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MIT Chess Team Finishes Third At National Meet, Porter Named MVP

By Kevin R. Lang

The MIT Chess Team defeated over two hundred teams to finish first among college teams and third overall at the recent U.S. Amateur Team Championship East.

Team member and U.S. Chess Federation Master Ryan W. Porter ’01 was named Most Valuable Player for winning five matches and forcing a draw in his sixth. Second board John A. Viloria ’00, also a USCF Master, went undefeated and clinched MIT’s victory with a win in the final round.

“I’m surprised that we tied for third overall because USATCE’s field big name players,” Viloria said. He noted that Federation Internationale des Echecs [FIDE] World Champion Anatoly Karpov competed in last year’s tournament. “Our team was deep on paper but we were all pretty rusty, so I’m happy we pulled it off,” Viloria said.

Five students competed in the tournament, which was held over Presidents’ Day weekend in Parsippany, New Jersey. Team Captain Geoffrey M. Gelman ’99, Anthony R. Chatelain G, Soulaymane Kachani G, Viloria and Porter competed against players ranging from children to international grandmasters.

MIT places first among colleges

The MIT players defeated three teams from Harvard University, four from Boston University, and a team from Princeton University. Overall, 233 teams competed.

“This is probably the last year that Chatelain and myself will be here. So it was great to end our MIT careers this way,” Gelman said. “I believe that the rest of the team will continue to return to this tournament on an annual basis.” This was MIT’s second year competing in the tournament.

Despite the stiff competition and repeated six-hour matches, team members said they enjoyed the tournament. “The tournament was a lot of fun, perhaps one of the most fun things I’ve done with MIT,” Viloria said. “The players are still intense and want to win, but the atmosphere is much more social than other tournaments because of the team aspect and all of the side events.”

Kachani said that this tournament, his first in the U.S., “was a delighting experience.”

Gelman noted that “several teams sported international grandmasters, including former United States chess champions” despite the fact that this was an amateur tournament. “The only restriction on a team is that it must be an ‘amateur’ team, which means more or less that there must be at least one person who is not a chess master,” Gelman said.

Two six-hour matches were held each day of the three day tournament, and the MIT team won five of six including the last four. In each match, “four boards from each team play each other in four separate games. A team must score at 2.5 out of 4 to win the match,” Gelman said. Half a point is awarded for games ending in draws, and a 2-2 tie results in a draw for the match. The MIT team brought five players to rotate each round.

Members of the MIT Chess Club were selected for the tournament based on challenge matches held beforehand. Kachani and Chatelain defeated higher ranked players in the club to qualify for the team.

The USATCE also featured lectures by international grandmasters and an exhibition match between the U.S. Women’s Champion and a six-time U.S. Chess Champion.