UTRGV Chess Team Recognized at Texas State Capitol in Austin

by Victoria Brito

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The UTRGV Chess Team – back-to-back national champions in the Final Four of Collegiate Chess – took a triumphal mini tour of Austin on May 22 to accept kudos, resolutions and proclamations from Gov. Greg Abbott, the House and the Senate, and the UT Board of Regents.

The UTRGV Vaqueros successfully defended their national title at the President’s Cup in April in New York City, again defeating five-time champion Webster University, along with Harvard University and UT Dallas.

They also are state champions, beating UT Dallas and Texas Tech University at the Texas Collegiate Super Finals held Oct. 20-21 in Lubbock.

 

THE GOVERNOR’S OPENING MOVE

In the first meeting of the day, the team met with Abbott in a special reception area within the Office of the Governor.

Abbott congratulated them on their successes as a team, and accepted a gift of a framed chess board signed by the team and presented to him by the UTRGV chess coach, Grandmaster Bartek Macieja.

“They beat the best in the United States,” the governor said. “They are number one, and this is going in my office. Congratulations.”

 

UTRGV CHESS TEAM, IN THE HOUSE!

After meeting with the governor, the team accepted an invitation to visit the Texas House of Representatives, where state Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-37) introduced House Resolution 1389, which acknowledges the team’s many successes.

As Dominguez enthusiastically addressed the House of the team’s accomplishments, the team stood on the Floor behind him during his speech to fellow legislators and visitors.

“The UTRGV chess team has just won the President’s Cup, not for the first time. They are the back-to-back champions,” he said. “Who can remember the last time that happened?”

Dominguez recognized all members of the group, including Alex Mista, UTRGV chess program manager and grandmaster, and Dr. Douglas Stoves, associate dean for Student Rights and Responsibilities, who oversees the chess program.

“Let’s give these members a big round of applause,” Dominguez said, pointing to those watching from the gallery. “Go, Vaqueros!”

The UTRGV Chess Team – back-to-back national champions in the Final Four of Collegiate Chess – took a triumphal mini tour of Austin on May 22 to accept kudos, resolutions and proclamations from Gov. Greg Abbott, the House and the Senate, and the UT Board of Regents. The UTRGV Vaqueros successfully defended their national title at the President’s Cup in April in New York City, again defeating five-time champion Webster University, along with Harvard University and UT Dallas. Photo: David Pike/UTRGV

UT SYSTEM BOARD OF REGENTS

The next stop on the Austin victory lap was a visit to The UT System Board of Regents at System headquarters downtown, where System showed a special video put together to congratulate both UTRGV and UT Dallas for their participation in the President’s Cup.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey, in town for the Regent’s Board Meeting, met up with the chess team there and thanked the System governing body for helping celebrate UTRGV’s success.

“We are very proud of this team,” Bailey said, “and really appreciate your recognition of our team.”

Coach Macieja then introduced each member of the team:

Andrey Stukopin, grandmaster from Rostov, Russia.

Hovhannes Gabuzyan, grandmaster from Yerevan, Armenia.

Vladimir Belous, grandmaster from Moscow, Russia.

Kamil Dragun, grandmaster from Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland.

Guillermo Vázquez, international master, alternate, from Asunción, Paraguay.

Dragun was unable to attend the Austin visits as he was in his native Poland, competing in the Polish Championships.

 

A SENATE PROCLAMATION

On the last stop of their busy day, the chess team visited the Texas Senate, observing from the balcony as Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-27) honored them with a proclamation.

“The UTRGV Vaqueros captured a second national championship title,” Lucio said. “There is a lot of great power out there on the southside of the Valley, and let me tell you, the more big power we have, the better.”

Afterwards, state Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-20) greeted the group and presented them with individual copies of the Senate proclamations.

“I’m really honored to meet you,” Hinojosa said, shaking hands as he handed over the proclamations. “I couldn’t play chess – all I know how to play is checkers.”

 

ABOUT THE UTRGV CHESS TEAM

The UTRGV Chess Team, which is overseen by Coach Macieja, Stoves and Mista, has a rich history of successes going back to its legacy institution days as the UTB-TSC Chess Team. In 2014, the team helped earn Brownsville the title Chess City of the Year by the U.S. Chess Federation. In addition to its back-to-back national Final Four titles, and its state championship title in 2018, the team was named the 2018 Chess College of the Yearby the U.S. Chess Federation.

 

 

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