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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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)

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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."

Read More

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. 

Read More

 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 

Brock,William (2106) - Moskwa,Robert (1928) [B06]
Illinois Class (4), 11.12.2011


White gets tricked out of his repertoire and finds himself in a dubious middlegame. Time for "Confuse a Cat"!

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 c5 5.dxc5 Qa5+ 6.Bd2 Qxc5 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.0–0

I don't think either player should get an award for "most precisely played opening," but we've reached a reasonable-looking Sicilian.


Premature? Better 8...0–0

9.Be3 Qa5 10.Nd4

Better 10.Nd2 Be6 (10...0–0?? 11.Nc4 Qd8 12.Nb6+-) 11.f4 0–0 12.Kh1 and White will play f4-f5 with tempo.

10...0–0 11.f4 Bd7 12.Nb3 Qc7


I thought the fact that d7 was occupied made this push stronger.  Either 13.Bf3 or 13.a4 would be reasonable.


So much for that thesis.

14.Bf3 h6?! 15.Qe1 b5 16.a3?!

A patzer's move. Perhaps 16.a4 b4 17.Nd5 or simply 16.Nd4.

16...e6 17.h4

17.Rd1 would have taken aim at the newly-tenderized d6 square.


Black can try to prove the (reasonable) thesis that White has overextended on the kingside with a move like 17...Nbd7.

18.e5 Ne4 19.Bxe4 dxe4

Both of Black's bishops are ineffective, and his queenside is undeveloped. But if Black could open the position, I might be embarrassed.




I was very impressed by this move: undermining e5 is thematic. But wouldn't Black rather have his king in the center and his horse on d7?


I was afraid of an Exchange sacrifice after 21.Nc5 gxf4 22.Bxf4 Bxe5 23.Bxh6 for example, 23...Bh2+ 24.Kg2 e3+ which the computer refutes via 25.Kh3.

21...hxg5 22.Qg3?

Again, 22.Nc5 gxf4 23.Bxf4


Hmm: I'm in trouble. Time for a cheap attack!

23.Rd2 gxf4 24.Rxf4!?

24.Bxf4 Nxe5 25.Rh2 f6 and Black is for choice.


24...Bxe5 25.Rh2 Rfd8! 26.Qh4 Nf8 and I have no clue.



This is not Black's best move, but it's by no means losing, as I thought in the game.

  • 25...Nf3+? 26.Rxf3 Be5 is refuted most cutely by Awonder Liang's 27.Bd4!! (This is the first of several variations in which the unguardedness of the Qc7 becomes relevant.).
  • The computer likes 25...Rfd8! I looked at 26.Qh3 Nf3+ 27.Rxf3 exf3 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Bc5+ Rd6 (29...Ke8 30.Qg8+ Kd7 31.Rd2+ Bd5 (31...Kc8 32.Rxd8+ Qxd8 33.Qxg7) 32.Qxg7) after which Houdini suggests 30.Ne4 Bxe4 31.Qxe4 Rad8 32.Qxf3 and the Black king is more secure.
  • Another try I considered was 25...Ng6 (exploiting the pin) 26.Qh3 f5 (26...f6?? 27.Qh7+ Kf7 28.Rxf6+ Kxf6 29.Rf2++-) and now 27.Ne2 looks obscure.

26.Nd4 Kf7

During the game and even the post-mortem, I thought I now had a big advantage, but Houdini is less impressed: 26...Ng6 27.Nxe6 Qe5 28.Nxg7 (28.Nxf8 Rxf8 29.Rh5 Qb8! (retreating to a guarded square!)(29...Qd6?! 30.Rf3!) ) 28...Kxg7 29.Rh5 (29.Ne2 Nxf4 30.Bxf4 Qd5 31.Bh6+ Kg8 32.Bxf8 Rxf8 33.Qf4 Qd1+ 34.Kf2 Qxc2) 29...Nxf4 30.Rxe5 fxe5 31.Qh4 Rae8!=

27.g5+- Rh8

On 27...f5 I was planning 28.g6+ Ke7 29.Rh7 , after which Houdini gives 29...Rg8 30.Qg5+ Kd7 31.Nxe6+-.



28...Bh6 is another try: I doubt I would have found Houdini's cool line: 29.Rxh6! (29.Qg7+! Bxg7 30.fxg7++- looks more "human") 29...Rag8 30.Rxh8! Rxg3+ 31.Kf2 and everything is hanging in Black's camp.

29.Rxf6+ Kxf6 30.Rf2+ Nf3+

On 30...Ke7 I saw 31.Qg7+ Kd6 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Bc5+ Kxc5 34.Qxc7 , but I was worried about 34...Nf3+ . However, White wins with  35.Rxf3 exf3 36.b4+ etc, and Black's alternative 34...Rh1+ 35.Kxh1 e3+ is most easily refuted by 36.Rg2 which I did not see.

