atkins said “World Have Your Say” contacted Polgar after he found out Syed would be coming on the program. Since Polgar’s story stuck out to Atkins after reading “Bounce” he did some research and e-mailed Polgar.
Polgar joined the program from the studios of KOHM-FM in Lubbock, and Atkins had high praise for the station employees, as he set up Polgar’s appearance at the last minute.
“The guys at KOHM were unbelievably helpful on very short notice,” he said. “One of the most accommodating sound engineers we’ve ever dealt with in the States. They really were a pleasure.”
The program is available in a podcast form on the show’s website and www.worldhaveyoursay.com. It airs every weekday at noon on KTXT-FM 88.1.Source: http://www.dailytoreador.com
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I am on BBC Radio LIVE right now with British Table Tennis great Matthew Syed, former NBA player John Amaechi, and other star guests.
The topic is whether 'talent' is a useful and valid concept, or whether all excellence can be learned.
I am on BBC radio via Texas Tech KOHM studio. You can listen to it here: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/whys_20100826-1900a.mp3
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Raider Welcome - Night at the Student Union Building
Hospitality Services provided fantastic free food samples from all the great dining choices across campus while Student Union & Activities presents a student organization fair, live music, comedy show, a free movie, free t-shirts, and much more! Many members of the Knight Raiders Chess Team were at the chess booth to welcome the chess enthusiasts. Thousands of students showed up for this massive but fun event.
The school was established in 1923. Today, Texas Tech University has more than 39,000 students and 18,000 faculty / staff from over 100 countries. The main campus in Lubbock, Texas has 30,049 students.
Texas Tech University comprised a vast 1,850 acres, but elegant Spanish Renaissance-style buildings and attractively landscaped grounds give the campus an old-fashion collegial feel. Located in Lubbock, Texas Tech enjoys the area’s High Plains climate and four distinct seasons.
Texas Tech offers students a choice of more than 150 bachelor’s, 100 master’s, and 50 doctoral programs. Faculty members are nationally known for their work in a wide variety of fields. It is the ONLY institution in Texas with a graduate school, a law school, and a medical school in the same location as the main undergraduate campus. Overall, there are 14 colleges at Texas Tech University with 62 academics departments and 198 degree programs.
More than 450 clubs and organizations provide enrichment outside of the classroom!
Texas Tech also many other locations such as San Angelo, El Paso, Spain, and Germany, etc. It is expected to be designated as a tier one university soon.
Why should a student / chess player come to Texas Tech?
Here are just a few of the many benefits:
1. To receive top notch education.
2. To receive world class intense chess training.
3. To have the opportunity to compete in multiple major SPICE chess tournaments (SPICE Cup, SPICE Spring Invitational, Get Smart! Play Chess!, Lubbock Open, and many more) every year.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
A fond farewell to the graduating Texas Tech Knight Raiders
August 21, 2010 - 11:03pm
On behalf of Texas Tech and SPICE, I would like to congratulate International Master Gergely Antal (economics undergrad — A team), International Master Gabor Papp (finance undergrad — A team), Stephanie Ballom (psychology graduate — women’s team and former president of the Knight Raiders Chess Club), and Konstantin Parkhomenko (law — B team and former president of the Knight Raiders Chess Club) for completing their studies at Texas Tech.
They are all excellent students and they have contributed greatly to the development of chess at Texas Tech and the Lubbock community. I wish all of them the best in their future endeavors.
Texas Tech will once again have one of the top chess teams in the country this year with 17 students. In just our second full recruiting season, the Knight Raiders will have three grandmasters and one international master to anchor the A team, as well as many other excellent players. Most importantly, they are good students who will make tremendous positive impact for Tech and Lubbock.
I expect the Knight Raiders to make the Final Four for the second consecutive year. I believe we will have a fair chance to challenge other chess programs from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, UT Dallas, UT Brownsville, UT Austin, NY University, Stanford, Miami Dade, Princeton, Yale, University of Toronto, etc., for the national title in the upcoming season.
Here is the full article.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
2010 SPICE Cup FIDE Rated Open
Texas Tech University
6SS, G/90 with 30 second increment.
