Four UTD chess teams made it to the top 10 in their respective categories in the fourth annual Kasparov Chess Federation University Cup, although none qualified for top prizes.
UTD competed at the online chess tournament on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 against international competitors like Indonesia and Ukraine. The KCF Cup is a nine-round Swiss tournament on Lichess where the time control is 10 minutes with 3 second increment per move. The UTD chess team and club split into four teams – A, B, C and D. Each group was formed based on an ELO ratings cap: U2400, U2200, U2000 and U1800 respectively. Team A placed 6th, Team B placed 4th, Team C placed 3rd, and Team D placed 5th in their respective categories, but none of them were awarded a plaque to take home. Individually, economics junior Ivan Schitco made 6th place and computer science freshman Balaji Daggupati made 7th place overall.
Schitco from Team A said that they were about to play against big teams on both days of the tournament, but due to their two losses and one draw in rounds 2, 6 and 9, they weren’t able to play with the top teams. However, he and his team still kept fighting, as he won seven games and drew two.
“If we would have won that [last] round, it would have been a pretty decent result,” Schitco said.
During Schitco’s games, he played the English opening for the white pieces and e4 and e5 positions for the black pieces. Schitco said that if you know the theory, even if it’s from a simple opening, then you can get solid positions throughout the game, which will lead to turnover during endgames. Schitco refers to this play as the “Magnus style.”
“I just keep playing a very simple position, and then in the endgame, I feel like I see a lot of interesting opportunities where people just decide that it’s a draw [or possible win],” Schitco said.
During round 6, Schitco played against FM Andriy Prydun from Lviv State University of Physical Culture, and while he felt was at a disadvantage, he was confident he could draw since the position looked equal. However, Prydun blundered during the endgame by playing Bg7 and trapping his bishop, and Schitco secured a win.
“He made a pretty big mistake … He lost the bishop, basically,” Schitco said.
Daggupati from Team B played in the KCF cup for the first time, where he won seven games and drew two. Daggupati mentioned that after a strong day 1 performance, they lost the last two rounds of day 2 and didn’t qualify for prizes.
“We were actually tied for first. I think going into the 8th round we’re playing one of the strongest teams, and we were very close to upsetting them,” Daggupati said. “But in the end, the cards didn’t fall in our favor and the last two rounds went awfully for us.”
Unlike Schitco’s strategy, Daggupati described his play style as “dubious.” He favored openings and theory that his opponents weren’t familiar with, which helped him win time during the rapid games. As for his style of play, he tried playing tactically and aggressively so he could out-calculate his opponents.
“They fall for traps that I know already and saves me time, and it gives me a better idea of how I should put my pieces compared to them,” Daggupati said. “And in rapids, playing quick and good is the best combination, even if you had to sacrifice a little accuracy,” Daggupati said.
During round 7, Daggupati played against National Master Vladyslav Baziuk and won this game in 19 moves – his shortest game on day 2. Daggupati played aggressively by attacking Bazuik’s king, causing him to move his king to a very uncomfortable spot. Daggupati then ended the game shortly after Bazuik blundered when he played knight to g5.
“He blundered immediately, but to play the correct moves even then it would be a very complicated game,” Daggupati said. “And since I knew the theory and still had ideas of how I was supposed to play, it [would] definitely be a very tough game.” Daggupati said.
Daggupati said he felt this tournament was good practice for tournaments later in the semester and next fall. He also said he enjoyed playing against strong opponents from other countries.
Moving on from the KCF Cup, the UTD chess team will host the Chess Fest from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21. Additionally, the team will be having the Final Four Presidents Cup on March 31 at JSOM, where Schitco and other members of the chess team will be commentating on their teammates’ games.
“If you like the Final Four, if you like UTD, if you like any of those, then just tune in and listen to our commentary [for the Final Four Cup],” Schitco said.