September 19, 2020

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. 

 

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 

world. 

 

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 

chess. 

 

“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. 

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