Webster wins Pan-Am 2018

by Alexey Root
12/31/2018 – Webster University’s “A” team won the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships (Pan-Am). Qualifying for the Final Four of College Chess are Webster University, The University of Texas at Dallas, Harvard University, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. | Pictured: Webster University team with Susan Polgar and Paul Truong. | Photo: David Llada

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Harvard qualifies for Final Four

Going into the sixth and final round of the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships (Pan-Am), only three teams (Webster “A,” Webster “B,” and Texas Tech “A”) had 4½ of 5 match points. Webster University “A” defeated Texas Tech University “A” with three wins and one draw. At the same time, Webster “B” tied its match with the “A” team from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), with draws on each of the four boards. Thus Webster “A” became the 2018 Pan-Am champion with 5½ out of 6 match points. Webster “B” finished in a three-way tie for second place with 5 out of 6 match points but got the third place trophy on tiebreaks.

If two teams from the same school (college or university) finish in the top four at the Pan-Am, then another school high in the standings qualifies for the President’s Cup (also known as the “Final Four of College Chess,” scheduled for April 6th and 7th in New York). Since Webster University cannot send both its “A” and “B” teams to the “Final Four”, the team finishing fifth gets the last “Final Four” spot.

Two of the “Final Four” spots went to UT Dallas “A” and Harvard. UT Dallas “A” defeated UMBC “A” to achieve 5 out of 6 match points, a tie for second place, and the second place trophy.  Harvard defeated the “B” team of Saint Louis University. So Harvard also scored 5 out of 6 match points, tied for second, and got the fourth place trophy on tiebreaks.

Harvard team

For Harvard: NM Bryan Hu; IM Richard Wang; FM Varun Krishnan; GM Darwin Yang | Photo: David Llada

Four teams finished with 4½ of 6 match points: UTRGV “A” team, Saint Louis University “A” team, Texas Tech “A” team, and UTRGV “B” team. The UTRGV “A” team prevailed on tiebreaks, earning both the fifth-place trophy and the last qualification spot to the “Final Four.” Other award winners are listed at the end of this article. See also the official Twitter for photos by David Llada and the results page.

The (dangerous) road to the 2018 Pan-Am

At the end of the College Chess Committee meeting, I introduced myself to Rutgers University freshman Alessandro De Marchi-Blumstein. I said, “Next year, your team could drive to the Pan-Am in North Carolina.” De Marchi-Blumstein replied that his team drove this year. I was stunned, so for clarification asked, “Your team drove from New Jersey to San Francisco?” De Marchi-Blumstein replied, “Well, three of us did. The first board flew.” I replied, “He must be the smart one.” De Marchi-Blumstein agreed, “Yes, I think so, since the car was totalled in Wyoming.” During a snowstorm on December 26, another car ploughed into their rental car. Luckily, only the snacks were crushed and the three students were okay. After a ride from a tow truck and a new rental car, they were back on the road to San Francisco again. The Rutgers University Student Assembly paid for the team’s entry fee and for their hotel. I asked, for clarification, “Two hotel rooms?” De Marchi-Blumstein replied, “No, one hotel room!”

Rutgers team

Rutgers (L to R): Third board Youssef Eweis; fourth board Alexander Nayfeld; second board Alessandro De Marchi-Blumstein; and first board Amnon Attali

Games from teams that played on the lower tables, such as the team from the Rutgers Chess Club, are not available. Only the games from the first three matches (top 12 boards) of each round are available, through the DGT broadcasting of those games on CalChess Live. The Pan-Am organizer, Judit Sztaray, said that the Pan-Am’s paper scoresheets will likely not be entered into a database.

All available games


Trivia time

Test your knowledge with a little Pan-Am 2018 trivia. Give your answers in the comments:

1. What is the relationship between the first board of Washington University, a senior, and a freshman who is playing third board for the UT Austin “A” team?

Wash U board 1 and UTA board 3

Left: Washington University board one
Right: University of Texas at Austin board three

2. Three small colleges (enrolling fewer than 5000 students each) competed for the best small college plaque: Alaska Pacific University, Oberlin College, and Northwest University. Oberlin won on tiebreak but elected to take the Division V trophy instead. Thus Northwest University got Top Small College plaque. Later, however, it emerged that under the rules, Oberlin should, in fact, win both awards. There was no need to choose. Two of the small colleges have chess coaches, pictured here:

Ananiadis and Neff

Constantine Ananiadis (Oberlin College) and Elliott Neff (Northwest University)

Besides chess, what other sport does Ananiadis coach at Oberlin College?

3. Name the two “mystery men” with their backs to the camera.

Mystery Men

Mystery Men

Prize Winners

First place: Webster University “A” team

Second place: UT Dallas “A” team

Third place: Webster University “B” team

Fourth place: Harvard University

Fifth place: UTRGV “A” team

Division II 2000-2199: University of Michigan


University of Michigan, winners of Division II and Mixed Doubles

Division III 1800-1999: UC Berkeley “B” team

Division IV 1600-1799: Miami Dade College

Division V 1400-1599: Oberlin College

Oberlin team

Oberlin College

Division VI under 1400: University of Utah

Top International Team: Hart House Chess Club

Top Four-Year Small College (under 5,000 enrollment): Oberlin College

Northwest University

Best Mixed Doubles Team (two women in at least 50% of the matches): University of Michigan

Biggest Team Upset: UW Whitewater (1782) defeated Washington University in St. Louis (2128)

Individual Upset: John Ludlum (794) drew Efe Kalyoncu (2011)

Top Individual Boards

Board 1: GM Illia Nyzhnyk from Webster “A” team, 5 of 6 points

Board 2: GM Kamil Dragun from UTRGV “A” team, 5½ of 6 points

Board 3: Tanmay Khattar from UC-Berkeley “B” team 6-0 score

Board 4: National Master Bryan Hu from Harvard, 5½ of 6 points

Alternate: WCM Claudia Munoz from Texas Tech “B” team

2019 Pan-Am Preview

Peter GiannatosThe College Chess Committee announced that next year’s Pan-Am will be December 27th-30th in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 2019 Pan-Am organiser FM Peter Giannatos (pictured) said there will be restaurants within walking distance of the Hilton hotel site, which is near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Unlike this year, the hotel playing site won’t be near an airport.

Giannatos is the Founder and Director of the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy. For more information about the 2019 Pan-Am, contact the Charlotte Chess Center.

For more information about the next national college chess event, a rapid tournament planned for March of 2019, contact the team coach for Saint Louis University, Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez.

Photos: Alexey Root (unless indicated)

Trivia answers

  1. The photo is of the first board of Washington University, WFM Sarah Chiang. Sarah is the older sister of FM Jonathan Chiang, who is pictured playing third board for UT-Austin's "A" team.
  2. Ananiadis has coached women's tennis for 11 seasons for Oberlin College.
  3. The mystery men in the photo are Jim Stallings on the left, director of the UT Dallas Chess Program and GM Alejandro Ramirez, coach of the Saint Louis University chess team.

Correction — January 2: The surname of Alessandro De Marchi-Blumstein was misspelt.

Correction — January 16: Oberlin College, not Northwest University, has been named the 2018 "Top Small College Team". See full results.


Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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