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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Helen Warren and the Warren Junior Program

This article was originally published as Bill Brock's "President's Podium" column in a 2006 edition of the Illinois Chess Bulletin.

Most of us think of Helen Warren as the emeritus heart and soul of the Illinois Chess Association. Back in 1961, Helen Hendricks was one of the signers of our Articles of Incorporation (along with our respected friends Jim Brotsos and Frank Skoff, future U.S Women’s Champion Eva Aronson, and Peter Wolf). Along the way (after marrying Jim Warren, an Expert who drew Fischer twice on his 1963 simul tour), she organized umpteen Midwest Masters, the 1989 U.S. Open, a couple of the best U.S. Masters ever, and other events too numerous to mention. She brought World Championship Candidates Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Hübner to Chicago for the 1982 Cloverline International, she founded the wonderful American Postal Chess Tournaments, served for decades in various USCF leadership positions, edited the Illinois Chess Bulletin, and was the voice of the ICA, even in those years when she didn’t officially have the title of President. Even today, on the many occasions that ICA has a problem that I’m not sure how to handle, I call Helen for her wise counsel.

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