Our community at Webster University believes transformative academic experiences begin with prioritizing research, technology and accessibility. At Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), we believe college chess is the critical component that merges these necessary components with skill.

By working and assisting one another, we have become a premier center for chess education and outreach.

SPICE Chess team, 2022

SPICE's Mission

Our mission is to be a leader in promoting chess as a vehicle for enriching the education of children; be a leader in promoting women’s chess; recruit outstanding students to the University; earn national and international recognition for the University; support and promote competitive chess at the college level; and to support our nation’s most elite chess program.

Chess team posing for photo after National win

SPICE in the News

Chess team posing for photo after National win

Members of Webster University's Chess Team in 2023 who played in the President's Cup National Collegiate Chess Tournament or who supported the team during the tournament. They are gathered around current Chess Coach Liem Le (center).

2023 — 17th Annual SPICE Cup Open

US Chess Junior Grand Prix!
US Chess Grand Prix Points: 200 (Enhanced)

December 17-22, 2023
9SS, G/90 + inc/30

Register Now

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Louis - Chesterfield
16625 Swingley Ridge Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63017

$16,500 in prizes — all guaranteed. GM, IM, WGM, WIM norms possible

One Section, minimum 2000 rating FIDE or 2200 USCF
FIDE ratings will be used for pairings and prizes

Top U2450: $500-250    
Top U2300: $500-250

Special Prizes (which can be won in addition to place or class prize)

  • Top Women: $1,000-500-200
  • Top Juniors (born on or after 1/1/2008): $500-200
  • Brilliancy prize: $100

Limited free hotel accommodation at event hotel for 2550+ GMs and 2350+ WGMs. Players receiving conditions are not allowed to take any bye without expressed permission from the organizer.

  • All equipment (sets, boards, clocks) provided.
  • Top six boards broadcasted online.
  • Anti-cheating measures in place.

Register online or send registration form and payment to: Webster University SPICE, 470 East Lockwood Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119.

Maximum capacity is 80. Registration will stay open until capacity is reached or by 12 noon CT on Dec. 17. No onsite registration. For further information, email Annastasia Wyzywany at: chess@webster.edu or call 314-246-8075.

Entry Fee

  • Free to GMs, IMs, WGMs, WIMs (if registered after Nov. 15, $150 will be deducted from prizes).
  • Foreign FIDE-rated players/US FIDE Masters/US players 2300+ FIDE:
    • $150 by Oct. 15,
    • $175 by Nov. 15,
    • $200 later.
  • US players 2200-2299 FIDE:
    • $200 by Oct. 15,
    • $225 by Nov. 15,
    • $250 later.
  • US players 2100-2199 FIDE:
    • $250 by Oct. 15,
    • $275 by Nov. 15,
    • $300 later.
  • US players 2000-2099 FIDE:
    • $300 by Oct. 15,
    • $325 by Nov. 15,
    • $350 later.

Sunday, 12/17: 5 p.m.

Monday, 12/18: 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Tuesday, 12/19: 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Wednesday, 12/20: 4 p.m.

Thursday, 12/21: 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Friday, 12/22: 10 a.m.

Players may request a half-point bye in rounds 1-7. Byes must be requested by the start of the previous round. Players requesting a bye after the previous round has started will be given a zero-point bye. Example: If a player wants a bye in Round 3, they must submit their request for Round 3 bye by the start of Round 2. If player failed to request before the start of Round 2 and instead requested a bye for Round 3 during or at the end of Round 2, player will be given a zero-point bye. Maximum of two half-point byes allowed. Zero-point byes are available in any round.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Louis - Chesterfield
16625 Swingley Ridge Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63017

Tennis (nine indoor courts and six outdoor courts), Indoor/Outdoor Pools, Indoor Basketball/Volleyball, Full-Service Health Club, Walking Trails, and much more…

Reserve Your Hotel Room Now

Hotel Rates

$123 for room with either king-sized bed or two queen-sized beds (hotel chess rate will be available until Nov. 17) including free Grab-and-Go breakfast, internet and parking. Many area restaurants, Chesterfield Mall and two huge outlet malls are within 1-2 miles from hotel.

