Earns training with chess legend Garry Kasparov

  Wednesday, February 7, 2024
  Student Life, Accolades

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – FEB. 7, 2024 – They have done it again. 

The UTRGV Chess Team competed this weekend in the fourth annual Kasparov Chess Foundation University Cup, where they dominated the competition.

Since the international tournament’s inception in 2021, UTRGV has won the university cup three out of the four times the tournament has been held. The team fell in 2023 to rival Texas Tech University’s team. This year’s tournament was played virtually via the lichess.org platform.

As victors of this unofficial world championship of collegiate chess, the winning team earns an exclusive online team training session with legendary world chess champion and grandmaster Garry Kasparov, creator of the organization and its tournament. 

Members of the UTRGV Chess Team to take home the prize were:

  • IM Gleb Dudin, a freshman psychology major from Moscow, Russia.
  • IM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux, a sophomore biomedical sciences major from Montreal, Canada.
  • IM Ekin Ozenir, a sophomore computer engineering major from Mersin, Turkey
  • Woman FIDE Master Ana Shamatava, a post baccalaureate art major from Tbilisi, Georgia. 

“Kasparov is widely considered the greatest chess player of all time,” said Bartek Macieja, coach of the UTRGV Chess Team. “Training with him is like training basketball with Michael Jordan – it is a dream of everybody that plays the sport all over the world. Learning from Kasparov is a once in a lifetime experience for most people. I am proud of our students who have gained this right. They fought hard, showing extreme motivation and focus.”

The UTRGV Chess Team already is preparing for the national President’s Cup, known as the Final Four of College Chess, which will be held March 30-31 in Richardson, Texas. Since 2018, UTRGV has taken the national title three consecutive times.  


Founded by World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, KCF’s mission is to bring the many educational benefits of chess to children worldwide by providing a complete chess curriculum and enrichment programs. The Foundation promotes the study of chess as a cognitive learning tool in curricular classes and after-school programs for elementary, middle and high schools, both in the public and private school sectors. The not-for-profit educational organization also organizes tournaments and competitions on a local and national basis. For more information, visit kasparovchessfoundation.org.


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.