Making a difference for young people of all ages through chess
By Randy Youngblood, Counselor
Franklin Upper Elementary
Susan Polgar…not a household name among Franklin Countians! But in the world of chess the name is legendary as she was the first woman to become a Grandmaster and the first person in history (male or female) to win the triple-crown of chess. One might say that Susan is undeniably the Queen of Chess. To put her status in terms more recognizable, she is to chess what Tom Brady or Serena Williams are to their sports. So, where would one expect to find her on December 5, 2015? Knowing that the largest chess tournament in the world was being held in London this past weekend, none would be surprised to find Susan in the midst of adoring fans in that stellar championship setting. On this particular day, however, Susan Polgar chose to honor the recent invitation of kindergartener, Isabella Minor. As the Franklin County Chess Team attended the Susan Polar World Open tournament in Louisville, Kentucky two weeks ago, Isabella kindly asked Susan when she could come visit Franklin County. To the amazement of the fifty Bulldog chess players who came to compete in Bude on December 5, standing in their chess room were Susan Polgar and her husband Paul Truong along with Frank Niro, former ED of the US Chess Federation.
Why had the Queen of Chess arrived in Franklin County to visit a chess program which has only existed for three months? Through the advent of chess, Susan has travelled to nearly 60 countries, has amassed an impressive resume of achievements and has benefited financially through her successes. At this time in her life, as a retired chess professional, her heart’s desire is to see the “doors of opportunity opened to all children by way of chess in education.” Through her friendship with Dr. Jeff Bulington, FC’s chess instructor, Susan came to know about the excitement of over 100 students who have opened their minds and hearts to the sport of chess. Susan credits Dr. Bulington as “one of the best in the world in using chess as a crossover into other academic subjects.” Recognizing the expertise found in Dr. Bulington and the energy she witnessed in the Bulldogs attending her tournament, Susan believes that Franklin County’s chess program will become the proving ground to spread chess through schools across Mississippi.
So, on the morning of December 5, 2015, Paul Truong posted a notice on chessdailynews.org, the most widely read chess blog in the world. And the news went out that Susan Polgar, Frank Niro and he were in Bude, Mississippi hanging out with some of the newest members of the chess community, the members of the Franklin County Chess Team. A world away, in London, the chess world took note of the attention being given by Susan to support and promote chess in education to students in every corner of the world, even in the county of Franklin in the state of Mississippi. The journey continues!