Ivy College Championship

April 14th and 15th,

Some of America’s top collegians set their books aside this weekend, traveling to Norwalk to do battle for campus pride in the first-ever Ivy College Chess Championship. Eight four-player teams against one another in four grueling rounds of play. At the end of the two-day competition, Columbia University stood alone at the top, having won all four of its matches. Dartmouth College, with two wins and a tie to its credit, took second place; while Yale and Princeton ended in a tie for third.

Yale’s team, anchored by International Grandmaster Robert Hess (the fourth-strongest player in the U.S.) and International Master Bogdan Vioreanu, was the clear favorite heading into the tournament. But Columbia’s well-balanced team featured three master-level players, with the dangerous Victor Shen playing the top board. Dartmouth College, which fielded not a single master- or expert-rated player, was the dark horse of the event.

Ivy Championship

The excitement began in the very first round, with Columbia sweeping Princeton’s B-team and Dartmouth upsetting Hess’s Yale squad. Columbia, Dartmouth, and Yale coasted to easy victories in the second round; but Columbia cemented its front-runner status by winning all four games against Dartmouth in Sunday morning’s third round.

Having won its first three matchups, Columbia entered the fourth round guaranteed at least a tie for first; however, their final round pitted them against Yale, meaning that Columbia’s top player Shen would be paired against GM Robert Hess--a mismatch theoretically favoring the Yale team. Meanwhile, Dartmouth’s match against a scrappy Princeton team ended in a tie, meaning that Yale needed a team victory to avoid being relegated to third place. But Shen and Hess battled fiercely. With clocks ticking down, Shen was able to wrest a small advantage from the seasoned grandmaster, and soon converted it to a win.

Ivy Championship