Friday, January 13, 2023
  Awards and Recognitions

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV Chess Team is one step closer to yet another national championship, despite what has been a time of restructuring and redevelopment.

The team competed Jan. 5-8 in the 2023 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. With 85 teams representing 44 universities, UTRGV earned a spot in the coveted Final Four of Chess: Team A placed third and Team B placed fourth. Team A will continue on to represent UTRGV in the Final Four.

Final Four placement is as follows:

  • Webster University.
  • University of Missouri.
  • UTRGV.
  • Louis University.

The UTRGV A Team will continue to the Final Four as two teams. The A and B teams cannot compete against each other, which allows the fifth-place team, St. Louis University, to take the fourth and final spot.

Last year, the UTRGV team narrowly missed a showing in the Final Four by placing fifth.

The Final Four of Chess is the highest honor in U.S. Collegiate Chess. Last year, St. Louis University took the 2022 top spot from three-time reigning champion UTRGV, which claimed the top spot in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

UTRGV now is vying for the title once again.

“The Pan American Intercollegiate event was really successful for UTRGV,” said UTRGV Chess Coach Bartek Macieja. “The goal was to be among the top four universities with our A Team’s performance. We are completely satisfied, but on top of that, our B Team played extremely well.”

Macieja said the B Team was a big sensation of the event. 

Next, the UTRGV A Team prepares for the Final Four, also known as the President’s Cup.

“We have qualified four times,” he said. “We’re the only team from South Texas, and it's more difficult for us to qualify to the Final Four tournament than to win it. I hope this will be true for us this year.”

Kamil Dragun, a UTRGV graduate student from Poland, is the most veteran player on the team. He has been a key player in three of the university’s President’s Cup wins and hopes to take home the victory once more in his final semester in the Valley.

“It's not easy to qualify,” team leader Dragun said. “A year ago we played very well, but it wasn't enough to qualify. But this time, everything was under our control. Our B Team was also doing amazing, and basically, we were certain UTRGV would qualify before the final round.”

He said there was no need for a pep talk or extra coaching because they all went in prepared and ready to win.

“This is basically my last commitment for the university,” he said. “I hope we can win again.  However, the competition at Final Four is always very strong, and we are never a favorite. It is going to be tough. But we weren’t the favorites in previous years either, so it might be in our favor again.”

The Final Four will takes place in April.

For more information on the UTRGV Chess Team, visit


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.