Maryland's No. 1 team

UMBC chess: School's honors reputation rises even higher with another championship.

January 04, 2002

THE TERPS didn't culminate their dream football season with an Orange Bowl victory. But the state -- the Baltimore area in particular -- still has reason to celebrate a collegiate championship.

We're talking grids here, not gridiron.

And we're talking UMBC, which was recently crowned co-champion of the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship. The tournament is regarded as the biggest collegiate chess competition in the Western Hemisphere.

UMBC has dominated the competition over a six-year period as no other university team has -- not Harvard, Yale or Columbia. UMBC won or tied for the championship in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and now 2001.

In recent years, UMBC has pounded the Ivy Leaguers and other schools in this game of brains, not brawn.

The Catonsville school has assembled a team with discipline, mental and physical toughness (to get them through six-hour matches) and superior strategy. And, like an intimidating football team, it has swagger, with a top player nicknamed The Exterminator.

It all adds up to amazing success on the chessboard, which solidifies UMBC's reputation as an honors university.

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