University of Illinois is a bracket-buster — in chess 
Cinderella team advances to Final Four

The University of Illinois may have been edged out by Miami in men’s basketball, but they clinched a berth at another Final Four — in intercollegiate chess.

The Illini Chess Club, originally a 14 seed, will be the Cinderella team at the President’s Cup in Rockville, MD, this week. The winning school is crowned the nation’s top team in collegiate chess.

Representing the Illini are: Eric Rosen, a freshman from Skokie; Michael Auger, a sophomore from Chicago; Xin Luo, also known as Leo, a sophomore from China; and Aakaash Meduri, a freshman from Westmont.

Appearing after a 20-year absence from the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship in Princeton, N.J., the Illini advanced to the Final Four. Now they will face the University of Texas at Dallas, Webster University in St. Louis, and University of Maryland at Baltimore County. (There was a five-way tie for first, but because two of the tying teams were from Webster, only one will be vying for the national title.)

Rosen plays first board on the A-team and is no stranger to chess, having captured the third-grade Illinois state championship, according to the university’s computer science department website. 

A computer science and math major, Rosen said the victory was made sweeter by the fact that the team does not have a coach or any players ranked at the grandmaster level. “Every other team that tied for first — they offer full scholarships to all their players,” Rosen said in a statement. “They recruit from all over the world.”

A title will almost certainly raise the profile of the club and boost recruiting efforts.

— Bonnie Miller Rubin


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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