Chess Team Clinches Final Four Spot with Pan American Performance

The UT Dallas chess team advanced to the Final Four for the 16th time in 19 years after its second-place finish at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.

The University of Texas at Dallas chess team earned a trip to the 2019 Final Four tournament in New York City after a strong showing at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this week.

With a second-place finish at the Pan Am, UT Dallas qualified for the President’s Cup, which is considered the “Final Four of College Chess.” This will be the Comets’ 16th appearance in the 19 years the Final Four tournament has existed.

“There’s not a lot that separates the top collegiate chess teams,” said Jim Stallings, UT Dallas chess program director. “One or two moves can make all the difference on how you place in a tournament.”

There’s not a lot that separates the top collegiate chess teams. One or two moves can make all the difference on how you place in a tournament.

Jim Stallings, UT Dallas chess program director

UT Dallas was among 53 teams seeking to advance at the Pan Am, which was held Dec. 27-30 in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco.

A victory by UT Dallas’ A team over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County vaulted the Comets to the Final Four. Heading into the Pan Am tournament, UT Dallas was ranked behind teams from Webster University, Texas Tech University, Saint Louis University and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The Pan American tournament featured six rounds of play over four days. Some universities were represented by only one team, while others, such as UT Dallas, brought multiple teams to the contest. En route to its second-place finish, UT Dallas defeated teams from Harvard University, Princeton University and Penn State University.

Stallings said the competition among the top-rated universities is particularly intense.

“Today more than ever before, we compete fiercely for the most talented players, just as in other collegiate sports,” he said. “All of our players performed very well at this tournament.”

UT Dallas’ A team, consisting of Grandmasters Anton Kovalyov, Gil Popilski, Razvan Preotu and Dani Raznikov, earned the Final Four berth for the University with a 5-1 record. Based on tiebreakers, the UT Dallas team secured second place.

Preotu and Raznikov, who each earned 4.5 points out of 6, led the scoring for the UT Dallas team. Preotu, a computer science major, said he was honored to compete for the team and contribute to the results.

“It’s always a thrill to bring your best moves against great competition like we faced at the Pan Am tournament,” he said. “We are looking forward to what we can do at the Final Four match.”

The Comets will face Webster, Harvard and UT Rio Grande Valley at the President’s Cup, which will be held at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City in April.

The Pan Am tournament also marked the final chess event for UT Dallas chess coach Rade Milovanovic, who is retiring after 20 years with the team. Milovanovic was recognized for his coaching success by tournament organizers after the final match.

“Rade has led the team during all of its Final Four appearances and has helped numerous UT Dallas players improve their competitiveness,” Stallings said. “He will be greatly missed.”

Media Contact: Phil Roth, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2193, [email protected] , or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].