University of Texas at Dallas' GM Invitational

by ChessBase
3/20/2012 – The University of Texas at Dallas is known for many reasons. It has a fabulous engineering department, backed by Texas Instruments, and its Arts & Technology department works with companies that range from Blizzard to Zynga and Dreamworks, but its pride and joy is its chess team. Their GM Invitational made Conrad Holt America's newest GM. Report by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

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University of Texas at Dallas' GM Invitational

By Alejandro Ramirez

A preparation tournament for the UT Dallas' Chess Team gave American Conrad Hold the opportunity to achieve his last GM Norm and cross the 2500 barrier. The event was played in Richardson, Texas – but the blitz invitational was held in the 48th floor of one of Downtown Dallas' hallmark skyscrapers, the Thanksgiving Tower. 

The University of Texas at Dallas is known for many reasons. It has a fabulous engineering department, backed by the technology mammoth Texas Instruments. It has an up and coming Arts & Technology department that has game designers and animators working in companies that range from Blizzard Entertainment to Dreamworks and Zynga. The translation department is amongst the best in the country, while the nanotechnology institute is known world wide. The Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology program was recently ranked 11th in the US by US News and World Report.

Despite the uncountable achievements that UTD's students have achieved, and how strong it is academically, its pride and joy is the chess team.

Established in 1996, the UTD chess team has been a powerhouse in American chess since its inception. Recently, college chess in America has become extremely competitive. Many universities have been aggressively recruiting Grandmasters from around the world, and nowadays it is not unusual to see collegiate teams that look more like Olympic squads than a group of students.

UTD has always been very demanding of their chess team in terms of academics. They strictly require a certain amount of credit hours to be taken every semester, and much higher than average grades to be maintained. However, they also provide their players with fantastic tournaments and practice opportunities. 

The 2nd UTD GM Spring Invitational was held at the Hyatt in Richardson, Texas from March 10-16th. This is the student's spring break. No rest for the weary! The tournament was held in a Scheveningen format, in which two teams played each other. UTD fielded its 'A' team – the five strongest players who will represent the university at the upcoming Final Four of Collegiate Chess. One of the two crown jewels in American college chess – the other one being the Pan-Americans, which UTD has won the last two times. Their opponents were a group of strong GMs.

Thus, the teams looked like this:

University of Texas – Dallas

Name Rtg Field of study
GM Valentin Iotov 2560 Arts & Technology Freshman
GM Cristian-Ioan Chirila 2529 International Political Economy Sophomore
GM Julio Catalino Sadorra 2509 Business Administration Junior
IM Milos Pavlovic 2491 Molecular & Cell Biology Master's student
IM Conrad Holt 2480 Physics Freshman
Average Rating: 2513  

The UTD Team: Pavlovic, Sadorra, Iotov, Holt, Chirila and Coach Milovanovic

Turner Construction Company GM Team

Name Rtg Field of study
GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2612  
GM Ray Robson 2606  
GM Aleksandr Lenderman 2583  
GM Magesh Panchanathan 2573 Computer Science Master's Alumn from UTD ('06)
GM Manuel Leon Hoyos 2569  
Average Rating: 2588  

Visiting GM Team: Lenderman, Robson, Kacheishvili, Panchanathan, Leon Hoyos

The tournament was very hard fought with almost no short draws. Actually the draw ratio was impressively low, a mere 25%!  This must be due to the young blood and ambition of all the players. 

Despite being a preparation tournament for the Final Four, UTD received a nice surprise when in round nine Conrad Holt was able to secure a draw against Aleksandr Lenderman. This not only secured Holt his third grandmaster norm, it also catapulted him above 2500 – thus making him America's newest GM elect!

New GM-Elect Conrad Holt sports a mischievous smile before
his blitz round against GM Chirila

This is the second time that this tournament has promoted a grandmaster for UTD, as last year Julio Sadorra got his GM title in the same event. 

At the end of the day, the rating difference proved too much for the UTD team. The visiting team won with a convincing 29.5-20.5. This was largely due to the fabulous performance of Ray Robson, who scored 7.0/10 and was the terror of the UTD team. Many points were lost for the home team due to being out of shape, as it was clear that had they been more active in chess recently they would have been able to convert many winning positions which ended up being drawn or even lost. This is after all the point of the tournament, and the players are now in prime shape for their late March encounter against the other top teams.

Final individual standings

Rk Name/Rtng/ID Country/Team Pts
1 GM Robson, Ray USA  
2606 2023970 TURNER 7.0
2 GM Kacheishvili, Giorgi GEO  
2612 13600613 TURNER 6.0
3 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr USA  
2581 2021285 TURNER 6.0
4 GM Leon Hoyos, Manuel MEX  
2569 5105269 TURNER 5.5
5 GM Panchanathan, Magesh IND  
2557 5007429 TURNER 5.0
6 GM Yotov, Valentin BUL  
2560 2906074 UTD 5.5
7 IM Holt, Conrad USA  
2499 2034387 UTD 5.0
8 GM Sadorra, Julio C PHI  
2525 5201268 UTD 4.0
9 GM Chirila, Ioan ROU  
2539 1211668 UTD 3.0
10 IM Pavlovic, Milos SRB  
2478 924601 UTD 3.0

American chess is clearly on the rise. Recently many players have migrated to America for new opportunities and/or for education. There is no doubt the US will be a source of many exciting chess developments in the coming years. Events like this one, held by UTD, are breaking ground for the future.

It is also important to note that this event was possible thanks to the sponsorship of Turner Construction Company. One of the largest construction management companies, they are interested in helping UTD become one of the top schools in the country in every aspect. Hopefully, this will attract many brilliant minds to the campus.

Mexican GM Manuel Leon Hoyos flew in to UTD and to visit
several campuses around America.

GM Aleksandr Lenderman stares in disbelief after his loss in
the blitz. Chief Arbiter Franc Guadalupe is already supervising
the other boards.

GM Julio Sadorra takes a short break between rounds

GM Ray Robson concentrates furiously. Ray has been improving rapidly and is one
of the most active GMs in America, having broken 2600 recently.

GM Chirila had a fantastic start, but he was very unlucky in successive games.

Coach Rade Milovanovic observes intently the game between
Pavlovic and Robson. 'Coach', as he is called by the students,
has lead UTD to many Final Four and Pan-American victories.

GM Kacheishvili showed a lot of fighting chess throughout the
tournament. Playing Giorgi is always difficult, as he has the experience
and opening knowledge of a seasoned veteran with the fighting
spirit of a teenager.

GM Magesh Panchanathan is a returning alum. He recently got
married and is thus in his recovery year.

Iotov was UTD's top scorer with a solid 5.5/10

A rare picture: a GM Smiling at the board

Graduate student IM Milos Pavlovic started slow but ended up
with a decent performance. Don't confuse him with GM Milos Pavlovic!

Assistant Arbiter Luis Salinas made sure that even the Blitz relay went by smoothly

This group picture was taken at the end of the blitz tournament. The event was hosted
in the 48th floor of a skyscraper! The view was absolutely breaktaking.

Glenn Anderson, from Turner Construction, addresses the players on the importance
of UTD's and Turner's cooperation.

The blitz winners and the sponsors: Matt Papenfus, GM Sadorra, GM Holt, Glenn Anderson

Pictures by Randy Anderson


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