Finance entrepreneur and political kingmaker Rex Sinquefield’s next move is an $800,000 grant to the University of Missouri for a new competitive chess team, the university announced Wednesday.
MU has tapped Cristian Chirila, a 28-year-old Romanian native and chess coach in California, as coach for the new team.
Chirila has begun recruiting players, who will receive housing and scholarships at MU beginning next fall, according to a press release.
“The MU Chess Team is a welcome addition to the Mizzou family,” said Patricia Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science, where the team will be housed. “Chess teaches important skills, such as logic and focus, that everyone needs. Learning more about this sport will benefit the entire university and community.”
MU will collaborate with the Saint Louis Chess Club, which was founded by Sinquefield in 2008, and offer summer chess camps, high school chess tournaments and chess teacher certification.
“The Saint Louis Chess Club is thrilled to partner with the University of Missouri and is looking forward to working with the team as we continue to grow and advance chess,” Sinquefield said in a press release.
Sinquefield, co-founder of investment firm Dimensional Fund Advisors, is the most prolific political donor in Missouri history. He’s contributed tens of millions of dollars, mostly to conservative candidates and causes.
In addition to his political givings, Sinquefield and his wife Jeanne Sinquefield have long been patrons of MU programs. The couple gifted $2 million in 2016 for a “New Music Initiative” and $10 million a year earlier for a proposed new School of Music building.