The Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament, although not receiving a lot of publicity, has in fact developed into a major US tournament. It functions as the American college championship, and the quality of the players appears to be escalating due to the efforts of Susan Polgar’s work at Webster University, the groundswell of interest in Texas, and the appearance of major college support, such as at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. In late 2012, the Princeton Chess Club played host to 43 college teams.
The Pan Am tournament is conducted under rules of the US Chess Federation which establishes the College Chess Committee that in turn establishes guidelines for the Pan Am conduct. In the past, as many as 123 teams participated in the period of the Bobby Fischer boom. The number has settled down to a third of that, but the ratings of the players are high and the competition is intense.
A major problem for the tournament is to keep out top players who make a technical connection to colleges with no effort to get an education. At various times, the committee has limited the age of individual players, but now there are no age limits, provided the players are full-time students in a degree-seeking program and have maintained a minimum grade educational performance, generally a B average for at least one semester.
Among all the teams, Polgar’s Webster University “A” team has stood out as the top-seeded competitor. It is filled with stars gathered from everywhere, Playing on top board was 19-year-old Wesley So, the leading player in the Philippines, who became a grandmaster at 14. In 2009, he emerged from the Philippines to enter the Chess World Cup and scored victories over former world championship contenders Vassily Ivanchuk (Elo 2739) and Gata Kamsky (Elo 2695) before being eliminated in round 4.
On second board was 18-year-old Ray Robson, also a grandmaster, who opted for a scholarship at Webster in lieu of one offered at the University of Texas-Dallas. But the big surprise was to find German grandmaster Georg Meier, 25, on third board. Meier came just short of winning the World Youth in 2007. He also played second board on the winning German team in the 2011 European Team Championship.
In this first round, four teams have qualified for the finals to be held in April. Webster’s top-seeded teams, A and B, shared first place but each college can field only one six-member team in the final four. The other qualifiers were the University of Illinois, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and the University of Texas-Dallas.
Brevity: Feldman v. V. Savon (1959) 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0–0 5.g3 d6 6.d4 d5 7.Bg2 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Ne5 Nb4 10.Na3 N8c6 11.e3 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd3+ 13.Ke2 Nxb2 14.Qxd8 Rxd8 15.f4 Bg4+; 0-1
Winners: George Sturgis Memorial, Wachusett CC: 1st-3d: Geoff LePoer of Westford, Carissa Yip of Chelmsford, and Ken Gurge of Leominster, 4-1; Boylston Grand Prix: 1st, Andrew Liu, 4-0, 2d, Eric Godin, 3-1, 3d-6th, Jesse Nicholas, Amrit Gupta, Arthur Tang, Syed al-Mamun, and Luke Lung, 2-2.
Coming Events: 4th MACA Scholastic Qualifier, Jan. 20, Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, 181 Boston Post Road, Marlboro, info@masschess
.org; Portsmouth Open, Jan. 19-20 Holiday Inn Portsmouth, 300 Woodbury Ave., Portsmouth, N.H. , email@example.com.