All Squared Away: Chess Team Dominates Belgrade in Cup Victory

UT Dallas international master Omer Reshef prepares to make his next move during the 2018 Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup match against Belgrade. 

In one of the largest, multiple-board matches in college chess, the UT Dallas chess team recently defeated the University of Belgrade in the teams’ annual competition.

UT Dallas won the 2018 Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup 12½ points to 3½ points, with 10 wins, one loss and five draws.

“It was outstanding, tying the highest Belgrade score we’ve ever had. So this was an incredible accomplishment,” said Jim Stallings, director of the UT Dallas chess program.

The transatlantic match has been played annually since 2006, with players competing online. The teams share live footage of play with each other. A chess arbiter is hired in each country to resolve any dispute that may arise and to watch for fair play.

Even with the win, the all-time record of the rivalry remains close, with UT Dallas leading the series 7½ to 5½.

Svetozar Gligoric
Transatlantic Cup

(Final scores 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)
2016: UT Dallas (10-6)
2017: Tie (8-8)
2018: UT Dallas (12.5-3.5)

“Normal chess team matches are four-board affairs. This 16-board match is a battle royal where you’re emptying out the benches on both sides; everybody’s going up to bat. Anything can happen because there are so many games going on,” Stallings said. “It truly was a team effort with not just a few people at the top of the ratings. If you look at the player ratings, one might have expected Belgrade to win the bottom boards. But this year that didn’t happen; our bottom half did quite well.”

The transatlantic match kicked off the busiest part of the season for the chess team. One week after the match, the team hosted the UT Dallas Fall FIDE Open.

Stallings said it is important that the players continue to play in tournament situations, particularly as the larger, more intense tournaments approach. He said the FIDE tournament is a good opportunity to play the game while recruiting new team members.

“We use this tournament as a venue for bringing in players from the U.S. and around the world. We show the recruits around campus, introduce them to academic advisors and tell them about our program,” Stallings said.

The biggest chess tournament of the fall semester is the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships, which will occur Dec. 27-30 in Burlingame, California. Approximately 60 teams from colleges across North America will participate. The event will determine whether UT Dallas advances to the President’s Cup, which is considered the “Final Four of College Chess.”

Dr. Abby Kratz, associate provost, makes the ceremonial first move for UT Dallas grandmaster Gil Popilski (center) while chess team member Tony Yim watches.

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