Chess Team Rallies to Recapture Cup with Victory over Belgrade

Zurabi Javakhadze

International master Zurabi Javakhadze, a freshman arts and technology major, celebrates after UT Dallas’ 9-7 victory over the University of Belgrade.

Up until the last minutes of the chess team’s annual match against the University of Belgrade, it seemed that the Comets were facing defeat.

In the first half of the match, Belgrade held a strong lead at 4.5-0.5 after only five games. Then suddenly, one after the other, UT Dallas’ assembly of grandmasters, international masters and national masters began putting the score in their team’s favor.

In the end, the Comets triumphed with a 9-7 victory, the first time since 2009 that they had won the Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup.

“This year’s cup was one of the great comeback wins in the history of the UT Dallas Chess Team,” director Jim Stallings said. “We knew we were clearly the underdog going into the match.”

The Internet-based match, played with 16 boards, or players, from each side sparring via computer, started with a clear advantage for Belgrade. The average rating, a score given to players by the United States Chess Federation, of Belgrade’s team was 2383 versus the Comets’ 2275.

Svetozar Gligoric
Transatlantic Cup

(Final score in parentheses)

2006: Belgrade (8.5-7.5)
2007: UT Dallas (11-5)
2008: UT Dallas (12.5-3.5)
2009: UT Dallas (8.5-7.5)
2010: Belgrade (11.5-4.5)
2011: Tie (8-8)
2012: Belgrade (9.5-6.5)
2013: Belgrade (9-7)
2014: Tie (8-8)
2015: UT Dallas (9-7)

Undergraduate studies sophomore Michael Kneen pulled off the biggest upset win for the Comets, coach Rade Milovanovic said. Kneen has a 1626 rating, while his opponent’s is 2306.

“We expected a tough and close match,” Milovanovic said. “In the beginning, it was not pleasant to watch, but I was sure our players would fight until the end.”

Cheradee Camacho, a woman international master (WIM), also had a rating disadvantage against her opponent. Throughout the match, she held her own but stumbled in the last five minutes.

“I made a series of weak moves, and my position just collapsed,” said Camacho, a computer science graduate student. “Luckily for me, he also made a big mistake, which cost him his rook when he had only seconds left on his clock. I am very happy that I was able to contribute a point for the team.”

Last year, the match ended in a tie. Not this time.

“Our top eight boards played exceptionally well by defeating their opponents 6.5-1.5. But that would not have been enough to win,” Stallings said.

He said that the lower eight boards were at a significant rating disadvantage but held strong with a 2.5-5.5 result.

“This gave the team a satisfying 9-7 victory,” he said. “It meant the Transatlantic Cup would be remaining in Dallas another year … and not returning to Belgrade.”

What's Next

UT Dallas Fall FIDE Open

Up next, the Comets will face a field of 40 competitors over nine rounds at the UT Dallas Fall FIDE Open Tournament, which starts Friday and lasts until Nov. 25.

Opening ceremonies will be 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Embassy Suites Dallas-Park Central.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].