The Chess Program at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD)

by
Dr. Tim Redman

Chess restarted at UTD when two students sought two chess-playing professors, Esteban Egea and Tim Redman, to sponsor a chess club. With the advice and encouragement of then Undergraduate Dean Dennis Kratz, Redman met with Provost Hobson Wildenthal to plan a comprehensive Chess Program at the University of Texas at Dallas, which launched in 1996.

From the beginning, the Provost insisted that a university chess program must meet academic as well as competitive goals. Steve Shutt, then on the Executive Board of the U.S. Chess Federation, asked that UTD consider offering on-line courses on chess and education for undergraduate and graduate credit. After securing a grant from the UT System Distance Learning Program, Redman and former U.S. Women’s Champion Dr. Alexey Root launched these courses, which Dr. Root still teaches.

With help from the Provost, Jim Eade, the U.S. Chess Trust, and the Texas Chess Association, Team UTD held the first (2001) and second (2011) Koltanowski International Conferences on Chess and Education. Select papers from the first conference were published as a book in 2006. A book of essays from the second conference is forthcoming.
Since its founding in 1996, the UTD Chess Program has offered millions of dollars in chess scholarships. All universities compete for talented students; UTD is one of the universities which seeks them among the ranks of chess players. Redman directed the Program from 1996 to 2006. He was followed as Director by Jim Stallings in 2006. Since its inception, the UTD Chess Team has won a number of national and international college chess championships. Aside from Stallings, its staff is made up of a full-time chess coach, IM Rade Milovanovic, and a half-time administrator, Luis Salinas.

Tim Redman enjoyed a decades-long friendship with GM Arnold Denker and his wife Nina. Arnie always said that if you play chess, you will find friends wherever you travel. The same is true for our students. Coming to UTD you will have a couple of dozen friends on your arrival. But winning the Denker may be the most difficult way to get a scholarship at the University of Texas at Dallas. If you have outstanding grades and test scores or are a national merit scholar, we will find a way to support your study at UTD.

Tim Redman was a member of the national champion college chess team at the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. He has served twice as President of the US Chess Federation and is Professor of Literary Studies in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.

In 1996, when the University of Texas at Dallas began offering scholarships to winners of selected scholastic events who also demonstrated strong academic potential, because of my longstanding friendship with Arnie and Nina, the Denker was at the top of my list. I liked what Arnie was doing for the high school state champions. If I had to guess, I would guess we started in 1997. But you would have to verify that date. I’m in Italy without access to my chess files.

When the world championship match between Karpov and Korchnoi was held in Merano and Bangkok, I wrote to American grandmasters who were friends and whom, I knew would be in Merano. Robert Byrne, Arnie, Yasser Seirawan. A dear friend of mine, Mary De Rachewiltz, lived in a castle, Schloss Brunnenburg, in Dorf Tirol, immediately above Merano. I suggested to all that they call and pay a visit. Only Arnie and Nina were smart enough to do so. They had a great time — tea with Mary and a tour of the castle. Nina was very knowledgeable about public art and got to see the newly sculpted gates of the castle.

Arnie had terminal cancer when Don Schultz went to visit him. We played two games of chess, Don and I, consulting, versus Arnie. Arnie, sharp to the last, split 1-1 against us. A photo of the second game was circulated on the internet. After he died, National Public Radio interviewed me about his chess career. Arnie and Nina were my dear friends and I loved them.