The UTRGV Chess Team defeats five-time champs Webster in 2018 President’s Cup

  Sunday, April 1, 2018
  Alumni, Announcements, Community, Awards and Recognitions

By News and Internal Communications

Rio Grande Valley, Texas The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley  Chess Team pulled off a stunning win over five-year reigning national champs Webster University this weekend in the annual President’s Cup, the Final Four of College Chess competition, at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City.

UTRGV Chess Coach GM Bartek Macieja
UTRGV Chess Coach GM Bartek Macieja proudly displays the President’s Cup trophy, awarded to the UTRGV Chess Team as the 2018 National Champions of the Final Four of College Chess competition. The tournament was held March 31-April 1 at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City. (Courtesy Photo)

UTRGV beat  Webster 7.5 to 7.0 after what  FIDE arbiter Mike Hoffpauir called “the strongest Final Four in the history of this tournament.”

Teams in the Final Four this year were St. Louis University, Webster University, Texas Tech and UTRGV.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said this is an exciting win for the team, for the university, and for the Valley community, which has been so supportive of the Vaqueros team.

“We are extremely proud of our chess team and admire the hard work and effort they put into every competition,” Bailey said. “Winning the President’s Cup is indeed a great honor for our chess team, for UTRGV and for the Rio Grande Valley. We congratulate them on their win.”

The UTRGV Chess Team members are: GM Vladimir Belous (2684), GM Kamil Dragun (2686), GM Andrey Stukopin (2683), GM Carlos Antonio Hevia Alejano (2569), GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan (2679).


The  President’s Cup  is an annual invitational team tournament open to the top four U.S. schools from the most recent Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship.

Unlike the Pan-Am, the Final Four is decided on game points, so each win or draw contributes to the team’s overall score for the tournament.

At the 2016 Final Four, UTRGV’s first time in the national contest, they placed second behind Webster 8.5 to 7.5.

UTRGV Chess team plays at the 2018 President's Cup.

Coach Grandmaster Bartek Macieja said he and his team felt strong and confident going into the competition, and on the way to the tournament, team member GM Andrey Stukopin said he, too, was confident about their chances of winning.

Standings at the end of the first round had UTRGV in the lead over Webster by half a point, but  Webster gained ground in the second round to pull ahead of UTRGV by half a point.

Then, in a surprising upset, the final match between Webster and St. Louis ended in a draw, sealing the win for the UTRGV Vaqueros.

The victory is the Vaqueros’ first national championship.

“We have been chasing this goal since the program began at UTRGV,” a jubilant Macieja said. “The team stayed strong and kept fighting, and I am very proud of them.”


Dr. Douglas Stoves, @dstoves, associate dean for Student Rights and Responsibilities who oversees the chess program, Tweeted gameplay throughout the two-day tournament, keeping fans in the Valley apprised and keeping the excitement high with Tweets like, “All eyes are glued to computers as moves are analyzed and outcomes and next moves are anticipated. The excitement and tension are palpable!” 

And Susan Polgar, coach of the Webster University Chess Team, graciously Tweeted her congratulations to the UTRGV team: “It is over! UTRGV is the new Chess Final Four Champion! They edged us out 7.5 – 7.0 to win! @websteru streak ends at 5 and SPICE ends at 7. Congratulations to @utrgv @USChess. Well Done!” 


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.