Chess Scholarships

by Webmaster on June 14, 2014

In the recent past, talented young chess players were relegated to only applying for academic scholarships (and others too if, for example, they were also good at sports or music). Nowadays, there are actually many chess scholarships on offer, especially in the US.

The most famous one is probably the Samford Scholarship, previously held by Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura. This scholarship affords $30,000+ a year, which can sometimes be extended for a second year.

The University of Texas at Dallas also offers quite generous chess scholarships to university students. Of course, there are pre-selection and ongoing academic performance requirements for the scholarships. There’s also a video about the chess program.

I noticed a few familiar faces on the UTD chess team. Grandmaster Nadezda Kosintseva is one of the strongest female players in the world (currently ranked number 13 on the females list). She also has a sister (not attending UTD), Tatiana Kosintseva, who is approximately the same strength.

Georgi “George” Margvelashvili, now a grandmaster, beat me when he was an international master in an international youth event. I also noticed GMs Leonid Kritz and Alejandro Ramirez (the latter in an old video, who has since graduated from UTD); both these players are known for producing instructional DVDs for ChessBase, while Ramirez often annotates games from top events for ChessBase. (I think ChessBase consistently produces the best DVDs out of any chess company.)

The team coach is Rade Milovanovic, an international master who peaked at 2450 in 1995 according to ChessTempo.

Unless the list given on the website is incomplete, I’m surprised there aren’t many more players undertaking a category II scholarship. Even in Australia, we should have plenty of players who haven’t graduated from high school who seem strong enough to attain a level II scholarship and possibly a few who can receive a category I scholarship. It is probably a combination of (a lack of) high academic scores, the complexity of an international application (including having to complete American tests) and preferred universities/course choices that deters many players.

That being said, on the whole, I am impressed by the way the scholarships are marketed. In particular, I think they are trying to appeal to players from across the world who may have been very strong junior players and want to continue playing chess, but also want to have their main emphasis being on academics. Apart from around 2 to 3 of the strongest players on the team, I doubt the rest of the players will be able to become professional (for example, by entering the top 50 of their respective gender).

Of course, I have really only discussed two scholarships here. There are many more available, with details provided below. There are fewer, but possibly a handful of opportunities available elsewhere, including, for youngsters, the Millfield school in the UK.

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