University of Texas at Dallas: Chess Team Earns 18th Final Four Berth with Pan-Am Performance

For the 18th time in 22 years, The University of Texas at Dallas chess team has earned a spot in the President’s Cup — collegiate chess’ most important tournament. The berth comes after the team placed third in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this weekend.

Considered the “Final Four of College Chess,” the President’s Cup is scheduled for April at a yet-to-be determined location.

“This team has been putting in the work this year, and the results are showing it,” said Julio Catalino Sadorra BS’13, UT Dallas chess team coach. “This year’s chess team is very special as the players are more collaborative in their training and tournament preparations.”

In September, the chess team topped higher-seeded teams, including Webster University and Saint Louis University, to win the 2021 U.S. Online Collegiate Blitz Championship and place third in the Online Collegiate Rapid Championship for the first time in the program’s history.

UT Dallas was among 57 teams participating in the Pan-Am tournament, which was held Jan. 6-9 in Dulles, Virginia.

The Pan-American tournament featured six rounds of play over four days. Some universities were represented by only one team, while others, such as UT Dallas, brought multiple teams to the contest. En route to the Comets’ third-place finish, the UT Dallas squads defeated teams from Saint Louis, Yale University, Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

The UT Dallas A Team, consisting of Guillermo Vazquez, Ivan Schitco, Brian Escalante Ramirez, David Brodsky, Rahul Srivasthav Peddi and Aaron Grabinsky, earned the Final Four berth for the Comets with a 5-1 record.

The UT Dallas B Team finished eighth with a record of 4.5-1.5. The players on that team were Razvan Preotu, Omer Reshef, Joshua Daniel Ruiz Castillo, Eyal Grinberg, Craig Hilby and Emil Stefanov.

“It was a team effort,” Sadorra said. “Those who were sitting out particular matches helped prepare the other players. Our team members worked together to put together a great win.”

The Comets will face Saint Louis, Texas Tech University and Webster at the President’s Cup tournament.

Jim Stallings, UT Dallas Chess Program director, said the Final Four tournament will be very competitive. He said that while COVID-19 remains a concern at in-person tournaments, it is encouraging that collegiate chess tournaments continue to be played and that UT Dallas is still one of the best programs in the country.

Over the past two years, the pandemic caused many tournaments to move online. The April 2020 Final Four tournament, for which UT Dallas had qualified, was canceled.

“We will be facing excellent teams at this year’s President’s Cup tournament,” Stallings said. “In these times, individual health could play a role, as will preparation. We hope to excel at both and bring home the trophy.”

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