Organized by the Chicago Public Schools, the 2017 CPS K-8 Championships were conducted March 25 at Crane RTC Medical Prep. The event was executed by Rennaissance Knights but CPS itself handled most of the traditional organizer duties including site arrangement.

This year's competition was conducted in four sections with both team and individual awards.

Andy Cao of Skinner North and William Wang of Edgebrook were the K-2 (Lower Primary) co-champions with 4.5/5 scores while Decatur and Edgebrook were team co-champions with 13.5 tallies.

David Chen of Edison Gifted was the clear winner in the K-4 (Upper Primary) section, also leading his school to the top team award with 14.5 points.

Decatur and Skinner North tied for second place with 13.0 points in the K-4.

Avi Kaplan lead Decatur Classical to the K-6 Elementary championship with his 5.0/5 score. Skinner North was a half-point behind Decatur: 13.5 to 13.0.

In the Junior High competition, Whitney Young claimed the top four spots as Neel Jay and Alex Ursu posted the lone two perfect 5.0 scores. Scoring 4.0/5 were Aria Hoesley, Daniel Zhang (both of Whitney), along with Christopher Gora (Ogden International) and Ryan Wong (Lane Tech).  Bateman's Layla Rodriguez was a half-point back with 3.5/5.

It should come as no surprise that Whitney Young won the Junior High team championship with 18 points (out of a possible 20). Bateman placed second with 12.5, a half-point better than Lane Tech.

If all you are seeking is the results for this event, I direct you to the Renaissance Knights website which has posted in much greater detail the standings and the tiebreaks. What follows is not for the faint of heart.

It truly takes a community to put on a successful scholastic chess event -- from the players themselves, to the parents who support their ups and downs, to the coaches with all the right moves and the well-timed pep talks, along with the organizer, tournament director, scorekeepers and many other volunteers. Many of those jobs are thankless, and as a TD myself (when I'm not writing articles), I warmly appreciate the occasional student and parent who thanks me for my service after an event.

In my tenure of covering the Illinois chess scene, first as an occassional contributor to this site and for the past two and a half years as editor, I have never received such an outpouring of rage regarding a chess tournament. Before continuing further, I ask the reader to consider the various roles involved and to apportion their sentiments accordingly.

It's not just the Queen's fault when a player falls victim to checkmate -- it's often the Rooks and the Bishops and (occasionally) the Knight who fell asleep at the switch. And don't even get me started on the no-eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head Pawns.

Comments received about the tournament:

  • The kids had fun! For the parents, the experience was terrible for both weeks.
  • CPS didn't properly accommodate the amount of people attending (for the playoffs March 18).  Their staff was rude and condescending to the parents. For (the finals), they did not allow parents of grades 3-8 to stay. It was drop-off only. Some kids ended up leaving with their parents as a result. 
  • Skittles: There was no skittles area.  Parents weren't allowed in the practice rooms or escort their children to the playing area. 
  • Parents of the K-2 sections were allowed to stay -- but were forced to stay in the auditorium.  
  • They had an excessive amount of security staff and it felt like we were in a prison. 
  • Scaled back trophies:  This year in the finals only top two teams in each section and top three individuals won trophies. (Previous years it was always top 3 teams and top 5 individuals according to the note).
  • I wish I could say that the experience was good but it wasn't. CPS staff should attend a YCFC tournament or other major tournaments to see how it is done.
  • CPS Playoffs and CPS Championships: worst chess tournaments I've ever been to in my life.
  • They didn't care about the parents, they were controlling about their rules. I felt like I was in prison these past two Saturdays.
  • It was unorganized and very unprofessional.
  • The tournament venue and organization was a mess, although the pairings were right and the rounds were largely on time. Hopefully they (CPS) will learn from the experience.
  • While it was very poorly managed, I don't think it was done maliciously. I'm willing to cut them more slack than most others might be. They were in over their heads a bit.
  • At least one school withdrew from the tournament and went home; mention was made of teams contemplating a boycott of next year's CPS Championships.

I've been involved in a few awkward moments in my own chess tournament history and I wouldn't wish to be judged by my own worst hours. Software crashes, policies which were meant to be community-friendly having unanticipated consequences, facility issues creeping up, circumstances with an attendee, with personnel, with vendors, etc.

So as merely a reporter in all this I ask that the community maintain tolerance for an event that generally satisfied the childrens' quest for competition, and hope that the Chicago Public Schools enhances its understanding that good chess tournaments don't just grow on trees!

Indeed, if anyone wishes to submit further comments -- or rebuttals -- contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..