Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where Has the Year Gone?

DeKalb Chess Club has decided to let 2011 exit with a bang instead of a wimper, hosting a unique year-end tournament, Saturday, December 31.

For the first time locally (and probably last), the club will host a G/20 + 11 event in honor of the expiring year. This means that players will get an allotment of 20 minutes to make all moves in a game PLUS a delay of up to 11 seconds before the clock starts each turn.

Shorter time controls mean we can squeeze in four rounds... and still get out in plenty of time to enjoy the New Year festivities.

This event provides the book end to the 2011 Illinois Kick-Off held January 2, 2011, at the dearly departed, but not forgotten DeKalb Borders.

This event will not be USCF-rated... so no membership is required. Everyone is welcome!


However, if sufficient demand is received from parties wishing to participate in a rated section, the tournament director has the power to compose a USCF-rated section and submit those results to the US Chess Federation. Regardless, there will be at least two sections of unrated play, one for juniors, and one open to all-comers.

Registration and warm up will begin at 9am until around 9:45am with play starting at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm. The event is being held at the beautiful First Congregational Church, 615 N First Street in DeKalb.

We should wrap up round play around 3pm to allow for safe travels to wherever one might be ringing in the 2012 transition.

Entry fees are $10 for adults 21 and over, $5 for juniors with net proceeds going to the church facility fund. This is a small token of our appreciation for hosting us for casual chess on Mondays and providing a home for us, in general.

We hope 2011 has been a productive year for your chess and that club activity has contributed in some small way to your chess enjoyment.

Monday, December 19, 2011

DCC hosts Winter Chess Camp

DeKalb Chess Champ is proud to announce it will be hosting a four-day, kid-friendly chess camp over winter break. The dates of the 1/2 day camps are Tuesday, December 27 to Friday, December 30.

From 1pm to 4:45pm each day, participants will be getting a mind-expanding combination of demonstration board instruction, practice exercises, grandmaster video lessons, and chess play. From exploring of openings and endgames to the study of famous games and novel positions, the 15 hour camp will certainly take everyone's game to the next level (or two!).

Absolutely no knowledge of chess is assumed, but after a brief introduction, the camp will cover all the important aspects of chess including tactics and strategy. We'll also play some fun "chess variants" which are like chess but emphasize different skills. For example, Bughouse requires players to partner up and allows you to return pieces captured by one's partner to the board. Teamwork, communication and strategy are all necessary to prevail in Bughouse!

Advance registration is recommended through emailing name (and grade level if in school) to The cost is $45 for the entire camp with additional family members only $30. This covers all four afternoons. Single afternoons are available for $15 each. (Absolute beginners should attend the first session but otherwise, each day will be standalone).

All proceeds go to support the building fund of the First Congregational Church which is graciously hosting the camp and hosts the DeKalb Chess Club for casual play on Mondays. The church is located at 615 N. First Street in DeKalb (just north of the Ellwood House).

What a fun way to spend a portion of winter break!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two, Two, Two Events in One

There is no confirmation that the Doublemint twins will be in attendance, but you never know who will show up for these events! Registrations are flowing in for December 3rd competitions.

First Saturday in December will bring two events to the friendly confines of DeKalb Chess Club's base of operations: the hospitable First Congregational Church.

The FCC is a marvel of the community, providing us with a comfortable base of operations for our Monday casual play and, when they're not hosting lavish weddings on Saturdays, we are lucky enough to turn the church into tournament central (well, part of it, at least). The Fellowship Hall provides some excellent playing conditions.

Saturday, December 3rd will feature both a US Chess Federation-rated event and a tournament for up and coming juniors. Registration for both events kicks off at 9am to 9:30am during which players are also invited to warm up with casual game play or ponder some last-minute analysis of the latest opening line.

Tournament play will get going around 9:45 for both groups. Both events will feature three rounds of play. The USCF event features Game/65 + 5 which means both players get 65 minutes to complete their moves PLUS an extra five seconds for each move. You'd be amazed at how much some players can squeeze out of that extra 5 second boost. This event will include a lunch break over the noon hour and should run until 5:30pm.

For the juniors event, the younger kids will start off without a clock but the tournament director reserves the right to place one at the board if a game is starting to languish (if you know what I mean). The older kids will enjoy 30 minutes to make all moves for a particular game (each side). Sections will be developed based upon registration, but it's hoped we'll have enough for K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and maybe even 9-12. This event should wrap up by 12:45 followed by a brief awards ceremony.

The USCF event should feature some excellent competition. Sections will be developed upon registration confirmation, but preliminarily, we're looking at an open section and a section for players rated Under 1600. The elite Open Section is generally reserved for players in the top one-sixth of all active players (84th percentile), no small feat.

USCF membership is required for the rated event. No such requirement for the junior event, although USCF rules will generally be followed. This means touch move and quiet decorum during game play. As a coach, I highly recommend taking notation so a player might reconstruct a game and learn from the experience, but writing down ones moves is not required for the juniors event.

For the USCF event, cash prizes will be awarded as scheduled elsewhere on this site. Those prizes seem to spark the interest of some participants, who knows why. In addition to the section winners, the top-points earners Under 1800 and Under 1400 will also be eligible for monetary prizes, see "Payouts" tab for complete details.

