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Chess Team Makes Right Moves at Pan-Am, Advances to Final Four

The UT Dallas chess team advanced to the Final Four for the 17th time in 20 years after its fourth-place finish at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.

For the 17th time in 20 years, The University of Texas at Dallas chess team will travel to New York to participate in the 2020 Final Four tournament. The finals berth comes after the team placed fourth in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this week.

The President’s Cup, which is considered the “Final Four of College Chess,” will be held in April at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City.

“The competition among the top collegiate chess programs has gotten fierce over the last few years,” said Jim Stallings, UT Dallas chess program director. “For our chess team to make it to the Final Four tournament again is quite an achievement. I’m very proud of our team members.”

UT Dallas was among 63 teams participating in the Pan-Am tournament, which was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 27-30.

“All credit goes to the guys for making the most of their chances when they came their way. While luck always plays a part in this tournament, our players were focused and ready.”

UT Dallas chess team coach Julio Catalino Sadorra BS’13

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 the Comets’ fourth-place finish, UT Dallas squads defeated teams from Webster University, Saint Louis University, Texas Tech University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The UT Dallas team consisting of Gil Popilski, David Berczes, Craig Hilby and Angel Arribas Lopez earned the Final Four berth for the University with a 5-1 record.

UT Dallas chess team coach Julio Catalino Sadorra BS’13 said he was particularly pleased that one of the UT Dallas teams defeated the reigning Final Four champion, UT Rio Grande Valley.

“All credit goes to the guys for making the most of their chances when they came their way,” Sadorra said. “While luck always plays a part in this tournament, our players were focused and ready.”

The Comets will face Texas Tech, Webster and Saint Louis University at the President’s Cup tournament.

While the opponents are ranked higher than UT Dallas, Sadorra said he believes the team can again demonstrate a gritty, fighting spirit in representing the University at the Final Four.

“On paper, our chances are lower. However, if we do what we did at this tournament, focusing on what we can control, we definitely have a chance to win,” he said.

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