31.Rxf3+ exf3

White to play: is it time for lunch yet?


Closing the g-file.

Taking the free queen with 32.Qxc7 is messier: 32...Rag8+ 33.Bg5+ (the only move!) (33.Kf1? Rh1+ 34.Bg1 Rgxg1+ 35.Kf2 Rg2+ 36.Ke3 Re1+ 37.Nde2 Rexe2+ 38.Nxe2 Rxe2+ 39.Kd4 e5+ 40.Kc3 Be4 and Black has excellent winning chances) 33...Rxg5+ 34.Kf2 Rg2+ 35.Ke3 f2 36.Qf4+ Kg6 37.Nxc6 and White will win, but will get no style points.

32...Kg6 33.Qxc7 Rh1+!

This idea helps explain the point of 32.Bg5+.


Moving the bishop to g5 not only blocked the g-file, but also made Luft for the king on e3.  34.Kxh1? f2+ and Black queens!

34...Rf8 35.Nxc6 1–0


Turgut,Tansel (2381) - Brock,William (2106) [C47]
Illinois Class (3), 11.12.2011


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3

Circa 1975, GM Andy Soltis wrote a very funny article for an short-lived glossy chess magazine published in Pennsylvania (was the title Overboard?) on the position after 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.a3 One of the points was that 3...d5 (3...Nc6 4.Nf3 transposes to our game.) 4.exd5 Nxd5 could now be answered by Steinitz's defense to the Scotch: 5.Qh5!? (and 5..Nb4 is not possible here).

2...Nc6 3.Nc3

Nothing for White in the Ruy Lopez, nothing in the Scotch: why not the Four Knights? I think this is White's most underrated opening.

3...Nf6 4.a3!?

This line was featured in Secrets of Opening Surprises some years ago: it's popular and fun to play! I'd already lost two games in the line: once to Robert Loncarevic after 4...g6, and again earlier this year to Steve Szpisjak after 4...d6. The text move is very logical.

The Hallowe'en Gambit is 4.Nxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 Nc6 (I have won a few ICC blitz games with 5...Ng6 6.e5 Ng8 7.Bc4 d5 8.Bxd5 c6 9.Bb3 N8e7) 6.d5 Bb4! (Pinski) 7.dxc6 Nxe4 8.Qd4 Qe7.


Dr. Turgut bought me lunch after the game, and confessed that he was planning to answer 4...g6 with a version of the Hallowe'en Gambit: 5.Nxe5!? (the insertion of 4.a3 and 4...g6 favors White: even if a2-a3 is a useless move, ... g7-g6 is worse than useless, as it denies the g6 square to the Ne5). When I told this to Albert Chow on the ride home, he said, "Then why don't people play 4...Nxe4 against the Glek System?" (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Nxe4!?!?) 5...Nxe5 6.d4 Nc6 The g6 square is not available to the horsie! 7.d5 Nb8 The b4 square is not available to the Bf8, as in Pinski's line! (And ...g7-g6 weakens the dark squares.) (The faint of heart may substitute 7...Bg7 ) 8.e5 Ng8

Black to play (variation): would the "Deferred Hallowe'en" be the "All Saints Day Gambit"?

I can't bring myself to look at this position seriously, but Houdini actually gives White a miniscule plus, and White scores very well in practice.  The alternative 8...Nh5!? may be worth investigating.

5.d4 exd4

Albert noted that the strongpointing Philidor line 5...d6 is perfectly viable. I had unpleasant memories from my game with Steve Szpisjak.

6.Nxd4 Nxd4

6...0–0 7.Nxc6 bxc6 (7...dxc6) 8.e5 Ne8

7.Qxd4 d6 8.Bc4 0–0 9.0–0 Be6 10.Bg5 Ng4!

The player with less space wants to exchange pieces.

11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5 c6 14.Bb3 Qe5


Having foreseen this position on move 10, I was very pleased with myself. And the computer agrees that this is a dead equal endgame. But a correspondence Grandmaster knows how to make an opponent suffer in dead equal positions.

Yes, the resultant pawn structure is balanced, which does not favor the bishop. (See Capa's explanation in Chess Fundamentals.) Yes, Black can successfully fight for the only open file. But the bishop exerts annoying pressuer on the a2-g8 diagonal, and the knight has no similar "square of power." So perhaps White is still better when human is playing human?

15.Qxe5 dxe5 16.f3 Nf6 17.Rad1 Rfd8 18.Kf2 Kf8 19.Ke3 Nd7 20.c3 Ke7 21.g3 Nc5 22.Bc2 Rxd1 23.Rxd1 Rd8



Of course, White doesn't want to exchange.

