The Knight Raiders will compete for the crown in their third trip to nationals.
While the basketball world fixes its eyes on Houston, the collegiate chess community will be in New York City for the 2016 President's Cup, also known as the Final 4 of College Chess.
The Texas Tech University chess team, the Knight Raiders, will compete at the Final 4, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (April 2-3) at the Marshall Chess Club, for the third straight year after winning the 2015 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship for the first time in January. The Knight Raiders, housed under the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, are one of the favorites to win the national championship after finishing third the past two years.
“We are all very proud to win this prestigious title for Texas Tech,” said Alex Onischuk, coach of Texas Tech chess, after claiming the Pan-American title. “Our team has been working very hard for the past three years. We played the best chess and we had the toughest pairings among all teams. It was a well-deserved victory.”
Joining the Knight Raiders at the national championships will be three-time defending champion Webster University as well as Columbia University and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. All three competed against Texas Tech at the Pan-American championships, with the Knight Raiders surging to the lead on the final day.
Webster and Texas Tech are the only universities competing that were in the competition last year.
The winning Texas Tech team includes International Master Andrey Gorovets and Grandmasters Yaro Zherebukh, Elshan Moradiabadi and Andriy Baryshpolets. Gorovets, Moradiabadi and Zherebukh all competed in the Final 4 last year.
Texas Tech's Carla Heredia, a woman grandmaster, was named the top alternate at the championship tournament.
The chess program at Texas Tech is nationally known for its strong competition and leadership by Onischuk. An international grandmaster, Onischuk is ranked as one of the top 100 players in the world and has been for the past 19 years.