Chess Team Finishes 2nd at Pan Am, Earns Trip to Final Four in April
The UT Dallas chess team finished second at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this week, earning a trip to the 2015 Final Four Tournament.
UT Dallas chess program director Jim Stallings said the strong showing was an important comeback, as the Comets fell short last year and did not finish in the top four.
“No one enjoys losing. We were disappointed with last year, of course, but with hard work – hours of preparation and practice – we managed to get back on top. I’m extremely proud of the resilience and determination of our team,” Stallings said.
The Pan Am was held from Dec. 27-30 at South Padre Island, Texas, where UT Dallas was among 45 teams fighting for a victory. The Comets faced teams from UT Austin, Lindenwood University, Webster University, Texas Tech University and The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
“We were disappointed with last year, of course, but with hard work – hours of preparation and practice – we managed to get back on top. I’m extremely proud of the resilience and determination of our team.”
Going into the tournament, the Comets were ranked second behind Webster University, the highest rated collegiate team that won the Final Four last year.
To have a chance at first place, UT Dallas had to get through the strong Webster team in the last round: Webster trailed UT Dallas by half a point and needed to win the match.
Early in the final round, UT Dallas student Grandmaster Leonid Kritz drew his game against Grandmaster Ray Robson from Webster. Kritz finished the tournament with five wins and one draw, the best record on the UT Dallas team.
“Kritz played ‘The Bird’s Opening.’ This first move is seldom seen at such a high level of play. We made a very clear statement to the Webster team: ‘We are not resting on our lead. We will continue to take the fight to you.’ In football, this would be analogous to the defense of the leading team continuing to blitz and not play a prevent defense,” added Stallings.
However, a good offense knows how to defend the blitz: Webster won enough of their matches in the last round to secure first place.
“Despite not taking first, I’m happy with our overall performance. We will face Webster again in the Final Four. The rematch promises to be another great round of chess. That’s what makes competition fun – knowing that you and your opponent will square off with an equal shot at the trophy,” Stallings said.
UT Dallas will face Webster, Texas Tech and University of Maryland, Baltimore County at the 2015 President’s Cup, which is considered the “Final Four of College Chess.” That event will be held at the New York Athletic Club in April.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].