Comet Comeback: UT Dallas Vies for President’s Cup

Team Intent on Regaining Supreme Status at Final Four Chess Tournament

Apr. 7, 2010

The University of Texas at Dallas chess team will travel to Brownsville this week to retrieve something it lost last year: the President’s Cup, which is won by finishing first in the annual Final Four of Chess tournament.

UT Dallas retained the trophy and victor’s status in 2007 and 2008, but lost to The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) at the 2009 match.

The UT Dallas team will face The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (UTB/TSC), Texas Tech University and UMBC in a tournament to be held Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11, at the UTB campus. The teams earned the right to compete in this year’s competition by achieving a top-four  finish at the 2009 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, also known as the “World Series of College Chess,” held in December 2009 at South Padre Island, Texas. 

Starting times for rounds are 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. Sunday. Chess fans may view the games live in The Pub at the Student Union. The event is free, and will feature move-by-move analysis by UT Dallas team members not making the trip. Games are also viewable on the Internet at monroi.com.

Team members representing UT Dallas Chess at the Final Four include:

  • Board 1 - Team captain and International Master Marko Zivanic (rated 2584), a graduate student in computer science.
  • Board 2 - International Master Daniel Ludwig (rated 2545), a freshman majoring in statistics.  
  • Board 3 - International Master Julio Sadorra (rated 2506), a freshman majoring in applied mathematics.
  • Board 4 - International Master Puchen Wang (rated 2524), a junior majoring in actuarial science.
  • Alternate - International Master Salvius Bercys (rated 2510), a junior majoring in finance.

For the last decade, UT Dallas and archrival UMBC have dominated the major titles in college chess. No other college has been able to break their hold on the Final Four since the tournament’s inception in 2000.

But for the first time, UT Dallas finds itself as the No. 3 seed and in an underdog status.

“We have finally achieved parity in college chess,” said program director Jim Stallings. “We saw it coming at last year’s Final Four with UT Brownsville’s strong finish. This year they have three grandmasters and are the Number 2 seed.

“The pairings are set each year so the Number 1 and Number 2 seeds meet in the last round. The theory is that the eventual winner will emerge from that match. In the past, that has been true. We have other plans this year.”

Team coach Rade Milovanovic concedes that winning the round robin tournament this year is not a foregone conclusion.

“Even Number 4 seed Texas Tech has three top players, who are as good as any other team’s members,” said Milovanovic. “There will be no easy games or rounds. Our team must prepare especially hard this year.”

However, team captain Marko Zivanic is optimistic about the upcoming tournament.

“This has happened before where we have had to overcome a stronger opponent,” he said. “At UT Dallas, our team members are all motivated to work together to bring the President’s Cup back to campus.”

UT Dallas’ chess team is part of a broader chess program that includes an inclusive chess club, on-line chess courses for academic credit and summer chess camps for children.


Media Contact: Karah Womack, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5890, karah.hosek@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Scene from 2009 Final Four tournamentUT Dallas team members face off against rival University of Maryland, Baltimore County, during last year’s Final Four tournament.

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