The first Texas A&M University-San Antonio esports chess team lost 11.5-4.5 against Baylor University during the final round of the Collegiate Chess league tournament April 15.
Despite losing the match, the chess team made a historic run taking down big-name schools like Duke and Brown universities in its first semester as a team in the esports program at A&M-San Antonio.
The team originally started as a club in 2021. English senior Asher Honeycutt said a key contribution to their success was the bond they forged before becoming a team. They became familiar with each other and their play styles, which made competing together easier and more cohesive.
Esports head coach Aaron Jaggers approached the players about potentially becoming a team in fall 2022.
It was by coincidence the club already had four inaugural members, the minimum necessary to compete the following semester.
Playing against Baylor, the team said they couldn’t catch a rhythm because their opponent’s skill level varied from match to match.
“There seems to be a pretty big division in the skill level of [Baylor’s] roster,” biology junior Julian Regino said. “It was a perfect game and [then] a not-so perfect game.”
The team credited Baylor for their win.
“These guys were way stronger than me and I was borderline winning two of [those matches], but I still lost,” Jared Theis, a computer science junior, said.
The matches are four-on-four with each player having a one-on-one with a member of the opposing team.
Players use their mouse to move chess pieces on a digital game board when facing opponents online.
A win is worth one point, a draw is worth half a point and a loss is worth nothing. The wins are determined by which team meets or exceeds 8.5 points after four rounds.
In an interview on March 28, cyber security sophomore Eli Campos, a member of the chess team, said he understood the expectations that came with the team flourishing so quickly.
“With us being so successful, we have a standard now,” Campos said.
As much as the team enjoyed the success, there was more on the line than a title.
“One of the things that was really hinging on our success was whether the chess esports program would continue at TAMUSA,” Honeycutt said. “If we had a team that stayed consistent and committed then it was going to get funding.
“This is the first time we’re doing this. We have to do well for it to stay here and we want it to stay here, because we love chess.”