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CS Freshman Eric Rosen to Play in the Final Four

4/22/2013 7:42:00 AM

The Final Four is just around the corner, and I can guarantee that the University of Illinois will be there.

Of course, I’m talking about the President’s Cup, known as the Final Four for intercollegiate chess. This year, the Illini Chess Club will be one of four teams participating in that competition. CS-Math freshman Eric Rosen is one of the four Illini who will be representing the school at the tournament on April 6-7 in Herndon, Virginia. The winning team is crowned the top team in collegiate chess.

CS-Math freshman Eric Rosen (left) makes a move during the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship for chess. The Illini Chess Club won the right to compete in the President's Cup, known as the Final Four for chess.
CS-Math freshman Eric Rosen (left) makes a move during the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship for chess. The Illini Chess Club won the right to compete in the President's Cup, known as the Final Four for chess.
CS-Math freshman Eric Rosen (left) makes a move during the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship for chess. The Illini Chess Club won the right to compete in the President's Cup, known as the Final Four for chess.

The Final Four features the top four teams from the Pam-American Intercollegiate Championship, which was held in Princeton, New Jersey. At that tournament, the Illinois team found itself in a five-way tie for first place.

“We came into the tournament seeded fourteenth,” said Rosen. “So we were ecstatic to have such a good result.”

The Illinois team had the distinction of being the only team among those that tied for first place that did so without the benefit of a coach or any players ranked at the grand master level. “Every other team that tied for first—they offer full scholarships to all their players,” said Rosen. “They recruit from all over the world.”

Rosen and the rest of the Illini chess team will compete against teams from University of Texas-Dallas, Webster University in St. Louis, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Although there was a five-way tie for first, because two of the tying teams were from Webster, only one will be competing in the Final four.

Joining Rosen on the Illinois team for the competition in Virginia will be Michael Auger, Aakaash Meduri, and Xin Luo.

Rosen has been playing chess since he was in the second grade, when his older brother first taught him to play. Soon Rosen was asking to take chess lessons and to take part in competitions. The next year he was the third grade Illinois state champion. “I just kept improving from there,” said Rosen.

Rosen, who teaches chess as part of an after school program at Dr. Howard Elementary School in Champaign, sees connections between his love of chess and his interest in math and computer science. “I think there’s a lot of logical thinking and staying focused for a long period of time,” he said. “If you’re playing a chess game and trying to figure things out, you’re constantly solving problems. I think that is definitely a connection to math and engineering.”

Rosen and the Illinois team will be featured in the upcoming issue Chess Life in a story on the President’s Cup tournament. In addition, he and several of his teammates will appear in a documentary being developed by someone at a Naperville television station about the 2011 Illinois high school chess scene.

“Overall, chess has given me some great experiences,” said Rosen. “It’s competitive, you get to travel a lot, and you meet new people.”