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President's Cup

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Perhaps the most prestigious team tournament in collegiate chess, the President’s Cup has often been referred to as the “Final Four of Chess,” in reference to the final rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament that also traditionally takes place during late March and early April. As suggested by its nickname, only four teams are invited to the President’s Cup, and the winner is often thought of as the national championship of college chess.

To qualify, teams must first compete in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. Only the top four teams in turn qualify for the President’s Cup. However, since schools may enter more than one team into the Pan-Am tournament, there are sometimes cases in which the same school has two or more teams in the top four of the final standings. Only one team from any given school may participate in the President’s Cup, so in these cases, the next highest-ranked school or schools in the standings are given spots into the President’s Cup instead.

At the President’s Cup, each of the four school teams plays in three rounds of competition, playing one full match against each of the other schools. Each team fields a squad of four players, meaning that each team will play a total of 12 games. In this tournament, game points determine the overall winner, so it is possible for a team to win all three matches yet fail to win the title if their three match wins were all close.

In recent years, the President’s Cup has been dominated by schools that have fielded teams of recruited scholarship players. While some underdog teams have made runs to the President’s Cup, they usually fare poorly against teams fielding full squads of grandmasters and international masters, as a handful of the top teams are capable of doing.

Recent President’s Cup Results

When more than one team is listed with the same score, the first team finished first on tiebreakers.

2009: University of Maryland-Baltimore County (7.5/12), University of Texas-Dallas (7.5), University of Texas-Brownsville (6.5), Stanford University (2.5)

2010: University of Maryland-Baltimore County (8), University of Texas-Brownsville (7.5), Texas Tech University (4.5), University of Texas-Dallas (4)

2011: Texas Tech University (7), University of Texas-Dallas (6.5), University of Texas-Brownsville (6), University of Maryland-Baltimore County (4.5)

2012: Texas Tech University (8), University of Maryland-Baltimore County (7.5), University of Texas-Dallas (7.5), NYU (1)

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