Observers are welcome but should use hushed tones as they walk among the games. Nothing portrays excitement like a pawn advancing to the sixth or seventh rank 45 moves into a two-hour game. You just have to see it to believe it!

Those interested in playing should contract but on-site registrations are accepted as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Midwest Senior Open Preview coming Sunday October 23

All details can be found on the Senior Open Preview tab at this site (to the right and up a couple inches).

RSVP's are starting to flow in so we're looking forward to this exciting preview event. One way or the other, we've got enough response to make a successful event.

In addition to providing three rounds of competitive, neural-stimulating, drama-free, slower-paced chess, we'll be holding discussions with attendees to assure the eventual Midwest Senior Open will be the best event it can be, accommodating the widest possible set of needs and desires for this type of tournament.

Finding cooperative partners for this event has been a challenge, so if your organization should wish to partner on the eventual senior event, please drop a note.

Friday, September 30, 2011

3 Exciting Events on Saturday, October 1st

Due to a church wedding, we've had to alter the event docket for October 1. We apologize for the confusion but we're attempting to give everyone a few rounds of competitive chess and keep our scheduled commitments.

There will be two different venues for these events with two different start times. Please heed the details for the event which best suits your needs.

For United States Chess Federation players, we'll be at the American National Bank, 1985 DeKalb Avenue, in Sycamore. This event will be three rounds with registration at 3:15pm until 3:25pm. Rated tournament play will start at 3:30pm and proceed until 10pm. Free pizza will be served between rounds.

For juniors (scholastic) players, there will be an event earlier in the day at the lovely House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Hwy, in DeKalb. This is in the heart of downtown DeKalb, at the northwest corner of 3rd and Lincoln Hwy. What a treat to be able to hold an event here!

Registration will be from 11:20am-11:40am, with tournament play beginning at 11:45am until about 2:45pm. This will be followed by a brief awards ceremony.

For those seeking USCF-rated competition, USCF-membership is required (available at site). Entry fee is $7 and there will be 3 rounds of G/30 play. A blitz playoff (G/5) will occur in the event of ties. Keeping notation is strongly encouraged. Medals will be awarded to top section finishers.

If you're a young one who just wants some fun, competitive chess, there will be 4 rounds of G/20 play (each player gets 20 minutes to complete all moves. The entry fee will be $5 and medals will be awarded to section winners.

Further details are found in the column to the right of this posting.

Please drop a note to for questions about the scholastic event or for the Open event.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hyvee Family Night Approaches

Once again, DeKalb Chess Club will hold a First Thursday event at Hyvee in Sycamore. Come one, come all starting at 7pm on October 6th.

All equipment is provided, but you're welcome to bring your own. We'll be in the food court... contemplating the possibilities of the all you can eat salad bar! Should be fun!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Hiatus

In honor of Labor Day, September 5, DeKalb Chess Club will not meet for casual chess. Enjoy time with family and we hope to see you Wednesday, September 7, at the church for game play.

We're not promising, but it's possible Cliff will be unveiling soon a snazzy new opening he is rumored to be working on in his chess laboratory! You never know when he might spring it on you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1st brings Family Chess Night

DeKalb Chess Club hosts its second Family Chess Night, tonight at Hyvee in the food court. We should get started after 7pm as the "dinner rush" clears up. The more the merrier!

For those who haven't been there, Hyvee is located at 2700 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore. But you couldn't get any closer to the DeKalb border.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kiwi's first chess lesson: board awareness

For some reason, Kiwi couldn't understand the concept of the laser pointer, but he immediately caught on to en passant and the theory of opposition in king and pawn endgames, and he's now rated 1720 USCF. Unfortunately avian tournaments are a rare breed so he seldom plays over the board these days. Catch him on the ICC under the screen name "Rogue Bird".

Friday, August 26, 2011

NIU Chess Players Wanted

DeKalb Chess Club is on the look out for all NIU students with an interest in chess. Several of the faithful NIU Chess Club members have graduated and the NIU club status may lapse unless we can find additional chess enthusiasts.

This is a casual club and does not compete on an intercollegiate basis (yet!) so you don't have to be the next Bobby Fischer. If interested, drop me an email at dekalbchess at gmail dot com and I'll make sure it gets to the right place!

Monday, August 15, 2011

TD Workshop: August 20th in Sycamore

Have you ever wanted to put on a USCF-chess tournament but didn't know what it would take?

Are you looking for more "chess action" in your community?

Well then, you are in luck!  This weekend in centrally-located Sycamore the renowned Tim Just will be providing the latest and greatest protocols and rules you will need to know as a successful tournament director (TD).

From Club TD to Local TD to Senior TD and up...the road to becoming an experienced and efficient director can be challenging. National Tournament Director Just has "been there, done that" and he will generously share his expertise at this workshop, Saturday, August 20 at 10am.

Mr. Just is the co-author of the USCF Official Rules of Chess (5th Edition) and the developer of the helpful  80-20 TD website.

Access to the rulebook is required of all tournament directors for rated events, so why not get the 4-1-1 straight from the horse's mouth? Learn about the numerous updates which have been adopted over the past 8 years.

While the 80-20 site provides some brief video tips for the two major pairing packages, Saturday's workshop will provide much greater depth. This is your chance to interact with the author up close and personally.

