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Har-Zvi Joins UTB/TSC Chess Program

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 20, 2010 – It is the kind of pressure filled situation many coaches thrive on.

Ronen Har-Zvi began work at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College just three weeks before members of the Chess Program would play in The President’s Cup, the “Final Four of College Chess” in early April at the Education and Business Complex.

Har-Zvi had a short time to get to know the players and get their minds focused on the tournament, which annually determines the nation’s champion in college chess. He also made schedules for the six players that would represent the university so they would know when to practice the game in between classes and studying.

“The team is one unit,” said Har-Zvi, 33. “There’s a great connection between all the team members. They cared more about the team than their chess games.”

When the tournament’s three rounds were completed, UTB/TSC placed second, a half point behind the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. UTB/TSC ended the tournament with two wins and a draw.

“When you have the advantage, you have to give it to the maximum and not give the opponent an easy move,” he said.

Har-Zvi wants to someday see The President’s Cup sitting inside the Chess Program’s second floor offices of the Student Union. He said he knows this can be done because of the amazing possibilities the students have.

Chess Team member and International Master Max Cornejo of Lima, Peru, said he has already appreciated Har-Zvi’s presence. The junior Accounting major said Har-Zvi has emphasized studying the game not only at the Chess Program Office but also by himself.

“He’s going to try to completely improve my chess,” Cornejo said. “We analyze positions. Having a coach in those days of the ‘Final Four’ was important. You feel confident. Studying all the right lines is very important.”

Har-Zvi also wants to see the program reach out more to community chess enthusiasts of all levels with a chess academy or institute.

“Ronen’s analytical abilities and coaching experience will benefit our students and help them realize their potential as chess players,” Chess Program Director Russell Harwood said. “The experience and insight that Ronen brings from having competed at the highest level will definitely help our students to excel.”

Har-Zvi was raised in Ramat Gan, Israel and began playing chess when he was 5 years old with his grandfather, Yosef Riklin. Har-Zvi became a chess Grandmaster at 15.

The tournament he remembers the most brought him acclaim in his home nation.

“I believe most chess players, they have been all over the world,” he said. “But my favorite tournament was where I won the Under 16 at the world championship in Duisburg, Germany.”

Har-Zvi served a mandatory three years in the Israel Defense Forces when he traveled by bus from his family’s home to work four hours a day on base. He traveled up to four months of the year to play in chess tournaments as he fulfilled his military duty.

He learned English at chess tournaments he played in Brazil, India, the United States and other nations and by watching episodes of the 1980s evening soap opera “Dynasty.”

Har-Zvi moved to the United States in his mid 20s to provide live commentary for matches with the Internet Chess Club.

He learned about Brownsville and UTB/TSC before applying for the chess coach job. He said he liked how chess is played on the elementary school to the collegiate level and beyond.

“Brownsville is clearly the biggest scholastic center in the United States,” Har-Zvi said.

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