Webster University’s chess team won its third straight College Chess Final Four championship over the weekend. The championship team is now undefeated in all college chess matches for three years in a row.
The win also set a new record for Coach Susan Polgar. This is the first time that a coach has headed five consecutive winning teams – three as the coach at Webster University and two as the coach at Texas Tech. She also is the first female coach to lead any college team to five straight national championships.
“I am proud of the Webster University students who are able to compete on the national stage,” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “Chess is a global game and it’s fitting that the three-time champions represent a global university.”
This year’s President’s Cup challenge was held in New York City. Also known as the “Final Four of Chess,” Webster University was the No. 1 seed going into the competition, a ranking the team has had for three straight years. In order to qualify, Webster had to place in the top four of the annual Pan Am Challenge college chess tournament. Webster’s team has won that championship three years in a row.
Playing for Webster in the Final Four were Liem Le, Ray Robson, Illia Nyzhnyk, Vasif Durarbayli, Fidel Corrales Jimenez (first alternate) and Andre Diamant (second alternate).
With the exception of Diamant, all have been students at Webster since their freshman year. They faced teams from Texas Tech, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and University of Texas in Dallas.
This year was the strongest finish for Webster University’s team out of the past three championships. Collectively the team earned 10 points out of the 12 games played. Teams receive one point for each win, one-half point for a draw and no points for a loss.
Webster had nine wins, four draws and no losses, giving the team 4.5 points more than UT Dallas, the second highest scoring team in the tournament. This is the largest point spread in Webster University’s history for the President’s Cup.
“I am so proud of the students,” Polgar said. “The starting squad of two freshmen and two sophomores, with the assistance from their teammates, trained very hard for the past three months. Not only they won but they shattered a number of previous Final Four records. This is truly a team effort.”
She added that President Stroble visited the team the day before the competition, which boosted the students’ confidence.
For more information about Webster University’s chess team, visit www.webster.edu/spice/chess-team.
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– GM Susan Polgar