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,Vincent (2025) - Turgut,Tansel (2382) [A20]
Illinois Class Championships (1), 10.12.2011


1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.d4


This line has a very good reputation against the Keres Attack.

4...exd4 5.Qxd4 d5 6.cxd5

6.Nf3 makes more sense to me: why give Black the c6 square? The tempo offsets the isolated pawn. 6...Be7 (6...dxc4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 is an ending in which both sides can play for the win.) 7.cxd5 This move order subtlety I don't understand: does the exchange make more sense after Black has committed the bishop to the modest e7 square? 7...cxd5 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Qa4 0–0 10.Be3 has been played by Topalov.

6...cxd5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Qa4 Be6 9.0–0 Bc5 10.Nbd2

10.Bg5 0–0 11.Nc3 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Ne1 Rad8 14.Nd3 Bd4 15.Rac1 Rfe8 16.Nf4 Seirawan-I. Sokolov, Wijk aan Zee 1995


Maybe 10...0–0 improves, as the played with the isolated queen pawn generally prefers a complex middlegame.

11.Ne5 Qa5 12.Qxa5 Nxa5 13.Ndf3

An isolated pawn could be bothersome in an ending. But this is a queenless middlegame.

13...Rc8 14.Nd3 Ba7 15.Bd2 Nc6 16.Rac1 Ne4 17.Nf4 Ke7

Black hopes to make use of a more active king in an ending.

18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Bc3 Nxc3 20.Rxc3 Nd4 21.Re1



Dr. Turgut suggests 21...Rhf8!? 

22.bxc3 Nb5! =/+


White prefers counterplay to passive defense.


The following lines are obviously computer-assisted, but the idea of getting rid of the knights and relying on the increased drawing resources of opposite-colored bishops is an obvious one. 23...dxe4 may improve, but White has 24.Nd2! (24.Rxe4 Nxc3 25.Rc4 Nd5 gives Black good winning chances) 24...Nxc3 25.Nxe4 Rf8 I don't know if I could summon the courage to play Houdini's choice for the next move in tournament play: it seems so wrong to move the king to the corner. 26.Kh1! (Not 26.Nxc3 Bxf2+ 27.Kf1 Bxg3+ 28.Ke2 Bxe1 29.Kxe1 b5) 26...Nxa2 (26...Nxe4 27.Bxe4 Bxf2 (27...Rxf2 28.Bxb7 Rxa2 29.Bd5) ) 27.Ng5 Rf6 28.Bxb7 Bxf2 29.Ra1 Nb4 30.Ra4 and kindly take the following variations as more of a fantasy than objective best play: 30...Nd3 (30...Nd5 31.Nxh7 Rh6 32.Kg2 Rxh7 33.Kxf2 Rxh2+ 34.Kf3) 31.Rxa6! (looks bad) 31...Nc5 (looks strong!) 32.Ra7! It seems amazing that White can get away with this! 32...Be3 (32...Nxb7? 33.Rxb7+²; 32...h6 33.Nh7 Inhuman! 33...Rf5 34.Be4+ Nd7 35.Rb7) 33.Nxh7 Rf1+ 34.Kg2 Rf2+ 35.Kh3 Nd3 36.Ra3 Rd2 37.Kg4 and White survives.

24.cxd4 Nxd4 25.Nxd4 Bxd4 26.Rc1 e5 27.Kf1

Why not 27.Rc7+ the computer asks? I imagine the humans were looking at the f2 square, but Rxb7-Rb3-Rf3(+) is one way to consolidate. 27...Kf6 (27...Kd6 28.Rxg7 Rc8 29.Rxh7 Rc2 30.Rf7 Rxa2 31.h4 Ke6 32.Rf3) 28.Rxb7 Rc8 29.Rb3


And here Dr. Turgut suggests 27...Rf8 as an improvement.

28.Ke2 b5 29.Bh3

Threatening Rc8 with exchange of rooks and a very drawish position.

29...Rb8 30.Rc8 Rb6 31.f4 Rc6 32.fxe5+ Bxe5 33.Rxc6+ Kxc6

Black is effectively a pawn up for the moment, as the Be5 can't be dislodged, and the g3 and e4 pawns are paralyzed. But it's not enough to win.

