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December 15, 2006

‘Cuban Cyclone,’ ‘Polish Magician’ and ‘Kiev Killer’ Descend on the Nation’s Capital

Reigning Champion UMBC is Host for Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, Dec. 27-30 at Renaissance Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Mike Lurie

Office: 410-455-6380
Cellphone: 443-695-0262

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The “Cuban Cyclone,” the “Polish Magician” and the “Kiev Killer” bring their take-no-prisoners game plan to Washington on December 27.

They are determined to keep the title they reclaimed last year in Miami, when the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) won its record seventh title at the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championships, “The World Series of College Chess.”

Intercollegiate chess won’t land players on the “jacked-up” segment of a football television network near you. It won’t inspire a contract holdout, develop a left fielder with home-run pop or prevent an NFL wide receiver from “talking trash.”

Nonetheless, intercollegiate chess is intense. Its competitors are fierce. Mental acumen and physical stamina are essential. UMBC, a place where pep rallies for the chess team are routine, is serious about continuing its reign as national collegiate champions.

UMBC features such recruits as American freshman Ryan Goldenberg of West Haven, Conn., and colorfully nicknamed grandmasters such as Katrina “the Kiev Killer” Rohonyan of Ukraine, Pawel “The Polish Magician” Blehm and “The Cuban Cyclone” Bruci Lopez.

The competition runs December 27-30 at the Renaissance Hotel, 999 9th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., near the intersection of K Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Admission is free and spectators are welcome.

The Pan-Am is one of the world’s most celebrated intercollegiate chess tournaments. Since its 1946 inception, five years before Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World,” dozens of universities throughout the Americas have participated.

The 2006 Pan-Am includes teams from Yale, Duke and Dartmouth. Its international flavor is embodied by such schools as the University of Toronto, the Catholic University of Peru and Miami Dade College, a rising chess power thanks to an influx of top Cuban players.

The tournament is open to any college or university team from North, South, or Central America. The tournament also includes the Pan-Am scholastic team individual and team championships for students in grades 1-12. The top individual scholastic winner will be offered a four-year scholarship to UMBC, a $69,416 value.

On Dec. 27 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., the weekend kicks off with a fast-paced exhibition match with a top cash prize of $1,000. The match will feature live, play-by-play commentary from chess authorities master Craig Jones and former UMBC player senior master William “The Exterminator” Morrison.

Among the highlights for UMBC at the 2005 Pan Am were a sweep of Harvard and victories over archrival the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), winner of the previous two Pan-Am titles.

The Retrievers won their first title in 1996 and then embarked on a five-year championship streak from 1998 to 2002. UMBC and UTD are the undisputed top two teams in the nation, and among only a handful of schools nationwide that attract the world's best chess players with full scholarships.

The top four teams from the Pan-Am will go on to face each other in the Final Four of College Chess to be held March 24 and 25, 2007 in Dallas.

More information online:

Posted by crose at December 15, 2006 3:47 PM