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March 7, 2002

UMBC and UTD Renew Rivalry in Second Annual “Final Four” of College Chess

Baltimore, Md. – The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), will resume what has become one of the most hotly contested, evenly fought rivalries in intercollegiate competition next month when they face off in the second annual “Final Four” -- of Chess. The tournament will be held April 5-7 at the World Chess Hall of Fame and Sidney Samole Museum in Miami, Fla.

Harvard University and Stanford University will also compete in the event, but will be decided underdogs to UMBC and UTD as they battle for the President's Cup and the right to lay claim to the title of “best college chess team in the United States.” That's because for two years in a row, UMBC and UTD have tied for first place in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the top college chess tournament held in the Western Hemisphere, defeating the likes of Harvard, Stanford, MIT, U.C. Berkeley and the University of Chicago.

Over the past six years, UMBC has established itself as the dominant team in college chess, but in the past two years UTD has come on very strong. In 2001, UTD was named “Chess College of the Year” by the U.S. Chess Federation, an honor won by UMBC the year before. UTD also defeated UMBC in the inaugural “Final Four” of Chess last April, edging out UMBC by a score of 12 to 11.5. Despite this, UMBC can boast that it has finished first, or tied for first, in the Pan Am event five of the past six years.

The two schools, neither of which fields a football team, have seen their chess rivalry escalate to the level of Duke and North Carolina in college basketball or Texas-Oklahoma in football. The main differences are in the crowds (or lack thereof) and noise (nonexistent in chess), but competition is fierce, and both UTD and UMBC have been known to hold pep rallies for their teams before sending them off to do battle.

“UTD and UMBC usually defeat everyone else, but we find it tremendously difficult to beat each other,” said Dr. Tim Redman, professor of literary studies at U.T. Dallas and director of the school's six-year-old chess program. “Each team is almost a mirror image of the other, and for us to tie for first place two years in a row in the Pan Am tournament – first in Milwaukee and then in Providence – bears that out. It would be like Miami and Nebraska tying for first in the national college football polls two consecutive years. I don't see how our teams could be more evenly matched or the competition more intense.”

“Over the past ten years, UMBC has become the team to beat in college chess,” said Alan Sherman, UMBC Chess Team advisor and associate professor of computer science. “For perhaps the first time, we have met our match in UTD. Our programs are head and shoulders above the competition, and we now find ourselves recruiting the same players for chess scholarships.”

The presidents of the two universities, UMBC's Freeman A. Hrabowski and UTD's Franklyn G. Jenifer view chess as a metaphor for academic excellence and intellectual rigor. And both universities have established themselves as places where it is “cool to be smart.”

UMBC's will be represented by Alex Woitkevich (Poland), Eugene Perelshteyn (Massachusetts), William “The Exterminator” Morrison (New York), and Battsetseg “The Mongolian Terror” Tsagaan (Tatarstan).

The UTD team in Miami will be composed of is composed of Yuri Shulman (Belarus), Marcin Kaminski (Poland), Andrei Zaremba (Michigan), Andrew Whatley (Alabama). David John (Texas) will serve as first alternate and Dennis Rylander (Sweden) as second alternate.

About UMBC
UMBC is a medium-sized, selective, public research university situated on 500 acres between Baltimore and Washington, DC. UMBC has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences and engineering. A campus community rich in cultural and ethnic diversity, UMBC promotes cutting-edge research and creative activity. The campus is home to the nationally-known Meyerhoff Scholarship Program, the Shriver Center, and a number of major research centers. UMBC is a member of the University System of Maryland and is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. For additional information about UMBC, please visit the university's web site at www.umbc.edu

About UTD
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university's web site at www.utdallas.edu.

Posted by dwinds1 at March 7, 2002 12:00 AM