Webster University’s Chess Team Qualifies for 12th Consecutive President’s Cup

Webster's Chess Players at the Pan Am TournamentPHOTO: Members from both of Webster's chess teams that competed at the 2024 Pan American Chess Tournament pose with Chess Coach Liem Le after qualifying for the national championship.

Webster University’s chess team qualified for the President’s Cup national collegiate chess championship for the 12th consecutive time by finishing in the top four in this year’s Pan American College Chess Tournament this past week. The President’s Cup – also known as the “Final Four of Chess” - will be held in April. 

Webster will face off against the University of Missouri (Mizzou), the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) for the national title.

“Webster University continues to show its dominance in the world of collegiate chess and has qualified for the President’s Cup every year since the chess team was founded,” said Webster University President Julian Z. Schuster. “Our team went undefeated this past week and one of our players was among the top-scoring individual out of all the competitors this year. I look forward to cheering our team on at the President’s Cup later this year.”

“Congratulations to all team members who demonstrated fighting spirit, perseverance, and hard work to win multiple team and individual prizes,” said Webster Chess Coach Liem Le. “It is not a coincidence that Webster University never fails to qualify for the Final Four, which is the ultimate challenge for all collegiate chess teams. I look forward to training our team to defend our title at the Final Four.”

The Pan American College Chess Tournament was held Jan. 4 – 7 in McAllen, Texas. Forty college chess teams of four players each competed. Two of those teams were from Webster. Out of the six rounds of the tournament, Webster’s “A” team finished with three wins, three draws (ties) and no losses. This earned the team a third-place finish and a qualifying berth for the national tournament.

Webster’s “B” team finished in eighth place with three wins, two draws and one loss. The “B” team won the prize for the highest-scoring mixed doubles team (two males and two females). Webster student and chess Grandmaster Yasser Quesada Perez, who finished with four wins and two draws, earned the second-highest score out of all 177 individual players at the tournament. 

The members of Webster’s “A” team were Perez, Benjamin Gledura, Aram Hakobyan and Harsha Bharathakoti. All are grandmasters. The members of the “B” team were Grandmaster Gergely Kantor, International Master Anna Sargsyan, Women’s Grand Master Annamaria Marjanovic and Candidate Master David Zhurbinsky. A candidate master is a chess player who is close to becoming a master. Last year, Sargsyan was named the Women College Chess Blitz Champion, a title that Marjanovic earned in 2022.

Since it was founded in 2012, Webster’s chess team has been the highest-ranked team in the United States and is currently tied with University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) for having the most national championship – six. Only two other institutions have had more consecutive appearances at the President’s Cup than Webster. UMBC qualified for the tournament 15 times in a row, and UTD qualified 13 times in a row. UTD currently holds the record for having the most appearances at the President’s Cup with 17.

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