WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. - More than $200,000 and international bragging rights are on the line at Webster University this weekend in a chess competition unlike any other with participants ranging in age from 18 all the way down to 6-years-old. And it's for girls only.
The Eleventh Annual Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational is a partnership between the Susan Polgar Foundation and Webster University. Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar and her Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) relocated to Webster University in June 2012 from Texas Tech University.
"In my day a lot of events were restricted to boys or men only," said Polgar. "Traditionally and culturally chess has been perceived as a men's game and we're trying to change that."
"I feel really good about myself," said Louisianan state champion Anna Wyzywany.
She and other participants say their success in chess has boosted their self-confidence and helped them excel in other areas of life.
"I should be here and I deserve to play," said Wyzywany who is considering attending Webster University next year, an option she says she would not have considered if not for the University's reputation in competitive chess.
The six-round tournament will award more than $200,000 in chess scholarships and prizes, including a four-year, full-tuition andfees scholarship to Webster University for the tournament champion, worth approximately $24,000 per year; and four-year Webster University scholarships to the second and third-place winners, worth $14,000 and $12,000 per year, respectively.
Polgar, the top-ranked female chess player in the United States, is one of the strongest female chess players in history. She is head coach of Webster's national champion collegiate chess team, director of SPICE at Webster University and recognized as a trailblazer who laid the foundation for female chess players everywhere.
This year, Polgar was named the top chess trainer in the world by FIDE (the World Chess Federation) and also the first female to ever be recognized by FIDE with a top coaching medal. She was awarded the Furman Symeon medal, which is given annually to the best coach who works with both male and female players. FIDE, which was founded in 1924 in Paris, is an international organization that acts as the governing body of international chess competition.
Round 1 of the tournament will begin immediately following on the Loretto Hilton stage, at 2 p.m. The ceremony, all tournament rounds and closing ceremony (Tuesday, July 15, 3 p.m. at the Loretto Hilton) are free and open to the public.
Rounds 2 and 3 will take place on Sunday, July 13, at 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Rounds 4 and 5 will be held on Monday, July 14, same times as Rounds 2 and 3. The tournament wraps up on Tuesday, July 15, with Round 6 at 9:30 a.m.