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March 31, 2009

Another Shining Moment: UMBC, UTD Chess Teams Meet Again in "Final Four of College Chess"

Can Stanford or Texas-Brownsville be the "Villanova" of 2009 President's Cup?

Mike Lurie

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


Photo Caption: UMBC Chess Team Ties for 1st Place at 2008 Pan Am

March 31, 2009

BALTIMORE -- While millions of sports fans focus on the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Final Four in Detroit this weekend, an equally intense sporting competition resumes in Dallas.

The battleground is a chessboard, not the hardwood. One of the fiercest rivalries in college sports re-surfaces as two American chess powerhouses, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), meet April 4-5 in the 2009 President’s Cup.

The event, hosted by UTD and free to the public, is better-known as “the Final Four of College Chess.”

UTD and UMBC are the undisputed top two teams in the nation -- the chess equivalent of Final Four basketball fixtures University of North Carolina and Michigan State.

At the December 2008 Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championships (Pan Am), UMBC and UTD tied for first place. The University of Texas at Brownsville and Stanford University took the other two top spots, automatically qualifying for this weekend’s Final Four.

The UMBC chess program is proud of its tradition of engaging Maryland’s young people in the intellectual benefits of chess. Its Grandmasters have tutored participants in the chess club at Arbutus Middle School, which borders the UMBC campus near Baltimore-Washington Marshall International Airport. UMBC will host the Maryland Scholastic Chess Spectacular May 10, a scholastic chess tournament open to any students in grades 1-12.

Classic Rivalries:
UMBC is eager for a rematch with UTD after losing Pan Am titles to UTD earlier in the decade by one half-point on two occasions, the chess equivalent of an overtime buzzer-beater. UTD narrowly won the 2008 Final Four, held at UMBC.

One Shining Moment:
A “Cinderella” squad such as Texas-Brownsville has the opportunity to upset a national power and become the chess equivalent of the Villanova men’s basketball team, the No. 5 seed and surprise Final Four entry this weekend in Detroit.

International Flavor:
UMBC features four Grandmasters: Leonid “the Chief” Kritz (Russia), Sergey “the Stealth” Erenburg (Israel), Timur “the Uzbek Dragon” Gareyev (Uzbekistan) and Sasha Kaplan (Israel). Sabina “Sunshine” Foisor (Romania) is an alternate.

UMBC Chess Club:


Posted by mlurie at March 31, 2009 3:54 PM