Webster University

Webster University Chess Team Set to Compete in the College Final Four
A win will tie John Woodens’s UCLA record in basketball
(Patch Poster) – March 15, 2017 12:10 pm ET

Webster University is pleased to announce that Susan Polgar, chess grandmaster, head coach and founder of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), and Paul Truong, SPICE coach and chief strategist, will take the chess team to the 2017 Division I Final Four National Chess Championship in New York City on March 25-26.

The SPICE chess team has won six consecutive men’s Division I Final Four National Championships – four at Webster University and two at Texas Tech. They will be aiming for the seventh at the end of March. If they win, the coaches will equal the record of seven in a row set by John Wooden of UCLA in basketball, and Webster University will be the first university to hold five consecutive championships. Besides the national championships, in the past 5 years, students from Webster’s SPICE team have won 2 World Championships, 4 World Open Championships, and 43 National Championships, which is more than all other collegiate chess programs combined.

Along with Polgar and Truong, assistant coaches Grand Master Manuel Leon Hoyos and Grand Master Ashwin Jayaram will lead the team. The four teams competing in March will be Webster University, Saint Louis University, Texas Tech, and the University of Texas – Dallas.

Get to know the extraordinarily accomplished members of the Webster University Gorlocks team:

· Grand Master Liem Le, Team Captain, from Vietnam

Liem is a Senior, with Double Majors in Finance (BS) and Management (BA)

He became a GM at age 15, and is ranked #1 in Vietnam since 2008, a World Blitz Champion, 2-time Aeroflot Champion, multiple-time Chess Olympian, multiple-time World Cup participant, 2-time SPICE Cup Champion, and 3-time College Chess Final Four Champion. His hobbies include sports and reading.

· Grand Master Ray Robson, from the U.S.

Ray is a senior, studying International Studies with an emphasis on Asia.

He is the former youngest GM in US history, and is an Olympiad Gold Medalist, multiple-time World Cup participant, 2-time SPICE Cup Champion, and 4-time College Chess Final Four Champion. His hobbies include tennis, music and reading.

· Grand Master Alex Shimanov, from Russia

Alex is an MBA graduate student.

He became a GM at age 16, and is a Russian champion in multiple age groups, World Cup participant, and College Chess Final Four Champion. His hobbies include hockey and poker.

· Grand Master Vasif Durarbayli, from Azerbaijan

Vasif is a senior, with a Major in Economics and a Minor in Spanish.

He became a GM at age 18, and is a World Youth and European Youth Champion, World Cup participant, and 2-time College Chess Final Four Champion. His hobbies include Crossfit, soccer, ping pong, basketball, reading, and languages.

· Grand Master Illia Nyzhnyk, from Ukraine

Illia is a junior and studying Computer Science.

He became a GM at age 14, and is a Moscow Open Champion, 3-time World Open Champion, US Open Champion, National Open Champion, SPICE Cup Champion, and 2-time College Chess Final Four Champion. His hobbies include ping pong and movies.

· Grand Master Priyadharshan Kannappan, from India

Priyadharshan is a graduate student in Management & Leadership.

He won 11 medals for India in Asian, World and Commonwealth Championships, and is a Chicago Open Champion, Mid-American Open Champion, and the MVP of 2012 US Chess League. His hobbies include movies, Indian music, Indian politics, and reading autobiographies.

Webster University’s SPICE program, founded by former Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar in 2012, 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, Indonesia, Colombia, Israel, and Mexico.

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 nearly 16,000 students studying at campus locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa and in a robust learning environment online. The university is committed to ensuring high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

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