UMBC chess team scores its sixth win in seven years at tournament in Miami

Grand master Sherzer earns best player honors

January 02, 2003|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

The chess team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County garnered its sixth win in seven years at the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship this week, taking home $1,000 in prize money and a first-place trophy.

In addition to the championship won by the four members of UMBC's B chess team, the four A team members tied for second place with their rivals from the University of Texas at Dallas. UMBC tied with the Texas school for the Pan Am championship in 2000 and 2001.

Baltimore grandmaster Alex Sherzer, nicknamed "The Surgeon," also came away with honors as the best player on board No. 1 for the tournament, which was held Friday through Monday in Miami.

Alan Sherman, the team's adviser and an associate professor of computer science at UMBC, said the rating of an individual player determines the board at which he or she sits.

Sherzer became a member of UMBC's championship team as the result of a last-minute switch from the A to the B squad. He is one of about 40 grand masters in the United States.

"We are very proud of the B team," Sherman said. "It helps to have two strong teams. We tied the record for the number of wins or ties this year at the tournament."

UMBC sent three teams, A, B and C, to the tournament. Four members were assigned to each team, with one alternate.

UMBC, whose chess team has become a powerhouse at events throughout the country, was competing against 30 colleges and universities, including Stanford, Princeton, the University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sherman said.

UMBC and the University of Texas at Dallas sent a total of seven grandmasters, the highest ranking for a chess player, to the Pan Am championship.

Sherman credits recruiting, coaching, organization and inspiration as the reasons the UMBC team has consistently had such a powerful team.

"We try to recruit the best students from around the world," he said. "The team members are from Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia and Poland, as well as New York City and Baltimore."

Sherman, who has been the team adviser since 1991, said the team would like to enter more competitions.

"We'd love to compete with teams from other countries," he said.

"Right now, we are looking for sponsorships to help pay for the expenses so that we could travel abroad."

In addition to Sherzer, the B team members included: international master Eugene Perelshteyn, Federation Internationale des Echecs master William Morrison and John Rouleau.

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