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December 30, 2009

UMBC Chess Team Captures Pan-Am Tournament


UMBC Chess Team Stands Alone Atop World of Collegiate Chess

Retrievers take all six matches in capturing record ninth title at Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship

Daniel Clemens

December 30, 2009

BALTIMORE – The chess team from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is back on familiar ground: The summit of the college chess world.

And this time, UMBC stands alone.

Capping a near-flawless performance over the past four days at the tournament in South Padre Island, Texas, the Retrievers topped a team from the University of Texas-Brownsville today to secure the title outright for the first time since 2005.

Today’s win completed a perfect 6-0 match record for the tournament, known as the “World Series of college chess.” UMBC’s dominant performance is all the more impressive given the high quality of the 28-team field this year, said Alan Sherman, director of the school’s chess program.

The performance is an upgrade over 2008, when UMBC shared the title with a University of Texas-Dallas team that had been on a two-year Pan-Am win streak.

Today UMBC topped UT-Brownsville’s “B” team, 4-0, to complete the march to the title. But the Retrievers most of the hard work yesterday, winning decisive matches over two of the strongest teams in college chess. The Retrievers topped UT-Dallas, 3 to 1, in the early match, and then got past UT-Brownsville’s “into today’s action. The tournament also included teams from Yale, Princeton, NYU, Stanford and University of Chicago.

“It is extremely great,” Igor Epstein, a UMBC coach, said late today in a telephone interview from the Sheraton South Padre Island Beach Hotel, where the event took place.

“We did it,” Epstein said. “We clearly were at our best.”

UMBC’s “B” team also performed well, going 4-2 and finishing sixth overall.

The players on the UMBC “A” team players are: Leonid Kritz, a Grandmaster from Russia; Sergey Erenburg, a Grandmaster from Israel; Giorgi Margvelashvili, an International Master from the Republic of Georgia; Sasha Kaplan, an International Master from Israel; and Sabina Foisor (alternate), a Woman International Grandmaster from Romania.

The Pan-Am win qualifies UMBC for the other big event on the college chess calendar: the 2010 President’s Cup (known as “the Final Four of College Chess”) on April 9-10 on the campus of UT-Brownsville.

The Pan-Am is the most celebrated intercollegiate chess tournament in the Americas. Since its 1946 inception, dozens of universities throughout the Americas have participated. The tournament is open to any college or university team from North, South, or Central America.

The Retrievers won their first Pan-Am title in 1996. They went on a five-year championship tear from 1998 to 2002, which included a tie in 2001.

More information about the 2009 Pan-Am and college chess can be found at:

Upcoming chess events at UMBC (visit

UMBC Open: February 27-28
Scholastic Spectacular: May 2

Posted by elewis at December 30, 2009 12:37 PM