Texas Border Business
By Maria Elena Hernandez
Rio Grande Valley, Texas – The UTRGV Chess Team won a five-hour virtual chess tournament against Kozminski University, the National Collegiate Champions of Poland. The UTRGV team finished the Clash of the Collegiate Chess Titans with 34.5 points to 28.5.
Chess grandmaster Bartek Macieja, coach of the UTRGV chess team, said that while the Vaqueros were leading in the tournament before the final round, their score wasn’t enough to guarantee a victory at that point.
“It was really a close match,” he said. “There were two rounds which we won with a high score, and the last one was one of them.”
The international competition was live-streamed on chess24’s YouTube channel and was viewed more than 3,500 times. It could also be seen on the chess24 website, one of the most popular chess platforms in the world.
The virtual tournament started with welcomes from Dr. Douglas Stoves, UTRGV senior associate dean for Student Rights and Responsibilities, and Dr. Grzegorz Mazurek, Kozminski University’s vice-rector for International Relations.
Grandmaster Pascal Charbonneau, with chess24, commentated on the matches during the tournament, along with Macieja and FIDE master Antoni Szustakowski, who represented the Polish team. Macieja, a two-time national champion of Poland, reached out to Kozminski University about having a tournament.
“We decided to play a match, which I thought was an important match for our students,” he said. “We need to be in shape to practice, to play.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person chess tournaments have been canceled and coaching, practice, and games have moved online.
“A good thing about chess is that you can play online, and that’s our advantage over our situation,” Macieja said.
“The virtual tournament was also an opportunity for others to see the teams’ games and learn about the respective teams and universities,” he said.
The UTRGV team, which won back-to-back national collegiate championships in 2018 and 2019, also introduced a new member, Ana Shamatava, a Woman FIDE master from Tbilisi, Georgia.
While she’ll officially join the UTRGV chess team in the fall, she was allowed to participate in the tournament with Kozminski University.
“I expected it would be a tough battle, and it was,” Macieja said. “I’m very glad that we are successful again. This was a very strong opponent.”