LINDSBORG, Kansas (April 4, 2005) – The most evenly matched rivalry in intercollegiate competition continued in this small Central Kansas town over the weekend as The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), defeated The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in the final match to win the fifth annual Final Four of Chess and take home the President’s Cup.
UMBC amassed 10 points during the two-day, round-robin tournament. UTD, with 7 1/2 points, finished second, followed by Miami (Dade) Community College, with six points, and Stanford University, with ½ point.
UMBC’s win in the Final Four came less than four months after UTD, coached by International Master Rade Milovanovic, had bested UMBC and more than 20 other teams in the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the most prestigious tournament of its kind held in the Western Hemisphere each year.
The outcome of the Final Four throws into question once again which of the two teams is “number one” in the world of college chess. UMBC has won three consecutive Final Four championships (UTD won the first two), while UTD has won or tied for first in four of the past five Pan Am competitions.
UMBC went into the second day of this year’s Final Four leading UTD, 7 ½ points to 6. On Saturday, the two chess powerhouses had crushed Stanford by identical 4-0 scores, but UMBC had defeated Miami-Dade, 3 ½ to ½, while UTD had to settle for a 2-2 draw against the much-improved team from South Florida.
On Sunday, UMBC clinched first place in the tournament by defeating UTD, 2 ½-1½, in their head-to-head match. UMBC’s 29-year-old grandmaster, Alexander “Alex the Invincible” Onischuk, the highest-rated chess player in the United States (and one of the top 50 in the world), atoned for a rare loss in December by defeating International Master Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, 21, of UTD, who had routed Onischuk in a shocking upset at the Pan Am. The other three games between UTD and UMBC on Sunday ended in draws.
“It was hard-fought, as it always is between UTD and UMBC,” said Dr. Tim Redman, founder and director the UTD Chess Program and a professor of literary studies in the university’s School of Arts & Humanities. “I think a big part of the story this time is that Miami-Dade is clearly on the rise.”
This year’s Final Four was held at the Rosberg House Conference Center, which is located at 200 North Main Street in a building so new that throughout the tournament the players had to compete for attention with the unmistakable smell of fresh paint. The competition was sponsored by the United States Chess Federation, the Anatoly Karpov School of Chess in Lindsborg and the U. S. Chess Trust.
The Final Four of Chess went down to the wire the first three years the tournament was played. In both 2001 in Dallas and 2002 in Miami, UTD came from behind in dramatic fashion in the final game of the final match to beat UMBC and win the tournament. In 2003, also in Miami, the roles were reversed. UMBC trailed going into its Sunday match against the two-time winners but played superbly against UTD and dashed the team from Texas’ hopes for a “three-peat.” But last year and again this year in Kansas, UMBC took a lead on the opening day of the tournament and pulled away to a larger margin on Sunday.
Representing UTD in Lindsborg were four International Masters -- Panchanathan, a junior majoring in computer science; Amon Simutowe, 22, a sophomore majoring in economics and finance; Peter Vavrak, 22, a senior majoring in business administration; and Dmitry Schneider, 19, a sophomore business administration major, along with FIDE Masters Michal Kujovic, 22, a senior majoring in statistics, and Andrei Zaremba, 22, a graduate student in electrical engineering.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.