October 19, 2018

SPICE Profiles: Illia Nyzhnyk

The University of Texas at Dallas invited Illia Nyzhnyk to join their school and chess team. Nyzhnyk could not pass the school’s entrance exams so he began to look for other options. Susan Polgar then invited him to join Webster University’s team.

Nyzhnyk, a Ukraine native, said he was amazed after he received an offer from Polgar to join Webster’s team because of Webster’s record. The University of Texas at Dallas last won the national championship in 2008. Webster has won every one since 2013. Nyzhnyk said he liked the position he is in now.

Nyzhnyk said this final four tournament is special because teammate Ray Robson will graduate at the end of this school year. Robson played in all five Webster championship teams. Nyzhnyk doesn’t want that streak to end on a bad note.

“To make that happen for Ray, I feel like we should try even harder,” Nyzhnyk said.

Nyzhnyk said he wanted Robson to leave Webster with a memorable final four championship to go along with his previous accomplishments.

Nyzhnyk mentioned one other motivation for the tournament. He said Webster is now getting to compete against players who are the same level as them. Beating them would prove Webster’s team truly is the best, Nyzhnyk said.

Chess largely consists of memorization, something Nyzhnyk said will be key for him. It could be memorizing 25 or 30 moves in a row according to Nyzhnyk.

From a failed test to a call from Susan Polgar, Nyzhnyk wound up going for his fourth straight national championship in four years.

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