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Saint Louis University Wins Collegiate Chess League Title

by Maggie Rotermund
Media Inquiries

Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.

The Saint Louis University Chess Team won the Collegiate Chess League (CCL). The season-long tournament culminated on April 16, with SLU defeating the University of Missouri.

SLU is the first team in the CCL’s five-year history to win two championships. 

Chess Board with trophies

A practice board in the chess team headquarters on the ground floor of Saint Louis University's Morrissey Hall. Photo by Sarah Conroy. 

Varuzhan Akobian, a grandmaster and interim head coach of SLU’s chess team, said the team worked hard over the course of months to achieve this goal.

“Our players are playing quite well, and we are continuing to win tournaments,” Akobian said.

SLU’s roster of players for the CCL included Benjamin Bok, Nikolas Theodorou, Robby Kevlishvili, Stavroula Tsolakidou, Thalia Cervantes Landeiro, and Gabriela Antova. The blitz chess online tournament was played each weekend over the course of the season.

“We really worked on speed and playing fast,” Akobian said. “I think we are the strongest team in the country on shorter time control matches.”

SLU competed against teams from Duke, Yale, Brown University, Washington University, and last year’s champion University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). 

UTRGV entered the finals as the favorite to play Mizzou for the championship. After the first two rounds, SLU and UTRGV were deadlocked at 4-4, when SLU took control to win the next 7.5 out of eight games to advance.

SLU and Mizzou faced off earlier in the year, with Mizzou coming out ahead. The two teams also both competed in the President’s Cup, with SLU coming in second place to Webster University.

SLU won the President’s Cup at the 2022 Final Four of Collegiate Chess, defeating Webster. 

Akobian said this was the final team competition of the 2022-23 season. Individual team members will compete in various tournaments over the summer.

About SLU’s Chess Team

Established in the fall of 2016 as a partnership between SLU and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, with support from SLU alumnus, University trustee and chess enthusiast Rex Sinquefield, the team is not just a club activity but rather a strategic effort by administrators and alumni to recruit promising players and build on the University’s excellent academic reputation.