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March 28, 2008

UMBC to Host President's Cup, April 5-6

“Final Four of College Chess” Comes to UMBC April 5-6

Photo Caption (click on image to download high-resolution photo): UMBC Chess Team members pose with a UMBC cheerleader and the school mascot.

Mike Lurie

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

March 28, 2008

BALTIMORE – As the campus community continues to honor the men's basketball team's historic first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) will host the 2008 President’s Cup, known as the “Final Four of College Chess,” on April 5-6.

Admission is free. Spectators are cordially invited to attend this exciting United States Chess Federation (USCF) National event, which determines the 2008 National Collegiate Chess Team Champion. All matches will take place in the UMBC Game Room, located in the 2nd floor of The Commons, the hub of student life on the UMBC campus.

The President’s Cup features the top four American college chess teams from the prestigious 2007 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. This year’s finalists are “Pan Am” champion University of Texas-Dallas (UTD), UMBC, New York University (NYU) and Miami-Dade College (MDC).

UMBC’s legacy as a collegiate chess champion includes four Final Four victories (2003-2006) and seven Pan-Am titles (1996, 1998-2002 and 2005). UTD is a three-time Final Four champion and a six-time winner of the Pan-Am.

The university's prowess in chess has been amplified by a series of national achievements in Division I athletics.

The men's basketball team won the America East Conference 2007-08 regular-season and tournament championships. Drawing No. 2 seed Georgetown in the Midwest regional, the Retrievers commanded national respect for challenging the Hoyas before losing to the perennial Big East Conference power, 66-47. The men's lacrosse team recorded the first NCAA postseason victory in UMBC history last spring, beating Maryland in the opening round of the Division I tournament. The women's basketball team engineered three straight upsets at the 2007 America East tournament to qualify for the NCAA tourney.

The chess rivalry between UMBC and UTD is fierce. They are the only schools to win the Final Four since it began in 2001. Alan T. Sherman, director of the UMBC chess program and organizer of the 2008 Final Four, considers NYU and MDC to be respectable challengers for this year’s championship.

“We eagerly await the opportunity to avenge our narrow second-place finish to UTD at the Pan-Am,” said Sherman, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “With the addition of International Grandmaster Timur Gareev, our team will be even stronger.” Gareev, from Uzbekistan (USCF rating 2574), joined UMBC in January 2008. He recently tied for first place at the Liberty Bell Tournament in Philadelphia and will play second board for UMBC.

The UMBC Team features three other International Grandmasters: Sergey “The Stealth” Erenburg (Board 1, Israel), Pawel “The Polish Magician” Blehm (Board 3, Poland) and Katerina “The Kiev Killer” Rohonyan (Board 4, Ukraine). Rohonyan, a senior computer science major, will remain at UMBC to study for her PhD.

The President’s Cup uses a Team Round Robin format scored by total individual points. Each team has four players and up to two alternates. Standard USCF rules apply. Each player must satisfy the eligibility requirements established by the USCF College Chess Committee.

Rounds 1 and 2 will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., respectively, on April 5.

Round 3 is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 6, with a tiebreaker match (if necessary) that day at 2:30 p.m.

Throughout each round, international Grandmaster Sam Palatnik will provide free move-by-move commentary in Commons Room 329. All games will be broadcast move-by-move at using the handheld Monroi wireless technology.

UMBC Chess Club:


UMBC is a medium-sized public research university of 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate with professors on real-world challenges. Located just south of Baltimore near I-95 and the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, UMBC's residential campus houses state-of-the-art facilities in the sciences, engineering, arts, social sciences and humanities. UMBC combines the energy of a research university with the close community feel and attention to individual students found in liberal arts colleges.

Posted by mlurie at March 28, 2008 1:27 PM