UT Dallas Team Finishes Stellar Season at Final Four of Chess
Comets Rally With Strong Play in Final Round to Save Second Place at the President's Cup in New York City
The UT Dallas chess team has won or tied for first five times at the Final Four of chess since the tournament began 14 years ago. This is the ninth time the team has taken second place.
Entering the last round in the Final Four of chess, also known as the President’s Cup, the UT Dallas Comets found themselves in a predicament.
They were last among the top four teams in the nation and needed to win almost every game in the final round to have a chance at second place.
“It was the end of the season, our last weekend after a year of hard work. We had our backs to the wall, but we weren’t going to give up,” said Jim Stallings, the chess program director.
After a strong season and a pep rally with cheerleaders and the band, the chess team traveled to New York City for the championship held March 27-29. There it faced other chess powerhouses: Webster University, Texas Tech University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Grandmaster Conrad Holt
After competition began Saturday morning, UT Dallas was in a hole after a difficult second round against Webster University, whose team won three games and drew another against the Comets.
“Our combined positions were not great against Webster. We were a pawn down in a sharp position on one board. Another one of our player’s pieces were not well-positioned either,” Stallings said.
The only UT Dallas player who fared well against Webster was senior Conrad Holt, who held a slight edge and managed to make a draw, or a tie.
In the final round, needing a comeback, UT Dallas faced its oldest rival: the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
Holt continued his strong play and claimed a quick victory in 22 moves. He won two games and tied one overall in the tournament.
“This was a good tournament. I felt prepared,” said Holt, a physics major who will play this week at the U.S. Chess Championship, one of the nation’s most prestigious chess tournaments.
In the final round, UT Dallas business administration graduate student Leonid Kritz followed Holt’s lead and secured a quick victory as well. After the first two wins, a pair of UT Dallas students remained, including freshman Dennis Kadric, who came off the bench to play.
“This was my first Final Four, so I was a little nervous coming in to play in the last round when I knew we had to win,” said Kadric, a mathematics major.
“I was really excited to win. This is my first year at UT Dallas and in America. So, playing in the Final Four representing the University in New York City was really special for me.”
Despite the nerves, Kadric won his game after three hours and 35 moves.
“I was really excited to win. This is my first year at UT Dallas and in America. So, playing in the Final Four representing the University in New York City was really special for me,” said Kadric, who is originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the end, the Comets won three out of four games in the last round, securing second place.
“We met the challenge. We were faced with a tough situation and stayed with it to the end,” Stallings said. “I’m very proud of the team.”
UT Dallas has a storied history at the tournament, qualifying as a top four team every year, except last year, since the tournament began 14 years ago. The Comets have won or tied for first five times, and this is the ninth time the team has taken second place.
The final results placed Webster University in first, followed by UT Dallas, Texas Tech University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Full results can be found here.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].