HERNDON, Va. –- The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Chess Program battled into the evening Saturday at the President’s Cup, the “Final Four of College Chess.”
UTB-TSC played the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the second round on Saturday.
The tournament will have a final round today at technology and management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in Herndon, Va. UTB-TSC takes on UT-Dallas and UMBC plays Texas Tech University in the final round this morning with the trophy presentation planned shortly after.
“I think this is the most important match,” said Axel Bachmann, a junior business major and chess Grandmaster from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. “It will be important to have a positive result.”
Earlier on Saturday, Texas Tech defeated UTB-TSC 2.5 to 1.5. In the other first-round match, the University of Texas at Dallas defeated the University of Maryland, Baltimore County 2.5 to 1.5.
The players compete two per table in a large meeting room overlooking a parking deck and office buildings built among green space and walking trails.
Mark Herman, executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, has played chess since he was a child and was excited Saturday to see the college students playing but also area elementary students participating in a morning exhibition featuring 16-year-old chess Grandmaster Ray Robson of Clearwater, Fla., and an afternoon tournament.
“We are using the tournament to create a draw for chess and for outreach,” said Herman.
Herman said the company is already committed to hosting the President’s Cup next year and wants to increase awareness about it throughout the nation.
“There’s a certain value in how chess kids think,” said Herman. “You learn to think ahead and how to evaluate a situation objectively. It’s a life skill.”
The teams have a combined 12 chess Grandmasters and four chess International Masters. The players represent 14 nations — in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia.
“It’s amazing there are no Americans here,” said Bachmann. “Some of the players represent the U.S. but are not from here.”
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– GM Susan Polgar