Friday, November 20, 2020
  Around Campus

By Letty Fernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced chess tournaments to go virtual, but even at that, chess remains popular, said UTRGV Chess Coach Bartek Macieja.

“It is a tough time for intercollegiate competitions, but chess is the exception,” he said. “All championships are taking place online, and over a million chess games are played online every day.”  

In mid-October, the UTRGV Chess Teams finished second and third at the Texas Collegiate Super Finals competition Oct. 17-18. The UTRGV teams did not win this time, but their performance at the tournament once again proves UTRGV is one of the most dominant chess colleges in the state. 

To view the video of the final day of Texas Collegiate Super Finals competition, visit

“I was pleased to see our freshmen do so well in their first team competition and I thought we could win the championship for the third time in a row, but the team from Texas Tech University was better this year,” Macieja said. 

UTRGV had two teams compete and was the only team with a woman on the roster: Julia Antolak, a senior at the UTRGV Math and Science Academy, played two games and won both. 

UTRGV also sent its women’s team to the Texas Shining Chess Jewels Championship Tournament on Oct. 24, competing for the first time as a team to face Texas Tech. The UTRGV women’s team lost 7.5 to 8.5 after a dramatic match. 

“It was a match of the two best women’s teams in the state,” Macieja said. “For a long time, it looked like we would win it, but the team from Texas Tech University prevailed.”  

Macieja said UTRGV is hoping to lead the way in organizing women’s collegiate competitions and has declared interest to the U.S. Chess Federation to host the first ever U.S Collegiate Women’s Team Championship in March 2021.

The UTRGV chess teams now are preparing for the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship in early January. The top 4 teams in the tournament qualify for the President’s Cup, informally known as the Final Four of College Chess, that determines the U.S. college team chess champion.  UTRGV won the Final Four in 2018 and in 2019. There was no Final Four organized in 2020.

In the meantime, Macieja said, his students will train with him via Zoom and also will participate in online training tournaments.  

To learn more about the UTRGV Chess Program, visit

UTRGV Chess Program
UTRGV Chess Coach Bartek Macieja (left) trains virtually with the team for an upcoming tournament. (UTRGV Photo)


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.