November 2017: 53 Illinois Youth Among US Top 100's


Once again, Aren Emrikian is the #1 player in his age group in the US -- Ages 7 & Under.  Joining him in the top 10 this month is Yuvraj Chennareddy, #4 in that age range.

David Peng (14) and Dimitar Mardov (9) are both #2 in their respective age bracket.

Four other Illinois players are in the top 10 -- with an impressive array of 53 in the top 100's.

Four Illinois youth have been named to the US Chess All-America Team -- see recently posted article on the ICA site.

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Four IL Youth Named to Prestigious 2018 All-America Team


Four top Illinois juniors were among the 74 selected by US Chess for the 2018 All-America Team.

Candidates were based on their 1/1/2017 rating and peak post-tournament ratings from 7/1/16 through 6/30/17.

George Li was one of eleven 16-year olds with a minium rating of 2400. David Peng is one of eight 13-year olds with ratings above 2300.

Arthur Xu is listed as one of four 9-year olds with a minimum rating of 2000 -- and in fact, is listed as the top such youth. For the Age 8 and Under group, Dimitar Mardov is one of nine with ratings above 1900, designated as the third highest in the impressive group.

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GM Mitkov Wins 2017 Illinois Class Championship(s)


It's lonely at the top.

Grandmaster Nikola Mitkov was the lone GM entered in the 2017 Illinois Class Championship -- and he held form to win top honors at the one-day event held November 19 in the Chicago suburb of Lisle. 

GM Mitkov defeated Derek Paitrick a Wisconsin Expert, in the final round to close out the tournament in the Masters / Experts section, the top of seven divisions.

Wisconsin's Alex Velikanov took second place after requesting a half-point bye in the final round, finishing with 3.5. IMSA's George Li took clear third with 3.0/4, and presumably the 2017 Illinois Chess Tour top honors with his points from the event.

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258 Face Off At Peoria's 2017 Illinois All-Grade


[Editor's Note: the article has now been updated to include team results which were posted November 15. See below.] 

The Lutfiyya brothers took sibling rivalry to new heights at the 2017 Illinois All-Grade Championships, held November 11 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Pre-schooler Ren and First-grader Hudson both posted perfect 5.0's in the "Lower Primary" section (Grades K-1). 19 competed in the youngest division.

Ren benefited from a first-round bye but both finished two full-points ahead of an eight-way tie for third with 3.0 scores, with the Lutfiyya's earning a rare family state co-championship. 

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ICA's 2017 Annual Meeting Scheduled for November 18


The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Chess Association will be held Saturday, November 18 at Naperville North High School.

Agenda is pending, but the meeting should commence around 7:00 pm.

Earlier in the day, Warren Scholars and ICA Rising Stars will receive training, followed by a blitz tournament and an awards banquet.

The winner of the Natalie Broughton Award will be announced at the banquet. (Cancelled)

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Steve Szpisjak, Angelo Young Top '17 IL Senior Open


With a third-round head-to-head draw, Life Master Steven Szpisjak and International Master Angelo Young earned top honors at the 2017 Illinois Senior Open completed November 5 in Schaumburg.

Both Young and Szpisjak closed out the four-round event with victories, splitting $375 in prize money.

Larry Cohen and Tim Ailes finished tied for third place with 2.5/4's -- a full point behind the co-champions.

With 2.0's, Sam Henderson, Rick Jaconette and Daumants Hauzer tied for the best Under 1800 score in the Open Section.

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October 2017: 51 IL Youth Among US Top 100's; 8 Top 10's


Ages 7, 9 and 16 each have three Illinois players ranked in the US Top 30's.  All totalled, 51 youth are on one of the Top 100's.

Eight Illinois players are in the Top 10 of their respective age group, with Aren Emrikian (7), Dimitar Mardov (9), and David Peng (14) all one spot away from highest honors.

Four females are on the lists irrespective of gender.

A remarkable 24 players are at 2000 or above this month -- with Edward Zhang and Rishi Narayanan within 10 rating points of that distinction.

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Three IL Players Up 300 Points in October; 63 Up 100+


Harris, Pompe and Buckner may sound like a law firm, but in reality this trio represents the three Illinois players with the highest ratings increases during the month of October, as published November 1.

Sam Harris increased his rating 363 points from October's published rating to November's. Niko Pompe and Alex Buckner were both up 346 during that timeframe.

Buckner also had the distinction of being one of the three Illinois players with 100+ rating increases who doubled their rating. Emily Hu and Temuujin Munkhtur also accomplished that distinction.

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Opportunities Available To Serve as Delegate to US Chess Business Meetings in Wisconsin During Late Summer of '18


Late next summer, representatives from most states will convene in Middleton, WI (outside Madison) to discuss updates to the US Chess rulebook and matters of importance in the governance of the nation's primary chess organization.

Based on its membership, Illinois is currently authorized to send five delegates, along with multiple alternates.

Under ICA bylaws, notice is required to be "posted on the ICA website at least 30 days in advance of such selection" and shall ask those interested in serving in these positions "apply in writing and confirm their ability and intent to attend."

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ICA to Offer Special Deals for Online Chess to ALL Players


Last year, the Illinois Chess Association through its Warren Junior Scholars program -- and now the ICA Rising Stars -- offered those participants free membership to the Internet Chess Club ( Some Scholars and Stars used the accounts, some did not.

The internet offers many different opportunities for chess learning and play, some of which are indeed free. But ultimately, the tool itself is not the solution. It's how it's used.

