Over the course of five months and using multiple state open records laws, The Journal…
The Decade of Checkmates
Webster University’s chess team has dominated the 2010 decade. The program began in the
fall of 2012 when Susan Polgar and Paul Truong came to Webster. The husband-wife team
also has a list of grandmasters on a waiting list that want to come to Webster and play chess.
Since its founding, the chess program at Webster was an instant success and has brought
world-class players to Webster University.
Polgar and Truong both are professional chess players. Polgar, one of the first female players
to be awarded grandmaster, a chess founded SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess
Excellence) and moved the program from Texas Tech to Webster in 2012.
“We have been ranked No.1 every single week, consecutively, for the past eight years,” said
Truong, who is also Polgar’s husband and business manager, coaches the team alongside his
wife. Paul said that his job is mainly to coach and do analytics and create the lineups.
Truong said the team does not have the budget or scholarship opportunities to travel and
scout players. However, he feels Webster’s reputation is what brings players here.
Truong described the success of the chess team by saying if you took the top five players at
Webster and made them into a national team, they would be ranked in the top 10 in the
We will compete against the best of the best in the U.S.” he said. Some of the opponents we
play against are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia … We go head-to-head against the best
universities in the country.”
Chess at Webster has been one of the most successful programs in the country. One team
member, Illia Nyzhnyk, said now that he is at Webster, he has joined the top 100 chess
players in the world. Truong said Webster’s achievements in chess surpass all other
collegiate chess programs combined. That achievement is something that almost never
happens in any sport.
Webster’s chess players act like typical students in the classroom. They try and get good
grades and go to class. But some of these students are national and Olympic champions in
“In basketball, Duke is very well known. In football, University of Alabama. If you take
Duke and Alabama together in these two sports, they still accomplished less than what the
Webster University chess team does,” said Truong.
Nyzhnyk believes Webster’s coaches are some of the best.“I believe what makes Susan and Paul such great coaches is that they care about us each individually,” he said.