Saturday, April 06, 2013

Washington Post on UMBC

In the cutthroat world of college chess, University of Maryland Baltimore County was once as dominant as Duke in basketball or Alabama in football.

UMBC was the first school to institutionalize scholarships for top players, recruiting grandmasters from Russia, Germany, Israel and beyond.

The playbook worked, enabling a school few had heard of outside Maryland to rack up six “Final Four” championships and build a reputation as an intellectual powerhouse on the cheap.

Now, other schools are one-upping the king of college chess, raising the specter of the sort of arms race that plagues other college sports. Last year, Webster University in St. Louis recruited Texas Tech’s diva coach, whose team of grandmasters followed along.

This weekend in Rockville, at the Final Four of college chess, UMBC will be competing, but its longtime chess director suspects that his team will lose — dominant no more in a world it created.

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