Funeral Services for LWW Coach Miller Set for Wednesday


Longtime chess coach, tournament director and former ICA-board member Steve Craig Miller passed away December 14 two weeks shy of his 60th birthday.

Miller was also a recent president of the Illinois Chess Coaches Association (ICCA).

A memorial will be held Wednesday, December 21 at 3pm at the Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 102 East Francis Road in New Lenox.

Miller was the chess coach at Lincoln Way West high school since the school was constructed, and for many years ran $5 USCF-rated tournaments to give his students enhanced experience beyond scholastic chess.

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En Passant: Ron Washington 1951-2012

Ron Washington (Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)For over three decades Ron Washington was a significant part of the Chicago chess scene. In the 70s you might have spotted him downtown at his chess club where Jeremy Silman briefly worked. Or at a Chicago Open Tournament. Or more likely at the Chess Pavillion near North Avenue Beach where he taught and played chess against those who wanted to play for money.

But according to the Sun-Times, Friday afternoon he passed away. Never to push another pawn.

His outgoing and upbeat attitude drew many people to him. Students, fellow-chess players, friends, and the media. He was featured in the Chicago Reader and on the City of Chicago Public Access TV in this segment.

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En Passant: Isaac Braswell, 1979-2012

Isaac M. BraswellExpert Isaac Braswell died last Friday, March 2. His cheerful good humor and ability to instantly light up a room will be missed by all who knew him.

Isaac's family will hold a memorial service for him on Thursday, March 15 at 3:30 p.m. at A.A. Rayner Funeral Home, 318 E. 71st Street, Chicago.

Isaac lived at the Lawson YMCA in downtown Chicago. About 100 people attended the memorial service held there on the morning of March 13. His family, his many friends, members of the chess community and fellow Lawson residents all came out to speak about how kind, generous and friendly Isaac was, as well as what a tough (but fun) competitor he could be, whether it was at chess, dominoes or basketball. Isaac played in 154 rated events, and reached a lifetime regular rating peak of 2104. He also played in the Chicago Industrial Chess League, and we feature his last CICL game in the Illinois Chess Blog.

If you'd like to include a note or tribute to be included in this article or a game you played with Isaac, you can email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please put En Passant in the subject line and include your full name in the note. Also, please send any games as an electronic file attachment.

The Father of High School Chess in Illinois is My Dad

Mike and Betsy directing in Dallas at a high school national in early 2000.A Daughter’s Memories and Her Father’s Words

I grew up in the chess world. I was taught the game by my father, Mike Zacate, a High School Science and Math teacher, when I was six years old. Though I didn’t take to chess like my brother, I loved the pieces and played all kinds of games with them. When I was in junior high school, I spent many weekends tagging along and than waiting for my father to finish directing chess tournaments so we could do something together afterwards. It was during this time that my father realized I was old enough to be useful and he started to putting me to work. A smart move on his part, as I often ran out of homework to do before his directing duties were over, and that left him stuck with a bored kid anxious to leave on his hands. It was while I was helping him that I began to understand that my father was an especially important figure in Illinois chess.

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Erik and Andrew Karklins: 143 Years of Chess and Counting

Editor's Note: ICA thanks Editor Dan Lucas for giving us permission to publish this article, which originally appeared in the December 2010 of Chess Life.

Metropolitan Chicago has a history of significant chess activity dating back to the 1800s. Over the past half century alone the city and its suburbs have hosted six U.S. Opens and hundreds of other major events. Thousands of players have come and gone during that time, but two have played in virtually every Illinois tournament of consequence since 1962: National Master Erik Karklins and his son, FIDE Master, Original Life Master, and former Senior Master Andrew Karklins. Certainly the strongest father-son duo in Illinois chess history, the two of them combine for 143 years of chess experience.

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FM Ricardo Szmetan (1952 – 2010)

FM SzmetanI met Ricardo at a chess tournament in Chicago in the summer of 1975. This young chess master, age 22, had traveled from his native Argentina to spend a few months visiting a maternal uncle’s family in Skokie. He played in several tournaments in the Chicago area over a period of about 4 months. He took first place in all but one of the events he participated in. One of his games was featured in the Christian Science Monitor. He was an excellent blitz player frequently giving 5-1 time odds, and winning every game. He loved telling stories of games he played at the Argentine Chess Club in Buenos Aires against the leading Masters of the day. He came from a family of chess players. His older brother, Jorge, is an International Master and 1976 National Champion of Argentina.

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Winter Open Celebrates 25th Year

Tim JustThis January Illinois chess players will compete at the 25th edition of the Tim Just Winter Open Tournament. In honor of the occasion, ICA caught up with Tim Just and asked for some reminiscences. A lot has happened to the Winter Open, and a lot has happened for Tim Just, who is now a USCF National TD, and was editor of the fifth edition of U. S. Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess.

ICA: How has the Winter Open evolved in 25 years?  

Tim Just: It started out at the Lakehurst Mall, then moved to The College of Lake County, and now resides in a popular chess hotel, the Doubletree in Oakbrook. We have gone from pairing cards, snail mail entries, snail mail tournament reports that took months to rate, analog clocks, hand prepared wall charts/signs/pairing sheets to computer pairings, on-line event rating reports, Credit Card entries, and digital delay/increment clocks.

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Midwest Masters Tournaments

Helen Warren organized and ran the Midwest Masters tournaments in the 1980s and 1990s, which brought top chess players from around the country and the world to Chicago. “Those tournaments were run to perfection, as was everything (Helen) did,” according to Fred Gruenberg, himself a prominent national chess organizer and contemporary of Helen Warren's.

1982 Midwest Masters Invitational I
December 3-5, 1982 Palmer House Organizer: Helen Warren 36 players from 6 states (1/4 from out of state) Average rating 2234

Won by IM Leonid Bass/FM Michael Brooks/SM Leonid Kaushansky, scoring 4-1 Two $100 best game prizes, one awarded to Erik Karklins for E. Karklins-Chow; one split between Steven Szpisjak for Kus-Szipsjak and Albert Chow for Szpisjak-Chow

1984 Midwest Masters Invitational II
March 9-11, 1984 International House, University of Chicago Organizer: Helen Warren 43 players from 10 states (half from out of state) Average rating 2279 Won by Michael Brooks (again)/SM Leonid Kaushansky (again)/SM Paul Kuroda, scoring 4-1

Best game Moore-Mills (This game, which featured an important theoretical novelty on move 12, was also published in Chess Informant 37 (game 139), with Moore's annotations, and in Leonard Barden's column in the Manchester Guardian.)

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