UTD chess team takes home plaque from KCF cup

Gergana Peycheva from UTD C (Black) secures a checkmate, with commentary from events coordinator Nikhilesh Prabhakar (top right) and Coach Julio Sadorra (bottom right). | Photo courtesy of UTD Chess

The UTD chess team held its ground and secured a win at the third Annual Kasparov Chess Federation University Cup.

UTD competed at the online international tournament from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5 with four teams — UTD A, B, C and D. Each team was categorized based on its average rating: U2400, U2200, U2000 and U1800. Team A placed 11th, team B placed second and team D placed 16th in their respective categories, while team C won the U2000 category, ultimately bringing home a plaque.

Because of the rating cap in each category, Coach Julio Sadorra said he balanced each team out by maximizing each player’s rating and giving an opportunity to members of the chess club. While all four members of teams A and B are team players, team C had one club player and team D had three club players.

“I didn’t want to just put strong players in [the] top two boards and then low rated on the three and four because it’ll be risky,” Sadorra said. “And [for] the other teams, we had to pair up with the club members, which were [a] really important part of our team. They allowed us to have three international masters and then a club member which is really low rated. It allowed us to meet that average required credit rating.”

Sadorra said the Texas Rapid Championships that were held on Jan. 29 helped the team members prepare for the KCF Cup as both tournaments had the same time format of 10 minutes with five second increments per move. The championship, which ended in a three-way tie between the Comets, helped decide the KCF Cup’s team composition as well.

“We used [the rapid finals] as a warmup and I think it boosted their confidence,” Sadorra said. “So those [with] really good performance at the Texas Rapids… those who tied for first basically became leaders of the teams. It’s nice to see them leading and being Board 1 of the teams. Andrei Macovei, I have to mention him, tied for first. He had kind of a slow start in Texas Rapids but then he finished strong. And he did really well playing for the U2000 that won the division.”

The two-day tournament consisted of five rounds on Day 1 and four rounds on Day 2. Junior David Brodsky of Team A said Day 2 was more challenging.

“On day one, the first three matches were pretty easy, [but] day two would decide the tournament because most of the good teams were near the top and they choose when the top teams battle it out and see who wins,” Brodsky said. “Overall, the quality of chess is higher over the board than online, even if you have the same type of control. It’s strange, but you can make a lot more mistakes online [that] you’d never make over the board.”

Business analytics graduate Andrei Macovei from the UTD C team said that his team accidentally played against the UTD B team on day two because of miscommunication between organizers. The mistake affected each team’s standing, including team C’s first place standing.

“In the eighth round, we were leading under our category and maybe we were leading under the next category, so our C team was doing really well and then we unfortunately had to play UTD B,” Macovei said. “I made a draw [on the first board] and our second board made a draw but the last two boards lost. The difference was more significant and it was a bit unfortunate but at the same time, both teams were doing really well.”

Since the current chess team has newer players, sophomore Rahul Peddi from team A said that the team’s synergy and performance will improve with time.

“I feel that there are people who just came [here] three, four months ago, [and they’re] trying to figure out how things work,” Peddi said. “Now we’ve got a lot of new recruits and they don’t really have the experience of playing here. But I think let’s say by the end of this semester or Fall, I think we should be in good shape.”

Moving on from the KCF Cup, the UTD Chess Club will be hosting a “Women in Chess” themed Chess Fest from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22, including a simul event, blindfold chess games and the Chess Educator of the Year award ceremony.

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