34.Kd3 Kc5 35.Be6 Kb4 36.Kc2 a5 37.Bd5

 Passive defense is sufficient.

37...Kc5 38.Kd3 h6 39.Bg8 a4 40.Bf7 g5 41.Bd5 b4 42.Bf7 b3

Maybe 42...g4 first, but this can't be enough.

43.axb3 a3


Simplest: give the pawn right back.

44...Kxb4 45.Bd5 Kc5 46.Bf7 g4

Black prepares to harvest White's kingside.

47.Bd5 Bd4

Dr. Turgut points out that 47...h5 may be a more serious winning try. (Still rather drawish.)

48.Kc2 Kb4 49.Be6 Bg1 50.Bxg4 Bxh2 51.Be6 Bxg3 52.Kd3! Kc5 53.Ke2 Kd4 54.Kf3 Be5 55.Bd5 h5 56.Kg2 Bf4 57.Kh3 Bg5 58.Kg3 Ke3 59.Kh3 Kf4 60.Kh2 Ke3 61.e5

This pawn is irrelevant.

61...Bf4+ 62.Kh1 Bxe5 63.Bg8 Kf3 64.Ba2

Sans tablebase, your stupid computer probably thinks Black is winning. But of course this is a dead draw. The White king wisely headed for the h1 square (it can't be evicted because the dark-square bishop doesn't control the h-pawn's queening square). White's bishop will continue to frolic along the a2-g8 diagonal until the Black king strolls to b2. When the pawn is pushed to a2, the bishop gladly sacrifices itself. ½–½



Hrach,Jonathan (1531) - Dolson,Carl (1555) [A03]
Illinois Class Championships (1), 10.12.2011


1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Nf6 6.f4 0–0 7.Nf3 d5!

Why not?


If 8.e5 Black can contest the dark squares with 8...Ng4 9.0–0 f6! as in Arapovic-Uhlmann, Sarajevo 1982


8...d4! 9.Na4 b6 10.e5 Nd5³

9.Nxe4 Nxe4

9...Qb6 taking aim at White's dark-square weaknesses is also sensible.

10.dxe4 e5

Black must be worried about 11. e4-e5, but I don't think it's a big deal.

11.c3 Qb6 12.Qe2 exf4 13.Bxf4 Re8 14.Ng5



Time for modesty: 14...Rf8 followed by ...h6 and Black is OK.

15.Nxf7! Kh7

15...Kxf7 16.Bc7+ loses immediately


Game over.

16...h5 17.Bh6 Ne5 18.Bxg7 Nxf7 19.Rxf7 Kg8 20.Raf1 Bf5

and I can't make out the final moves, but the end is near. 1–0



Ulrich,Rachel (1735) - Peng,David (1896) [B45]
Illinois Class Championships (2), 10.12.2011


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6



When I was a kid, we were all taught by Fischer that White's path to advantage was 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 (I don't think that Fischer ever reached precisely this position, but he was willing to waste a tempo to get similar positions! See for example Fischer-Najdorf, Santa Monica 1966.) But then Sveshnikov proved that 7...e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Na3 f5! was perfectly playable, and the world changed. It changed for us patzers, too: I remember losing a game to Ken Walter at the Chicago Chess Center circa 1980 and having no idea what had just hit me.

6...Bb4 7.f3

In combination with 6.Bg5, this is a bit much to ask of White's position. The dark squares are weak. 7.Ndb5 0–0 (7...d6 8.a3) 8.a3=

7...Qa5 8.Qd2
Again, perhaps 8.Ndb5.

8...Nxd4 9.Bxf6


Desperado! The knight is lost anyway, so get a pawn for it.

10.Qxc2 gxf6

White doesn't have enough compensation for the pawn.

11.Bd3 b6 12.0–0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc5+ 14.Kh1 Bb7 15.Rab1 Bc6 16.c4


Black correctly judges that his king is perfectly safe on e7.

17.Rfe1 Rac8 18.Qd2 d6 19.f4 Rhg8 20.f5 Rg5! 21.Qe2 e5?!

Unnecessary. 21...Rcg8! 22.Rg1 Qe5! and Black rules the board, while White's pieces look nice but are totally ineffective.

