MIAMI, Fla. (Dec. 30, 2005) — The University of Texas at Dallas’ dreams of winning the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious tournament of its kind held in the Western Hemisphere, for the third consecutive year were dashed Friday when UTD’s long-time rival, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, won the tournament over teams from more than 20 colleges and universities from as far away as Canada and Peru.
As it usually does, the four-day, six-round competition came down to the head-to-head match between UTD and UMBC, held on Thursday morning. UMBC prevailed by the slimmest of margins over UTD with a 2 ½ to 1 ½ score in a very conservatively played match that was marked by an unusual game that ended with a “perpetual check.” It was the first time UTD had lost a match in Pan Am competition in at least six years. UTD had won the tournament outright the past two years and tied for first place in both 2000 and 2001. This year’s competition was held in downtown Miami at the Wolfson campus of Miami (Dade) Community College, which boasts one of the top college chess teams in the U.S.
As it has done for several years, UTD sent two teams to tournament.
The competition ended with UMBC in first place with 5 ½ points. The UTD “A” and “B” teams finished tied for second with 5 points each, Miami Dade was fourth with 4 ½ points and Duke finished fifth with 4 points.
“This year’s Pan Am provided some of the stiffest competition we’ve seen in a very long time, and both of our teams played extremely well,” said Jim Stallings, associate director for chess and education at UTD. “In fact, it all came down to one game and one move in both the “A” and “B” team matches when we went up against UMBC. The “B” team might have won and ended with a perfect score and the title, and the “A” team might have drawn their match, but that’s chess — anything can happen.”
The four U.S. universities whose teams finished highest in the Pan Am, including UTD, qualified for the “Final Four” of Chess competition, which will be held next spring in Dallas.
Teams from the United States, Canada and South America competed in the 51st Pan Am Tournament. The Pan Am team competition began in 1947 as a biennial event and became an annual event in 1965. Among the schools represented were Miami Dade, Yale, Duke, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and Catholic University of Peru.
UTD’s “A” Team was represented by Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica, 17, a freshman majoring in physics; Grandmaster Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, 22, of India, a senior majoring in computer science; International Master Marko Zivanic, 21, of Serbia Montenegro, a sophomore majoring in computer science; International Master Dmitry Shneider, 21, of New York, a senior majoring in finance; International Master Daniel Fernandez, 20, of Boca Raton, Fla., a sophomore majoring in economics and finance; and FIDE Master Michal Kujovic, 24, of Slovakia, a senior majoring in statistics.
The “B” team was composed of International Master Drasko Boskovic, 23, of Serbia Montenegro, a sophomore majoring in business administration; International Master Amon Simutowe, 22, of Zambia, a junior majoring in economics and finance; International Master Davorin Kuljasevic, 19, of Croatia, a freshman majoring in business administration; International Master Peter M. Vavrak, 23, of Slovakia, a senior majoring in psychology ; FIDE Master John D. Bartholomew, 19, of Minnesota, a freshman majoring in business administration; and FIDE Master Andrei Zaremba, a 23-year-old Ph.D. candidate from Dearborn, Mich., majoring in electrical engineering.
The UTD teams are coached by International Master Rade Milovanovic.
Most of the UTD players prepped for the Pan Am by participating in the UTD Grandmaster Invitational, which ran from Dec. 6 to Dec. 14 and was sanctioned by the world governing body of chess, FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs). The UTD tournament was won by Panchanathan, who was the star of the 2004 Pan Am but ran into some difficulties at this year’s Pan Am event.
In past six years, UTD and UMBC have emerged as unquestionably the two best college chess teams in the U.S. and have developed a rivalry as heated and as closely matched as any in intercollegiate competition. But Miami Dade recently has begun to make a move for chess supremacy as well.
UTD’s chess team is part of a much broader chess program at UTD that includes, among other things, on-line chess instruction for teachers and studies on the use of chess in the classroom as an educational tool.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.