Knight Raiders Continue Gaining National Recognition

Program boasts two of U.S.’s top 10 chess players; director receives award for service.

Al Lawrence & Alex Onischuk

Al Lawrence and Alex Onischuk

The Texas Tech University chess program continues to gain national recognition.

The Knight Raiders chess team now includes two of the top 10 chess players in the nation, according to the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF), and the team's program director, Al Lawrence, will receive the USCF Distinguished Service Award in August.

Alex Onischuk, Texas Tech Chess Program coach and international grandmaster, is ranked fifth nationally and has been ranked in the top 10 since 2001, when he arrived in the United States. Yaroslav Zherebukh, an international grandmaster and Texas Tech student, is ranked eighth in the nation after officially transferring his chess flag to the U.S. Zherebukh, a finance major and honors student, plays board one for the Texas Tech A-team and has led the team to a third-place finish in the Final Four of College Chess two years in a row.

“We are so proud of the progress that Mr. Lawrence, Coach Onischuk and the entire chess team has made in becoming a nationally recognized program,” said Paul Frazier, associate vice president of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement. “I am excited that, after his experiences in Lubbock at Texas Tech, Yaroslav has chosen to become a U.S. chess player. That fact speaks volumes about Texas Tech and its programs.” 

Lawrence will receive the Distinguished Service award, USCF’s highest recognition for service, on Aug. 8 at the U.S. Open and Convention in Phoenix.

“Receiving the award is overwhelming and humbling because I will join the list of many of the most important names in the history of the United States Chess Federation, legendary leaders I’ve always admired,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence is an award-winning chess author and serves as chairman of the USCF College Chess Committee. He previously served as executive director of both USCF and the World and U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. He became program director of the Texas Tech Chess Team in 2012.

The Texas Tech University Chess program – part of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement – offers outreach programs to more than a dozen area schools and can provide teaching materials and other assistance on request.

For more information or to register for events, contact the chess program at texastechchess@ttu.edu or (806) 742-7742, or visit the program website and Facebook page.