RICHARDSON, Texas (Sept. 1, 2006) — The challenge came in the form of a letter received this summer at the office of the chess program at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). The chess-savvy University of Belgrade in Serbia (the former Yugoslavia) wanted to schedule a “friendly match” with UTD, which perennially fields one of the top collegiate chess teams in the United States. The reply from the Texans: “game on!”
The result will be a transatlantic tilt (the “Big D” versus the “Big B?”) on Oct. 20, pitting 16 of the top players from each school against each other and available for live viewing worldwide over the Internet.
“This promises to be an intriguing matchup with an opponent we have not previously seen,” said James Stallings, director of the UTD chess program. “It ought to be a real test of both team’s abilities, and there will be a lot of prestige on the line.”
According to Stallings, competitive chess for many years was dominated by players from the former Soviet Union, with competitors from the former Yugoslavia “usually a strong second among the Europeans.”
“Make no mistake about it – the University of Belgrade is serious about its chess, and the fact they challenged UTD to a match shows they are interested in competing at the highest level,” said Stallings.
Since its founding 10 years ago, the UTD chess program has risen to the top of U.S. college chess world, finishing first or tied for first four times in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious tournament of its kind held in the Western Hemisphere, and twice winning the Final Four of Chess competition, which determines the top collegiate team in the U.S.
World Chess Federation ratings show that the top Belgrade players are very competitive with their UTD counterparts, Stallings said, with UTD perhaps holding a slight edge when it comes to the middle boards.
Stallings promised a “large, super-team match of sorts,” whose 16 boards will dwarf the four boards that are the norm in Olympic chess competition.
Thousands around the world may watch the match as it unfolds, Stallings believes. The United States Chess Federation, which along with the Internet Chess Club is helping stage the event, will invite its 450 scholastic affiliates – including many schools which sponsor chess clubs and teams – to log on to the Internet to view the event. Other interested schools and organizations are welcome to do the same.
Interest in the match at the University of Belgrade (one of the largest universities in the Balkans region with an enrollment of nearly 80,000 students) is anticipated to be so great that the school has reserved a 1,000-seat auditorium as its competition venue. UTD’s players will set up their laptop computers, on which they will make their moves, on the stage of the Davidson Auditorium in the School of Management Building, which seats about 350. Members of the campus community and the general public are invited to attend the event free of charge.
The Oct. 20 match, which will feature 16 individual games played simultaneously, will begin at
1 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. in Belgrade). It is expected to last an hour and a half to two hours. For additional information about the competition, please contact UTD’s Stallings at [email protected] or 972-883-2898.
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.