Chess champ captures 2 college scholarships

Monday, June 23, 2008

Whatever happened to the Chardon chess whiz who won an international title and a $36,000 scholarship to Texas Tech?

She won them again.

And she can use both scholarships.

For the second straight year, Rebecca Lelko won a division for girls under 19 at the Susan Polgar World Open Chess Tournament in Las Vegas. Playing June 6-8, the 17-year-old reached a draw with her second foe and beat the four others.

Together, the two scholarships would give her pretty much a free ride at the Lubbock school. But she hasn't committed yet.

"I still have one more year to decide," said Rebecca, who finished her junior year this month at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School.

Rebecca has visited Texas Tech and dined with Polgar, who leads the school's Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.

"She's very nice," said Rebecca. "She's really, really interested in promoting chess."

Polgar and her two sisters are among the world's best female players.

Rebecca plans to return to Lubbock in July for a tournament. She loves the game's challenges.

"You never know how a game's going to go," she said. "You can improve your entire life."

Rebecca keeps her skills in perspective. She plans to play on a college team but turn to math or science for a living.

"I'm not good enough," Rebecca said of her game skills. Some peers with higher chess ratings play just in adult tournaments, not youth competitions like Polgar's.

- Grant Segall

"Whatever happened to . . .?" is a weekly series updating some of the most newsworthy and interesting stories covered in The Plain Dealer. Have a suggestion on a story we should update? Send it to John Kuehner at jkuehner@plaind.com, or call 216-999-5325.

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