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 players at a tournament table

Webster Hosting President's Cup Final Four Competition

Chess players at a tournament table

For the first time, Webster's distinguished collegiate chess team will host the prestigious tournament on April 1-2.

In addition to Webster University, the Final Four teams competing for the grand prize include Saint Louis University, University of Missouri and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

WHEN: Saturday, April 1: Round 1 at 10 a.m.; Round 2 at 4 p.m.; Sunday, April 2: Round 3 at 10 a.m., followed by Award Ceremony.

WHERE: Sunnen Lounge in the University Center at 175 Edgar Road, St. Louis, on the Webster University campus.

SPICE Chess Summer Camp 2023

The SPICE Chess Summer Camp is a fun way to introduce chess to newcomers of the game, as well as deepen the understanding of the game for intermediate or advanced players. SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) at Webster University is the No. 1 ranked collegiate chess program in the United States. The SPICE team won eight of the past 10 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Championships and seven consecutive College Chess Final Four Championships from 2011–2017.

All instructors are members of the SPICE team (including GMs) and will teach based on Susan Polgar’s world-class curriculum.

The cost of attending full-day SPICE Chess camp is $449; students who register before 5/1/2023 will get a discounted fee of $359.

The cost of attending morning-only SPICE Chess camp is $249; students who register before 5/1/2023 will get a discounted fee of $199.

Young girl playing chess at camp

SPICE Chess Summer Camps

Ages: 5 to 15

Camp 1 Dates: June 13-16, 2023

Camp 2 Dates: Aug. 8-11, 2023


  • All day: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Morning only: 9 a.m.–Noon

Where: Webster University, SPICE Office, Luhr Building, 475 E. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119


Food and Snacks: Snacks will be provided. Students should bring their own lunch.

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

For more information, email Annastasia Wyzywany at awyzywany@webster.edu or call 314-246-8075.

If necessary, SPICE reserves the right to close registration when full or cancel the class for any reason.

Webster University Chess Team

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

John Burke

John Burke

  • Major: English Year: Senior
  • Chess title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2580
  • Country: USA

Yuniesky Quesada Perez

Yuniesky Quesada Perez

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

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

Joshua Figueroa Rodriguez

Joshua Figueroa

  • Major: Accounting and Finance Year: Senior
  • Country: USA

Jonathon Singler

Jonathon Singler

  • Major: Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Chess title: AFM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 1779
  • Country: USA

Jonathon Singler

Yasser Quesada Perez

  • Major: Computer Science, Freshman
  • Chess title: GM
  • Highest FIDE rating: 2604
  • Country: Cuba

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

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). She 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 opens in new tab).

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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.

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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