Shelby Lyman on Chess: Candy Is Dandy, but Chess Is Better
Sunday, February 28, 2016
(Published in print: Sunday, February 28, 2016)
As a kid, the chance to play chess was no less welcome than a free bag of candy.
Given money to do either would have seemed a bizarre excess of the inscrutable adult world.
Today, however, there is a growing list of chess grants and scholarships that make money available to chess players for doing little more than playing competitive chess.
Some are quite small, Morehead State University in Kentucky, for example, offers a renewable award of $1,000 a year.
The pioneer in chess scholarships is the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, according to Michael Rosenwald of The Washington Post. Financed in part by Pepsi, UMBC has won or tied for first at 10 Pan American tournaments.
But recently, the team’s performance has faltered. Its current funding pales before that of Webster University, near St. Louis, which allocates $635,000 a year for its chess program.
Overall, the competition is fierce. Some of today’s teams field three or more grandmasters.
Making the “final four” this year are Webster, Texas Tech, Columbia University and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. UMBC is noticeably among the missing.
Webster University has added to its lustre and competitive profile by appointing Susan Polgar, the former Women’s World Champion, as its team’s coach.