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Chess Team Earns Third Place at Final Four Tournament in Big Apple
April 15, 2019
The UT Dallas chess team defeated a solid Harvard University squad and finished in third place at the 19th annual President’s Cup collegiate chess tournament April 6 and 7 in New York City.
The six players and coach who represented the UT Dallas chess team at the Final Four display their awards after the President’s Cup tournament.
UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) won the tournament, which also is known as the Final Four of College Chess, for the second straight year. Webster University placed second.
Based on player rankings, UT Dallas was seeded third in the tournament. However, the team had hoped to exceed those expectations.
“No matter how you’re seeded, you always want to win,” said James Stallings, director of the UT Dallas Chess Program. “But the ratings typically are pretty accurate.”
Played at the Marshall Chess Club, the match marked the final collegiate tournament for Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov, UT Dallas’ top-ranked player. Chess players are limited to six years of collegiate play.
In his final game, Kovalyov defeated Harvard’s top player, Darwin Yang.
“It was nice that I finished with the team qualifying for the Final Four. And it’s also nice that I finished by winning my last game,” Kovalyov said.
After earning his master’s degree in computer science this spring, Kovalyov will begin his doctoral studies at UT Dallas.
“They showed great fighting spirit and mental toughness until the end, especially when we faced the favored, higher-rated Webster players. I think third place is a solid finish in this increasingly competitive collegiate chess environment.”
Each round features four players from each team playing another team. In the first round, UTRGV defeated UT Dallas. In the second, UT Dallas played top-rated Webster University to a draw, and in the final round the Comets defeated Harvard.
In addition to Kovalyov, the other players who participated in the tournament were Grandmaster David Berczes, International Master Kacper Drozdowski, Grandmaster Gil Popilski, Grandmaster Razvan Preotu and International Master Omer Reshef.
This was UT Dallas’ 16th appearance in the tournament.
UT Dallas chess coach Julio Catalino Sadorra BS’13, who started his job just six weeks before the tournament, said he is proud of the team’s performance.
“They showed great fighting spirit and mental toughness until the end, especially when we faced the favored, higher-rated Webster players,” he said. “I think third place is a solid finish in this increasingly competitive collegiate chess environment.
“We will continue working on our game preparations and team chemistry. I believe these factors can make a huge difference in the team’s performance moving forward.”
With the tournament season over, team members recently represented the University at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas, playing members of the community and talking about the program. In addition, preparations are already underway for the UT Dallas Chess Camp for children ages 7-14.