SPICE team members

It takes a whole TEAM to pull off a miracle!
By Paul Truong

I am so proud of everyone at SPICE! Our students win one championship after another (2 world championships, 4 world open championships, 36 national titles in the past 4 years which is more than all other collegiate programs in the US combine!), get good grades in school, volunteer, and stay out of trouble. (Some call this boring but this is how we roll at SPICE)

Tomorrow is the start of the 13th annual SPF Girls’ Invitational. Most participants are arriving today.

This morning, Susan went to the Greyhound Bus Station in downtown St. Louis (30 minute drive from where we live) at 3:00 AM to pick up a player and her Dad from Trinidad. The bus was delayed and she finally met them at 5 am to bring them back to Webster University to check in. She got home at 6:30 am and by a little after 8 am, she was back at Webster to help check others in. It is now after 9:00 pm at night and she is still here helping out for another few hours.

Clare, Susan’s assistant, has been here from before 8 am until late night every single day to help with the summer camp last week and the SPFGI this week.

Our team members, all National Champions or Olympians, Liem Le, Ray Robson, Illia Nyzhnyk, Ashwin Jayaram, Vasif Durarbayli, Vitaly Neimer,Kacka Nemcova, Manuel León Hoyos, Thalia Cervantes Landeiro (the ones who are here during the summer) all chipped in to help, from checking the players in, do game analysis, airport pick ups, etc. How often do you see 2700+ players, National Champions, or Olympians doing this? Never! But they all do it with pride at SPICE!

Then we have Chess Moms Stephanie Berk, Tamara Katia Landeiro,Martha Underwood taking turns with airport pickup.

Chess Dad Andre Botez, his daughter, Ben & Sam (Stephanie’s sons), and others helped with setting up the playing hall. We have Frank Niro and a few others volunteering for various activities in the next few days. This is a complete teamwork to try to make this the best all-girls tournament in the world. It is already the richest all-girls event anywhere on this planet.

Webster kicked in with over $200,000 in scholarships as well as paying for all room and board for all qualifiers. The Susan Polgar Foundation put up nearly $10,000 for cash scholarships and extra prizes. All in all, the budget for this event is nearly $300,000!

But instead of appreciating or helping with the promotion of this incredible opportunity for young girls (1 girl will walk away with over $100,000 scholarship, and 2 will walk away with scholarships of around $50,000 each), I am so disgusted to see a number of chess politicians still trying to kill this event, the most prestigious all-girls event in the US, for young players who really appreciate this opportunity. It is appalling!

Why? Because they could never pull something like this off in their lifetime. They want it dead so they do not look stupid and incompetent. It is once again dumb chess politics as usual. They do not care about chess or anyone but their own ego and pseudo power.

What also bothers me is some parents grabbed qualifying spots for their daughters (from various qualifiers or by ratings) then cancel without sufficient notice (like today) so no one else can have those spots.

Then you have girls who played in this event in past years, got better, and look down on this event instead of coming back to help make this event more special for others. Susan won countless world titles, Olympiad gold, and broke numerous records but she is still rolling up her sleeves every day, week, month and year to get more girls into chess. Imagine what could be accomplish if she gets some more help!
I wish everyone can see the faces of the 70 or so girls who are here. They are so happy to be at this event. For the next 5-6 days, they are the Chess Queens! We can only hope that these young ladies will carry the chess torch and pass it on to the next generation.
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