UTD competed for the 16th time at the President’s Cup chess championship in New York, a national competition that determines the top U.S. collegiate team.
The championship was held April 6-7, with the winners announced April 7. UTD placed third after UT Rio Grande Valley and Webster University.
The President’s Cup was founded by UTD professor and former president of the United States Chess Federation, Tim Redman. The annual championship is a competition between the top three other collegiate chess teams. Each team comprises four players and two alternate players. The teams qualify by winning the top four spots at the Pan American Intercollegiate Championship held in December.
UTD faced off against last year’s champions UT Rio Grande Valley, Webster University and Harvard University.
This was the first President’s Cup team coached by UTD’s new chess team coach, Julio Sadorra. Sadorra is an alumnus of UTD and a former member of the chess team.
“It’s a new experience and challenging but also satisfying because I’m helping chess scholars, and that’s who I was when I was still a student at UTD,” Sadorra said.
Sadorra has played in the President’s Cup twice before as a member of UTD’s chess team.
The team prepares for national competitions such as the President’s Cup by holding one-on-one sessions, in addition to normal practices.
“When we qualified for the President’s Cup … (we) had to adjust certain things — for example, I had to do more meetings with the squad, the players going to the Final Four, because I can only take four players and two reserves, so I meet more with them,” Sadorra said.
Omer Reshef, a software engineering freshman, played at the President’s Cup for the first time this year.
“The pressure is much higher,” Reshef said. “Each game is way more important than in other tournaments. And since it’s a team event, you also have responsibility for the team not just for yourself.”
The team did fairly well, Sadorra said, considering the relatively limited amount of time he was able to spend with them.
“I think it was good considering we just started a new system under my guidance and under this new cooperation between the team players and me,” Sadorra said. “With the amount of time and experience I got to work with the team so far, it’s pretty good, because although we didn’t win first place, we were able to pull off an upset draw against the Webster team.”