News from Montgomery College News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

For Immediate Release (01-37)
Date: May 3, 2001
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952 (Montgomery College)
               Charlie Melichar, 410-455-6380 (UMBC)

Bragging Rights, Scholarship on Line as Montgomery College
"Knights" Get Set to Host Nation's #1 Collegiate
Chess Team from UMBC
Spirited 'MC-UMBC President's Chess Challenge' Set for Tuesday, May 8 in Rockville

Move over baseball, softball and lacrosse. The chessboard takes center stage next week in area intercollegiate competition as the Montgomery College Knights prepare to host the nation's top college chess team from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the first-ever "MC-UMBC President's Chess Challenge."

Set for Tuesday, May 8 at Montgomery College's Rockville Campus, the event will be kicked off with a noontime "Pep Rally" headed by MC President Dr. Charlene R. Nunley and UMBC President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III. This special head-to-head match came about as a result of a "friendly challenge" issued by Nunley to Hrabowski, prior to a recent event at UMBC in which the two institutions showcased an innovative new partnership aimed at growing the number of students going into the field of teaching.

A perennial chess powerhouse, the UMBC squad is the reigning champion of the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, having won the competition four of the past five years. Considered by many as perhaps the most dominant collegiate chess team of all time, their five-year run is a feat matched only once previously in the past -- and that was by Harvard University in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, the upstart community college squad from Montgomery -- with a talented mix of international and American players, much like UMBC -- has consistently surprised its bigger name opponents in local, regional and national competitions. Earlier this year, for example, the team handily dispatched the U.S. Naval Academy team, sweeping all of the eight matches played.

"To make things a little more interesting and to enhance the already great relationship that we are building between UMBC and Montgomery College," President Hrabowski noted that he would offer a full, two-year scholarship to MC, if its team emerges victorious. Montgomery College sends more transfer students to the University System of Maryland institutions -- including UMBC -- than any other community college in Maryland. Recently, Dr. Hrabowski created another scholarship in his late mother's name, to support a student each year in Montgomery College's early childhood education program.

Adding another twist to this good-natured event is the fact that 10 days after the "MC-UMBC President’s Challenge," Dr. Hrabowski will be returning to Rockville to serve as the keynote speaker for Montgomery College’s 2001 Commencement ceremony on May 18. Joked Dr. Nunley, "I know that Freeman is a man of his word and that he’ll be there, enthused and ready to inspire our graduates, no matter what happens next Tuesday. But I imagine he might be just a little less enthusiastic and anxious to make the trip back to Montgomery County, if our team is able to pull off the big upset."

The May 8 "MC-UMBC President’s Chess Challenge" event begins with the pep rally festivities at noon in Montgomery College-Rockville’s Theatre Arts Arena. The campus is located at 51 Mannakee Street in Rockville. The chess tournament itself will take place, beginning at 2 p.m., in a quieter setting, elsewhere in the building.

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