The 230-player Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship in San Francisco continues to run with an efficiency that permits the drama to remain strictly on the boards, as 53 four-board teams jockey for one of the many titles at stake in the four-day, six-round annual event.
GM Andrey Baryshpolets
In a tense endgame Friday night, Texas Tech’s top gun GM Andrey Baryshpolets scored an important round-three upset as White over MIT’s GM Parimarjan Negi, number 106 in the world. Baryshpolets first converted a bishops-of-opposite-color endgame into lone bishop and king versus king and four pawns. Then he deflected Negi’s bishop with suicide pawn-promotion to force a three-pawns-versus bishop setup that was hopeless for Black. Here’s the whole game, with notes by GM Baryshpolets.
At midpoint at the end of Friday night’s play, only four teams had kept a perfect score:
UT-Rio Grande Valley-A
Saturday morning saw Texas Tech’s top squad set back UTRGV-A as Boards 1-3 all drew, but IM Evgen Shtembuliak of Tech came through with the critical win on Board 4. Meanwhile, Webster-B pulled off a similar 2.5-1.5 win over UT Dallas-A when GM Vasif Durarbayli’s beat GM Razvan Preotu on Board 3.
So Saturday evening’s penultimate round set the top table as the battlefield for the only two teams with perfect scores, Webster-B and Texas Tech-A. Tech’s top board Baryshpolets notched another big win, this time with Black over GM Alex Shimanov, while Boards 2 and 3 drew. But Webster-B’s GM Emilio Cordova pulled out a clutch victory on Board 4, tying the match. So, once narrowed, the leaders widened just a bit to a field of three with 4 ½ : Texas Tech A, Webster-A, and Webster-B.
UTRGV-A came back within reach of the title and collected a lot of tiebreaks with a 4-0 sweep of UT Dallas-D (yes, they’re that deep!) that included this sharp, risk-taking win by GM Andrey Stukopin over NM Sungho Yim on Board 3.
But none of these teams should get over-confident. The math shows that, going into Sunday morning’s final round, 12 teams from seven different universities are still in the running. Five teams have collected four points out of five. Four more teams are at 3 ½.
As the teams head to their hotel rooms anticipating the 9 a.m. start, at least they know they can skip the morning wait at a restaurant in favor of a continental breakfast in the playing room sponsored by the US Chess Trust.
At wakeup, Texas Tech-A must face another yet another of Webster’s GM squads, this time the A-team, on Table 1. Webster B will play the top team at 4.0, UTRGV-A. Two scholarship teams with 4.0 will take on some relatively dark horses in the same score group. UTD-A faces University of Maryland Baltimore County-A, led by GM Tanguy Ringoir. SLU-B takes on Harvard, also with a tough GM at its top this year, Darwin Yang.
The top four US teams will go on to the Final Four, the playoff for the national championship on April 6-7 at Marshall Chess Club in New York City sponsored by Two Sigma and Booz Allen Hamilton. No college gets more than one team in that competition, however.
Five division titles, an international title, the Top Community College trophy, individual board prizes and upset prizes remain to be determined as well. Three teams are in competition for the recently included Mixed Doubles championship, Michigan, Texas Tech-B, and Alaska Pacific. The same Alaska Pacific squad, all sporting their trade mark furs, has been in the race for Best Small College, along with Oberlin (a multiple-time winner under Coach Constantine Ananiadis), and Northwest U., with Expert Benjamin Mukumbya and WCM Phiona Mutesi, the inspiration for the book and film Queen of Katwe, on its top two boards.