For reservations call the hotel at 636-532-5000 and reference Chess SPICE Cup.

As the tournament falls on the holiday season, all prizes will be paid within 8 weeks after the conclusion of the tournament.

Prize checks are written only to the winners, not to third parties.

If you are a resident alien: Please complete Form W-9.

If you are a non-resident alien: Please complete Form W-8BEN. We must withhold and send to the IRS 30% of your prize. If your country has a tax treaty with the United States and you have a US Social Security or Tax ID number, you may be able to avoid this withholding by submitting an IRS Form 8233 to us.

If 30% of your prize is withheld and submitted to the IRS, you will receive a 1042 form in the following calendar year, no later than March. You may use this form to submit a tax return to the IRS, claim expenses, and attempt to recover some or all the withheld tax.

Join Us

Become Part of Our Elite Chess Program


Chess Excellence Scholarship Applications

At Webster, we welcome those students interested in competing in local, national and international chess tournaments to apply for our scholarships. Those students wanting to apply must be at the main campus (Webster Groves/St. Louis, USA) and should do so by the Friday before the term begins.

Webster University Chess Team

Yuniesky Quesada Perez

Yuniesky Quesada Perez

  • Major: Master of Science in Finance
  • Chess title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2655
  • Country: USA

Benjamin Gledura

Benjamin Gledura

  • Major: Scriptwriting Year: Senior
  • Chess Title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2654
  • Country: Hungary

Aram Hakobyan

Aram Hakobyan

  • Major: Management Year: Senior
  • Chess title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2621
  • Country: Armenia

Gergely Kantor

Gergely Kantor

  • Major: Political Science Year: Freshman
  • Chess title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2590
  • Country: Hungary

Anna Sargsyan

Anna Sargsyan

  • Major: Computer Science Year: Sophomore
  • Chess Title: IM, WGM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2405
  • Country: Armenia

Annamaria Marjanovic

Annamaria Marjanovic

  • Major: Business Administration Year: Junior
  • Chess title: WGM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2389
  • Country: Hungary

Ezra Chambers

Ezra Chambers

  • Major: Interactive Digital Media Year: Senior
  • Chess title: FM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2360
  • Country: Burundi

David Zhurbinsky

David Zhurbinsky

  • Major: Undecided Year: Freshman
  • Chess title: CM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2059
  • Country: USA

The Webster University Chess Team is proud to list the following alumni:

  • GM Wesley So
  • GM Liem Le
  • GM Ray Robson
  • GM Illya Nyzhnyk
  • GM Lazaro Bruzon
  • GM Aleksandr Lenderman
  • GM Georg Meier
  • GM Jorge Cori
  • GM Vasif Durarbayli
  • GM Aleksandr Shimanov
  • GM Emilio Cordova
  • GM Jose Martinez
  • GM Peter Prohaszka
  • GM Denes Boros
  • GM Manuel Leon Hoyos
  • GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez
  • GM Anatoly Bykhovsky
  • GM Ashwin Jayaram
  • GM Priyadharshan Kannappan
  • GM Andre Diamant
  • IM Yuriy Krykun
  • IM Vitaly Neimer
  • IM Eric Rosen
  • IM Justus Williams
  • IM Aaron Grabinsky
  • IM Brian Escalante
  • IM / WGM Irene Sukandar
  • WGM Anna Sharevich
  • WGM Katerina Nemcova
  • WIM Inna Agrest
  • FM Joshua Colas
  • WFM Luisa Fernanda Mercado
  • Tom Polgar-Shutzman
  • Roman Kozelov
  • Kenneth Fernandez
  • Shawn Swindell
  • Kaleb Gosdin
  • Hannah (Tori) Whatley
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Paul M. Truong
  • Leeam Polgar Shutzman
  • Nimish Datta
  • Joshua Figueroa
  • Dr. Jonathon Singler
  • GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez
  • GM John Burke

Coach Liem Le

A Chesterfield resident, Liem Le is originally from Vietnam, where he was honored by Forbes Vietnam as 30 under 30 (2015). Le became a Chess Grandmaster at 15 years old and the World Blitz Champion at 22 years old. He has been the No. 1 ranked chess player in Vietnam and Southeast Asia since 2009. He is currently the No. 20 ranked chess player worldwide.

