UTD Wins Second Annual “Final Four” of Chess
Team Earns Mantle of ‘Best College Team in the United States’
The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) rallied in dramatic fashion to take the final game of the final match and win the “Final Four” of intercollegiate chess for the second year in a row Sunday, solidifying the UTD players’ standing as the “best college chess team in the United States.”
UTD and its arch-rival, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), each finished the competition with nine game points, but UTD took home the President’s Cup emblematic of college chess supremacy by beating UMBC, 2 ½ to 1 ½, in their head-to-head competition in the final round and winning all three of its matches during the two-day tournament, which was held at the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sidney Samole Museum in Miami, Fla.
Stanford finished third with 5 ½ points, and Harvard was last with only ½ point.
“I am extremely proud of what our team accomplished here this weekend and what it has done in the past 16 months,” said Dr. Tim Redman, professor of literary studies who serves as director of UTD’s chess program. “Dethroning UMBC as the reigning king of the college chess world was no easy feat. UMBC was the best for a long, long time and is still by far our toughest challenge – as this tournament demonstrated. This was as close as it gets.”
UTD went into Sunday’s match trailing UMBC by a full point because the margin of its victories on Saturday over Stanford and Harvard were slightly less than those of UMBC. UTD beat Harvard, 3 ½ t o½, and Stanford, 3-1. UMBC defeated Harvard, 4-0, and Stanford, 3 ½ to ½. That point still separated the two chess powerhouses going into the final game Sunday afternoon — between UTD’s Andrei Zaremba of Michigan and UMBC’s William Morrison of New York.
As part of a strategy worked out several weeks ago by Redman, International Master Rade Milovanovic, the UTD coach, and Grandmaster Yuri Shulman, the UTD team captain, Zaremba traded queens with Morrison on only the fifth move of the game, moving their contest immediately into a very early end-game, as Redman explained it, “because we thought – it turns out correctly — that Zaremba had a better end-game.”
The strategy worked, and the 19-year-old Zaremba – methodically, but inexorably — emerged victorious in a game that lasted nearly six hours. His win gave UTD, which in 2001 was named “Chess College of the Year” by the U.S. Chess Federation, its second consecutive Final Four championship — by the thinnest of possible margins.
UTD first served notice that it might be poised to nudge UMBC from the pinnacle of college chess in December of 2000, when, in Milwaukee, it tied the top-ranked team for first place in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, usually considered the top college chess tournament held in the Western Hemisphere. Then last April in Dallas, UTD bested UMBC, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, in the inaugural Final Four of Chess competition.
The rivalry continued: last December in Providence, R.I., UTD and UMBC again tied for first place in the Pan Am tournament, defeating the likes of Harvard, Stanford, MIT, U.C. Berkeley and the University of Chicago. And then this weekend, UTD again bested UMBC in the Final Four tournament.
UMBC dominated college chess during the latter half of the 1990’s and has finished first, or tied for first, in five of the past six Pan Am tournaments.
The winning UTD team in Miami was composed of Shulman (Belarus), Marcin Kaminski (Poland), Zaremba (Michigan) and Andrew Whatley (Alabama). David John (Texas) served as first alternate and Dennis Rylander (Sweden) as second alternate.
UTD, which has no football team, ranks among the top universities in the country in computer science graduates and has strong programs in many other areas including engineering, audiology, space sciences, nanotechnology and sickle cell disease research.
Redman and UTD President Dr. Franklyn G. Jenifer both have said they view chess as a symbol of academic excellence and intellectual rigor.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].