Lindenwood University is the new powerhouse in College Chess. With the strong backing from Mr. Rex Sinquefield, the Saint Louis Chess Club, as well as the US Chess Federation (with plenty of free media support), and an excellent coach in GM Ben Finegold, I would not be surprised if Lindenwood will make the Final Four or win it immediately.
In its press release, Lindenwood’s Director of Student Life Sports said “We are planning to recruit some of the highest-rated competitors in the world…25-30 players on up to six different teams.” That would be quite unprecedented but expected as the St. Louis Chess Club and Mr. Sinquefield always pull off first class activities.
Texas Tech University should remain as a force to be reckon with. In spite of 4 years of zero institutional scholarship support, the SPICE Knight Raiders relied solely on private donations to win back to back Final Four, ending the dominance by UMBC and UTD in the previous 10 years. Texas Tech has interviewed world class coaches and directors to take the program to a whole new level.
In addition, Texas Tech is now allotting an unprecedented amount of institutional scholarship dollars for chess. The program will have more institutional scholarships next year than what I had in the previous 5 years combine! With potentially a 2700+ rated coach, a top notch director, and more money than ever, I fully expect Texas Tech to make a run at the Final Four again.
UTD and UMBC will remain as two of the top chess programs in the nation. They currently have powerful teams and I expect them to add many more strong players.
UTB was the top ranked team at the PanAm last year. The President of UTB fully supports chess. They will retool to make another run at the national title.
Webster University is the newest kid on the block. We will work hard to compete against other major schools.
There are also many other strong teams such as Yale, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Columbia, NY University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Toronto, UT Austin, etc. It will be an interesting 2012-2013 season in College Chess.
With a billion dollar from Mr. Sinquefield, Lindenwood will conquer. Maybe they can get Nakamura to play for them.