22.Qf3 Bb7 23.Rb3 Ba6 24.Rc1 Rc7 25.Be2 Rg8

Black wants to bring more artillery to bear on c4.

26.Ra3 Bc8 27.Rb3 Bb7 28.Qd3 Rgc8 29.Rd1 Ba6 30.Rc3 Rc6

White has defended well.



Natural, but wrong.

31...Qd4! 32.Qc2

32.Qxd4 exd4 33.R3c2 Rc5 and White's bishop is miserable, while Black's two sets of double isolated pawn are not bad at all!


Right idea, but there's an even better move. 32...Bxc4! 33.Bxc4 (33.Rxc4 Rxc4 34.Bxc4 b5) 33...b5

33.Rd1 Qc5 34.Rc1 bxc4

34...b4! 35.Rf3 Bxc4 is quicker

35.Rh3 c3! 36.Bxa6 Rxa6 37.Rxh7

37.Rxc3 Qxc3 38.Qxc3 Rxc3 39.Rxc3 Rxa2 40.Kg1 offers more resistance, but should be lost.

37...Rb6 38.Rh3 Rb2 39.Qa4 c2 40.Rb3 Rb8! 41.h4 R8xb3 42.axb3 Rb1 0–1



Fei,Andrew (1579) - Craigmile,Charles (1713) [C42]
Illinois Class Championships (2), 10.12.2011


There's an old football saying: "A tie is like kissing your sister." But sometimes kissing your sister is OK!

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2

The Petroff is a tough nut to crack. At the amateur level, Spassky's 5.Qe2 is a great choice, especially if you enjoy playing rook endings.

5...Qe7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Nc3

7.Bg5 is more commonly played. 7...Qxe2+ 8.Bxe2 Be7 (If you're playing Black and want to win, try Bronstein's 8...Nbd7 . But if you're playing Black and want to win, why were you playing the Petroff in the first place?) 9.Nc3 c6 10.0–0–0 Na6 11.Rhe1 Nc7= and 1/2–1/2 a few moves later, Spassky-Petrosian, Moscow World Championship 1969. At the amateur level, both sides can play for the win from here.

7...Bg4 8.Qxe7+ Bxe7 9.Be2

White lost a tempo over the normal line, but the bishops on e2 and e7 are not optimally placed.

9...Nc6 10.Be3 0–0–0 11.0–0–0 d5 12.d4 a6 13.h3 Bh5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Ne5 Nxd4

A cute idea: Black is hoping to execute a pawn fork. But it's refuted by the game continuation.

16.Bxd4 c5 17.Nxg6

The Be7 is hanging with check.

17...hxg6 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Nxd5+-

The next thirty-four moves are flawless technique. But Black still manages a miracle save!

19...Bd4 20.Ne3 Rde8 21.Rd3 f5 22.c3 Bf6 23.gxf5 gxf5 24.Bf3 g6 25.Kc2 Bh4 26.Nc4 Re6 27.Rd6 Rxd6 28.Nxd6+ Kc7 29.Nxb7 Bxf2 30.Bg2 f4 31.Rf1 Be3 32.Na5 g5 33.Nc4 Re8 34.Nxe3 Rxe3 35.Kb3 Rg3 36.Rf2 Re3 37.h4 gxh4 38.Rxf4 h3 39.Bf1 h2 40.Rh4 Re4 41.Rxh2 a5 42.Rh7+ Kb6 43.Rh6+ Kc7 44.Ra6 Rf4 45.Bc4 a4+ 46.Rxa4

Yes, Black drew this.

46...Kb6 47.Ra6+ Kb7 48.Rh6 Kc7 49.a4 Kb7 50.a5 Ka7 51.Rh7+ Kb8 52.a6 Rf5 53.a7+ Ka8

Mate is so close that White can taste it. But will it be checkmate or stalemate?


Perfectly good if White has foreseen Black's reply and prepared for it.


When your opponent drops a surprise on you, it's human nature to want to reply immediately.  Stop and think instead!


55.Ka4! avoids the rampaging rook 55...Rxb5 is no longer check, and 56.Rh8+ Kxa7 57.Kxb5 wins.

