Chess team falls short

Finance and economics sophomore Titas Stremavicius (left) and computer science freshman Razvan Preotu practice on Jan. 19 for an upcoming match. Photo by Madeline Ambrose | Mercury Staff.

After performing well at the past few competitions, the UTD chess team failed to qualify for the finals at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.

The annual competition occurred from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30, and this year, 58 teams from 38 schools competed in the national tournament. Of the five teams from UTD, one of the UTD teams placed sixth, but did not gain the amount of points needed to reach the Final Four by a small margin.

“It was a good result because, by rating, we were the number (six) team,” chess coach Rade Milovanovic said.

The UTD chess team has won the event 10 times, tied for the most wins in the history of the championship. However, the competition became more difficult, making it harder to secure a position in the Final Four. Actuarial science sophomore Eylon Nakar is a member of the team that reached sixth place in the national competition.

“UTD has a very long history of winning the Pan-American, but I think other schools have improved,” Nakar said. “UTD still has strong players, but they’re not as dominant as they used to be.”

In the team’s last match, the four members fought from behind to secure a draw against the team that eventually won. Nakar said they hoped they could still qualify for the Final Four, but the draw did not give UTD enough points to reach the finals.

“Personally, I think I played well, but more importantly the team played well, but unfortunately it was not enough,” Nakar said.

The chess team held practice at least two times a week, both individual and group, for the members to prepare for the tournament. The members had to study chess theory in addition to playing chess in order to get used to the rhythm of the sport.

“A big goal is to qualify for the Final Four and maybe even win the championship, and it was very disappointing that it didn’t happen this year, but I have two more years here and two more opportunities, so I am optimistic and I think it is something we can definitely do,” Nakar said.

The next team tournament UTD will participate in is the Southwest Collegiate, held at UTD on Feb. 24. Before the tournament, individual players have the opportunity to compete for their own ranks at the Southwest Open, held on Feb. 16-19.

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