This story was originally published on stlpublicradio.org on January 1.
Everybody loves a good Cinderella story. There’s something about seeing the underdog prevail that gives people hope a fairy tale ending is actually possible.
When the top four collegiate chess teams come together in New York City in April, a champion looks to repeat while an unlikely contender hopes simply to keep the magic going.
It’s no surprise that Webster University dominated the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, held Dec. 27-30 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
After securing the President’s Cup in Washington, D.C., last year, the reigning champions once again flexed their collective chess muscles to finish in clear first place, scoring a perfect six points out of six rounds at the Pan-Ams. This performance earned the Gorlocks a berth into the Final Four and a chance to defend their title as national champions.
This year, however, the belle of the ball showed up with war paint on. The Fighting Illini from the University of Illinois defied the odds and 41 other teams to earn a spot in the Final Four as well. This result is especially impressive given the average rating of the team heading into the event placed them 13th overall.