Chess Team to Defend National Title on Home Turf
UT Dallas Hopes for Third Straight Win When Final Four is Held Here April 4-5
April 2, 2009
After winning the national collegiate title for the last two years, the UT Dallas Chess Team will try to make it three in a row when the Final Four Chess Tournament gets underway this weekend.
Attending the Event
This year the team has an added advantage: The tournament will be played on the team’s home turf. The uber-contest between teams from The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Stanford University, UT Brownsville and UT Dallas, will be held in the Student Union on April 4 and 5.
UT Dallas and arch rival UMBC, have dominated the major titles in college chess for the last decade. No other college has been able to break their stranglehold on the Final Four since the tournament’s inception in 2000.
“One thing that I must say about our rival UMBC is that they never cease in trying to topple us,” said Jim Stallings, director of UT Dallas’ chess program and chair of the U.S. Chess Federation College Chess Committee. “I thought that their team from the December Pan-American Intercollegiate competition was the highest-rated ever in collegiate chess. Yet, another International Master enrolled at Maryland in January, adding to the three grandmasters on their top boards.
“UT Brownsville and Stanford will play every game hard. It’s no accident that they are in the tournament.”
The public may view the games live on a large screen in one of the Galaxy Rooms at the Student Union. These interactive Wi-Fi sessions will feature move-by-move analysis by Grandmaster Babakuli Annakov assisted by UT Dallas team members Sal Bercys, Michael Corallo and Yashodhan Gogte.
Starting times for rounds are 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. Sunday. Fans unable to attend the games in person can view the matches at the Internet Chess Club Web site or at www.monroi.com. In addition, a program book with a complete listing of player line-ups is available at the UT Dallas chess Web site.
The teams earned the right to compete in this year’s competition by finishing in the top four at the 2008 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious college chess competition held each year in the Western Hemisphere.
UMBC will enter this year’s tournament with a 70-point rating advantage on boards 1-3, “but UT Dallas will have a distinctive edge on board 4,” said Stallings. “This should help in the other matches. Total game points, not match points, determine the winner.”
Representing the UT Dallas Chess team at the Final Four on board 1 will be team captain Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez, an arts and technology senior; board 2 will be business administration major senior student international master Davorin Kuljasevic. On board 3 is international master Jacek Stopa, a junior international political economy major; and board 4 is international master Puchen Wang, a freshman business administration major. Alternates will be international masters John Bartholomew, a senior business administration major, and Marko Zivanic, a senior computer science major.
Chess coach Rade Milovanovic, co-winner of the 2008 U.S. Open, is overseeing the closed-door practice sessions for the Final Four — open only to team members playing in the Final Four.
“This year the team has the added motivation of being the best all-time U.S. team,” said Milovanovic. “UT Dallas and UMBC are tied at four each Final Four titles.”
The team has consulted with sports trainers at UT Dallas, devising approaches for team members to remain strong throughout their matches. In addition, team members are active in intramural campus sports.
“Four- to five-hour chess games are physically very demanding,” said Stallings. “To maintain the level of excellence currently found in our team, we must keep our people physically, as well as mentally, strong.”
UT Dallas’ chess team is part of a broader chess program that includes on-line chess instruction for teachers and courses about the use of chess in the classroom as an educational tool.