Webster Wins PanAms—UT-Dallas, UMBC, Texas Tech Join in Final Four
By Al Lawrence   
January 2, 2015
The deep power of this year's PanAms in South Padre Island, Texas, made perfect scores as rare as birds' teeth-or even the Bird's Opening. Seventy-two master players-including 22 GMs and 15 IMs--studded the lineups of the 45 teams made up of 196 individuals from 26 universities.  Webster's A-team came closest to flawless, winning first with 5.5 match points in the six-round, four-day event.

One individual, IM Jayaram Ashwin of Webster C, managed a 6-0 sweep despite his tough assignment on board one. As a matter of fact, his unblemished score was exactly as rare as 1. f4, played once in the event by GM Leonid Kritz of UT-Dallas' A team against Webster A's GM Ray Robson in the critical last-round showdown between the two squads. That game was drawn (the only contest Robson failed to win), but Webster won the match, spoiling UT-Dallas' unbeaten record and springing past them to take sole first place.
The victorious Webster squad

Webster A's winning lineup, made up of GMs Le Quang Liem, Illia Nyzhnyk, Ray Robson, and Vasif Durarbayli, set the bar at a dizzying height with a team average USCF rating of 2734. Liem and Vasif finished with 4.5-1.5. Nyzhnyk was 5-1.


Illia Nyzhnyk, Photo Eric Rosen

Robson equaled his team's score with 5.5-.5.

On Monday night, UT-Dallas A defeated the University of Maryland-Baltimore County to end three days of play with the only 5-0 score, assured of qualifying for the Final Four of College Chess before the final day. GM Yaro Zherebukh of Texas Tech A, in mutual time pressure on board one against former U.S. Championship participant GM Robert Hess of Yale A, kept Tech in the running as he tightened a mating net into a noose around Hess' king.

Zherebukh,Yaro - Hess,Robert

PanAms, 29.12.2014



2.Rf8+ Kb7 3.Qf6 Qe7 4.Qh8 Kb6 5.Re8 Qg7 6.Rb8+ Ka5 7.Qd8 Qd7 8.Qf8 Rb7 9.Rd8 Qf7 10.Qa3+ Kb6 11.Rd6+ Kc7 12.Qc5+ Kb8 13.Rd8#


As always, the PanAms' sixth round on Tuesday morning uncorked some final drama. UT-Dallas A ran up against Juggernaut Webster and had to settle for second place. Meanwhile, UMBC collected its fifth point by defeating UT-Dallas B. Texas Tech A drew against Webster B to secure a spot in the Final Four. Texas Tech was the only undefeated team other than Webster, but the Knight Raiders gave up three drawn matches to score 4.5-1.5, finishing in a tie for fifth with Webster B.  Webster C won its last-round game against Columbia University-A to score 5-0 and finish fourth. (Only one team from each qualifying university is permitted to play in the Final Four.)

So the top three seeded universities-Webster, UT-Dallas, and Texas Tech-gained entry to the Final Four, along with the number five pre-tournament favorite, UMBC. UT-Brownsville, hosts of the event and seeded fourth, finished with 4-2.  

Strong B-teams provided a perilous gauntlet for the top squads and put their imprint on results in round three, when Webster University-A was nicked by UT-Dallas B, and UT-Brownsville, ranked among the top four going into the event, fell victim to Texas Tech-B.

UT-Dallas B (4-2) won the Division I trophy, this year given to a team not placing in the top six. UT-Dallas C won both Division II and Best Women's Team honors. The University of Illinois, who had been the dark-horse Final Four qualifier the past two years, couldn't three-peat, but collected significant division hardware. Illinois C captured the Division III title, and Illinois D won the Division IV trophy. Texas A&M-Kingsville A won Division V. The University of Toronto A won Best International Team, while Toronto B took second place in that category. Carleton College took best Small College honors. Miami Dade won best Community College. For complete results and round-by-round standings, go to the UTB site.

Webster, UT-Dallas, UMBC, and Texas Tech will meet in the Final Four of College Chess on Easter weekend at New York City's Athletic Club in mid-town Manhattan. The winning team will be national college chess champion and take possession of the President's Cup. The Final Four is sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, a Virginia-based technology consulting firm and major defense contractor.

NTD Mike Hoffpauir
NTD Mike Hoffpauir ran a tautly controlled, clockwork competition. Luis Salinas managed the internet broadcasting, followed by thousands around the world. Chief Organizer Rusty Harwood, director of the University of Texas at Brownsville chess program, which hosted this year's PanAms, provided a first-class event that will be a lifelong college memory for every participant.

Look for further coverage of the Pan-American Championships by participants Priyadharshan Kannappan and Ben Silva.

Find more games on Monroi.com.