By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
7:08 PM EDT, April 1, 2012
The competitive chess team at the University of Maryland Baltimore County fell less than a point short of regaining its national title at the 2012 President's Cup, which culminated Sunday in Herndon, Va.
The renowned team has won six national titles since 2001 in what is informally known as the "Final Four" of college chess but came in second this year, tying with one of its longtime competitors, the University of Texas-Dallas, with 71/2 points. Another of the team's rivals, Texas Tech University, won with 8 points. New York University came in third.
"It was an extremely close event, and it could have gone to either of the top teams," Alan T. Sherman, director of UMBC's chess program, said after the President's Cup. "The team is overall happy with its performance."
The four teams all qualified for the President's Cup in December at the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. UMBC took home second place in the qualifying match, ahead of Texas Tech and New York University.
But, Sherman said, having dominated college chess in the last decade, the team was hoping for more than second best in the final major competition of the season.
"We're in this strange position where you should feel good about second place," Sherman said, "but you don't feel so great after you don't win it again."
Last year, the team took a disappointing last place in the President's Cup, the first time it had ever not placed first and second, and Sherman said that reflects, in part, that the field is getting larger and more competitive every year.
The team is recruiting, as two of its top members head to doctorate programs in financial economics.
"For many years, it was UMBC and [University of Texas-Dallas], and now there are other schools getting into the fray," he said. "And now more schools are recognizing the benefit of offering chess scholarships, and taking it more seriously as an intercollegiate sport."
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