Wednesday, October 24, 2018
  Awards and Recognitions

By Victoria Brito

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – They’ve done it again.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Chess Teams A and B took first and second places, respectively, at the recent Texas Collegiate Super Finals, with the top three universities in the state competing Oct. 20-21 in Lubbock, Texas

The UTRGV Chess Team – 2018 national champions of the Final Four of Chess President’s Cup competition – was victorious over UT Dallas and Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

UTRGV Chess Coach Bartek Macieja said the first three rounds were the most critical.

“We drew the first match, which I wasn’t happy about because it is never a good start,” he said. “But later on, the UTRGV team got even more motivated and they inevitably showed who the strongest in Texas is.” 

After the precarious draw against the UT Dallas B team, the UTRGV team did not falter again.

“The second match we won against the Texas Tech A team, which was a strong team,” Macieja said. “But, we were still far from securing the win. Then, in the third round when we defeated UT Dallas A team, that was when we knew we were close.”

In the final round, with a victory against the Texas Tech B team, UTRGV secured the win.

This was the first Super Final for Hovhannes Gabuzyan, a freshman from Yerevan, Armenia, who joined the UTRGV team in January.

“We were trying to play safe because there was no need to risk it,” Gabuzyan said. “When you are playing in a team it is always important not to lose a game, to be able to draw and not lose the points.”

He said he and his fellow team members were very happy with the win.

“This team are all my very good friends, and Coach Bartek was also supporting us all. It was a very pleasant feeling, and we hope to repeat this success in the future.”

Representing the UTRGV A Team are:

  • Kamil Dragun, sophomore from Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland.
  • Andrey Stukopin, graduate from Rostov, Russia.
  • Vladimir Belous, sophomore from Moscow, Russia.
  • Hovhannes Gabuzyan, freshman from Yerevan, Armenia.

Representing the UTRGV B Team are:

  • Carlos Hevia, senior from Habana, Cuba.
  • Guillermo Vazquez, senior from Asuncion, Paraguay.
  • Joshua Ruiz, junior from Bogota, Colombia.
  • Felix Ynojosa, junior from Barinas, Venezuela.
  • Alternate: Yannick Rajesh Kambrath, junior from Trappes, France.

Last year in Brownsville, UTRGV narrowly lost to UT Dallas in the same competition, after a three-way tie resulted in a tiebreaker.  UTRGV had won the tournament in 2016.

Now having finished the state cycle, the UTRGV Chess Team goes on to compete in the national competition cycle at the Pan-American Collegiate Championship at the end of December in San Francisco.

If successful at the Pan-American, the team will go on to defend its position as Final Four national champions in the spring.


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.