Two invitational tournaments in March sponsored by the ICA Warren Junior Scholar Program will have the state’s top high school players and the state’s top youth female players vying for a chance to win travel to a national summer event.

Seven high school boys will participate in the Illinois Denker qualifier, with the winner moving on to become the state representative to the National Denker High School tournament of champions in Irvine, California in August.  The state’s top six girls will play in the State Girls’ Invitational, and the winner will have her choice of traveling to either the National Girls’ Polgar Invitational Tournament in July in Lubbock, Texas, or the brand new National Girls Open that will be held in Irvine, California at the same time as the National Denker tournament.

The Denker Qualifier will be a 7-round Round Robin format, with each player receiving one full point bye. Six of the players received automatic invitations based on their 2000 or better rating, and one wildcard spot was offered to the highest performing U2000 player at the February 6 Illinois Chess Coaches Association high school individual championship tournament.  The players include, in rating order, Niles North sophomore NM Eric Rosen; home-schooled junior and Illinois’ newest National Master, Trevor Magness; Whitney Young junior Michael Auger; Barrington senior Zach Kasiurak;  Buffalo Grove sophomore Matthew Wilber; Stevenson sophomore Josh Dubin; and wildcard winner Evanston senior Ashok Raife.

The State Girls’ Invitational will be a 5-round Round Robin event.  The field includes a group of young and talented girls:  the two oldest are high school freshmen, and the two youngest are age 9. In rating order, the players are 8th-grader Yue (Penny) Xu of Champaign; New Trier High School freshman Sonya Vohra of Wilmette; eighth-grader Victoria Bian of Lincolnshire; third-grader Rachel Ulrich of Grayslake; Stevenson High School freshman Adele Padgett of Lincolnshire; and third-grader Shayna Provine of Plainfield.

The winner of each tournament will receive a $500 travel stipend to the national tournament, as well as $250 to be applied to chess lessons.  The runners-up each receive $125 to be applied to chess lessons.  The funding for the prizes is provided by the ICA Warren Junior Scholar Program.

The North American Chess Association (NACA) is donating the space and tournament directing services for the two events, which will be held at the same time and place as the NACA-sponsored 2010 World Amateur Chess Championship, where chess players from all over the world will be competing .  Both the Denker Qualifier and the Girls’ Invitational will begin Friday evening, March 19, at the Skokie Holiday Inn.  The girls’ tournament will end March 21, and the Denker on March 22.