Additionally, many of the forms you would need as a prospective TD will be available at the workshop and experienced directors will provide insights on the resources available through the USCF and the fine staff of the Illinois Chess Association.

Added Bonus
As an extra incentive, the fine folks behind Swiss Sys, have agreed to provide a FREE license to their state-of the-art tournament directing software as a raffle prize (based upon at least four paid registrations). This is a $99 value, folks, and represents the largest single expenditure of your initial tournament budget.

As a Club TD for the past year, Swiss Sys has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. And the technical support from the developer is nothing short of AMAZING. I only wish I had attended a workshop like this before I'd started running events.

The seminar costs $15 and will be held at the American National Bank of DeKalb County, 1985 DeKalb Ave, Sycamore, Illinois (Illinois Route 23 and Bethany Road).  After a short lunch break, the seminar is scheduled to conclude around 2:30pm.

Sign Up Today!
Advance registration can be emailed to

Chess organizers are a rarefied breed and several wonderful recurring events have gone away in recent times. The youth of Illinois (heck, the adults, too!) need more opportunities to play in tournaments of varied formats and location. This is your chance to make a difference.

Otherwise, the chess landscape in this region will be dictated by three organizers in the northern suburbs of Chicago. These organizations are all composed of fine people, but tournaments should not be so geographically isolated if chess is going to remain a democratic and accessible activity in our region.

Be part of the movement bringing choice to the chess-playing community: host a rated-tournament in your own backyard. This workshop is your one-stop launching pad towards making that happen with the least amount of pain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pennies from Heaven!

A whopping 36 competitors turned out for the Lincoln Penny Challenge Sunday at American National Bank, eight scholastic players and 28 others. In an exciting 5-minute blitz play-off, Glen Gratz defeated James Marshall, but both Gratz and Marshall went undefeated in tournament play.

Glen, who coaches North Boone in the Rockford area, and James, who plays with the St. Charles club, split first and second place prize monies, walking away with $75 and $70 respectively.

With 2.0/3 scores, Vincent Do, Ted Mercer and Seth Kushinsky split Class B prize money, each receiving $15 (augmented). Andrew Bell won the Class C prize ($40) and Kyle Mathews took home the Class D prize ($40). 

In the 6-player Tails section, Zoran Bogdanovich, won the Class E/Unrated prize ($40) going undefeated. Zoran is pictured below going over key strategy points with his son, Nikola, who competed in the scholastic section. Playing against Zoran in the picture is Freeport's Zack Kauffman who came within one third-round game of winning the section. Keep it up, Zach (and get a haircut)!

Over $300 in prize money was distributed between 8 players. Talk about emptying the penny jar!

The most rating improvement was shown by Nathan Holzmueller who went 1.5/3 against some strong players. For his efforts, Nathan's USCF rating jumped 83 points, from 1349 to 1432, raising him from Class D to Class C. Way to go, Nathan!  Keep up the good work!

Kyle, pictured on the left above (against DeKalb club's Don Reyes), completed his provisional games sequence, and now has an official USCF rating of 1420. Mr. Mathews, who plays with the fantastic Aurora & Naperville Chess Club, achieved a 70-point bump with his strong showing Sunday.

Andrew (pictured in round 3 play above) hiked his rating 48 points, while the DeKalb club's Cliff Adams enhanced his rating 46 points.

For the scholastics, there was a three-way tie with 3 points out of 4 possible. Arartik Marwah, Chufan Chen, Moulik Mehta all earned gold medals. All participants received chess books courtesy of the DeKalb Chess Club. Keep working at it, kids!

All told, this was a gratifying turn out, the most we've enjoyed for a DeKalb/Sycamore event. Perhaps the word is getting out there that this area isn't as far away as people fear... and that the ideal conditions for chess make the drive worthwhile.

As our first year of hosting tournaments comes to a close, the DeKalb Club is proud to have fielded 12 open events attracting 87 different participants from four states. This includes a couple daddy-daughter pairs, a couple father-son combinations and several sets of brothers!  A quick review of the tournament results tab shows that many different competitors have won... no consistent domination by any one player. 

We'll see what Year Two brings!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monthly Family Night at Hyvee

In an attempt to outreach to new chess players in the community, the club is launching evening play in a public location!

Hyvee (2700 DeKalb Avenue) has taken the Sycamore / DeKalb community by storm... and they do a bang up job of merchandising. Although we were told the teaching room was only available for cooking demonstrations, we were advised that we could use a portion of the seating in the dining room. Although not required, guests are invited to purchase a beverage or a delicious dessert item.

DeKalb Chess Club will be providing all the equipment... but you're welcome to bring your own too if you happen to have a favorite set. If it goes well, this will become a "first Thursday of the month" event.

So as not to interfere with the Hyvee "dinner rush", participants are encouraged to wait until 7pm to start setting up. And we should all keep an eye out for up and comers who might enjoy tournament play coming up this weekend. Hope to see you Thursday evening!

Exciting Registrations For Weekend Events

DeKalb Chess Club is honored to be receiving some exciting RSVP's for the trio of upcoming events, highlighted by the Lincoln Penny Cash Challenge Sunday, August 7.

There's no better way to celebrate the Lincoln-faced coin's 102nd birthday than a full day of chess competition.

