Chess master helps give school kingly status
Associated Press
Saturday, February 16, 2008

BROWNSVILLE — Since Axel Bachmann arrived at the University of Texas-Brownsville on a full chess scholarship last year, the young Paraguayan immigrant has elevated his game, earning the grandmaster title and winning Sportsman of the Year in his native country.

The 18-year-old with a mop of brown hair and diamond stud in his left ear gives much of the credit to the chess incubator at UT’s southernmost campus.

In recent years, the school has joined the ranks of the chess elite. The University of Texas at Dallas, University of Maryland at Baltimore County and Miami Dade College might sound foreign to Division I football devotees, but they are renowned in college chess.

At UTB, Bachmann trains with another grandmaster, chess team coach Gilberto Hernandez of Mexico, and practices with teammates who include chess olympians from Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Five team members are on full scholarship, and the others have partial scholarships.

But Bachmann is the first team member to achieve grandmaster status, a group of fewer than 1,000 chess players worldwide. He’s also a strikingly normal teenager. Those who know him and know chess say he’s more balanced than many grandmasters, as comfortable at the chess board as he is on the soccer field.

Here is the full story.

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