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Saint Louis University (SLU) Wins 2022 President's Cup

Saint Louis University (SLU) Wins 2022 President's Cup

JoeBruin
| 1 | Chess Event Coverage

Saint Louis University (SLU) won their first ever President's Cup this past weekend by out-scoring Webster University, Texas Tech University, and University of Texas at Dallas in the Final Four. These four teams earned their spots in the tournament by making top four at the 2022 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Championship. Below is a review of SLU's first ever championship title. 

How to watch?
The 2022 President's Cup was broadcasted live on April 2 and 3 presented by Chess.com and Texas Tech University at Twitch.tv/CollegiateChessLeague with commentary by NM Alex King, WGM Jennifer Yu, and NM Matan Prilleltensky. You can find all games here.

Teams

These are the rosters of the four teams along with their ratings, points scored, and games played from the event.

SLU #1 Player Rating Pts. (7.5) Games
1 GM Dariusz Swiercz 2740 2 3
2 GM Nikolas Theodorou 2664 1.5 2
3 GM Benjamin Bok 2668 0.5 2
4 GM Robby Kevlishvili 2556 1 1
5 GM Akshat Chandra 2566 0 1
6 GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi 2626 2.5 3
Webster #2 Player Rating Pts. (7) Games
1 GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista 2712 1.5 2
2 GM Benjamin Gledura 2728 2 3
3 GM Aram Hakobyan 2679 1 2
4 GM Jose Martinez Alcantara 2684 0 1
3 GM John Michael Burke 2676 2.5 3
4 GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez 2665 0 1
TTU #3 Player Rating Pts. (5.5) Games
1 GM Aleksey Sorokin 2643 1 3
2 IM Semen Khanin 2579 2 3
3 IM Viktor Matviishen 2571 2 3
4 IM Samuel Arthur Schmakel 2509 0.5 3
UTD #4 Player Rating Pts. (4) Games
1 IM Guillermo Vazquez 2574 1 3
2 IM Ivan Schitco 2578 0.5 2
3 IM Brian Escalante 2591 0.5 2
4 IM David Brodsky 2592 2 3
3 IM Eyal Grinberg 2583 0 1
4 GM Razvan Preotu 2541 0 1

Results

These are the cross table results of the round robin tournament. You can find all the games and results here

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 Points
1 Saint Louis University 2 2 7.5
2 Webster University 2 2 3 7.0
3 Texas Tech University 2 2 5.5
4 University of Texas at Dallas ½ 1 4.0

Round 1

The first round of the President's Cup saw SLU vs. UT Dallas and Webster vs. Texas Tech. SLU started off strong with a dominant 3.5/4 score against UT Dallas that set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

The following game between GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi from SLU and GM Razvan Preotu from UT Dallas was definitely the highlight of the match. Ali Marandi also goes by the nickname JJ and can be found streaming chess on his Twitch channel.

In this game, he had the black pieces and played not one, not two, but THREE brilliant moves. 

This was a strong start not only for JJ but for the SLU team as well. This win helped them win the match 3.5-0.5 to take a strong lead in the standings, and they wouldn't look back. 

In the Texas Tech vs. Webster match, the top board matchup between Texas Tech's GM Aleksey Sorokin and Webster's GM Benjamin Gledura was a positional grind eventually leading to Gledura's breakthrough on Sorokin's weak king. In this game, Gledura had the black pieces and took advantage of White's early decision to not castle. 

Webster and Texas Tech would split their four games 2-2 for a draw. 

Texas Tech's head coach and event host GM Alex Onischuk with his players IM Sam Schmakel on the left and IM Viktor Matviishen on the right. Photo provided by Texas Tech University.

Round 2

In round two, SLU played against Texas Tech and Webster played UT Dallas.

SLU looked to continue their strong performance from the first round, but Texas Tech would put up strong resistance. Their board two IM Viktor Matviishen was taking on SLU's GM Benjamin Bok. Bok was a huge part of SLU's success at PanAms going 5.5/6, and just recently won Chess.com's Streamer of the Month award for his regular streams at Twitch.

This game was very back and forth with both sides fighting for the advantage. Bok's position was looking great before he unfortunately missed a key move, and Matviishen was able to turn the game in his favor after Bok made a big blunder in time pressure. 

Matviishen cracked through in the end with a big point for Texas Tech that helped them hold a 2-2 draw against the tournament leaders. Ali Marandi improved to 2/2 with the only win for SLU to offset Bok's loss. 

From left to right, Benjamin Bok vs. Viktor Matviishen and Cemil Can Ali Marandi vs. Sam Schmakel
From left to right: GM Benjamin Bok vs. IM Viktor Matviishen and GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi vs. IM Sam Schmakel. Photos provided by Texas Tech University.

As SLU and Texas Tech split their match, Webster was looking to catch up to SLU with a big win of their own against the struggling UT Dallas team. Webster's coach GM Le Quang Liem made some roster changes before the match subbing out GM Aram Hakobyan and GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez who both lost in the first round for Webster's top board GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista and board three GM Jose Martinez Alcantara. Webster would get wins from boards one, two, and four. Dallas's board three IM David Brodsky played a marvellous game against Alcantara to earn his team's first win and full point of the tournament. 

This game from Brodsky would be dubbed "the Brodsky immortal" from commentators NM Alex King and NM Matan Prilleltensky who were covering the event live on the CCL twitch channel. This one point from UT Dallas would limit Webster's win to 3-1 bringing them within a half point behind SLU. 

From left to right: IM Ivan Schitco from UT Dallas vs. GM Benjamin Gledura from Webster and GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista waiting for his opponent IM Guillermo Vazquez to return to the board. Photos provided by Texas Tech University.

Round 3

Going into round three, SLU needed a 2-2 tie against Webster to hold onto their half point lead. Webster needed a 2.5-1.5 win to take the championship, while Texas Tech need a 4-0 sweep of UT Dallas as well as a draw between Webster and SLU to win, but UT Dallas was motivated to improve from their shaky start from day one. 

Every Dallas player managed to earn a draw except for their point leader IM David Brodsky, who once again played a magnificent game this time against Texas Tech's point leader Viktor Matviishen who was 2/2 going into round three. Brodsky with the Black pieces played a queen sacrifice for bishop and rook. 

UT Dallas got their only match win of the tournament and handed Texas Tech their only loss of the event leaving the SLU and Webster match to determine the US College Champions. 

TTU vs. UTD in Round 3. Photos provided by TTU.

SLU and Webster started off with a quick draw on their top boards between SLU's GM Dariusz Swiercz and Webster's Bruzon. Swiercz finished the tournament with a solid 2/3 and was content with the draw knowing their team would win with a 2-2 score.

Webster would need to win two points out of the remaining three games, and it was looking good for Webster's board three Hakobyan against SLU's substitute GM Akshat Chandra who filled in for Bok after his round two defeat. Hakobyan was able to get a strong passed pawn and eventually win Chandra's loose pawns and then the game for a crucial point for Webster.

Dariusz Swiercz looking over at Theodorou's game against Gledura. Photo provided by Texas Tech University.

SLU still had control over the match thanks to a dominating position on board two. SLU's GM Nikolas Theodorou was up against Webster's Gledura who was 2/2 going into round three. Theodorou sacrificed a rook for the attack on Gledura's king in this very exciting game. 

Theodorou handed Gledura his only loss of the event, and this win for SLU offset Hakobyan's win for Webster. Ali Marandi drew his game against Webster's GM John Burke concluding the match as a 2-2 tie winning the championship for SLU for the first time in their team's history. 

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