Texas Tech chess success hits mass media

Susan Polgar and Texas Tech with a strong achievement (video)

NY Times on Texas Tech

Last weekend, Texas Tech won a chess tournament in Herndon, Va., featuring the four top teams from December’s Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. The tournament, called the Final Four of Chess, was a chance for redemption for Texas Tech, which finished fourth in the Pan-American competition.

The University of Texas at Dallas, which won the championship in December, finished second, while the University of Texas at Brownsville was third and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was fourth.

For many years, the Dallas and Baltimore County campuses had the pre-eminent chess programs in the country. But in the last couple of years, the other two universities have aggressively recruited top student players from all over the world to be part of their teams.

The results were on display at the Final Four. Each team had three grandmasters and at least one international master. Though there were small differences in the rankings of the players, it was clear that the tournament was up for grabs. Nevertheless, the result was still somewhat surprising, if only because Maryland had won six of the previous Final Four competitions. Alan T. Sherman, the director of Maryland’s program, told The Baltimore Sun, “Our players are depressed.”

The tournament was held over two days at the offices of Booz Allen Hamilton, the consulting firm, which sponsored the event. Each university played a four-player match against each of the others.

Full article by Dylan Loeb McClain

Texas Tech Knight Raiders Recognition with Chancellor Kent Hance

Lubock Online: Texas Tech Knight Raiders grasp program’s first national chess title in upset

Texas Tech’s Knight Raiders chess team cemented its reputation as an emerging chess dynasty Sunday when it grasped the program’s first national championship at the chess world’s equivalent of the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.

The team, consisting of four players and an alternate, upset top-ranked powerhouses University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Texas at Dallas, the two schools that have dominated the tournament since it opened 11 years ago.

Paul Truong, one of the team’s coaches at Tech’s Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, said the weekend’s victory came as a surprise to the team. Tech qualified for the tournament as one of the top finishers at December’s Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship in Milwaukee, but it entered this weekend’s tournament as the fourth, and lowest, seed.

Players hoped to repeat or improve on last year’s third-place showing, he said, but a week ago the team would not have predicted a championship trophy.

“We edged them out by half a point,” Truong said.“UT-Dallas has been ruling the chess program for the past decade. For us to catch up with them on this level, this fast, was pretty amazing.”

This year marked the Knight Raiders’ second showing at the national tournament, Truong said, so the odds were stacked against their taking first place.

Tech narrowly clinched the championship during the two-day tournament’s third, and final, round of play.

“It was amazing,” said team captain Davorin Kuljasevic, a graduate student and chess grandmaster from Croatia. “We were the underdogs. Nobody expected us to win. We were the lowest-rated team. It was a big surprise.”

Polgar, as the team’s head coach, also made history as the first female coach to win a Division I title.

Full story at Lubbock online

Home welcome for Texas Tech

Huffington Post on Texas Tech

You don’t see spectacular hoops and dunks and scoring is not done in twos or threes. No chest-pounding, no cheerleaders. The four-corner offense or zone defenses are not parts of the game either. There are brilliant moves, but they are done quietly. And yet, the Final Four in college chess could be a dramatic experience.

Played at the Booz Allen Hamilton building in Herndon, Virginia, over the last weekend, the event – also known as the President’s Cup – featured three teams from Texas and the defending champion University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). With students from 20 different countries, this year’s Final Four was the strongest: each team had three grandmasters in the line-up. It was also the toughest competition, the final result hinging on a single game.

In the end, the lowest-rated team, Texas Tech (TTU), beat the odds and finished first,
scoring 7-5. University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) took second place with 6.5-5.5.
The combined team, University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (UTB/TSC) came third with 6-6. The UMBC lost all three matches and ended with a 4.5- 7.5 score.

Full article at Huffington Post

Washington Post

There weren’t really any Cinderellas at this Final Four, but an unexpected invitee did walk away with the glass slipper.

The Texas Tech Knight Raiders are the new kings of college chess, capturing the 2011 President’s Cup over the weekend in Herndon, Va. With three grandmasters on its roster, Tech could hardly be considered an underdog, but its win freaks the duopoly long claimed the college game’s dominant programs, the University of Texas-Dallas and Maryland’s own University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The Raiders scored 6 1/2 match points in the weekend’s play, with UT-D and the University of Texas at Brownsville at 6, and UMBC, last year’s champion, bringing up the rear at 4 1/2. We’ll have a full recap and action from the event next week.

One benefit for the winners: The Texas Tech roster – GMs Anatoly Bykhovsky of Israel, Davorin Kuljasevic of Croatia and Andre Diamant of Brazil, and IMS Istvan Sipos of Hungary and Faik Aleskerov of Azerbaijan – will get “top consideration” for any summer internship slots at giant consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, the Northern Virginia defense contractor that sponsored and hosted the tournament.

Full article at Washington Post

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