It’s All Square: Comets Chess Team Fights to Draw in Transatlantic Cup

Prasanna Rao of the UT Dallas chess team plays his match as the University of Belgrade team is displayed on the projection screen.

Prasanna Rao of the UT Dallas chess team plays his match as the University of Belgrade team is displayed on the projection screen.

The University of Texas at Dallas chess team salvaged an 8-8 draw with the University of Belgrade recently in the 12th annual Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup.

In the final match to finish, Kacper Drozdowski defeated Miloje Ratkovic to claim a tie for the Comets, who were unable to build a three-year win streak after successes in 2015 and 2016. But they did maintain their one-point lead in the all-time series, which stands at 6½ to 5½.

Jim Stallings, director of the UT Dallas chess program, said the result was indicative of a series that “does not disappoint.”

“Every year, it is very competitive with many nuanced results,” Stallings said. “Inevitably, a favorite on a high board will not win as expected, and an underdog on a lower board will fend off a much higher-rated opponent. It makes the match extremely entertaining for those who are watching live.”

The competition features 16 matches played simultaneously via the internet. Each side earns one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. With a lot happening at once, keeping track of the results is a challenge.

Chen Pan, and Chisom Akagha are apart of the chess class and with their instructor, Alexey Root, watch the Transatlantic Cup.

From left: Alexey Root watches matches with Chen Pan and Chisom Akagha.

“Because so many games finish suddenly at about the same time, it is hard to discern the victor in the proverbial ‘fog of war,’” Stallings said.

The matchup seemed to be breaking the Comets’ way when heavy underdog John Veech held on for a draw against Tijana Blagojevic at Board 14. But with the top four boards unexpectedly swinging Belgrade’s way 3-1, UT Dallas had to rely on the strength of the middle of its lineup to avoid the loss.

“It’s very difficult to win such a balanced matchup for three consecutive years,” UT Dallas chess coach Rade Milovanovic said.

Prasanna Rao, a graduate student in information technology management, won his match against Belgrade for a second consecutive year. Rao also notched one of UT Dallas’ clinching victories last month at the Texas Collegiate Super Finals.

“Our top 12 boards are pretty strong, but Belgrade’s depth really shows through in those last four pairings,” said Rao, who won his matchup on the eighth board.

Coming Up:
UT Dallas Fall FIDE Open

When: Nov. 17-22
Where: Embassy Suites Dallas Park Central.

For more information, visit the UT Dallas chess program website.

Like Rao, Eylon Nakar was victorious for a second straight year. The actuarial science sophomore had mixed feelings about the result.

“Looking at holdovers from last year, it was definitely within our reach to win this match,” Nakar said. “Hopefully, we can do better at Pan Ams.”

The Pan Am Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships, Dec. 27-30 in Columbus, Ohio, will determine whether the Comets advance to the President’s Cup, which is considered the “Final Four of College Chess.”

Joining Rao, Nakar and Drozdowski in winning a Gligoric Cup match this year were Angel Arribas, Titas Stremavicius and Tony Yim.

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