Webster’s Chess Team Takes Second Place in National Championship

Webster Chess Player Benjamin Gledura plays against University of Texas Rio Grande Valley player Irikali Beradze.Photo: Webster Chess Player Benjamin Gledura (left) plays against University of Texas Rio Grande Valley player Irikali Beradze (right) on Saturday, March 30. Gledura won this game.

Webster University took second place in the “President’s Cup” national collegiate chess championship this past weekend. Webster missed winning the championship by the narrowest amount possible – one-half point.

The University of Missouri (Mizzou) won the national title, the first time it has earned the prestigious college championship title.

“Comparing to last year's championship, this time we scored the same number of points and had only a single loss during the entire tournament,” Webster University Chess Coach Liem Le said. “Unfortunately, this result did not help us win the title this year. I look forward to training my team to regain the title next season. I would like to thank President (Julian Z.) Schuster for spending the last two days in Dallas to support our team in this competition.”

“This was a great tournament and Webster’s team played well. Special thanks go to the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) for their hospitality and effective organization,” Schuster said. “My sincerest congratulations to Mizzou on their first national championship, as the title stays in Missouri for the third year in a row. Well done, Missouri!"

This was the 12th consecutive President’s Cup that Webster University’s team has qualified for. Webster faced off against Mizzou, UTD and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) for the national title on Saturday and Sunday. The event was held in Texas and hosted by UTD.

Webster’s team started off strong. It was paired against UTD and scored three wins by Chess Grandmaster’s Aram Hakobyan, Benjamin Gledura and Harsha Bharathakoti and one draw by Grandmaster Gergely Kantor. A draw is when both players agree that they can not beat each other. 

In the second round, Webster faced UTRGV and scored two wins by Hakobyan and Gledura and two draws by Bharathakoti and Grandmaster Yasser Quesada. By the end of the second round, Webster was ahead in the tournament. In the third round, Webster faced Mizzou. Gledura, Bharathakoti and Quesada all had draws, and Hakobyan recorded a loss, giving Mizzou a one-half point lead over Webster and the win in the match. 

Overall, Webster scored eight out of 12 points in the tournament, the same score as last year which earned the team the championship. 

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 championships – 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, but they are not consecutive.

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