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Chess Team Conquers Belgrade in Cup Match, Prepares for Pan-Am

For the second year in a row, The University of Texas at Dallas chess team defeated the University of Belgrade in the teams’ annual competition. Six of the team members are either computer science or software engineering majors and three of them are grandmasters and three of them international masters. As of 2019, there are only 90 grandmasters in the US, 1,500 in the whole world.

UT Dallas won the 2019 Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup 10.5 points to 5.5 points, with 10 wins, five losses, and one draw. UT Dallas leads the overall series 8.5 to 5.5 and has not lost since 2013.

Chess Program Director Jim Stallings said this is the first time that either university has been three wins ahead.

UT Dallas chess team member Benjamin Frenkel, a computer science freshman, prepares to make his move during the 2019 Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup.

“Winning this year means that UT Dallas has gone undefeated for the last six years, which bests the University of Belgrade’s undefeated streak that began in 2010,” he said.

The transatlantic match, one of the largest, multiple-board matches in college chess. has been played annually since 2006, with players competing online. The teams share live footage of play with each other. A chess arbiter is hired in each country to resolve any dispute that may arise and to watch for fair play.

Julio Catalino Sadorra BS’13, coach of the UT Dallas chess team, said the team members were prepared with their opening strategies and their mental game going into the match.

“While our ratings were higher than our opponents on paper, we made sure to take each of our opponents seriously with the aim to dominate them in each area of the game starting from the opening,” he said. “Anything can happen in such a match.”

Individual matches from the Belgrade competition were shown on a screen in a classroom. Chess team member and finance graduate student David Berczes provided commentary on particular moves.

Sadorra said the transatlantic match was good preparation for the upcoming Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship, which will take place Dec. 27-30 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Pan-Am tournament determines which four U.S. colleges will play for the President’s Cup (known as the Final Four of College Chess) in early spring. Approximately 60 teams from colleges across North America will participate.

UT Dallas has made more appearances in the Final Four than any other college.

“The Pan-Am tournament is very important, and the team members are preparing in every way possible,” Sadorra said. “It is our expectation to place in the top four and earn our place in the Final Four tournament.”


(Final scores in parentheses)

2006: Belgrade (8.5-7.5)
2007: UT Dallas (11-5)
2008: UT Dallas (12.5-3.5)
2009: UT Dallas (8.5-7.5)
2010: Belgrade (11.5-4.5)
2011: Tie (8-8)
2012: Belgrade (9.5-6.5)
2013: Belgrade (9-7)
2014: Tie (8-8)
2015: UT Dallas (9-7)
2016: UT Dallas (10-6)
2017: Tie (8-8)
2018: UT Dallas (12.5-3.5)
2019: UT Dallas (10.5-5.5)

Source | UT Dallas News Center | Phil Roth


The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 3,315 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,110 master’s students, 165 Ph.D. students,  52 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2019. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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