Among the pre-registrants for the event are Brian Villarreal who has had a solid past year in the chess world. Not only did he win the Last Saturday in DeKalb event in February, but he just went to the finals in the June Peoria City Championship. But I believe his biggest recent coup was as co-winner of the 2011 Arpad Elo event held in Wisconsin over May Day weekend. Brian went a solid 4.5/5 topping the field of 45 entrants.

Brian's improvement is a model of what we all seek to accomplish with study and regular tournament play. He was a 1500 player in 2007, a 1600 player for most of 2008 before flirting with 1700 in 2009.  By 2010 he was solidly in 1700 territory, before entering the land of the 1800's in 2011, sampling a taste of 1900-hood along the way. He promises to be a formidable foe in Sunday's tournament. Who will be up to the challenge to take on Brian?

Plenty of slots remain available but we're excited about the pre-registration for the Penny Challenge along with the two scholastic events: the DeKalb Junior Open Saturday August 6 and the Penny Rated Scholastic on Sunday August 7. Don't be shy, drop a line today if you're interested in playing in any of these events. is open 24 hours a day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Upcoming Event Summary

Saturday August 6
DeKalb Area Junior Open, First Congregational Church (DeKalb)
Cost: $5; Sections K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. This is NOT a USCF-rated event. Format: Three or four rounds, G/20 for lower sections, G/30 for high schoolers; Prizes: Chess books for ALL participants, medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each section; Registration: 10am-10:20am, Tournament Play 10:30am
Sunday August 7 
Lincoln Penny Cash Challenge,  American National Bank (Sycamore)
Cost: $15; up-to-date USCF membership required. Format: Three rounds, G/65 plus 5 second delay; Prizes: $100 guaranteed to winner, additional cash prizes expected to Class B, C, D, E/Unrated top scorer; Registration: 10am-10:15am, Tournament Play 10:30am, 1pm, 3:30pm.
Sunday August 7
Lincoln Penny Rated Scholastic, American National Bank (Sycamore)
Cost: $6; USCF membership required (available on-site); Format: Four rounds, G/30, Sections: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 (subject to consolidation); Prizes: Chess books for all participants, medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each section; Registration: 10am-10:20am, Tournament Play 10:35am (until 3:30).

Questions? Please email
Sign up? Please email
<< Please see posting below for narrative>>

Exciting August Events Planned

We've passed the halfway point of summer and despite the 100 degree heat, we're in the home stretch of everyone's favorite season.

DeKalb Chess Club has been active in the community, supporting several summer camps with chess programs. Dozens of new potential chess players have been exposed to the game, learning the piece names and movements, the board set up, the basics of checkmate and its dreaded arch-rival, stalemate. We've covered the many ways a game can end in a draw and explored the basic opening principles and a smattering of tactics.

Ranging in age from 5 to 14, a lot of these newcomers have hopefully established a foundation of a pastime that they will enjoy for many years to come.

In order to foster that chess appreciation and enhance the full range of competitive experience, the club will host a few tournaments in early August.

On Saturday, August 6 at the First Congregational Church in DeKalb, junior players will face off in a four round event, the DeKalb Area Junior Open. We're hoping there are enough combatants for four sections:
  • Kindergarten through 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade through 5th Grade
  • 6th Grade through 8th Grade
  • 9th Grade through 12th Grade.
In the event we don't have sufficient turnout in a section, there may be some consolidation. The goal is to provide everyone a pleasant few hours of chess games against a variety of opponents. Most likely everyone will win some and lose some, but hopefully everyone will come away with an appreciation for what chess competition is like.

The younger age groups will play 20 minute games (time allowed for one player to make all moves). The high school group will play 30 minute games. It is hoped that the high schoolers will keep notation but it is not required. Equipment will be provided by the DeKalb Chess Club, but you are welcome to bring your own as well (chess clocks particularly!).

There is a $5 entry fee and all entrants and all entrants will receive a free chess book. First three places in each section will receive medals.

Advance registration is available by emailing name and grade level to Please identify if any special needs are required and we'll try to accommodate.

On Sunday, August 7, the DeKalb club will host a US Chess Federation rated event for all ages. This is being called the Lincoln Penny Cash Challenge. Regardless of registration, a $100 cash prize has been guaranteed to the overall winner. This event is being held at American National Bank, 1985 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore.

Although 50 entries is considered capacity, based on 40 entries, the prize breakdown would be as follows:
  • Winner $150, 2nd overall $100, 3rd overall $50
  • Class B, Class C, Class D top score - $50
  • Class E or Unrated top score - $50.
A complete chart of projected entrants / payouts will be provided in a separate posting.There will be a $15 entry fee to enter. This event features three rounds of G/65 plus 5 second delay.

At this same site (American National Bank) and time, a USCF-rated scholastic event will be held (assuming five registrations). This event will be four rounds of Game/30 -- 30 minutes per player to make all moves in a game.  Cost is $6 and entrants will be eligible for medal and book prizes. USCF membership is required and everyone will be on their way to obtaining an official USCF-rating.

On-site registration will run from 10:00am to 10:15am for the main event, until 10:20am for the scholastic event. Tournament play will begin at 10:30am with the scholastic event starting moments later.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chess Education Mandatory in Armenia -- America Next?

