Webster Chess Team Wins the National Collegiate Blitz Chess Championships

Anna Sargsyan Webster Chess Team won the U.S. Collegiate Blitz Chess Championship this past weekend. At the same tournament, team member Anna Sargsyan was named the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Blitz Champion. Benjamin Gledura also tied for first place in the tournament after regular play and ended the tournament in second place overall.

The wins come one week after Webster chess player Aram Hakobyan won the U.S. Collegiate Rapid Championship title and Sargsyan came in second place for the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Rapid  Championship title.

"I am very pleased with the focus and determination all team members displayed this past weekend,” Chess Coach Liem Le said. “The team once again comes together to continue dominating collegiate chess in all time controls and formats. Congratulations especially to Benjamin and Anna for their excellent performances. We are now focused on training for our next big goal, the Pan American Intercollegiate Championship in January 2024.”

Blitz chess is a fast-paced game. Each game lasts six minutes and players have two-second increments for each move. Rapid chess, which was the focus of last week’s tournament, is also quick, but the game lasts 20 minutes and players have five-second increments for each move.

During the tournament, the team members each played individually but their scores were then added together to get an overall ranking for the team. For each game won, the players earn one point, they earn one-half point for each draw, and zero point for each loss. A draw is when both players agree they cannot beat the other player. By the end of the 12 rounds of blitz chess, team members Gledura and Sargsyan, along with members Aram Hakobyan and Yasser Quesada collectively scored 34.5 points, half a point more than the second-place team of the University of Missouri (Columbia). 

Individually, Sargsyan scored eight points out of the 12 total, placing 12th in the tournament. But as the highest scoring female player among the 134 players competing, she earned the title of the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Blitz Champion. Overall, she won 7 games, drew 2 and lost 3.

“After the recent Rapid Championship, Coach Liem Le and I worked hard to fix the previous mistakes, and our work paid off,” Sargsyan said. “I am thrilled to become the 2023 U.S. Women's Collegiate Blitz Champion and have a valuable contribution to the Webster University Chess Team. Additionally, I would like to congratulate our team for achieving the prestigious title of U.S. Collegiate Blitz Champions..”

Benjamin Gledura Gledura came into the tournament a few hours after he competed in the Grand Swiss, a top-level in-person tournament in Isle of Man (UK). Without any rest, he joined the team immediately from his hotel room in Isle of Man to compete in the Blitz championship, which was held online. 

"The tournament was as close as it could get,” Gledura said. “I am happy that our team had a strong finish which won us the national title."

Out of the 12 games in the tournament, he won 10 and lost 2. This tied him for first place in the tournament, but because another player had more “tiebreak points” than he did, he was awarded second place overall out of all the players in the competition. In official chess tournament rules, tiebreaks are used to determine the player who has a better claim to a prize than those who earned the same score based on the strength of his or her opposition. Different tiebreak systems often yield different results. The most common tiebreak systems include:

  • Summing the final scores of his or her opponents, sometimes discarding the highest and the lowest of these scores.
  • Adding up the cumulative scores of each player or their opponents for each round.
  • Considering results between players who earn the same score.
  • Calculating players’ rating performances or average rating of their opponents.

Other Webster chess members also finished strong in the tournament: 

  • Hakobyan - 4th place
  • Quesada - 19th place
  • Harsha Bharathakoti - 20th place
  • David Zhurbinsky - 30th place
  • Annamaria Marjanovic - 35th place
  • Gergely Kantor - 42nd place

Last year, Marjanovic earned the national women's collegiate blitz championship title.

The Blitz championship is sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation and hosted by Chess.com.

For more information about Webster’s chess program, visit https://www.webster.edu/spice/.


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