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Undergrad Makes Right Moves to Win U.S. Open Chess Championship

Conrad Holt

Conrad Holt

UT Dallas chess team player Conrad Holt isn’t taking the summer off. Instead, the senior physics major traded his vacation time for winning one of the nation’s largest chess tournaments, the U.S. Open. 

The U.S. Open, held July 26-Aug. 3 in Orlando, Florida, included a field of 386 competitors. Sixteen of them were either Grandmasters, the highest ranking in chess, or International Masters, the next highest. 

Holt, a Grandmaster, played nine games over four days. In the championship round, he faced International Master Michael Mulyar in a game that lasted only five minutes as each player calculated complex moves with blitzing speed. 

In the end, Holt launched an untenable double attack against his opponent’s bishop and king. Mulyar resigned and Holt was the winner. A video of the final game can be seen here

“I haven’t studied as much chess as last summer, but I think my ability to consistently avoid big oversights in calculation has improved by continuing to play in strong tournaments,” Holt said. “I’m grateful to UT Dallas for its supportive environment for chess.” 

Holt was not the only UT Dallas chess player to perform well at the U.S. Open: His teammate George Margvelashvili finished third. 

“It is always satisfying to see team members do well at national or international events during the summer since we know they put so much time into their studies during the school year,” said Jim Stallings, the chess program director. 

Comet U.S. Open Champs

2008: *Rade Milovanovic (co-champion)

2009: Jacek Stopa (co-champion)

2010: Alejandro Ramirez (champion)

2013: Julio Sadorra (co-champion)

2014: Conrad Holt (champion)

*UT Dallas coach

UT Dallas chess players have a history of performing well at the national tournament. In 2013, Julio Sadorra BA’13 tied for first; in 2010, Alejandro Ramirez BA’09, MFA’11 won the tournament; in 2009, Jacek Stopa BA’10 tied for first; and, in 2008, UT Dallas chess team coach Rade Milovanovic was co-champion. 

Milovanovic said his experience helped him coach Holt to the final round. 

“It’s hard to play at this tournament. There are unexpected losses in the playing field, which causes huge drops in the standings. It’s unpredictable. My ‘recipe’ for playing well in the last round is: Play what you know best and play for the win. I gave this advice to every UTD player, including Conrad,” Milovanovic said. 

He also said that Holt has significantly improved his skills during his time at UT Dallas. 

“Holt arrived at the University as an International Master, and after seven months, he became a Grandmaster. He’s a great fighter — he’s aggressive and well-prepared and focused before games,” Milovanovic said. 

Holt is ranked 13th in the United States among active players. He plans to play in the upcoming Washington International and has his sights set on the 2014-15 collegiate chess season, which begins during the fall semester.

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

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