The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 5, 2013

Final Four chess title no longer UMBC slam dunk


Sherman had this to say about his rival: "She's done a remarkable job in recruiting, but many people have a rather low view of some of her tactics."

Is she a maligned figure like Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, known as A-Rod to friends and foes?

"Well, I don't know who A-Rod is so I can't comment on the analogy," Sherman said. (To be fair, it's unlikely A-Rod knows who Sherman is.)

Webster administrators said they viewed landing Polgar as a unique opportunity to strengthen the school's academic reputation and forge a path, as provost Julian Schuster put it, "to incorporate chess as a didactic tool in the academic mission of the university." It's not about winning, he added, so much as it is about celebrating an intellectual activity that brings brilliant, diverse students to campus.

"But we prefer winning to other options," he said.

UMBC president Freeman A. Hrabowski III has a similar philosophy when it comes to celebrating an activity of the mind.

"We're sending the message that educated people should be focusing attention on how to think critically," he said. "That's what it means to be educated."

UMBC offers a variety of scholarships for players, including chess fellows funded by the school's campus soda contract with Pepsi, which includes full tuition, housing and a $15,000-per-year stipend. Team members often choose goofy nicknames that make them sound like professional wrestlers, such as "The Mongolian Terror" and "The Polish Magician."

Four UMBC chess fellows are playing this weekend. Two are grandmasters: Margvelashvili, a senior majoring in economics, and Niclas "The Dark Knight" Huschenbeth, a freshman psychology major from Germany.

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