55...Rb5+!! 56.Kc2 Rxb2+ 57.Kd3 Rd2+ 58.Ke3 Rd3+ 

58...Rd3+ 59.Ke2 (59.Ke4 Rd4+ 60.Ke5 Rxc4 is a theoretical draw, as White still has to lift the stalemate.) 59...Rd2+ 60.Kf1 Rf2+ 61.Kg1 Rg2+ 62.Kh1 Rg1+ 63.Kh2 Rg2+ 64.Kh3 Rg3+ 65.Kh4 Rh3+! forces White's hand. Chess is a cruel game. ½–½



Bale,Les (1765) - Hart,Vince (2025) [C51]
Illinois Class Championship (2), 10.12.2011


1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6

This is the move order recommended by Marin.

3.Nf3 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Be7

Here, Marin's recommendation is 5...Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0–0 Nge7 8.Ng5 (8.cxd4 d5= but Albert Chow made me suffer at the US Game/ 30 Championships.) 8...d5 9.exd5 Ne5=

6.d4 Na5 7.Bd3 exd4

The classical way to break a gambit is to grab the pawn, then give it back in return for development: 7...d6! 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Nxe5 Nf6 10.0–0 0–0 11.Nd2 Ng4! 12.Ndf3 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bf6 14.Bf4 Re8 But this is just equal: the Evans Gambit is for real!

8.cxd4 d5 9.e5

I do not like Black's position: the pieces don't coordinate, as White's d4-e5 wedge splits the board.

9...Be6 10.0–0 Nc6 11.Nc3 Qd7 12.Be3 Nh6 13.Rb1 Rb8

There goes queenside castling, so....

14.Bxh6! gxh6 15.Qd2 Bf8 16.Ne2 Ne7 17.Ng3 Bg4



White continues the attack by positional means.

18...Ng6 19.Nhf5 h5 20.h3! h4 21.hxg4 hxg3 22.fxg3

These are the best-looking tripled g-pawns I've ever seen! The f-file is open, the g4 pawn supports the f5 square, the g3 pawn dominates the Ng6, and the g2 pawn covers the White king just in case.

22...h6 23.Rf3 Rg8 24.Rbf1 Nh8 25.Nxh6 Bxh6 26.Qxh6 Qxg4

That's OK: White has two more g-pawns.

27.Bh7 Qg5 28.Qh3 Ke7 29.Bxg8 1–0


Bungo,Greg (2034) - Kogen,Jonathan (2157) [D01]
Illinois Class Championships (2), 10.12.2011


1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 c6 4.Qd2 Bf5 5.f3 Nbd7 6.0–0–0 Qa5 7.e4

Looking at Greg's games makes me want to start playing the Veresov!

7...dxe4 8.fxe4 Bg6 9.d5 0–0–0 10.dxc6 bxc6 11.e5 Ne8 12.Nf3 Nc7 13.Bc4 h6 14.Bh4 Bh5 15.Rhf1 g5 16.Bg3 Bg7 17.Qe3 Qc5 18.Qe4 g4

18...Bxf3!? 19.gxf3 Nxe5 20.Bxe5 Qxe5 (20...Bxe5?? 21.b4!) 21.Qxc6 is equalish

19.Bf2 Qa5


20.Nd4 Nxe5 21.Nxc6 Nxc6 22.Qxc6 Rxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Bxc3


Ouch! 24.bxc3? Rd8 25.Rxd8+ Kxd8 26.Qxh6 Qxc3 isn't so clear

24...Bxb2+ 25.Kb1 Qa3 26.Bc5

Ouch again.



Right idea, wrong square. The primitive mate threat 27.Bd6! just wins.


27...Qxd5! allows Black to escape: 28.Bxd5 Bxd4 29.Qb7+ Kd7 30.Bb3 (30.Qc6+ Kd8 and the checks are over.) 30...Bb6 31.Ba4+ Ke6 32.Qe4+ Kf6 33.Qf4+ Kg6 34.Qe4+ Kf6 (34...f5 35.Qxe7÷) 35.Qf4+=

28.Kxb2 Qb4+ 29.Bb3 Rd8 30.Bc3

Adventure time is over: the White king is safe in his little house.

30...Qb8 31.Rxh5 Rd6 32.Qc4 Qa8 33.Qxg4+ e6 34.Qg8+ Rd8 35.Qxf7 1–0