|News contact:||Jon Senderling, UTD, (972) 883-2565 firstname.lastname@example.org|
U. T. Dallas Aims to Reclaim Number 1 Ranking
Will Try to Wrest Title from Archrival UMBC;
RICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 9, 2003) - For two consecutive years, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) sat atop the world of college chess as the number one-ranked team, basking in the glow of national recognition as unmistakably the best and the brightest in the most cerebral of all intercollegiate competitions (does anyone really believe that a quarterback's playbook is anything more than mere Cliff Notes compared with the hundreds of all-but-indecipherable manuals and thousands of arcane variations chess players have to study?). During that period, UTD won the first two "Final Four" of Chess championship events ever held (in 2001 and 2002) and tied for first place in the prestigious Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship two years in a row (2000 and 2001).
"We're number One! We're Number One!" For two glorious years, that was the mantra chanted on the UTD campus. With the university's kings of the square board suddenly now kings of the entire universe of college chess, it no longer mattered, even during homecoming week, that U. T. Dallas didn't field a football team.
But alas, that was yesterday, when all the UTD chess team's troubles seemed so far away, or, as they might put it in the slow-paced, tradition-bound game of knights, bishops and castles:
Last Dec. 30, UTD's longtime chess rival, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), unceremoniously dethroned UTD in the Pan Am - albeit, by only one-half of a point; and then on April 6 of this year UMBC again dumped - make that checkmated - UTD, this time in the "Final Four" of Chess by 1 ½ points. For the past eight months, the chant in the chess office on the UTD campus, to the extent that it is discernible, has been a diminished in tone and muffled in decibel level, "We're Number Two" - three little words that, as it turns out, may once have worked in rental car ads but have no place on either the battlefield or the chess board.
Better, perhaps, and certainly more aspirational, are, "Let's kick some butt!" or "Let's pin some rooks!" and that is what the UTD chessmen, a diverse and eclectic group, hope to do to UMBC when they meet, eyeball-to-eyeball, pawn-to-pawn, in this year's Pan Am competition Dec. 27-30 at the Embassy Suites Hotel near Miami International Airport.
Dozens of other universities will participate in the Pan Am, which is regarded as the top college chess tournament in the Western Hemisphere. But if past is prescient prologue as a predictor of performance, the winner will be either UMBC or UTD. It almost always is. (Think mid-1980's: Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in professional basketball.) At the Pan Am, everyone else - including Harvard, Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Chicago - will be playing for third place. UMBC-UTD is the most competitive rivalry in intercollegiate competition — and has been for at least four years. Part of the reason for that is that the presidents of the two universities, UTD's Franklyn G. Jenifer and UMBC's Freeman A. Hrabowski, both view chess as a metaphor for academic excellence and intellectual rigor. And both universities have established themselves as places where it is "cool to be smart."
"UMBC no doubt will be favored on the basis of the chess ratings of its players," said Dr. Tim Redman, professor of literary studies at U. T. Dallas and director of the school's seven-year-old chess program. "But we have some excellent new players, and our team has been training very hard under Coach Rade Milovanovic, an international master. UMBC will be making a big mistake if it takes us too lightly."
UTD actually will be sending two teams to the Pan Am in Miami. The "A" team will be composed of Grandmaster (GM) Marcin Kaminski of Poland, 26, a senior majoring in computer science and software engineering; International Master (IM) Dmitry Scheider of New York, 18, a freshman business administration major; IM Magesh Chandran Panchanathan of India, 20, a freshman majoring in telecommunications; IM Amon Simutowe of Zambia, 21, a freshman majoring in economics and finance; and FIDE Master (FM) Andrei Zaremba of Michigan, 21, a senior majoring in electrical engineering. Playing for UTD's "B" team will be FM Andrew Whatley of Alabama, 22, a graduate student in public affairs; FM Dennis Rylander of Sweden, 24, a junior majoring in business administration; FM Daniel Fernandez of Florida, 18, a freshman majoring in economics; FM Michal Kujovic of Slovakia, 21, a junior majoring in mathematics; and FM Ali Morshedi of Texas, 20, a junior majoring in electrical engineering..
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This page last updated August 03, 2013