Mizzou, SLU win World University Online Team Championships

World University Online Chess Championships - University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

It was a great weekend for American collegiate chess, and an even better one for the state of Missouri: two of its schools claimed both gold and silver medals in FIDE’s first World University Online Blitz and Rapid Championships

On Saturday, March 27, the University of Missouri won the gold medal in World University Team Online Blitz Cup, with Saint Louis University claiming silver. The next day, the two schools swapped places in the standings for the Team Rapid Cup event, with SLU earning the gold medal and Mizzou finishing second. In both events, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley placed third. 

“As it turned out, the United States has the strongest chess universities in the world right now,” said GM Bartek Macieja, coach for UT-RGV who helped FIDE organize the collegiate championships. “It wasn’t obvious to me – I expected some Russian schools or some Chinese universities to do very well in this event, but no. Three of them were from the United States.” 

The World University Online Team Cup events were the culmination of several world collegiate championship events organized by FIDE and the UT-RGV throughout the month of March. Earlier in the month, World University Online Championship events were held for individuals in both Blitz and Rapid time controls. According to the results of those individual championships, the four best team scores qualified for the Cup events, which were played as knockout duels of two matches each, using four boards. 

Team members, by school and event were: 

University of Missouri 

  • GM Mikhail Antipov (Blitz, Rapid) 
  • GM Grigoriy Oparin (Blitz, Rapid) 
  • GM Christopher Repka (Blitz, Rapid) 
  • IM Harshit Raja (Blitz, Rapid) 
  • IM Olga Badelka (Blitz, Rapid) 
  • WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (Blitz, Rapid) 
Tweet URL

Saint Louis University 

  • GM Benjamin Bok (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • IM Nikolas Theodorou (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • IM Stavroula Tsolakidou (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • GM Akshat Chandra (Blitz) 
  • IM Robby Kevlishvili (Blitz) 
  • FM Gabriela Antova (Blitz) 
Tweet URL

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 

  • GM Vladimir Fedoseev (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • GM Kamil Dragun (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • GM Ulvi Bajarani (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • WIM Alicja Sliwicka (Rapid, Blitz) 
  • GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan (Blitz)  

The three American universities also secured an assortment of individual medals. In the individual Blitz Championship, Mizzou’s Antipov earned the bronze medal in the Open section, while Badelka placed second in the women’s section, and UT-RGV's Sliwicka in third. 

In the Individual Rapid Championship, Mizzou’s Antipov and Oparin won silver and bronze medals in the open section, while Badelka brought home the bronze in the women’s section. 

Additionally, WIM Julia Antolak from UT-RGV earned the gold medal and became the 2021 World University Online Rapid Women’s Champion. The event, however, has since become the focus of significant controversy. The individual Women’s Rapid final was played Thursday, March 25 and initially won by IM Iulija Osmak, though by the weekend her title as women’s champion was revoked. 

Tweet URL

Osmak, a 23-year-old Ukrainian Women’s Champion playing for UT-RGV, was one of 20 players flagged by FIDE’s Fair Play Panel and disqualified from the Rapid Championships. After initially scoring 4.5/5 in Thursday’s finals, each of her games were reversed to losses by forfeit, and a half point was awarded to each of her opponents. 

FIDE’s decision to disqualify for a suspected fair play violation was final, and Osmak was not allowed an appeal, review or any other challenge. Further muddying the waters of an immediately difficult situation, FIDE did not claim that the suspected fair play violation is proof of actual cheating or an admission of guilt by the disqualified player. You may view FIDE’s Fair Play report here

Though FIDE’s decision was abrupt and without recourse, it has undoubtedly created passionate debate throughout the internet chess world. For a thorough dissection of FIDE’s decision and the surrounding fallout, you may view Chess.com journalist Peter Doggers’ report here

For a full list of results, video interviews and description from each of FIDE’s 2021 World University Online Chess Championship events, please visit the official website