  • “There is not a single parent in Armenia who wouldn’t like their child to learn how to play chess,” asserted Narine Hovhannisian, director of the Ministry of Education and Science’s Department of Secondary Education.
  • Starting September 1, second-grade pupils in 1,400 schools will be taught chess twice a week; the subject later will become mandatory for third- and fourth-grade students.
  • “Chess will develop children’s logic, memory, imagination and willpower, their ability to think...”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Could you imagine this in America?

1000 chess players competing in a tournament over two weeks? We can only dream, my friends.
On the other hand, given the state of British cuisine, I'm not giving up my American citizenship any time soon. And I'm sure when Sasha and Malia eventually get married, it'll be a bigger deal than that little Kate & William thing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

George Orwell Memorial Features 24

Two dozen combatants from three states faced off over four rounds Saturday. The event honored the memory of British author George Orwell's birthday. He would have been 108. In honor of the author's acclaimed book 1984, entrants with USCF ratings above that milestone enjoyed free entry.

A newcomer to DeKalb events, Mikhail Korenman, nabbed the top spot of ten players in the upper "Team 1984" section. Mr. Korenman, a respected chess trainer, scored 3.5 out of 4 in the Orwell event. His lone blemish was a second round draw with young Adream Liang.

Adream and his younger brother, Awonder, tied for second place in the upper division with 2.5 out of four scores. If my calculations are correct, Adream went on to win $1000 as the Class B top scorer at the Continental Americas Championship over 4th of July weekend. Way to go, Adream!

For his efforts, Mr. Korenman walked away with the excellent three part "Chess College" series by GM Efstratios Grivas. We are honored that Mr. Korenman took time out from his summer teaching schedule to enter his first DeKalb event and hope he won't be a stranger to the cornfields.

In the Animal Farm section,  DeKalb Chess Club member and Elgin resident Jake Zarris smoked the field, going undefeated in four rounds. Jake walked away with a trio of Yasser Seirawan's excellent books. If he works through these insightful volumes, we're all going to be in trouble and there will be no stopping Jake!

First-timer Dane Bell and "veteran" Kyle Mathews tied for second with 3.0/4 scores. Ed Bustamante and Keith Amman tied for fourth with 2.5/4 scores. Impressive finishes in a 14-person field.

The next day, Ed went on to tie for first in the Highland Park June Under 1400. Way to go, Ed!

I recognize that getting to DeKalb events requires a little car time for most entrants but it is your attendance that is keeping these events coming. While we've offered some modest cash prizes up until now, most of our events to date have featured book prizes. But to honor the end of our first season, the DeKalb club is proud to announce its first big cash event coming August 7. Stay tuned to this site for more details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Registrations for Orwell Memorial Streaming In

This Saturday June 25 would have been George Orwell's 108th birthday. To honor the day, chess enthusiasts from far and wide will gather in DeKalb for some friendly competition.

The USCF-rated tournament has already attracted a number of advance registrations but it's not too late to join the mix. There are still plenty of slots open.

If you have attended one of our previous events, we're starting early to accommodate an exciting FOURTH round of extended play (G/61 plus five second delay). By including a fourth round, participants are eligible to fulfill USCF norms.

On-site registration runs from 9am to 9:30am at the church with the first round beginning promptly at 9:40. The fourth round will conclude by 6:50 at which time a brief awards ceremony will be held.

As  tournament conditions go, these are pretty ideal with spacious playing tables and a separate skittles room for rehashing games and allowing friends and family to hang out in comfort.

The public is welcome to come out and observe the exciting play which is part and parcel of a rated USCF tournament. The First Congregational Church at 615 North First Street is the oldest congregation in DeKalb and stands just north of the historic Ellwood House.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chess Bus Heading to Elgin

DeKalb Chess Club will be sending delegates to perhaps the last McHenry Area Chess Tournament (at least for 2011).

We're happy to see Bob hosting another event this Saturday (June 18) at the Elgin Holiday Inn. This will be a four round Swiss-paired tournament with G/60 time controls.

Anyone wishing to go is encouraged to drop an email here or post below.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bobby Fischer Against the World Hits HBO

A fascinating documentary on the life of the late chess legend premiered last night. Not sure I learned anything important I didn't already know and it's certainly sad to see a mind capable of such brilliance decline so precipitously. But at least he wrapped things up in 64 years, one for each square on the chess board!

Turns out Bobby's dad wasn't exactly American... and our government kept a 950 page file on his mom - so maybe he wasn't as paranoid as some of his political statements might suggest.

Funny to see all the antiquated news clips of the 1972 Spasky event... Nightly news even placed game updates ahead of that silly Watergate break-in during its rundown. (Whatever happened with that Watergate thing, anyway?)

TV graphics certainly have come a long way in 40 years... and with everything broadcast engineers have learned through televising Texas Hold 'Em Poker, it's high time for live chess to become a cultural sensation once again. If chess was good enough for Charlies Angels, it should be good enough for the Bachelorette.

Maybe ESPN will dedicate their next channel to all things chess. Until then, HBO is continuing to show the Fischer documentary throughout the summer.

