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March 31, 2011

UMBC Chess Team Seeks Third Straight Victory in “Final Four of College Chess”

Anthony Lane, UMBC

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) chess team will attempt to reassert its dominance in the collegiate chess world with a victory this weekend in the 2011 President’s Cup, known as the “Final Four of College Chess.”

The competition, to be held April 2-3 in Herndon, Va., will match the intensity of this weekend’s men’s and women’s NCAA Division I Final Four basketball championships as the UMBC Retrievers seek a third straight victory against their arch-rivals from the University of Texas at Dallas. Two other strong teams from Texas will also compete.

“These teams are more closely matched than they have ever been before,” said UMBC Chess Director Alan Sherman.

Battling weather-induced travel delays and illness, UMBC’s team placed second in December at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, losing narrowly to UT Dallas. The President’s Cup amounts to a rematch as it brings together the top four U.S. teams from that tournament: UMBC, UT Dallas, Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

UMBC’s team will be led by International Grandmaster Sergey “The Stealth” Erenburg. Grandmaster Leonid “Chief” Erenburg will play the second board, Grandmaster Giorgi Margvelashvili will play third and International Master Sasha “Plaplan” Kaplan will play fourth.

One bright spot from the December championship was the performance by UMBC’s Sabina “Sunshine” Foisor, who won all her matches — including a victory against Alejandro Ramirez, a Grandmaster and the top player at UT Dallas — as she led UMBC’s B-team to a fifth-place finish.

Foisor, a Woman Grandmaster, is first alternate at on the Final Four team, with Ricky Selzler serving as second alternate.

Supporting the UMBC team are Grandmaster Sam Palatnik, associate director, and Coach Igor Epshteyn.

UMBC has captured first place six times in the Final Four’s ten-year history, with UT Dallas prevailing the other four years. This year offers a dramatic rematch between UMBC and UTD, and a “Cinderella” opportunity for Texas Tech or Brownsville to claim their first national title.

The President's Cup is a national event sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation and hosted this year by Booz Allen Hamilton. The competition is open to the public and will take place in rooms 2237 and 2238 at Booz Allen Hamilton’s “One Dulles” building, 13200 Woodland Park Road in Herndon, Va. Round one and two begin at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on April 2. The final round begins at 9 a.m. on April 3.

You can follow the chess games move by move this weekend at Information about the tournament will be posted at

Posted by alane at March 31, 2011 3:33 PM