Chess Team’s Next Move is Trip to Final Four Tournament in New York

UT Dallas Chess Team

The UT Dallas chess team will compete in the Final Four at the New York Athletic Club this weekend.

Every year, the best in collegiate chess meet to crown a king at the Final Four, also known as the President’s Cup. Making their 14th appearance at the tournament, the Comets will travel to New York City this weekend in hopes of reclaiming the title.

If successful, it would be the sixth time that the UT Dallas chess team has won or tied for first at the tournament. But winning will be a tough task as the Webster University team looks for a third straight victory. Also up against UT Dallas is Texas Tech University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“The field of competition is steep. College chess is stronger than ever, but our team is ready. We have prepared and practiced — this weekend will be exciting,” said Jim Stallings, the UT Dallas chess program director.

Part of the team’s preparation for the Final Four included spending spring break facing some of the best young chess players in the nation.

The UT Dallas team invited five teenagers, all at the top of their game, to Dallas. Together, they made up the “Visiting Junior All-Star Team.” The visitors included:

  • Kayden Troff, who at 16 years old is the 2015 U.S. junior champion;
  • Samuel Sevian, who holds the record as the youngest-ever U.S. Grandmaster — the highest chess title possible — which he achieved at the age of 13;
  • Jeffery Xiong, a 14-year-old who in 2010 represented the U.S. at the World Youth Chess Championships held in Greece, where he won a silver medal in the Under-10 group;
  • Darwin Yang, an 18-year-old International Master who was the National High School Champion in 2014; and
  • Akshat Chandra, a 15-year-old who won the North American Youth Championship in 2013.

“We invited players who were young and hungry for growth and experience,” Stallings said. “We wanted to test our players.”

The Junior All-Star Team showed its determination over seven days and 10 rounds of chess. Through the first five rounds, scores seesawed back and forth between the visitors and the Comets.

Pep Rally for Chess Team

When: Noon Tuesday

Where: First floor of the Student Union

What: Enjoy free pizza and drinks and join Temoc, the UT Dallas cheerleaders and the pep band in cheering for the chess team.

Halfway through the tournament, both sides took a day of rest. The Comets regrouped, refocused their energy and spent the sixth round fighting to balance the scales. Two UT Dallas students managed to win their games, tying the overall score.

But despite the strong start, winning four of the first six rounds, the visitors took the lead late in the tournament — a lead that would eventually assure them a victory. 

Even without a winning score, the UT Dallas team said the tournament was a chance to experiment, learn and get all the bugs out before the Final Four.

“I played 10 different openings this week. I tried new things. Not all of them worked, but it was helpful,” said Grandmaster Valentin Yotov, an Arts and Technology senior.

The Final Four, which is sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and Two Sigma, will be held at the New York Athletic Club from Friday to Sunday. Follow @UT_Dallas on Twitter and UT Dallas’ Facebook for updates on the team’s performance throughout the weekend.

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