Louisville hosts international chess tournament teaching valuable skills to youth
Mayor Greg Fischer welcomed more than 200 school children from around the world to Louisville as they participate in the 2015 Susan Polgar Foundation World Open chess tournament at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, Nov. 20-22.
“Our goal in Louisville is to provide a world-class, seamless and coordinated education system that provides ample opportunities for developing creativity and creative thinking, skilled workers, engaged citizens and civic leaders,” Fischer said. “Chess, with its many documented benefits, fits right in with our plan. We are pleased that the Susan Polgar Foundation has chosen our city to host this important event.”
Playing chess is proven to dramatically reduce the drop-out rate of school-age children and increase standardized performance scores wherever it has been introduced in the United States. Many Louisville area schools have added chess instruction to their school activities in recent years.
As part of the tournament, students will compete for college scholarships and other prizes. Over the past 12 years, the Susan Polgar Foundation, the main sponsor of the event, has presented more than $4.5 million in college scholarships through its institutional partners to children who play chess in the U.S. The boy and girl winner in the championship section of this weekend’s tournament will receive four-year scholarships to Webster University in St. Louis, valued at $13,000 per year or $52,000 total.
“Chess develops character, self-esteem, creativity, concentration, confidence, memory skills, mental clarity, academic achievement, verbal reasoning, critical thinking, planning skills, numerical aptitude, patience and the ability to focus,” Polgar said. “In short, it is an ideal medium for developing the important skills that will lead to success throughout life.”
The prestigious chess tournament will be held in memory of popular Louisville teacher Steve Dillard, known as “Mr. Kentucky Chess,” who passed away earlier this year. Dillard, 55, was a national tournament director (TD) recognized by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) with a meritorious service award and a TD Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to the six-round tournament in nine different sections, there will be side events for puzzle solving, blitz chess and a 25-board simultaneous chess exhibition by Susan Polgar. Gregory Kaidanov of Lexington, the only International Grandmaster of chess currently residing in the state of Kentucky, will analyze games with the children on Saturday.
More about Susan Polgar:
Susan Polgar is the eldest of the famous Polgar sisters, all chess prodigies, raised by Laszlo and Klara Polgar in Budapest, Hungary, during the Cold War. Susan and her family have changed how women are perceived in chess. While active in chess as a player, Susan won four Women’s World Championships and was a five-time Olympiad Champion with 10 overall medals. In 2004, she led the U.S. Women’s team to a silver medal, the first ever for the U.S. since Olympiad competitions for women began in 1957.
Since retiring from competition, Susan is credited with the advancement of college scholarship opportunities for chess players and is the first woman to coach a college men’s team to win the national championships with two different universities, Texas Tech University and Webster University.
Susan established her foundation (SPF) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2002 with the main mission of promoting chess, with all its educational, social, and competitive benefits, for young people of all ages, especially girls.