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 yesterday, September 5. Visitation will be held Saturday (9/9) from 1 PM to 3 PM at the Yurs Funeral Home in St. Charles. Funeral Services will follow at 3 PM at the same location. Burial will be private. For information please call the funeral home at 630-584-0060.

Mr. DeFotis won or tied for first in the US Junior Championship three times (according to He also tied for first in the 1973 Illinois Open.

According to sources, Mr. DeFotis walked away from competitive chess in the early 1990's as a FIDE Master due to the lack of significant prize funds in chess -- and perhaps out of frustration that midwest GM-norm events were scarce.

His last rated event was the 1994 Billy Colias Open where he went undefeated, winning twice and drawing a Master before withdrawing. His final US Chess rating was 2462 but he was rated over 2500 at times (prior to the MSA history).

Mr. DeFotis was also a world-class Backgammon player and superior Contract Bridge enthusiast -- and excelled at other games as well.

The last few years of his USCF / US Chess history are posted here.

Former ICA President Hector Hernandez writes in to report that has 40 DeFotis games posted -- many with insightful commentary. Listed opponents are a veritable "who's who" of chess including Pal Benko, Bent Larsen, I A Horowitz, Larry Evans, Larry Kaufman, Joel Benjamin, Roman Dzindzichashvili and the late Arthur Bisguier.

The ICA welcomes additional recollections or reports on Mr. DeFotis. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with information.

Our collective condolences to the family and friends.