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Making history one move at a time UTRGV student is crowned U.S. Class Chess Champion

ANDREY STUKOPIN

Grandmaster and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley math and physics sophomore Andrey Stukopin has won the 2015 U.S. Class Chess Championship.

Stukopin was not the only UTRGV student who placed in the tournament, held Nov. 13-15 in Houston. All UTRGV titled players placed in the top 10 within their master section. Team members are International Masters Guillermo Vazquez and Felix Ynojosa; U.S. Chess Federation Experts Simon Vasquez, Jeffrey Serna, Armando Cortes and Mkhitar Hobosyan.

Senior Program Coordinator Alfonso Almeida said the tournament consisted of five rounds in which Stukopin won three and tied two, accumulating a total of 4 points. This resulted in a three-way tie, which was then resolved by giving the title to Stukopin since he had the higher chess rating of the three players. The other two players, 14-year-old Grandmaster Jeffery Xiong and 28-year- old Andrey Gorovets, were named co- champions.

“The rating is the latest performance of the players,” Almeida said. “Let’s say if you play in a tournament and you win a lot of games, that kind of stuff, then your rating goes up, and if you play bad or something, then your rating goes down.”

Stukopin, despite being the first UTRGV student to win the U.S. Class Championship, was not pleased with his performance.

“It feels all right, I don’t know how to explain,” the math and physics major said. “I didn’t feel anything special because I didn’t show a good play. I tried my best, but I’m in a very bad shape. That’s why I probably couldn’t show everything I am capable of.”

Stukopin ended the tournament with a rating of 2,662; Xiong, 2,658; and Gorovets, 2,636.

“It’s kind of an inauguration tournament for us to place in first place,” Almeida said. “We played the Texas state tournament and didn’t do well, but now we won this tournament and because of that, the games that I saw and how the students performed in this tournament, I guess we’re going to place way better in the Pan Ams in December.”

The 2015 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship will take place Dec. 27 in Cleveland. It is the most important university chess tournament in the nation, according to Almeida.

“The very best teams in the nation play in that tournament. So, right now there are five teams. We are one of these five teams who are favorites to win the tournament because we are presenting teams with grandmasters,” he said.

He said their goal for this year is to make it to the Final Four at the Pan American tournament. They plan to do this by having their team composed of three grandmasters: Stukopin; computer science junior Anton Kovalyov, who placed in the top 32 at the 2015 Boka World Chess Cup in October in Azerbaijan; and computer science junior Holden Hernandez.

This week the UTRGV chess team is participating in the UT Dallas Fall 2015 Chess Tournament.

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