reprinted from: HOY CHICAGO ,  Monday, November 29, 2010

The challenge of finding the best move is what motivates Mark Jungo, a 7th grade student, to search for more and better strategies when he plays chess. The same interest is shared by Nathan Guadarrama, age 5, and Elisa Blancas, 91.

All three competed in last Saturday’s Latino Chess Championship, organized by the Rudy Lozano Branch Library, 1805 S. Loomis St., in the Pilsen community.

All 55 participants showed up at the library with pencil and paper to record the moves of their games. They came from a number of primary and secondary schools, from the city as well as the suburbs.

Latinos, African-American, Caucasian, children, young adults, men and women, challenged, thought and calculated the moves of their chess pieces for about seven hours.

This is a game that helps them to quicken the mind, calculate, analyze, evaluate, take responsibility for their actions, take into account others’ opinions, and to develop their memory “and, at the same time, is a way to socialize” explained Hector Hernandez, Manager of the Chicago Public Library’s Rudy Lozano Branch.

The chess club, a Chicago Public Library program, started at Lozano Branch in 1989, when that library was inaugurated. Tournaments date back to 1992. On this occasion the library celebrated the 18th edition of this Tournament, in which 20 trophies were awarded in two categories: one for players age 14 and younger, and the other one for players age 15 and older.

It is at this location where chess stars have emerged and perfected their skills, like Jose Antonio Rodriguez, age 21, who joined the Lozano Branch chess club at age 5 and was the top Illinois player from ages 6 to 16.

“There is something for everyone here”, commented Hernandez who explained that the basics are taught to those with no knowledge of chess: the playing board, light and dark squares, moves of the chess pieces, ideas of check and checkmate, ranks and files, diagonals, open lines and closed positions.

Chess “sets challenges for me and encourages me to always look ahead, sharpen my mind and use my free time in an enjoyable and exciting way”, said (Mark) Jungo, a Brighton Park resident.

At age 91, (Elisa) Blancas, enjoys the opportunity to remain active at a chess board, “sharing my knowledge with the new generations”, she said.

As for Alicia Camargo, she encourages parents to involve their children in this program. Her son Miguel Camargo, participated in Lozano Branch chess tournaments since age 13, he won a national championship and is her mother’s pride. She says chess “motivated him to be responsible”. Now he works as an advisor at the Mercantile Exchange. “Calculus and mathematics helped him and now analytical skills are his specialty”, she said.

For Salustia Gonzalez, chess not only helps her three sons to focus better on their duties, and practice Mathematics, but it “also helps them to relax after a long day in school. Playing (chess) is like a reward for them because they really enjoy it”, said the mom who encourages all parents to offer their children the opportunity to experience chess.

The Winners

This is the list of  Chicago Latino Chess Championship XVIII winners:


Section II

Players age 14 and under, 10 trophies awarded, plus one for the youngest player

Section I

Players age 15 and over, 10 trophies were also awarded. The winners are:

1. Phillip Parker-Turner

1. Andrew Riojas

2. Abdel Raoul

2. Eric Varela

3. Ricky Roman

3. Jacob Butcher

4. Gabriel Gonzalez

4. Kymantas Alborovas

5. Mark Jungo

5. Ram Samaroo

6. Joshua Maldonado

6. Albert Burage

7. Brandon Kavaliunas

7. Ricardo Roman

8. Ramiro Jimenez

8. Orland Smith

9. Basilio Leopoldo

9. Ube Leopoldo

10. Josh Macias

10. Tony Varela

Nathan Guadarrama, age 5, youngest competitor

Elisa Blancas, age 91, oldest participant


The Chess Club at the Rudy Lozano Branch Library, 1805 S. Loomis St., meets every Thursday from 6-8 p.m. For more information, call the library at 312.746.4329.