From Dec. 27-30 at Princeton University, the team competed against one of the most competitive fields since the tournament's inception in 1946. Among the 44 teams at the tournament, UT Dallas faced schools such as Yale University, The University of Chicago, Texas Tech and The University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
UT Dallas played Webster University in the championship round, which ended with a 2-2 tie.
"The Webster team had an average rating of 2691. That's the highest team rating in the history of the Pan Am. We played together as a team and held our ground," said Jim Stallings, the UT Dallas chess program director.
The first place finish marks the 10th time since 2000 that UT Dallas has won or tied for first in the tournament. In the two previous years, the team won back-to-back victories, with undefeated records.
"Even though we won in 2011 and 2010, we didn't go into the tournament expecting to take first. We were rated at No. 2 going in and knew it would be an uphill battle to keep the top spot. This year was the largest tournament since 1986, and every team had a chance to win. Anyone can win at any time, that's the nature of college chess," Stallings said.
The winning team included sophomore Valentin Yotov, junior Cristian Chirila, senior Julio Sadorra and sophomore Conrad Holt. All four UT Dallas students hold the highest chess ranking of Grandmaster. Two alternates also played on the team during the course of the tournament: International Masters Milos Pavlovic and Sal Bercys, the team captain, won their games.
"Julio Sadorra's championship round win against Webster put us in a position to tie for first. It was an impressive game. I'm very proud of our players. They prepared all year for this moment and they accomplished their goal," added Rade Milovanovic, the team's coach.
UT Dallas will face the other three top teams from the Pan-Am that qualified for the 2013 President's Cup, also known as the "Final Four of College Chess." The other teams will be Webster University, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and The University of Illinois. That event will be held in Washington D.C. in March.
SOURCE UT Dallas