Sadly, I'm not sure there were any chess lessons to be gleaned... other than the folly of a bishop capturing a rook pawn when its two neighbors are still intact. But Fischer managed to overcome that first game blunder to prevail in the best of 24 match. Perhaps perseverance over the long haul is the enduring chess-related message here.

Reyes Regains Ladder Pinacle

After a brief demotion due to vacation, crafty Don Reyes defeated the other Don (Wlilrett) in a challenge match Monday. By virtue of the result, Don R. sits atop all others who continue to challenge their way upwards and onwards. Congrats to Don!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Quandary

With Memorial Day upon us the Chicago Open is in full swing with over 520 competing. Talking over the ground level of the Westin North Shore in Wheeling, the tournament features several interesting side events as well as a room for game analysis by the entertaining and informative Grandmaster John Fedorowicz.

The games in progress and results are being beamed to the world at:
Games can be viewed in real-time... and PGN's of completed games can be downloaded. And you don't even have to leave your house during these torrential rains and loud thunderstorms we're experiencing this blustery Sunday morning.

Speaking of leaving the house, the question is whether there will be casual play on Monday at the church? Rick has asked... and I promised to email all to find out what group sentiment is. We may actually have to find an alternate location because I'm not entirely sure if the church will be open. But that might give us a chance to strut our stuff in public. Who knows what other chess folks are out there who didn't know we existed!

I nominate Culvers in Sycamore... with some good sized tables and a friendly atmosphere. Same start time, but maybe we'll cut things short when their dinner rush starts to pick up.

So leave a message here... or drop me an email. And stay safe!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Aurora-Naperville Chess Club Profiled by Tribune Online

Our chess neighbor to the east has received a write up by the web edition of the Chicago Tribune. It quotes several of the occasional participants in the club, including Alex Ding, a Waubonsie Valley High School senior, who had an incredible USCF tournament debut recently.
The 17-year old Ding played in the Downers Grove club tournament in April and won three out of four amidst an impressively tough field. His victories came against players rated 2034, 1765 and 2210 -- along with a loss versus a 2226. This left Mr. Ding with a phenomenal provisional USCF rating of 2286. Not too shabby for a first tournament, huh?

I tried to plant the seed in the reporter's notebook regarding the club's upcoming tournament, but for emphasis, I'll provide a blatant plug here:

The ANCC hosts their very first tournament, Sunday, June 5. Club Director Darin Link promises to make this an event to remember with both a scholastic section and a section for the general population.

I'm getting the hybrid chess bus gassed up and I'll be rocking it down I-88 for the 9am start time. Might even grab brunch at the Turner Club beforehand. Anyone else wanna go?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Adams Takes Route 20 CC Reserve

Cliff Adams ran a perfect 4-0 record to first place in the Reserve Section at this weekend's Route 20 Chess Club's tournament.

Cliff prevailed over a dozen other competitors, including our own Rick Andersen, who did very well himself.

The tournament was officially called the Pecatonic Octads, held at Highland Community College in Freeport.

Of course, no tournament would be complete without Cliff playing Route 20's Gary Sargent. Both were undefeated going into the fourth round before Cliff's victory.

For his efforts, Cliff's USCF rating jumped above 1300 again... and he nabbed a nifty $20 check suitable for framing. It'll just about pay for the gas if he cashes it!

Andersen went 3-1 on the day participating in a three-way tie for second. He bumpied his ranking 23 points in his quest for 1000. A few more tournaments and he's likely to hit that milestone.

DeKalb Club member Phil Jarrette tied for second in the Octad section losing a tough but fascinating second round match to Expert Glen Gratz. Good to see Phil in action again... and good seeing Mr.Gratz playing another tournament!

The Jarrette-Gratz match is profiled at the Route 20 website: Route 20 CC .

Here are the first few moves with white threatening a nasty knight fork at c7 if he can distract the queen away... but black has his own threats!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Athos, Porthos, and Aramis Compete in Evanston

The Three Musketeers we were not, but we returned to the DeKalb/Sycamore area only slightly wounded, able to fight again another day.

Cliff Adams, Rick Andersen and myself all competed in the Evanston Tri-Level this weekend and represented the DeKalb club well. 32 competitors participated overall.

Rick notched his first tournament victory in almost 15 years!

Cliff prevailed over an up and coming chess prodigy without bringing the young lad to tears! The boy's father is a 2200-rated master who tied for first in the "Gold" section.

And I managed to avenge my last round loss from the recent Freeport tournament with a last round victory over the same opponent! Vengeance is sweet!

All for one and one for all, we garnered 5.5 out of 12 points... but that's five and a half more than those of you who stayed at home generated.

Ratings-wise, I dropped 6 points, Rick dropped 6 and Cliff dropped 7... essentially a half of one percent of our previous ratings. Hardly a blip on the radar.

Next week the hybrid "chess bus" will be traveling to Freeport for their exciting Octad event... and we'll be looking for D'Artagnan to join us. All aboard!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reyes Takes Top Rung on Club Ladder

With a hard-fought victory this afternoon over John Schaeffer, Don Reyes finally took over the top spot on our fledgling club ladder. John had been atop the pack since its inception a couple weeks ago.

For those unaware of the ladder protocol, members are allowed to challenge up to three places above their current placement. The challenged player gets to choose color. If the challenger wins, he moves directly above the loser's spot. If the challenger should lose or draw, there is no change in position.

