Two UTD students placed highly in the Texas Collegiate Rapids Championship Nov. 4, one making No. 2 overall and the other No. 1 out of players under 2200 ELO.
The Rapids Championship was an online chess tournament where 40 players from seven schools faced each other individually; 14 students from UTD participated. The tournament consisted of seven rounds, and each round was 10 minutes per game per player with five seconds of delay. Two of UTD’s participants placed highly in the tournament. Computer science freshman Balaji Daggupati from the UTD Chess Team placed No. 2 overall, and data science freshman Benjamin Walmer from the Reserve team placed first in the U2200 section.
Grandmaster Daggupati won five games, lost one game and drew one game. His most challenging game was with physics freshman Louis-Alexandre Calvary, a member of UTD’s Reserve team. As Daggupati has a higher rating, FIDE 2477 compared to Calvary’s 1616, he assumed the match would be easy. However, Calvary played stronger than Daggupati expected, causing Daggupati to mess up the beginning of the game. Despite the unpredictable play, he managed to win.
“As pieces simplified, it became very dead draw-ish, but I was able to trick him in the end and the time scramble,” Daggupati said.
Walmer won three games, lost one game, and drew one game. His opponent in the first round was unable to play, causing him to win by default. Walmer said he previously focused on an aggressive approach to trick his opponents, but as he became more experienced, he changed his strategy.
“I play more solid now to kind of outplay it and possibly win against my opponents,” Walmer said. “So I kind of took a slow approach to this tournament … it worked out pretty well.”
Walmer said his most interesting game in this tournament was his match against international master Tianqi Wang from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Wang played very quickly, putting pressure on Walmer to keep up. By the finish, Wang only used 30 seconds of the 10-minute game while Walmer used half of his time. While the game’s position of the game was somewhat equal, Walmer was able to trade pieces and secure a win.
“D4 … it was kind of a hard move to play because I knew I had a lot less time, but I feel like I was creating some imbalance,” Walmer said.
As the tournament was hosted online, both players were required to be on a Zoom call to prevent any cheating. Despite the lack of technical difficulties, both Daggupati and Wang said they would prefer to compete in-person for the experience of being with great players.
“I’m not too much of a fan of online play because of the problem of cheating, but these tournaments, I’m fine to play because a lot of these players, at least I’ve known or I’ve seen them around enough,” Daggupati said.
Both players said the competition was a good casual play option as they prepare for the American Open and US Masters in late November.
“It was a good, short tournament, good for training, good for showcasing skills, and it was fun to play,” Daggupati said.