Grandmaster William Lombardy Passes Away at 79


[Editor's Note: Mike Klein has since updated his insightful piece and has included thoughts from many in the chess community including Bruce Pandolfini.]

Grandmaster William Lombardy has passed away at the age of 79. According to Mike Klein, reporting for, Lombardy had only recently moved to Caifornia, staying with friend Ralph Palmieri in the East Bay (east of San Francisco). According to Klein's source, Lombardy "collapsed and died" Friday, October 13 in Martinez, CA.

Lombardy was depicted in the 2014 movie Pawn Sacrifice, his character portrayed by Illinois-native Peter Sarsgaard (the priest serving as Fischer's coach during the legendary match with Boris Spassky). 

Read more ...

Former ICA President, Treasurer Carl Dolson Passes Away


For a man with a lot of heart, it's hard to comprehend that his would give out. Former Illinois Chess Association President Carl Dolson passed away September 30 at the age of 61.

Readers of this site may recall that Mr. Dolson had recently passed out while driving and was fortunate to have been assisted by an off-duty police officer who secured prompt medical attention. Unfortunately, the incident was followed by others and he was considering a cardiac assistive device. After contemplating quality of life matters, Mr. Dolson had decided against that option -- and, according to his son, Chris -- it is now suspected that the senior Dolson would not have survived the surgery.

After dedicated service as Treasurer, Mr. Dolson became ICA President for almost two terms, relinquishing the position when he moved to Indiana with his wife in 2016, to be closer to his two young grandchildren.

Read more ...

First IL High School Chess Champion DeFotis Passes Away


Back in the 1960's, long before the IHSA team format and before the upsurge in chess popularity from Bobby Fischer, there was something called the Illinois High School Students Chess Championship.

Greg DeFotis was the very first champion of that event in 1966.

Word has reached the ICA that Mr. DeFotis has passed away at the age of 65. He died September 5. Funeral services were held at Yurs Funeral Home in St. Charles on September 9 followed by a private burial service.

Read more ...

Illinois Loses Chess Legend Erik Karklins, 102


Weeks after celebrating his 102nd birthday, Erik Karklins has passed away.

Born in Riga, Latvia, the city which also brought us Mikhail Tal, Mr. Karklins was an architect who immigrated to the United States in 1951, ultimately making Chicago his home. His peak rating was believed to be 2305.

Mr. Karklins' surviving family includes his son, FM Andrew Karklins. In his December 2010 Chess Life article, Ken Marshall says the duo formed the strongest father-son combination in Illinois history. (The Turguts now may have something to say about that).

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

Illinois Chess Loses Strong Supporter; Jim Warren, 81

James E. Warren of Lombard, Illinois, died earlier today, December 12, 2014, at the age of 81. 

Jim's contribution to Illinois chess as a player, organizer, patron, and volunteer is truly unparalleled.  He is survived by his wife Helen, a co-founder of the Illinois Chess Association.

For more than three decades, Jim worked for Western Electric (later AT&T Technologies, the forerunner of today's Alcatel-Lucent) until a 1989 heart attack forced him to take an early retirement.

Playing in the Chicago Industrial Chess League a couple years after its founding in 1957, Jim was the CICL's first Expert player at a time when most teams were happy to have one Class A player on their team.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.