Fresh off of finishing 2nd of 42 teams at the 2013 Pan-American Championship held in Lubbock, Texas, the University of Illinois Chess Team is headed to New York in just a few weeks to compete in the Final Four of collegiate chess, more formally known as the Presidents Cup. The Final Four of chess is every bit as significant to those competing as the NCAA Final Four is for basketball players. Teams qualify for the Presidents Cup only by finishing in the top four at the Pan-American Championship (our Illini sent two teams, which placed 2nd and 26th). The top-placing team at the Presidents Cup is widely considered the best collegiate team in the Americas. This is the second year in a row that the Illini team has made it to the President’s Cup.
“Last year we were definitely considered the underdogs, and in most ways we still are this year; I’m so proud to be part of such a hardworking and dedicated team,” said Eric Rosen, a CS-Math major and seasoned competitive chess player who will be returning to the Presidents Cup. Last year Rosen finished sixth at the President’s Cup, with four wins, one draw, and one loss.
In addition to Rosen, the other members of the Illini team include returning competitors Michael Auger, Xin Luo, and Akshay Indusekar. They will be competing against players from Webster University, Texas Tech University, and The University of Maryland at Baltimore. These teams include some of the best and most competitive chess players not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
“We feel a lot more confident this year, since we have been working hard to improve our games, and because we have more experience,” Rosen said. “Everything was brand new when we travelled to Virginia to compete last year, and so taking all of that in was a little overwhelming at times. We’re looking forward to returning and being able to have a chance to upset some of the top teams. As the underdogs, all of pressure will be on our opponents.”
The University of Illinois Chess Team is an entirely student run organization. Unlike the other teams competing at this national event, they do not have access to sponsorship for travel, accommodations, and training. "It's quite difficult for a small organization like the Illini Chess Club at a big university to achieve the necessary funding to maintain a high quality chess club and team. We are greatly appreciative to everyone who has given us their generous support."
The team is currently looking for donations to help with their costs for competing in the President’s Cup. Anyone interested in helping out should visit the team's website.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Director of Advancement
mwellens [at] illinois [dot] edu