More than 1,000 high school players have converged on Peoria for what over the years has grown to one of the largest team chess tournaments in the world.  Play in the seven-round tournament started Friday morning, with 128 high school teams participating.  After six rounds of play, just two teams remain undefeated:  Last year's state champs Niles North in Skokie, and perennial top-10 finisher Whitney Young of Chicago.  It's the second consecutive year that the two teams have met in Round 7.  Niles North was the only undefeated team going into the last round last year, and by the narrowest possible margin spoiled Whitney's hopes of tying for first, eking out 38.5 points of a possible 68.  In that match, Niles North board 1 NM Eric Rosen lost the game and the 12 points that go with it in the team score to Whitney expert Michael Auger, his longtime friend, but the Niles North team came through anyway to carry the match.  Rosen and Auger again face each other in the crucial Round 7 match, but Whitney this year has more depth than last, with expert Sam Schmakel, a freshman, holding the Board 2 spot.  What will happen this year?  See the results when they come in at the IHSA website.

When players are away for a competition like this, their families miss them.  That's been especially true of Niles North senior Saagar Gupta's  younger sister Naina, who wrote this poem for him:


With kings and queens,
and pawns and knights
Add a bishop to the mix
And it's a fright!

Black and white,
Crystal or wood,
Chess can be cool
And always good!

You can play in tournments,
or even in four players,
Chess has a variety,
As long as your a good king-slayer!

In games you win money,
and some good ratings.
So as long as you get good,
You'll never be fading!

Who knows! One day,
You'll be like Bobby Fischer,
People will admire you.
And your goal will closer.

So get lots of trophies
To put on a lot of shelves.
Also just remember,
Those pieces don't move by themselves.