At Webster University, Chess Is King
October 30, 2013, 4:26 PM By
Webster University doesn’t have the huge budget or hulking athletes of Southeastern Conference schools, but it has something they don’t: the national-championship chess team.
On Wednesday a billboard featuring two players on the team at Webster, a Division III school in St. Louis that won last spring’s national championship, went up on the freeway that runs between St. Louis and Columbia, Mo. The display features Mara Kamphorst in eyeblack and Grandmaster Wesley So in a headband, with the caption, “Our top recruits are chess players.”
The billboard echoes several others posted last year by Missouri athletics, also on Interstate 70, that boasted the school’s membership in the SEC.
“It was just a way to set us apart in kind of a tongue-in-cheek manner,” said John Costello, Webster’s director of creative services, who said the billboard will cost the school “under four figures per month.”
Webster’s team took shape in early 2012 when the school pulled off a highly unusual coup. Chess coach Susan Polgar moved the entire team to Webster from Texas Tech University after the Red Raiders won the 2012 national title. Although the billboard was inspired by Missouri, whose football team is currently ranked No. 10 nationally, Costello said it wasn’t meant to tweak the Tigers.
“We would certainly be happy to engage Mizzou at the chess table, but nowhere else,” he said.