Checkmate!

Pictured at center UTRGV President Guy Bailey, posing with the UTRGV Chess Team, who won the annual President’s Cup national championship, known as the Final Four of College Chess competition, at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City on April 1. The university celebrated the first ever national championship win for the Chess Team on Friday, April 6, at the Brownsville Campus. The celebration will continue with the Chess Team on the Edinburg Campus at noon on Monday, April 9, at the Visitors Center. Photo: Veronica Gaona/UTRGV

Pictured at center UTRGV President Guy Bailey, posing with the UTRGV Chess Team, who won the annual President’s Cup national championship, known as the Final Four of College Chess competition, at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City on April 1. The university celebrated the first ever national championship win for the Chess Team on Friday, April 6, at the Brownsville Campus. The celebration will continue with the Chess Team on the Edinburg Campus at noon on Monday, April 9, at the Visitors Center. Photo: Veronica Gaona/UTRGV

by Steven Masso

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – The UTRGV Chess Team is still riding high from its first national championship win, and to keep the momentum going, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley held a celebration in their honor Friday, April 6.

Many from the university community attended the event, held at the PlainsCapital Bank El Gran Salón in Brownsville, to celebrate the team’s stunning win over five-year reigning national champs Webster University. The annual President’s Cup tournament – the Final Four of College Chess competition – concluded April 1 at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City.

UTRGV beat Webster 7.5 to 7.0 after what FIDE arbiter Mike Hoffpauir called “the strongest Final Four in the history of this tournament.”

UTRGV President Guy Bailey applauded the team on the victory, and thanked them for a win that brings great pride for the entire UTRGV community.

“We couldn’t have asked for anyone to do more for this university than you have done,” Bailey said. “We’re going to be thinking of the depth of this accomplishment for years to come, and I don’t expect this to be the last one.”

Coach Grandmaster Bartek Macieja also spoke to the crowd and told them about the difficulty of achieving this feat.

“The competition was tough. It was the strongest Final Four tournament in history and Webster was considered to be the favorite,” Macieja said. “Let me just add that a team from South Texas had never won the national collegiate chess championship before.”

The celebration and community support had the chess champions beaming. Students, staff and faculty enjoyed refreshments and had a chance to pose for photos with the winners and the coveted President’s Cup during the event.

Andrey Stukopin, senior mathematics major and grandmaster member of the Chess Team, said he appreciated the encouragement the team received from the student body along the way.

“We would like to thank our fellow students, whom we have the privilege to represent, for your ongoing support and friendship, which makes us all feel like this is our home away from home,” Stukopin said.

Dr. Douglas Stoves, associate dean for Student Rights and Responsibilities and who also oversees the chess program, said he is extremely proud of the team and how they represented UTRGV.

“The national championship of chess now runs through the Rio Grande Valley,” said Stoves, who accompanied the team to New York for the tournament.

The celebration will continue with the Chess Team on the Edinburg Campus, noon Monday, April 9, at the Visitors Center.

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