University of Missouri launches competitive chess team

Officials of the University of Missouri have announced the launch of a competitive chess team with help from a grant of nearly $800,000 from the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Christian Chirila (pictured), a 28-year-old grandmaster from Romania who has won chess titles and tournaments all over the world, will coach the team. He already has begun recruiting undergraduate and graduate players from around the world to compete in intercollegiate chess competitions for Mizzou starting this fall. These players will get university scholarships, live and practice together in dedicated space in Respect Hall, and travel to competitions throughout the year.

“Mizzou is home to top athletic teams, and I am planning for the MU Chess Team to continue that tradition of excellence and be a top competitor from year one,” said Chirila, who attended the University of Texas at Dallas on a chess scholarship and had been coaching chess in the Bay Area of California.

According to a news release, as the program is developed, Mizzou will collaborate with the Saint Louis Chess Club to become a chess resource for the state of Missouri. There are plans to develop chess summer camps, state and national high school chess tournaments, distance-learning courses on chess, and chess teacher certifications. The university also is interested in hosting new collegiate events in cooperation with the U.S. Chess Federation to create more opportunities for collegiate players to compete.

“The MU Chess Team is a welcome addition to the Mizzou family,” said Patricia Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science, which will be the team’s academic home. “Chess teaches important skills, such as logic and focus, that everyone needs. Learning more about this sport will benefit the entire university and community.”

Opened in 2008, the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center and the World Chess Hall of Fame provide extensive educational and competitive opportunities that have made chess synonymous with Missouri, and have led some to call St. Louis “the chess capital of the world.”

“The Saint Louis Chess Club is thrilled to partner with the University of Missouri and is looking forward to working with the team as we continue to grow and advance chess,” said Rex Sinquefield, who co-founded the club with his wife, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, and serves as its president.

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Tuesday
05
March 2019