Le previously served as captain of the top-ranked Webster chess team (2015 to 2017). He won four consecutive Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Championships and Final Four Championships with Webster from 2013 to 2017. From June 2021, Le has been the Director of SPICE and the Head Coach of Webster University Chess Team.

Coach Le is considered the youngest and highest ranked collegiate grandmaster head coach in the U.S. He has coached more than 100 students, including many Grandmasters with remarkable success.

Chess Accomplishments:

  • Winner of World Blitz Championship 2013
  • Winner of Biel Grand Master Triathlon (GMT) 2022
  • Top 4 of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2022
  • Winner of Asian Continental Championship 2019
  • Winner of World Open 2019
  • Winner of Saint Louis Summer Classic 2019
  • Winner of ACP Tour 2019
  • Winner of Bay Area International Open 2019
  • 2-time winner of SPICE Cup (2011, 2015)
  • 3-time winner of HD Bank Open (2013, 2015, 2017)
  • 2-time winner of Aeroflot Open (2010, 2011)
  • 2-time winner of Zone 3.3 FIDE World Chess Championship (2007, 2015)
  • Winner of Kolkata Open 2009
  • Winner of Lishui Open 2009
  • 2-time winner of Dragon Capital Open (2008, 2009)
  • Team Gold Medal at 2008 Olympiad Group B

Notable Recognition:

  • Awarded three Labor Orders by the President of Vietnam (2006, 2011, 2013)
  • Awarded the title Blitz Player of the Year by Asian Chess Federation (2013)
  • Forbes Vietnam 30 Under 30 (2015)

SPICE Founder Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar was the top-ranked female chess player in the world at the age of 15. In 1991, she became one of the first women to be awarded the title of Grandmaster by The International Chess Federation (FIDE). Polgar was Women’s World Champion from 1996 to 1999. She won 11 medals at the Women’s Chess Olympiad (4 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze).

Polgar founded the SPICE Institute in 2007 and was the Director of SPICE and the Head Coach of Webster University Chess Team from 2012 to 2021, with a successful track record. After her retirement in May 2021, Polgar became the Director Emeritus of SPICE.


In 2022, Webster University became the first in the nation to launch a Chess in Education Minor. It is an 18-credit minor focused on developing chess educators academically and professionally, bridging the access gap between K-12 chess education and professional pursuits. Students who embark on this academic path will learn how to teach chess as a sport and an academic discipline while identifying and solving gaps in the field through projects. These future chess educators will be able to identify and socially advocate for areas that need progress, such as sustainable scholastic programming, women’s chess, research best practices and more.

Courses are internationally available online, in which students will develop skill sets such as a global perspective, research familiarization and analysis, writing and teaching curriculum, educational technology literacy, and community-based programming. As each student’s interests and backgrounds may be unique, core courses will teach chess through various disciplines such as education, history, business, psychology, and technology. In contrast, the elective courses promote passion projects, certification training, professional networking and skill practice. Each content area is critical to transforming chess students into globally focused leaders dedicated to improving communities worldwide through chess education.

Learn more about the minor in Chess and its degree requirements.

Discover chess using Susan Polgar’s comprehensive free training guide (PDF).

Spotlight on SPICE

Coach Liem Le demonstrates the "blitz" game, playing against a journalist from a St. Louis-area TV news broadcast after the team won two national collegiate titles in rapid chess in November 2022.

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