It's lonely at the top.

Grandmaster Nikola Mitkov was the lone GM entered in the 2017 Illinois Class Championship -- and he held form to win top honors at the one-day event held November 19 in the Chicago suburb of Lisle. 

GM Mitkov defeated Derek Paitrick a Wisconsin Expert, in the final round to close out the tournament in the Masters / Experts section, the top of seven divisions.

Wisconsin's Alex Velikanov took second place after requesting a half-point bye in the final round, finishing with 3.5. IMSA's George Li took clear third with 3.0/4, and presumably the 2017 Illinois Chess Tour top honors with his points from the event.

Mitkov, Velikanov and Li took home $500, $200 and $50 respectively. The total prize pool for the event was raised to $2000 this year.

Naperville North High Schooler Richard Zhang finished 2.0 in the section, defeating NNHS teammate Marissa Li in the third round. The result raised Zhang into Expert territory, above 2000. Congratulations to Richard!

Highland Park High Schooler Iskender Arda (originally from Turkey) and Chicago home-schooler Adam Bareket won Class A top honors, both with 3.5 scores. Arda earned the slightly higher tiebreak to win the Class A trophy and the duo split $250 (combined first and second prize money).

IMSA's Shayna Provine won Class B with her 4.0 performance, defeating teammate Patrick Li in the final round. Together Li and Provine won the mixed doubles competition, claiming a pair of trophies and an extra $60 on top of their Class prize money.

Natalie Wisniowski played up into Class B, usually reserved for players rated above 1600. She proved she belonged by going 3.0, raising her rating to 1646, tying her with Richard for second place. She and mixed doubles partner Rudy Padilla claimed second place honors in mixed doubles, good for a little money and a pair of trophies.

Provisionally-rated Diego Morales and Bayaan Hollis were both perfect in Class C, splitting $250 in prize money. Hollis now stands at the precipice of Class B with a 1599 rating. Morales still went up over 250 rating points -- and still has ten games to go until he is non-provisional.

A five-pack finished at 3.0 in the section, each earning $8. Included in that group were Jim Froehlich, Rudy Padilla, (both venerable Illinois players), IMSA Coach Don Porzio, and juniors Anshul Shetty and Sarah Grandy.

After his opponent didn't show up in the first round, Christopher MacFadyen wondered if anyone wanted to play with him. After the final three rounds, the answer is probably not!

Christopher won his final three matches -- including a fourth round victory over Derrick Red, to finish 4.0, claiming first prize in Class D.

MacFayden raised his rating from 1074 to 1303.

Red, fresh off winning prize money at the 2017 Illinois Senior Open, was one of five players to finish in a five-way tie for second place with 3.0/4. Kevin Behrendt, David Phillips, Adi Oberai and Gabriel Gronski were all in that 3.0 score group, each earning $23.

In addition to the top five sections, all playing Game/60; delay-5 time controls, the 2017 Illinois Class included two quicker, sections for U1200 and U800 players.

In the U1200, Wisconsin's Shantanu Chaudhuri and Illinois' Alex Federici both finished with perfect 4.0's. Alex, from DeKalb, is a senior at IMSA -- and raised his seldom-used provisional rating from 517 to 937, a remarkable 420 points.

A five-way tie for third place overall included Noah Meyer, Anisha Oberai, Colin Wicks, Pragyan Misra and Andy Cao.

In U800 play, Kyran Siddiqui and Sambudha Ghosal both posted 4.0/4's with Kyran claiming the higher tiebreak and first place. A five-way tie for third place included the 3.0 score group.

Nicholas Lai earned third place hardware on tiebreaks while Michael Miller had the top score for previously unrated players.

Akshay Ramanathan, Cady Munkhbayar and Temuulen Turbat also finished with 3.0's. Cady was the top U600 finisher -- although her rating is now an impressive 663, Temuulen finished with slightly lower tiebreaks to claim the U600 second place trophy. He also raised his rating above 600 to 646.

Overall 155 participated in the Illinois Class, a 20 percent drop-off from the 2016 Class, ending a four-year run of enhanced attendance for the ICA tournament.

Bill Buklis served as Chief Tournament Director and it is believed that this puts him over the top for eligibility to take his National Tournament Director's test. Good luck, Bill!

Pending final review, it looks like George Li won the 2017 Illinois Tour Open Division. Pending final results, it appears that George tied with GM Mitkov with 28.5 points for the year, but with one additional event, on the year the IMSA first-board won the tiebreaks.

Philip McCully, with a draw and a bonus participation point from the Class, has won the Adult Reserve division. McClully edged Rudy Padilla for top honors after Craig Boskey did not play in the Illinois Class.

Kevin Ho ran away with the Scholastic Reserve section.

The Illinois Chess Tour is looking for a commissioner for the 2018 and 2019 Tours. Under guidelines, Tour commissioners are appointed to a two-year term.

Although promising to help with the statstical tabulation, 2016-2017 Tour Commissioner is serving out his two-years of service. 

Trophies are available for first through fifth places while top honors also comes with a check. Commissioner Buklis promises to update the final results shortly.