This year, it is hoped that we provide more guidance as to how to take full advantage of the ICC and its expanding set of tools -- and once again, Scholars and Stars will receive their accounts as a benefit of program participation. 

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Hart,Vince (2025) - Ulrich,Tommy (2188) [A13]
Illinois Class Championships (4), 11.12.2011


 I really don't understand this game, so I hope the players and readers will forgive me for making sweeping assessments when I'm not sure that I'm right! But I have checked the six-piece positions on a tablebase, and was really taken by the beauty of some possible variations.

1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.0–0 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Nb6 7.Na3 Qd5 8.b3 cxb3 9.axb3 Qd8 10.Bb2 Be7 11.Nb5 c6 12.Nxa7 Bd7 13.Ne5 0–0 14.Nxd7 Nbxd7 15.Bxc6?!


 If Black were to recapture with 15...bxc6 then 16.Nxc6 hits a8, d8, and e7. 16...Rc8 would be answered by 17.Rfc1!

16.Rfc1 bxc6 17.Nxc6 Nb6 18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 19.Qc6 Nfd7 20.Bd4 Rxa1 21.Rxa1 Qb4 22.Be3 Qxb3 23.Ra7 Rd8 24.Rb7 Qd5 25.Rxb6 Nxb6 26.Qxb6 Qa8 27.f3 Can White construct a fortress? 27...Rb8 28.Qd4 Rd8 29.Qb2


I do not like this move: isn't White on the cusp of drawing now? [29...Rb8]

30.Qxb8 Rxb8 31.Bf4 Rb3 32.Kf2

Perhaps 32.g4 (to be followed by h3) improves: White welcomes pawn exchanges, but wants to keep symmetry in the pawn structure.]

32...h5 33.h4 f6 34.g4 hxg4 35.fxg4

White now has two pawn islands and has traded h-pawn for f-pawn. (It would have been better to trade h-pawn for h-pawn.)

35...Kf7 36.h5 g6 37.hxg6+ Kxg6 38.d3 Rb7 39.Be3 Rh7 40.Kg3 Rh8 41.Kg2 Kf7 42.Kg3 e5 43.d4! Ke6 44.dxe5 Kxe5

Even so, I'm pretty sure this is a dead draw: the bishops and pawns cover lots of squares together.

45.Bf4+ Ke4 46.e3

But this weakens the light squares. 46.Bd2! looks like a fortress draw to me: does White even need the g-pawn?

46...Rg8! 47.Bh6 f5 48.g5


48...Rg6! kills the bishop's future. 49.Kh4 (49.Kf2 Ra6 50.Kg3 Kxe3 51.g6+ Ke4 52.g7 Rg6+ 53.Kf2 f4 with zugzwang to follow.) 49...Kxe3 is lost per the tablebase. 50.Kh5 Rg8 51.g6+ f4 52.g7

Black to play (variation)

52...Rxg7!! 53.Bxg7 f3 54.Bf8 Kd4

49.g6+ = Ke4 50.g7 Ke5 51.Kh4! Kf6 52.Kh5 Ra8



53.Bd2!! Kxg7 54.Kg5 Rf8 55.Bc1 Rf7 56.Kd2 Kf8 57.Bb4+ Ke8 58.Kf4 Kd7 59.Ke5! f4 (or 59...Kc6 60.Bd2 Kc5 61.Bf4 Kc4 62.Ke6 Rf8 63.Ke7 Ra8 64.Ke6 Ra5 65.Be5) 60.Bc5 f3 61.Bf2 with a del Rio fortress.

53...Kxg7 0–1

A difficult ending!


Liang,Awonder (2091) - Bungo,Greg (2034) [B31]

Illinois Class Championships (3), 11.12.2011


In the perennial Youth vs. Experience battle, it's usually Youth that gets an overwhelming position, only to have the tables turned by the wily elder. Awonder Liang shows NM Greg Bungo that eight-year-olds can be wily fighters, too.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.h3 Bg7 6.0–0 e5 7.d3 Qe7 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Nbd2 Nd7 10.Re1 0–0 11.c3 Rd8 12.Qc2 Nf8 13.Nb3 Ne6 14.Rad1 b6 15.d4 cxd4 16.cxd4 exd4 17.Nfxd4 Bb7 18.Nxe6 Qxe6 19.Nd4 Qe8

Black seems to have solved all opening problems.

20.f3 c5 21.Nb3 Qe7 22.Bf4 Qf6 23.Bc1 Rac8 24.Qc4 Qh4 25.Rf1 Qg3

And when I kibitzed at this momemt, I thought that Bungo was in full control.

26.Qe2 Be5 27.f4 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Bf6 29.Rf3 Qh4 30.Qe2 Re8 31.e5 Bxf3 32.Qxf3 Qe1+ 33.Kh2 Bh4 34.g3 Be7 35.Bd2 Qb1 36.Qb7 Qxa2

When your game is hopeless, why not attack?

37.Qd7 Kf8 38.f5! Qxb2 39.f6! Bd8 40.e6!

Black is still winning, but now has to find the only winning move.


Black should win after 40...Rxe6! 41.Qxd8+ Re8 42.Qd7 a5 and if White tries to prepare Bh6+ with 43.Kh1 , then simply 43...Qe5.

41.fxe7+ Rxe7 42.Qd8+ Re8 43.e7+ Kg7 44.Qxe8 Qxb3 45.Qf8+ 1–0