24...f6 25.f4 Nd7 26.h4 h6 27.Rg1 Nb6 28.Bb3 a5 29.Rf1 Nd7 30.Rf2 Nc5 31.Bc2 Nd7 32.Bd3 Nc5 33.Be2 Rd6 34.Rf1 Rd8 35.Rc1 Ne6 36.Bc4 Rh8

Black signals to White: "Break on the kingside with g4-g5, and I'll get counterplay on the h-file."

37.f5 Nc7 38.g4 Ne8 39.Rd1 Nd6 40.Ba2 Rd8 41.Rg1 Rh8 42.Rg2 b6 43.Bb3 Rh7 44.Bd1 Nc4+ 45.Kd3 Nd6 46.Be2 Rh8 47.Ke3 Nf7 48.Rg1 Rg8


White signals to Black, "The board has two sides, and my bishop can deal with play on opposite wings better than your horsie can."

49...Rd8 50.b4 a4 51.b5 c5 52.Bc4

Six of Black's seven pawns are now on dark squares, but giving up control of the d5 square allows the bishop to grab a strong central post.

52...Nd6 53.Bd5 Rh8 54.c4

Chow, on the Dan Ryan Expressway: "That's Botvinnik's bishop, you know." Fortunately for me, the artificially isolated pawn on a4 is difficult to tickle.


Black marks time.

55.Rh1 Nf7

"If you want to break on f7, you're going to have to eat the horse."


 "Are you going to give me the d-file?"

56...Nd6 57.Kf3 Rh8 58.Rd3 Rd8 59.Kg2 Nf7 60.Rg3 Rd7

In time pressure, I thought that 60...Rh8 lost its effect because of the Kg2: 61.Bxf7 Kxf7 62.g5 But 62...hxg5 63.hxg5 Rd8 is fine for Black.


For one brief moment, the White rook is not communicating with its queenside.


Black to play

Chris Merli once tried to explain the facts of life to me: "Bill, rooks are actually more valuable than minor pieces!"


Played instantly and with authority, as all bad moves should be played. The idea is actually a good one, as this is the kind of position in which knight plus pawn may prove to be stronger than rook. But even the few lines that I calculated showed that the move wasn't that promising: I lost objectivity.

Never one to leave an opinion unexpressed, Albert Chow told me on the ride home, "The way you play for a win against Turgut here is to show that you are willing to hold the draw. Don't give up the fortress: make him overreach, and you'll get your counterplay on the h-file."  It always pains me to admit to Albert that he is correct.


62.exd5? Nd6

62...Nd6 63.g5 hxg5 64.hxg5 Nxb5

Dr. Turgut suggested 64...Kf8 as possibly a sturdier defense But 65.g6! seems sufficient: (65.gxf6 gxf6 66.Rg1 Nxb5 67.Rb1 Nd4+ 68.Ke3 b5 69.Rc1 Nb3) 65...Nxb5 66.Rg1 Nd6 67.Rb1 b5 68.Rc1 Nc4 69.Rh1 Kg8 70.d6! (with the king on g8, back-rank mate is in the air) 70...Nxd6 71.Rd1 Ne8 72.Rd5 b4 73.Rxc5 bxa3 74.Ra5+-; 64...Kf7 65.g6+ Kg8 66.Rg1 Nxb5 67.Rb1 Nd4+ 68.Ke3 b5 69.d6 Kf8 70.Rh1 is similar.

65.gxf6+ gxf6 66.Rg7+ Ke8 67.Rb7 Nd4+ 68.Ke3 b5 69.Kd3 Kd8

69...c4+ 70.Kc3 Ne2+ 71.Kb4 Ng3 72.Kxb5 Nxe4 73.Kc6 c3 74.Rc7 c2 75.Rc8+ Ke7 76.d6+ Kf7 77.Kd5 finito

70.d6 Kc8?

I overlooked the obvious reply, but it no longer matters.  70...Ke8 71.Rc7 Nb3 72.Kc3 Kd8 73.Rf7 Nd4 74.Rxf6 Kd7 75.Rf7+ Kxd6 76.Rb7 Kc6 77.Re7 Kd6 78.f6.

71.Rc7+ Kd8 72.Rxc5 Kd7 73.Rd5

Zugzwang is in the air.

73...b4 74.axb4 Nc6 75.Kc4 a3 76.Rd3

I did not expect White to fall for the cheap trap 76.Kb3 a2 77.Kxa2?? Nxb4+ drawing, but there's no harm in trying.

76...a2 77.Ra3

Dr. Turgut's play in this game is a beautiful example of Shereshevsky's maxim "Do not hurry!" It was clear as early as move 27 that the game's outcome would hinge on the break g4-g5, but White waited another thirty-six moves to make this break! Before my blunder, White's advantage was never more than microscopic. But if one probes on one side of the board, then the other, and delays the critical pawn break as long as possible, there's always the chance that your opponent will go wrong. Psychology is part of the game!