United States Chess Team Wins Olympiad Gold – Two of the Five-member Team are from Webster University

An Historic Occasion in Baku for the U.S. and the SPICE Team Led by Susan Polgar

(St. Louis, Mo. – September 13, 2016):  Webster University is proud to celebrate the first-place victory of the United Chess Team among 180 nations in the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbijan.  Touted as a “formidable” team, with three of the five players ranked in the top 7 in the world, this is the first Olympiad Gold for the U.S. since 1976.

Grand Master Ray Robson, a current Webster University student and member of the SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Education) program, is a prominent player on four Webster University Final Four Championship teams. Robson, born in Guam and raised in Florida, became the national champion in the elementary (K-6) division. Currently, he is a junior at Webster University majoring in International Studies and enjoying the sport of tennis.

Grand Master Wesley So is a former student at Webster University, participating in SPICE for more than two years and a member of two Webster University Final Four Championship teams. Born in Bacoor, Cavite, So was identified as a child prodigy when he began playing chess at the age of six.  He represented the Phillipines, and in 2012, became a full-time student at Webster as a member of SPICE.  In 2014, So transferred to the United States Chess Federation and left Webster to focus fulltime on chess.

Team America, captained by International Master John Donaldson, defeated Canada in Round 11 of the Olympiad; Ukraine tied for first with the United States but got Silver on tiebreaks, followed by Russia, India and Norway. This U.S. team’s victory represents great historic significance.  In 1976 when the U.S. previously won Gold, the USSR and other Communist Bloc countries did not compete due to a boycott.  The previous U.S. Gold was won in 1937.

“We could not be more proud of the United States Chess Team and their Olympiad Gold,” states President Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble, Webster University. “We are especially pleased and honored to have two team members with such strong ties to the SPICE program, Webster University and St. Louis.   Our quality academic programs and competitive collegiate teams combine to create an exciting environment for students to excel in their respective fields.”

Webster University’s SPICE program, founded by former Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar, currently has a total of 23 diverse and talented students. Four are African American; other countries represented on the team are Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, India, Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Colombia, Israel, Czech Republic, and Mexico, etc.

About Webster University: With its home campus in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Webster University (www.webster.edu) comprises an action-oriented global network of faculty, staff, students and alumni who forge powerful bonds with each other and with their communities around the globe. Founded in 1915, Webster is a private non-profit university with more than 17,000 students studying at campus locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa and in a robust learning environment online. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

Media Contact:  Judy Goodman . Lents & Associates

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