Chess Team Dominates Pan-Am Tournament

Jan. 6, 2015

ST. LOUIS (Jan. 6, 2015) - Webster University’s chess team took the top spot at the annual Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, held the last week of December in South Padre Island, Texas. This automatically qualifies Webster for the Final Four College Chess Championship, also known as the President’s Cup.

This is the third year that Webster’s team has won the Pan-Am and earned the top spot at the Final Four. Four Webster student also won national individual titles as the top scorers at the Pan-Am.

“This was a tough challenge for us this year, but through their dedication and hard work, our team members were able to take the top spot for a third year in a row,” said Chess Coach Susan Polgar. “Now the team is focused on strategy and training for the Final Four championship in April. As the returning champions, we know that all the other teams will be focused on beating us and will be studying our every move.”

This year, 196 chess players in 45 teams from various colleges and universities across the US and Canada competed in the Pan-Am championship, held Dec. 27 through Dec. 30 in South Padre Island, Texas. When the games finished, Webster University’s “A” team was in first place. That team was represented by Webster students Liem Le, Illia Nyzhnyk, Ray Robson and Vasif Durarbayli.

Since 2012, the A team has an undefeated record of 21 wins and 3 ties. The team has won three consecutive Pan-Am and two Final Four tournaments. With this recent win, the A team will start 2015 as the #1 ranked team in the nation, which extends the streak to over 125 consecutive weeks, a college chess record.

The University of Texas, Dallas (UTD), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMBC), and Webster’s “C” team tied for 2nd. Both UTD and UMBC will play in the upcoming Final Four tournament. The members of the “C” team were Ashwin Jayaram, Vitaly Neimer, Anna Sharevich and Jouaquin “Jake” Banawa.

Webster’s “B” team finished in fifth place. The “B” team was represented by Fidel Corrales, Denes Boros, Manuel Leon Hoyos and Andre Diamant.

Texas Tech University finished in sixth place, earning it a position in the Final Four, as only one team from each institution is allowed to compete.

The top player at the Pan-Am tournament was “C” team member Jayaram. He was the only player at the tournament to win all six games in the tournament, earning a perfect individual score, and the national individual title as top scorer on board 1 honor. Illia Nyzhnyk of the “A” team won the top honor on board 2 with the score of 5-1, Ray Robson of the “A” team won the top honor on board 3 with the score of 5.5-0.5, and Andre Diamant of the “B” team won the top honor on board 4 with the score of 5.5-0.5.

Since August 2012, members of Webster’s team have won 2 world and 28 national titles.

The 2015 College Chess Final Four will take place on April 4-5 at the prestigious New York Athletic Club. Webster will have a team of 4 starters and 2 alternates. Nine grandmasters who are in the running to make the 6-player roster are Le, Durarbayli, Nyzhnyk, Robson, Corrales Jimenez, Meier, Boros, Hoyos, and Diamant.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

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