One Section $2,000 based on 40 paid entries: $1000-$500-250-150-100
Open to all FIDE rated players and USCF 1600 and higher
Limit to the first 50 registrants!
Reg: 9-10:30am 11/5.
Rounds: 11/5 11am and 4pm
11/6 10 am and 3 pm
11/7 9 am and 2 pm
No byes in the final 2 rounds.
Entry Fees: US players with FIDE rating $50 / without FIDE rating $75 if rec'd by November 2. $25 more on site.
Titled players and foreign FIDE rated players free, $50 deducted from prize.
Check payable to:
Texas Tech SPICE
6923 Indiana Avenue (Suite 154)
Lubbock, TX 79413
Players in the SPICE Cup FIDE Rated Open will have a chance to play alongside with the players in the SPICE Cup Invitational A and B Group in the final 3 days!
There is also an open tournament for everyone, including players under 1600, schedule for the weekend before.
SPICE Cup Invitational A & B Group
The 2010 SPICE Cup will take place on Thursday, October 28 - Sunday, November 7 at the beautiful campus of Texas Tech University. This prestigious event is growing bigger every year. It is expected to be the highest rated international invitational tournament in U.S. history to date.
To make the tournament a lot more exciting, the SPICE Cup committee has unanimously voted to adapt the following new rules for the A group:
- No draw offer allowed prior to move 30
- A win = 3 points, a draw = 1 point, and loss = 0 point
GM Zoltan Almasi (HUN) 2717 (#2 in Hungary)
GM Alexander Onischuk (USA) 2701 (#3 in the U.S., former U.S. Champion)
GM Wesley So (Philippines) 2674 (#1 in the Philippines)
GM Georg Meier (Germany) 2648 (#2 in Germany)
GM Ray Robson (USA) 2562 (Youngest American GM in history)
GM Eugene Perelshteyn (USA) 2523 (winner of 2007 SPICE Cup)
The format of the A group will once again be a 6-player DRR (category 16) event. The average FIDE rating of the A group is 2637.5.
More than 30 GMs inquired about an invitation for the final spot in the A group. I wish I have enough space to invite everyone. Unfortunately, it is not possible. But I am working on getting more sponsors to expand the event in future years.
The B group will be a 10-player (category 10-11) RR event. The players confirmed for B group so far is GM Kuljasevic (2551), GM Finegold (2530), IM Krush (2476), IM Ippolito (2458), IM Rensch (2404), FM Yang (2396), and 4 more have been tentatively confirmed.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
On behalf of Texas Tech University, SPICE, and the Knight Raiders, I would like to welcome IM Istvan (Steve) Sipos. He just arrived to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, this morning from Budapest, Hungary. He will begin his study at TTU shortly starting the fall semester.
His teammates on the Texas Tech Knight Raiders A team will be GM Davorin Kuljasevic (Croatia), GM Andre Diamant (Brazil), and GM Anatoly Bykhovsky (Israel - on the right in the picture above with the sunglasses).
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Grandmaster Experiment
The queen is the most powerful piece on the chessboard. Yet in the ultra-elite ranks of chess, a woman who can hold her own is the rarest of creatures. How, then, did one family produce three of the most successful female chess champions ever?
By Carlin Flora, last reviewed on September 23, 2008
The world's first female grandmaster was ready to deliver her regular Thursday-night lecture. Susan Polgar was perfumed, coiffed, made-up and dressed in a sleek black pantsuit, an elegant contrast to the boys and young men hunched over their boards in her Queens, New York, chess club. "I have a special treat," Susan, 36, announced in her gentle Hungarian accent. "Tonight, everyone will get to play me." Blitz chess it was—each opponent received five minutes on his clock to Susan's one. She first sat across from a young Serbian man. The two began slamming pieces and punching down their side of the clock, creating a percussive sound track to their lightning-fast moves. Susan beat him with a good 30 seconds to spare. He shook his head and avoided her eyes. A retired bartender and a 14-year-old boy succumbed almost as quickly. A reluctant 9-year-old suffering from an allergy attack was then coaxed to step up to the challenge. "Don't worry about your eyes—everybody loses to her anyway," his mom said helpfully. The boy's minutes slipped away to inevitable loss. "Once you have a winning position," Susan said, "play with your hands, not your head. Trust your ."
