RICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 16, 2005) – The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) will defend its number one ranking in college chess Dec. 27-30 in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious tournament of its kind held each year in the Western Hemisphere.
UTD has won the tournament outright the past two years and tied for first place in both 2000 and 2001. This year’s competition will be held in downtown Miami at the Wolfson campus of Miami (Dade) Community College, which boasts one of the top college chess teams in the U.S.
More than 30 teams from the United States, Canada, Central America and South America are expected to compete in the 51st Pan Am Tournament. The Pan Am team competition began in 1947 as a biennial event and became an annual event in 1965. Among the schools usually represented are Stanford University, Yale, MIT, the University of Toronto, the University of Chicago, Princeton, Catholic University of Peru and perennial chess powerhouse The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), UTD’s archrival.
As it has done for several years, UTD will send two teams to the four-day tournament. But UTD’s coach, International Master Rade Milovanovic, declined for competitive reasons to disclose until just before the tournament begins which players will go to Miami and which will be on the UTD “A” Team and which will represent the “B” Team. Most of UTD’s top players prepped for the Pan Am by participating in the UTD Grandmaster Invitational, which ran from Dec. 6 to Dec. 14 and was sanctioned by the world governing body of chess, FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs ). The UTD tournament was won by Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, 22, of India, a senior at UTD majoring in computer science.
UTD has two grandmasters – Panchanathan and 17-year-old Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica, who is majoring in physics. Ramirez is one of the youngest grandmasters in the world and the only grandmaster ever from Central America. Panchanathan was the star of last year’s Pan Am.
UTD also has seven international masters, the level just below grandmaster. They are Amon Simutowe, 22, of Zambia, a junior majoring in economics and finance; Dmitry Shneider, 21 of New York, a senior majoring in finance; Marko Zivanic, 21, of Serbia Montenegro, a sophomore majoring in computer science; Drasko Boskovic, 23, of Serbia Montenegro, a sophomore majoring in business administration; Peter M. Vavrak, 23, of Slovakia, a senior majoring in psychology ; Davorin Kuljasevic, 19, of Croatia, a freshman majoring in business administration; and Daniel Fernandez, 20, of Boca Raton, Fla., a sophomore majoring in economics and finance.
The four U.S. universities whose teams finish highest in the Pan Am will qualify for the “Final Four” of Chess competition, which is held in the spring. UTD won that tournament in 2001 and 2002 but finished second to UMBC the next three years.
In past six years, UTD and UMBC have emerged as unquestionably the two best college chess teams in the U.S. and have developed a rivalry as heated and as closely matched as any in intercollegiate competition. But Miami-Dade recently has begun to make a move for chess supremacy as well.
UTD’s chess team is part of a much broader chess program at UTD that includes, among other things, on-line chess instruction for teachers and studies on the use of chess in the classroom as an educational tool.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.