The University of Maryland, Baltimore County's chess team placed third yesterday at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, earning a trip to the college championship this spring.
The defending Pan-American champs came in behind two University of Texas teams in the matchup in Washington that included teams from 24 colleges.
Miami-Dade College and Duke University rounded out the top finishers and will also move on to the final four tournament to be held in Dallas over two days, beginning March 24.
Last year UMBC won the Dallas event, officially called the President's Cup, for the fourth year in a row, powered by the play of Alexander Onischuk, the country's top individual player.
Onischuk, 31, who is working on a degree in modern languages, is ineligible to compete in this weekend's four-day competition because he's taking the semester off from his studies. But the Ukrainian-born chess wizard will be back this spring.
"It was an exciting and hard-fought tournament," said Alan Sherman, founder and faculty adviser of the university's chess club and an organizer of the tournament. "We look forward to the final four when we'll have our full-force team."