When Susan was the age of many of her students, she dominated the New York Open chess competition. At 16 she crushed several adult opponents and landed on the front page of The New York Times. The tournament was abuzz not just with the spectacle of one pretty young powerhouse: Susan's raven-haired sister Sophia, 11, swept most of the games in her section, too. But the pudgy baby of the family, 9-year-old Judit, drew the most gawkers of all. To onlookers' delight, Judit took on five players simultaneously and beat them. She played blindfolded.
In 1991, when Susan was 21, she became the first woman ever to earn the designation Grandmaster, the World Chess Federation's title for top-ranked players. Judit picked up the honor the same year, at age 15. She was a few months younger than Bobby Fischer was when he won the title.
Judit, who is now the top-ranked woman and eighth overall player in the world, would go on to win a match in 2002 against reigning champion Garry Kasparov, who has said that "women by nature are not exceptional chess players." But the Polgar sisters may be the exceptions that prove Kasparov's point: Only 11 out of the world's about 950 grandmasters, including Susan and Judit, are female. The sisters' saga may cast light on the knotty question of why so few women are elite performers in math and the hard sciences. But in the Polgars' case, a unique upbringing and the idiosyncrasies of chess itself further complicate the picture.
Judit, Susan and Sophia grew up in a veritable chess cocoon spun by their father, Laszlo, the intellectual equivalent of Serena and Venus Williams' autocratic tennis dad, Richard. Some people consider Laszlo's role in shaping his daughters' careers to be absolute; others call it a happy coincidence. Raw talent and a childhood with all the advantages account for success in many fields, and chess is no exception. But the paths Susan, Judit and Sophia took as adults illuminate many intangibles in the achievement equation. An aggressive streak, birth order, a chance encounter that leads to a marriage on the other side of the world—these factors and changes of fortune are just as critical in determining whether a person rises to the top of his or her game.
Forty years ago, Laszlo Polgar, a Hungarian psychologist, conducted an epistolary courtship with a Ukrainian foreign language teacher named Klara. His letters to her weren't filled with reflections on her cherubic beauty or vows of eternal love. Instead, they detailed a pedagogical experiment he was bent on carrying out with his future progeny. After studying the biographies of hundreds of great intellectuals, he had identified a common theme—early and intensive specialization in a particular subject. Laszlo thought the public school system could be relied upon to produce mediocre minds. In contrast, he believed he could turn any healthy child into a prodigy. He had already published a book on the subject, Bring Up Genius!, and he needed a wife willing to jump on board.
Laszlo's grandiose plan impressed Klara, and the two were soon married. In 1973, when she was barely 4 years old, Susan, their rather hyperactive firstborn, found a chess set while rummaging through a cabinet. Klara, who didn't know a single rule of the ancient game, was delighted to find Susan quietly absorbed in the strange figurines and promised that Laszlo would teach her the game that evening.
Chess, the Polgars decided, was the perfect activity for their protogenius: It was an art, a science, and like competitive athletics, yielded objective results that could be measured over time. Never mind that less than 1 percent of top chess players were women. If innate talent was irrelevant to Laszlo's theory, so, then, was a child's gender. "My father is a visionary," Susan says. "He always thinks big, and he thinks people can do a lot more than they actually do."
Six months later, Susan toddled into Budapest's smoke-filled chess club. Aged men sat in pairs, sliding bishops, slapping down pawns and yelling out bets on their matches. "I don't know who was more surprised, me or them," she recalls. One of the regulars laughed when he was asked to give the little girl a game. Susan soon extended her tiny hand across the board for a sportsmanlike victory shake. It was an ego-crushing gesture. Soon thereafter, she dominated the city's girls-under-age-11 tournament with a perfect score.
