The Nerds' Winning Season

No nickel defense stopped them. Double coverage didn't work. Neither rookies nor rooks blocked their drive to win.

Who's that? It's those campus sensations, the University of Maryland Baltimore County - chess team.

The team recently won the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship - the superbowl of the black and white playing field. And - buckle down, Winsocki - they've juiced up school spirit at UMBC as much as any varsity football or roundball team ever could.

The campus is afire with chess victory rallies, cavorting cheerleaders, a fast-stepping band, team jackets, and campus paper headlines.

No, 300-pound linemen don't sack QBs in this league. But there's no sissy stuff when UMBC's team takes the field. William (The Exterminator") Morrison and Oxsanna (The Mongolian Terror") Tarassova intimidate opponents from the opening move to the final checkmate.

Effete writers tend to cheer when a campus displays as much excitement for a debate team or solar vehicle racing team as it does for its star quarterback. But, clich or not, let's do the wave for the UMBC chessies. The school that's No. 1 in the checkmate league is apt to turn out a lot of bright scholars in other fields.

Just watch that recruiting. No free sports cars, please. And no turning pro in sophomore year for some million-dollar match in Iceland.

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