The UTD chess team earned its first outright victory in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, reclaiming its No. 1 rank in the Western Hemisphere.
The competition of more than 30 teams from Canada, the United States, Central and South America lasted four days from Dec. 27-30 in Miami, Fla.
“Each team played six teams, four games with each team,” said Tim Redman, director of the university’s seven-year old chess program and professor of literary studies in UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities. For each game won, a team received one point and a tie was worth half of a point.
The UTD A-team came up with five and a half points winning five rounds and tying one. It defeated two rivals, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Brooklyn College, 2.5-1.5 and 4-0 respectively. In 2000 and 2001, UTD tied with UMBC for first place.
UTD has played in the tournament since 1996, two years after the team was created.
Redman said that he is extremely proud of his team and that they showed exceptional skill and talent.
“I think our coaching strategy worked well also because we used our alternates (the B-team) and relieved our five players on the A-team of the 12-hour long
competitions,” Redman said.
The UTD B-team tied with UMBC’s A-team for second place.
The top four U.S. finishers will move on to the “Final Four” of Chess competition which is held in the spring. UTD won this tournament in 2001 and 2002, but UMBC won last year. UTD, UMBC, Brooklyn College, and Miami (Dade) Community College will be participating in the event which will either take place in Wichita or Miami.
“This one is going to be a lot tougher and we are going to get our players prepared with playing computer chess and studying databases that provide strategies and moves of the greatest players in the world,” Redman said.
There will be three rounds of four games and the scoring will be entirely different. Redman said that they will be taking the entire A-team and at least one alternate.
UTD and UMBC have risen as the two best college chess teams in the United States, and their rivalry will be important in the upcoming competition.
The UTD A-team primarily includes international masters and one grandmaster Captain Marcin Kaminski of Poland, a senior majoring in computer science and software engineering.
“He’s the best player we have and this is why he always starts our first games, since they involve the best players in the tournaments and are very competitive,” Redman said.
“So far, the most ambitious player on the B-team is Daniel Fernandez (of Florida),” he added. “He’s probably going to become an international master very soon.”
The team coach, Rade Milovanovic is an international master. He took on 30 players in McKinney High School nonstop and he beat all of them.
“(Milovanovic) is a very good player, but coaches don’t have to be great players at all,” Redman said. “Coaches are there to guide the players and this is why we are very competitive and have the opportunity to win the Pan Am Competition which started in 1946.”
“It takes at least four years to master the game of chess,” Redman said. “It takes a lot of time and does not necessarily require intelligence. Mastering chess tests your memory and portrays how well a person can learn foreign languages. Anyone with average intelligence can master the game of chess.”