In 1974 Susan was in the middle of a chess lesson when Laszlo received the call that Klara had given birth to another daughter, Sophia. Just 21 months later, Judit was born. As soon as they were old enough to feel the pain of parental exclusion, the younger girls peeked through a small window into the room where their father taught Susan chess for hours each day. Laszlo seized upon their curiosity. They could come in and watch, he told them, but only if they also learned the game. With that, Laszlo gained two additional subjects.
Laszlo battled Hungarian authorities for permission to homeschool his children, and he and Klara then taught them German, English and high-level math. (All three are multilingual; Susan speaks seven languages, including Esperanto, fluently.) They swam occasionally and played Ping-Pong, and a 20-minute breather just for joke telling was penciled in each day. But their world was largely mapped onto the 64 squares of the chessboard. "My dad believed in optimizing early childhood instead of wasting time playing outside or watching TV," Susan says.
Laszlo believed that the girls' achievement in chess would bring them not only success. More importantly, it would make them happy. Klara took care of the pragmatic aspects of her family's intense home-life, and in later years, coordinated their travels to tournaments in 40 countries. "They complemented each other perfectly," says Susan. Laszlo initiated the great plans, but, as Klara said, "I am always part of the realization. The thread follows the needle. I am the thread."
The brain has three tasks to carry out when contemplating a chessboard. It must comprehend the rules, as each piece moves according to its own powers and restraints. Then it must analyze potential moves, which involves envisioning different configurations on the board. Lastly, it must decide which move is most advantageous. Here the game requires critical thinking in the visual-spatial realm. Visual-spatial processing is the single biggest ability gap between men and women—the glimmer of truth behind the stereotype of men-as-road-trip-aces who deftly follow maps and fit the luggage into the car. The visual-spatial processing center is located in the right side of the brain; among elite chess players (Kasparov included), there is a much higher proportion of left-handers, who have dominant right brains, than chance would predict.
Testosterone accelerates development of the right brain and may slow development of the left side. But the effects aren't binary: Regardless of its sex, each brain falls on a continuum between "male" and "female" extremes in an array of traits. Furthermore, the neural pathways that allow for chess's cognitive pyrotechnics develop in response to environmental influences and are most malleable in young children. Estrogen, in fact, enables neural plasticity—women tend to recover better from strokes than men, for example—and the hormone primes women for neural growth and change, points out neuropsychiatrist Mona Lisa Schulz, author of The New Feminine Brain. By teaching his daughters chess at a young age, Laszlo essentially molded their brains, enriching their visual-spatial centers and closing any gap that gender may have broached.
Gender differences do emerge, however, in the way kids look at chess. "Girls can learn how to play just as well as boys," Susan says. "But they often approach the game differently. Girls would rather solve chess puzzles than play against one of their friends," she says. Boys will always choose to compete.
These orientations can long influence a player's style, says Paul Truong, captain of the U.S. Women's Olympiad chess team and coauthor of Susan's forthcoming book, Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess. "When I play Susan," he says, "I look for the quickest, most brute force way to win—even if it's a very typical checkmate. She looks for a more elegant, unusual way." As a teacher, Susan indulges girls' preference for conflict-free mental challenges and supports sex-segregated events for beginners. There are so few girls in attendance at national coed tournaments, she says, that their self-consciousness often squashes their enthusiasm for the game.
Susan's feminine touch is apparent at her club, where tea and cakes are served to the mostly male members. "It's rare to have someone of Susan's stature interacting with amateurs like us. You wouldn't see Kasparov sitting here, talking to a normal person," notes Ruth Arluck, a retired teacher. Truong agrees. "Susan even insisted on wooden instead of plastic chess pieces. It takes a woman to notice these things," he says.
Here is the full article.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
On behalf of Texas Tech University, SPICE, and the Knight Raiders, I would like to welcome GM Anatoly Bykhovsky. He just arrived to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, earlier today from Tel Aviv, Israel. It's a 24 hour journey but he made it safe and sound.
