Chess team director / coach shares winning secrets

Question: What are some of my recruiting criteria to put together a top notch college chess program to win national championships?
Answer: I look for a number of things. I believe they are very similar to other sports. Here are just a few of them:

Polgar: Chess team director / coach shares game philosophy, recruiting criteria

I have to say that I could not be more proud of my players. They gave everything they had to achieve incredible success on the chess board and in the classroom. They also brought priceless positive exposure for Webster University.

In the past few years, I received countless e-mails asking about my coaching philosophy and recruiting standards, etc.

Question: What are some of my recruiting criteria to put together a top notch college chess program to win national championships?

Answer: I look for a number of things. I believe they are very similar to other sports. Here are just a few of them:

• Professionalism (Will the recruit take pride in what he/she does and give his/her all?)

• Work ethic (Will the recruit be willing to put in maximum effort academically and in chess training?)

• Coachability (Will the recruit be willing to be coached to improve his/her chess strength? There is no perfect chess player. Every player has room to grow.)

• Team player (Will the recruit put the team concept above personal accolades in team competition? Team unity and chemistry are extremely important for success.)

Question: What is my coaching philosophy and how am I able to achieve so much success with the Webster University chess teams ...?

Answer: The answer is quite complex. There are a number of little things that create one big success. However, my job is very different that many other coaches at other universities.

An athletic coach usually has the responsibility for one team. In chess, there are multiple divisions. Therefore, I have to recruit, coach, and work with the A, B, and C teams, etc. Each team and each player has completely different training regiment.

In addition to coaching, I also have a numerous other responsibilities as the director of SPICE. But to make the long story short, here is my coaching philosophy:

• I treat my players the way I would want to be treated.

• I give my players complete respect and I would never raise my voice or have harsh words toward them, even if they lose.

• My motto is “Win with grace, lose with dignity” and I expect all my players to follow it.

• I dissect the styles, strengths, and weaknesses of my players and I work with each player accordingly.

• I praise my players when they do well and I comfort them when they do not. There is no need to dwell on the negatives. The point is to learn from mistakes and not to repeat them .

• I commit 150 percent of my effort to my players and I expect them to do the same for me.

• However, I do not expect and I do not want my players to live, eat, drink, and breathe chess 24/7. When they train, I expect them to train hard. When they play, I expect them to give their all. But when we have down time, I also expect them to have fun and relax.

• I always stress the team unity concept and I was extremely pleased to see the players from my three teams work together, help one another, and cheer each other on at the national competition.

Question: Where do I find my players and what kind of majors do chess players usually major in?

Answer: My players come from all over the country and all over the world. They have very diversified majors and they take their studies seriously. A number of them have 4.0 GPAs. I currently have about 20 students on the Webster University Chess Team.

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The US has the best universities in the World, yet its basic education is failing. Likewise, there are great world-class chess programs like this one of Susan's, but the world is still waiting for a great chess program for the beginner. As it is, the traditional way of teaching keeps 199 in 200 away from chess as it is, presumably, failing to teach the basics right (the photo shows King and Queen towers in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs).

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