COLUMBIA, Mo. ( -- With the World Chess Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Chess Club nestled in the Central West End, St. Louis has been crowned the chess capital of the world by some players.

The growing popularity in the Show-Me state makes the game a great new addition to the University of Missouri's organization. The university announced early Wednesday morning they plan to create a competitive chess team for students to compete in. 

“Mizzou is home to top athletic teams, and I am planning for the MU Chess Team to continue that tradition of excellence and be a top competitor from year one,” said Chess Coach Cristia Chirila.

Chess Game Guy-Mizzou

Chirlia, 28, is a Romania native who has won chess titles and tournaments across the world including winning the World Youth Championship in 2007 and the National Open in Las Vegas in summer of 2018, according to a press release. 

"Cristian is a great addition to the University of Missouri,” said Joy Bray, general manager of the Saint Louis Chess Club “He is a highly capable, skilled grandmaster, communicator and speaker. He is more than qualified and will do an outstanding job."

According to Mizzou, Chrilia has already begun recruit players to join the team.

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