He will begin his study at TTU shortly starting the fall semester.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Click on the play button above to listen to the NPR interview
September 10, 2004 The small Kansas town of Lindsborg (pop. 3,200) is home to the World Champion Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess. Next weekend, two world champions of chess, Karpov and Susan Polgar, will meet in the town to play in a tournament billed as the "Clash of the Titans." NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Mikhail Korenman, director of the chess school, about the town's connection to world-caliber chess champions.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Artwork by Tin Kuljasevic
Grandmaster Davorin Kuljasevic (Croatia)
Grandmaster Andre Diamant (Brazil)
Grandmaster Anatoly Bykhovsky (Israel)
International Master Istvan Sipos (Hungary)
We already have a number of applications from other strong male / female titled players for the next two semesters. SPICE continues to grow rapidly thanks to the support from Texas Tech and our volunteers / supporters /
Thursday, August 12, 2010
On behalf of Texas Tech University and SPICE, I would like to congratulate IM Gergely Antal (economics undergrad - A team), IM Gabor Papp (finance undergrad - A team), Stephanie Ballom (psychology graduate - women's team - former President of the Knight Raiders Chess Club), and Konstantin Parkhomenko (law - B team - former President of the Knight Raiders Chess Club) for completing their studies at Texas Tech.
They are all excellent students and they have contributed greatly to the development of chess at Texas Tech and the Lubbock community. I wish all of them the best in their future endeavors.
The rest of the Knight Raiders are coming back for the Fall 2010 semester. We are also adding new players for the B team and women's team.
GM Davorin Kuljasevic will come back to lead the Knight Raiders A team. Joining him will be 2 additional Grandmasters and 1 International Master.
The full roster will be announced after the upcoming Knight Raiders - SPICE welcome / welcome back reception.
Chess team director shares game philosophy, recruiting criteria
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Story last updated at 1/10/2010 - 12:59 am
Last week I wrote about the Texas Tech Knight Raiders chess teams winning multiple national titles at the 2009 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, which took place in South Padre Island Dec. 27-30.
I have to say that I could not be more proud of my players. They gave everything they had to achieve incredible success on the chess board and in the classroom. They also brought priceless positive exposure for Texas Tech.
Since then, I received a number of e-mails asking about my coaching philosophy and recruiting standards, etc.
Question: What are some of my recruiting criteria to put together a top notch college chess program to win national championships?
Answer: I look for a number of things. I believe they are very similar to other sports. Here are just a few of them:
• Professionalism (Will the recruit take pride in what he/she does and give his/her all?)
• Work ethic (Will the recruit be willing to put in maximum effort academically and in chess training?)
• Coachability (Will the recruit be willing to be coached to improve his/her chess strength? There is no perfect chess player. Every player has room to grow.)
• Team player (Will the recruit put the team concept above personal accolades in team competition? Team unity and chemistry are extremely important for success.)
Question: What is my coaching philosophy and how am I able to achieve so much success with the Knight Raiders chess teams in just two short years?
Answer: The answer is quite complex. There are a number of little things that create one big success. However, my job is very different that many other coaches at Texas Tech or at other universities.
An athletic coach usually has the responsibility for one team. In chess, there are multiple divisions. Therefore, I have to recruit, coach, and work with the A team, the B team, and the women's team, etc. Each team and each player has completely different training regiment.
In addition to coaching, I also have a numerous other responsibilities as the director of SPICE. But to make the long story short, here is my coaching philosophy:
• I treat my players the way I would want to be treated.
• I give my players complete respect and I would never raise my voice or have harsh words toward them, even if they lose.
• My motto is "Win with grace, lose with dignity" and I expect all my players to follow it.
• I dissect the styles, strengths, and weaknesses of my players and I work with each player accordingly.
• I praise my players when they do well and I comfort them when they do not. There is no need to dwell on the negatives. The point is to learn from mistakes and not to repeat them .
• I commit 150 percent of my effort to my players and I expect them to do the same for me.
• However, I do not expect and I do not want my players to live, eat, drink, and breathe chess 24/7. When they train, I expect them to train hard. When they play, I expect them to give their all. But when we have down time, I also expect them to have fun and relax.
• I always stress the team unity concept and I was extremely pleased to see the players from my three teams work together, help one another, and cheer each other on at the national competition.
Question: Where do I find my players and what kind of majors do chess players usually major in?