All challenge games are subject to the touch move rule and must be timed (Game/15).

Of course, most games at our Monday & Wednesday club sessions remain truly casual. Games only count towards the ladder if a formal challenge is issued and accepted.

Newcomers join the ladder at the bottom... but paralleling newcomer Rick A's experience today, one need not remain on the bottom rung for very long. Rick has already moved near the middle of the pack on his very first day. Welcome, Rick!

Of course many members lead busy lives outside of chess. But the ladder must go on. Therefore, as of 5pm every Monday, any ladder participants who were not present that day, or either of the two previous sessions will find themselves dropped a single ladder spot. No big deal for most to make up this demotion upon return, but essential to keep the ladder fluid.

Hopefully ladder play will add just one more wrinkle to the variety offered at our club's casual play sessions. Primarily, these sessions are structured to provide participants broad exposure to different styles and skill levels.

One thing is certain: no two games will be identical.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sweet 16 Enjoy Last Saturday Competition

This weekend past was a triumph for Illinois and regional chess.

Land of Lincolners competed well in multiple events here in Northern Illinois and in nearby states.

At the Milwaukee-area Arpad ELO, former "Last Saturday" winner Brian Villlarreal tied for first (4.5/5), while Illinois' Eric Rosen won the 2001 National High School Championship held this weekend in Tennessee (7.0/7).

Expert Lawrence Cohen defeated young Alex Bian in the upper section of the Joliet Junior College Spring Quads.

In DeKalb, and nearest and dearest to the readers of this blog, Joe Guth triumphed over Phil Jarrette in a fascinating third round match. This gave Joe the victory in the six-person "Royal Wedding' section and put him over the magic 1800-mark for the first time.

Congratulations to Joe for achieving that personal milestone! 2000 is around the corner!

And thank you Phil for returning to our boards amidst the cornfields -- you've been missed!

In the "Commoners" section, DeKalb's John Schaeffer was the sole undefeated entrant among a field of ten, while Sycamore's Don Reyes took a clear second with 2.5/3.

As much as we love attracting tournaments entrants from far and wide, it's great to see DeKalb Club members walking away with the prizes!

After a 3-month hiatus, Dr. Schaeffer returned above the 1400-level with a 51 point bolstering to his rating. This marks the forth time in his seven-year USCF tournament life that he's bobbed above "C-level" (1400-1599) and places him within 9 points of his all-time high. Keep it up, John!

Don Reyes is the most experienced tournament player amongst our regular club attendees with over 100 USCF events under his belt. By virtue of his terrific showing Saturday, he climbed to within 26 rating points of his all-time high, which he achieved in 2005. Is 1400 within Don's not-too-distant future?

As we all saw early Friday morning from across the pond, even commoners can become royalty! So keep at it, John and Don!

The Royal section fielded a respectable 1656 average rating while the Commoners minion averaged 1215.

By hitting 16 entrants, we were able to split the field into dual sections, allowing for closer-matched competition. As long as we're able to attract at least that amount in the future, we'll continue to host tournaments.

It was announced that the DeKalb club would host another "Last Saturday" event June 25. This drew applause from the tournament attendees, obviously looking for something to do with their hands after an afternoon of pushing pawns in reverential silence.

At this juncture, the DeKalb event is the only Illinois tournament scheduled for that day according to the Illinois Chess Association calendar. Here's hoping for a little cross-club cooperation and a demonstrable turn out.

After hosting 7 open events in four months, the DeKalb Club will take a well-earned break for May. Hope to see you June 25.

Friday, April 29, 2011

RSVP's Looking Good For Saturday Event

Just to be clear, RSVP's are looking good and the tournament tomorrow, April 30, promises to be a good one. On-site registration will wrap up around 11:15 and we'll get the first round started at 11:30. Should be some great games!  Looking forward to seeing you all. Safe travels.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Last Saturday in DeKalb Finale

The third and most likely final "Last Saturday in DeKalb" will take place April 30 at the First Congregational Church. Advance registrations remain open through Saturday morning at 8am.

Longer time controls (Game/60) will hopefully massage the synapses of the "serious contemplation" centers of the cerebral cortex. In other words, bring your best concentration efforts!

The wonderful church location where we held the previous "Last Saturday" event (in February) is ideal for chess tournaments and up to 36 registrants can be accommodated. There's even a separate skittles room to allow for offline dissection of games and casual play. Please note, this is NOT the bank location which has been used for the last couple Mid-Month Sunday events.

In our nine open events to date, 11 different players have either won a section outright or shared in that top spot. I'd like to think this demonstrates the competitive balance of our tournaments. Over 60 different players have joined the fray indicating a true diversity.

I certainly appreciate all the folks who take the time to RSVP ahead of time. As the registration roster grows, I begin to envision a full hall of chess players. I imagine we're helping to foster that love of chess and enhanced awareness which comes from tournament play. Alas, the emails do trickle in, but fall short of the barrage I hope to see when I log in. 

I can't thank enough the other club presidents who help spread the word and facilitate club travel.  I admire greatly the parents and coaches who tirelessly transport their chess prodigies to our events. And I greatly appreciate the enthusiastic participation of the stalwarts who seem to make it regardless of blizzard conditions and world/personal events.

