Webster sweeps; UMBC, Illinois and Texas Tech advance
By Frank Niro III 

The 60th Pan American Intercollegiate chess tournament is over and the teams in the Final Four of college chess (known as the President’s Cup) are determined! UMBC, Illinois and Texas Tech, along with the undefeated Webster University A-team, will compete in the Spring at a time and place to be announced (most likely in the Washington, D.C. area in early April – last year was in Herndon, VA). The Webster University A-team swept the tournament with a 6-0 match score, while the Webster-B team also scored well enough to qualify.

It is a long standing tradition that each college or university is limited to one team in the Final Four. National TD and FIDE Zonal President Franc Guadalupe was the chief tournament director. A total of 42 teams from 27 schools represented by 23 grandmasters, four WGMs, 12 IMs and six WIMs competed.

University of Illinois Chess Team, l. to r., Eric Rosen, Michael Auger, Akshay Indusekar and Leo Luo.

For the second year in a row, the team from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shocked the experts. Last year, with four wins and two draws in six total matches, the Illinois team garnered five out of six possible points and wound up in a 5-way tie for first place in the tournament. They repeated their spectacular 5-1 result again this year. It was the only team among the five that had no coach and no grandmasters. The team’s four players are Eric Rosen (2379), Michael Auger (2233), Xin “Leo” Luo (2202), and Akshay Indusekar (2094). All of the players except Indusekar were on last year’s Illinois PanAm team.

GM Wesley So of Webster University, by way of the Philippines, and reigning World University Champion, won the first place prize on Board #3 and the best individual performance award with a perfect 6-0 score and a performance rating of 2894 FIDE! GM Ray Robson, also of Webster, was the top rated US-born player in the tournament and took the first board #4 prize with the only other 6-0 score.

GMs Le Quang Liem of Webster’s A-team, Fidel Corrales Jimenez of Webster’s B-team and Yaroslav Zherebukh of Texas Tech all finished at 5-1 on Board #1. Zherebukh received the trophy on tiebreaks. GM Anatoly Bykhovsky of Webster-B was the clear winner on Board #2 with 5.5 points. The “Best Female” prize went to WIM Mariam Danelia of University of Texas at Dallas with a 5-1 score, losing only to GM Anton Kavalyov (2704) of University of Texas at Brownsville.

Suprisingly, both UT-Dallas and UT-Brownsville fell short of advancing to the Final Four this year. Additional team prizes were awarded to University of Toronto (Division II), Harvard University (Div III), Oberlin College (Div IV), and UMBC-B team (Div V). Miami-Dade was the top community college. UMBC-B also received the biggest team upset prize for their win over Florida State University. The individual biggest upset was by Robert Huie IV (rated 1189) of UMBC-B. Huie defeated USCF Rated Expert Embert Lin (2005) of NYU in Round 1.

According to Texas Tech chess program director Al Lawrence, “The championship is rich in college tradition. The first Pan-Ams took place in 1946 (but the championship traces its heritage to a U.S. university championship going back even further) and was held biennially until 1962, when the event was made annual and has indeed been held every year since then.”

The final standings are located here.

Congratulations to all of the teams who made the trip to Lubbock for this year’s tournament, especially to the host team from Texas Tech University for putting on such a great event in addition to qualifying for the Final Four.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar

Source: Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information