Answer: My players come from all over the country and all over the world. They have very diversified majors and they take their studies seriously. A number of them are in Honors College. I have nearly 20 players after just two years and here are the backgrounds of just my three teams at the recent national championships:
• A team: Davorin Kuljasevic, Croatia, graduate student in finance; Gergely Antal, Hungary, senior economics major; Gabor Papp, Hungary, senior finance major; Chase Watters, Texas, graduate Ph.D. student in microbiology.
• B team: Zachary Haskin, Texas, freshman, Spanish major; Josh Osbourn, Kentucky, sophomore, English major; Konstantin Parkhomenko, Russia, final-year law student; Brett James, Virginia, freshman engineering major; Shail Shah, India, graduate student in biotechnology.
• Lady Knight Raiders: Lilia Doibani, Moldova, first-year law student; Rebecca Lelko, Ohio, freshman, math major; Stephanie Ballom, Texas, psychology graduate; Ananya Roy, Georgia, freshman, political science major.
• Question: How important is physical fitness in chess competition?
Answer: There is a big misconception that chess is not a physically demanding sport. Many of my players regularly hit the gym, play tennis, soccer, volleyball, swim, jog, or do yoga, etc. When you play two games per day, up to 4-5 hours per game, plus many more hours in preparation, you better be physically and mentally fit. Otherwise, it is not possible to handle this kind of grueling competition.Source: AJ
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Artwork by Mike Magnan
Strategic behavior across gender: A comparison of female and male expert chess players
By Patrik Gränsmark
With the tremendous development of the database software in the last decade, chess has become one of the most documented games or sports in the world. To have access to such a rich database is a dream for any scientist whose research relies on statistics. Scientists are not only interested in the data per se but also in the fact that expert chess players constitute a very interesting group of people, not least because chess is associated with intelligence and expertise. One field of research analyzing chess data is economics where concepts as risk behavior and strategic aggressiveness are studied.
When we compete in sports, games or the working life, we try to increase our winning probabilities by adopting suitable strategies. In tennis, football, poker and chess, to mention but a few, certain situations require certain degree of aggressiveness. This also applies to a wage bargaining situation where we must find an optimal level of aggressiveness. If we demand too low a wage we signal that our skills are not particularly high. On the other hand, if we ask for a wage far above the market wage, we signal that we are not very realistic. In tennis, for instance, we can choose to adopt a more aggressive style which will lead to more forced wins but also to more unforced errors. Whether it is better to adopt a cautious strategy with few unforced errors or a more aggressive but also riskier strategy depends on the situation and particularly, on the characteristics of the opponent. It is clear that people differ in their preference for risk as some people like to “gamble” while others prefer to play “safe”. The concept of risk preferences has become a hot issue in economics, not least because our risk behavior directly affects how we choose to invest our savings. Should we choose a safe bank account with a low interest rate or invest in the stock market with higher expected payoff but to a higher risk of losing?
One of the most debated topics within the study of risk behavior is if there are gender differences in risk preferences. More specifically, the question is whether men take more risks than women. If there are differences in risk preferences between men and women, this would affect, for example, savings for retirement which would lead to different future pensions for men and women. The current consensus within economics is that men do prefer more risk than women. However, whether these differences are cultural or genetic remains to be shown.
In a recent study, carried out at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University, chess data is being used to address the question of whether there are gender differences in risk behavior and strategic aggressiveness.
Here is the full article on ChessBase.
Gergely Antal (Senior Economics Major) finished 2nd at the College Tournament of Champions, the most prestigious national collegiate individual chess championship in the U.S. He won the same event in 2009.
Rebecca Lelko (Freshman Math Major) won the 7th annual Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational Rapid Championship, the most prestigious all-girls national event.
SPICE and Texas Tech hosted the annual Susan Polgar Girl’s Invitational for the 3rd straight year. This is the most prestigious all-girls national chess event.
Susan Polgar was named the Ambassador for Norway's bid for the 41st Chess Olympiad to be held in 2014.
June 2010 (1st Knight Raider to earn Grandmaster title)
Davorin Kuljasevic (Graduate Finance Student) became the first Knight Raider in school history to earn the Grandmaster title, the highest title in chess. There are only about 1,000 Grandmasters worldwide.
