Most chess kids enjoy competition, a subject we began to explore in our section called “Starting a Youth Chess Program.” We go more deeply into the subject in this section. We start with brief descriptions of Illinois’ major statewide youth tournaments, which attract from several hundred to more than a thousand players. The next section, our “Guide to Scholastic Tournaments,” lays out what to expect, how to prepare, and the nuts and bolts of how tournaments are run. “Sportsmanship and Etiquette” comes next, followed by a now-classic piece on “How to be a Good Chess Parent.” Finally, we list past Illinois champions and current top players in our “Hall of Fame.”

A note on leagues and internet competition. In addition to tournaments, many Illinois high school players have the opportunity to participate in league play through regional conferences overseen by the Illinois Chess Coaches Association ( One-on-one team matches sponsored by the conferences are central components of many high school programs.

To our knowledge, there are not yet any leagues in Illinois for younger players, as there are elsewhere. ICA hopes to begin filling that gap. One option we are exploring is online matches between schools, especially where transportation is unavailable or prohibitively expensive. There are already many opportunities for individuals to play games online, and technology for online team competitions is advancing rapidly.  We’ll keep you posted.