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As university classes resume across North America, one institution is offering a unique opportunity for students to earn a minor in chess education.

Webster University in St. Louis is renowned for attracting top-notch chess talent to its school, and now its School of Education is offering a minor degree focused on the game. Core courses range from chess in history to the psychology and strategy of the game.

“It’s the first time in history that chess has been put into a formal program in education in a university,” says Liem Le, Webster’s chess coach and an international grandmaster.

While there was pushback from some people who were skeptical that chess belonged in the academy, Le said the university administration was supportive.

“We were able to convince them many students would benefit from this,” he said.

Although Webster has a small enrolment of fewer than 7,000 students, chess has been a big part of its campus culture for years. It has one of the best collegiate teams in the country.

Le, the top grandmaster to come out of Vietnam, was a student himself at Webster and a member of the university chess team when it won four national championship titles. He became the university’s chess coach last year.

Liem Le v. Parham Maghsoodloo, Isle of Man, 2019

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How does White deliver a finishing blow?

Le played 34.Rf6+ gxf6 35.Qxf6+ and Black resigned, because after Kg8 36.Qh8+ Kf7 39.Qh7+ the Black Queen falls.

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