Gabor Papp (Senior Finance Major) earned his 2nd Grandmaster norm. He needs one more norm to earn the Grandmaster title, the highest title in chess.
Davorin Kuljasevic (Graduate Finance Student) won the Croatia Cup as part of the Mladost Zagreb team. This is the most prestigious team championship in Croatia.
The 13 active members of the A team, B team, and women's team gained nearly 1,100 rating points in just this short time! That is an average improvement of nearly 90 rating points per player! This success is a direct result of the world class chess training program of SPICE at Texas Tech.
The Knight Raiders A team qualified for the Final Four in its first year. In spite of being the lowest seed by quite a big margin, the team finished 3rd in the country. No school has ever made the Final Four in its first attempt before. Susan Polgar became the first ever female head coach in collegiate chess to lead a men’s team to the Final Four.
SPICE and Texas Tech hosted the 2nd annual SPICE Spring Invitational, the 2nd highest rated International Invitational Chess Tournament in the U.S. in 2010, only behind the SPICE Cup. Knight Raider Gergely Antal finished in a tie for 2nd. 13 year old Darwin Yang from Plano, Texas, earned his first International Master norm in this event. This event was covered by many local TV stations, newspaper, and the news reached out to more than 160 countries worldwide.
March 2010 (1 city individual championship)
Members of the Knight Raiders chess teams captured the top 5 places at the annual Lubbock Open Championship, the most important annual local chess tournament in Lubbock. Gergely Antal finished 1st, Chase Watters and Rebecca Lelko tied for 2nd and 3rd, while Joshua Osbourn and Brian Cassidy tied for 4th.
SPICE was featured as a part of the Texas Tech 2010 – 2020 Strategic Plan.
Knight Raider Brian Cassidy tied for 1st at the fourth "Get Smart! Play Chess!" Winter Chess Championship in Lubbock.
December 2009 (2 individual national titles – 1 team national title – Team made the Final Four)
The Knight Raiders A team tied for 2nd place in Division I competition at the 2009 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship held Dec. 27-30 on South Padre Island, and therefore qualified for the College Final Four. This is the most prestigious national collegiate team chess event in the U.S. It is the first time that Texas Tech has sent an A team.
Davorin Kuljasevic and Gergely Antal won the national individual honors as top performers on board 1 and 3 respectively. Gabor Papp finished 2nd for top performers on board 2.
The Knight Raiders B team won 1st place in Division IV competition at the same Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.
November 2009 (2 state championships – 1 individual and 1 team title)
The Knight Raiders A Team (Gergely Antal, Davorin Kuljasevic, Gabor Papp and Chase Watters) captured the Texas State Collegiate Chess Championship team title in Houston. This is the first time Texas Tech has sent an A team to the state championship.
The Knight Raiders A Team members Gergely Antal and Davorin Kuljasevic captured 1st and 2nd place respectively at the Texas Tech State Collegiate Chess Championship individual competition in Houston.
The Knight Raiders B Team (Zach Haskin, Josh Osbourn, Rebecca Lelko, Brett James, and Ananya Roy) captured 3rd place at the same Texas State Collegiate Chess Championship.
SPICE and Texas Tech hosted the prestigious 3rd annual SPICE Cup, the highest rated international invitational tournament in U.S. history. The event was held at the Student Union Building. The news of the event reached over 160 countries worldwide.
The Knight Raiders and SPICE broke a world record for an officially rated chess tournament at the lowest point on earth, at the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Knight Raiders A Team members Gergely Antal and Gabor Papp tied for 1st and 2nd place.
September 2009 (1 regional individual chess championship)
The Knight Raiders A Team member Gergely Antal captured the prestigious 75th Annual Southwest Open title in Fort Worth with 245 players. Teammate Davorin Kuljasevic finished 2nd in the same event.
August 2009 (1 national individual chess championship)
The Knight Raiders A Team member Gergely Antal captured the 2009 College Tournament of Champions in Indianapolis, the most prestigious national collegiate individual chess championship in the U.S.