For Immediate Release
Chess Team Prepares for Championship Tournament
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DECEMBER 7, 2010 – While most college students will be spending their holiday taking a break from classes, members of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Chess Team will be reviewing strategies to beat their upcoming opponents.
The university will send two teams, eight students total, to Milwaukee, Wis., Dec. 27 to Dec. 31, for the 2010 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Championship, a qualifying tournament for the 2011 President’s Cup.
“The official rankings are not posted yet, but I anticipate we will be coming in to the tournament either second or third, said UTB/TSC Chess Director Russell Harwood. “Our goal is to finish in the top four. It’s a process, but we will be very happy to qualify for the Final Four.”
UTB/TSC will need to place among the top four U.S. universities at the tournament to qualify for the President’s Cup, the Final Four of College Chess, which will be held April 2-3, 2011, in Washington, D.C.
“(The Pan American Championship) is the most important one of the year, though,” said team member Woman Grandmaster Luciana Morales, “It’s pretty important. This is where most college teams come to compete, and you find out who is the best. We are excited and ready.”
Harwood said the Pan American games are played using the Swiss-system tournament, a commonly used type of tournament where players or teams play head to head and in this tournament are paired using a random, color-coded system.
“Right now we are trying to find the best way to play,” said team member Grandmaster Axel Bachmann. “We study their games, the best way to play against them, their weaknesses and tendencies so we know our opening moves.”
UTB/TSC has had success at the Final Four tournament. In 2009, the team’s first appearance, they placed second. In 2010, when the university hosted the games, they placed second - just a half a point behind first-place winners, The University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
“We all know each other,” said team member and International Master Max Cornejo. “I have been playing these players for the last few years, so I am not nervous. We are ready to go in there, and our goal is to qualify for the Final Four. It doesn’t matter if it is first or fourth.”
Grandmaster Ronen Har-Zvi, UTB/TSC chess coach, said although everyone has had an outstanding year individually, he is ready to see how the players fare this year as a team.
“I know we are very strong, I have no doubts about that,” he said. “The pairing will be crucial, but we have played the best, and we look very good this year.”
Although the team expects their toughest competition to come from UTMB and The University of Texas at Dallas, they said Texas Tech University has become a strong contender in recent years.
“They have become stronger, and we expect them to play well, but we are ready,” Bachmann said. “It feels pretty good to go into a tournament and see names like Harvard and Yale, who are in the news for their other accomplishments, and to know that us, a school from Brownsville, is one of the best. That feels good.”
UTB/TSC has seen fast success in the chess arena after it started competing in 2001.
The team won the National K-12/Collegiate Championships in 2005. The university was named Chess College of Year by the U.S. Chess Federation in 2007.
This year, individual players have brought in some notable wins at tournaments and hit some milestones.
Grandmaster Timur Gareyev took first at the National Open Championship in Las Vegas, Nev., out of 693 players. He was alone at the top of the National Open standings, the first person to take a clear first in the tournament since 1984. Grandmaster Mauricio Flores took first at the U.S. Class Championships in October, Max Cornejo took second at the 76th Southwest Open in September and Nadya Ortiz earned the title of woman grandmaster.
For more information about the UTB/TSC Chess Program, contact Russell Harwood at (956) 882-5761 or visit www.utb.edu/chess.