Tech takes fifth in World Series of chess
Posted: December 30, 2013 – 7:36pm
By BLAKE URSCH
Texas Tech will advance to the Final Four of College Chess, despite placing fifth in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.
Lubbock hosted the championship, dubbed the World Series of chess, at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center Friday, Dec. 27 through Monday, Dec. 30.
Tech coach Alex Onischuk said the team accomplished its main priority of advancing, but that the tournament as a whole was “not so easy.”
Webster University, led by former Tech coach Susan Polgar, placed twice in the top five — the “A” team took first, and the “B” team took fourth.
Since only one team from each school can advance to the final four, Tech’s No. 5 A team is eligible.
Polgar left Tech for Webster in 2012, bringing every member of Tech’s “A” team with her. Since then, Onischuk said, Tech has been trying to rebuild the program from scratch.
“They wanted to perform well, especially here,” he said of Polgar’s team. “We just look at the strongest team, and we prepare accordingly. Whether it’s Webster or NYU or some other university, it doesn’t matter.”
The A teams from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Illinois will also advance to the final four, placing second and third, respectively. Forty-two teams competed in the tournament from schools such as Yale University, Columbia University and the University of Texas at Dallas.
According to Al Lawrence, program director for Tech chess, the failure of UTD and the University of Texas at Brownsville to advance to the final four is a big upset in the world of chess.
“Three of the top programs in the country come from Texas — UTD, UTB and Texas Tech,” Lawrence said.
Teams from each school played four individual games for six rounds. Winning a game gave a school one point, drawing resulted in half a point, losing meant no points. To win a round, a school needed at least 2.5 points.
Initially, pairings were made randomly, but schools were matched according to skill level as the tournament progressed.
The final four will be held in April in New York, Lawrence said.
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– GM Susan Polgar