In memoriam: James Robert Michalak (1941 - 2017)

by NM Len Weber

The Illinois chess scene has lost another longtime favorite.  In December, we lost James "Jimbo" Michalak, after a long health battle.  This writer first met Jim at the Homewood Flossmoor Park District Chess Club (defunct in 1984).  A "Fischer boomer", Jim reached over 1800 USCF, winning several notable prizes, before leaving the tournament scene in the mid-1980s.  In more recent years, "Jimbo" spent many warm weather days as a regular at the chess haunts in Chicago, including North Avenue Beach, where he taught lessons, played all comers, hustled and got hustled, earned wins against experts and masters, and traded fearless wit and clever barbs with even the most ferocious patrons.

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Dr. Steven Tennant, 1948 - 2017


Dr. Steven Tennant, international correspondence chess master, national master, life master, and former Illinois state champion, passed away last week at the age of 69.

Graveside service Friday, 12/8/2017, 3:00 p.m. at Westlawn Cemetery, Norridge.

Info: The Goldman Funeral Group,, (847) 478-1600.

A detailed article will follow.

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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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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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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