For the better part of a year now, I've attempted to develop communication with the chess world as I know it within a two hour radius of the DeKalb/Sycamore area. Whether it's due to my own shortcomings in publicity, in local outreach, or in developing partnerships with other chess communities, whether it might be scheduling anomalies or rising gas prices, we're just not achieving that steady growth which suggests we've gotten it right.

Perhaps there is enough tournament activity elsewhere to suggest our events are superfluous. Perhaps by stepping away from hosting of tournaments, a void will be created which will allow others to create exciting events. I certainly would offer to help in any way practical.

I feel a minimum of 16 is necessary to create balanced brackets... over 20 is desirable... and just once I was hoping to eclipse the 30-registrant mark. Alas, we've only hit the "sweet 16" mark at four of our nine events, attracting more than 20 only twice. We also bring in an exceedingly high number of registrants from outside the area, indicating, perhaps, we just haven't developed the local enthusiasm for tournament play necessary to sustain these events.

So barring an unforeseen turn of events this may be the last event in these parts for some time to come.

Chess Benefits Profiled

A recent article in the Yuma Sun addressed youth chess in that pocket of Arizona.

It included some darling observations:
Some teens even think the 1,600-year-old game is more interactive than video games.

“You're not just there, pressing buttons. You're actually thinking about your next move...” 
Of most universal interest were the wonderful quotes provided from, the creators of ThinkQuest.  It profiles a number of "chess benefits" which suggest the activity to be an excellent augmentation of the scholastic role. I've seen this list before but it bears repeating:

  • Chess is a game for people of all ages. You can learn to play at any age and unlike in many other sports, you don't ever have to retire. Age is also not a factor when you're looking for an opponent — young can play old and old can play young.
  • Chess develops memory. The chess theory is complicated and many players memorize different opening variations. You will also learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations.
  • Chess improves concentration. During the game you are focused on only one main goal: to checkmate and become the victor.
  • Chess develops logical thinking. Chess requires some understanding of logical strategy. For example, you will know that it is important to keep your king safe at all times and not to blunder your pieces away for free.
  • Chess promotes imagination and creativity. It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of combinations yet to be constructed.
  • Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment.
  • Chess shows that success rewards hard work. The more you practice, the better you'll become. You should be ready to lose and learn from your mistakes.
  • Chess and mathematics. Chess involves an infinite number of calculations, anything from counting the number of attackers and defenders in the event of a simple exchange to calculating lengthy continuations.
  • Chess and art. Your imagination will run wild with endless possibilities on the 64 squares. You will paint pictures in your mind of ideal positions and perfect outposts for your soldiers.
  • Chess and psychology. Chess is a test of patience, nerves, willpower and concentration. It enhances your ability to interact with other people. It tests your sportsmanship in a competitive environment.
  • Chess improves schoolwork and grades. Numerous studies have proven that kids obtain a higher reading level, math level and a greater learning ability overall as a result of playing chess.
  • Chess is cheap. You don't need big fancy equipment to play chess. In fact, all you may need is your computer or a home set.
  • Chess is fun. This isn't just another one of those board games. No chess game ever repeats itself, which means you create more and more new ideas each game. It never gets boring. 
Should any local school authorities wish to partner with the DeKalb Chess Club in bringing this wonderful activity to the school, we stand ready to help on a volunteer basis. Initial outreach has brought an amazing array of bureaucratic stonewalling. But perhaps that's indicative of our local school culture.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    He's Done It! 1300 Mark Regained!

    DeKalb Chess Club veteran Cliff Adams has regained the 1300-plateau he hadn't seen in 18 months. With Saturday's solid performance at the Northwest Illinois Open, Cliff bumped his USCF rating to a highly respectable 1318.

    Of the more than 2300 active USCF tournament players in Illinois, Cliff already ranks in the top 30% -- and he promises to enter even more rarefied air as the rating system catches up on his recent results.

    He's also in the top 30% of the almost 48,000 active USCF tournament players nationwide.

    With a fourth round victory over yours truly, Cliff compiled a 2.0/4 showing in the upper section at Saturday's Freeport tournament. He clearly had a well-planned response as White to my tame Sicilian Defense and ran his knight amuck in my backfield.

    Route 20 Chess Club put on an outstanding event with eight open players and 18 in the under-1000/unrated section. That's 26 players enjoying a lot of chess action for $5 on a stormy spring day.

    Cliff's projected 1318 rating represents a seven month blitz on the local chess world where his rating has climbed 271 points! If he duplicates that improvement, he'll be rated 1589 by Thanksgiving!

    Back in September of last year, the former DeKalb County Highway commissioner saw his rating drop to 1047 with DeKalb's second open tournament.  This was a sad day, but every chess player has one of those.

    Since then, he "paved the way" for his comeback with an 88-point boost from the McHenry Area Chess (MAC) October tournament in Elgin.

    Cliff saw a 63-point bump from December's MAC tournament, a 25-point increment from DeKalb's 2011 Illinois Kick-off, a 30-point hike from January's MAC tournament, a 22-point hike in DeKalb's late January event, a 58-point escalation in DeKalb's March tournament before this 54-point enhancement from Saturday's Freeport event. Wow!

    Since 2004, Cliff's highest USCF rating has been 1361 which he enjoyed in May of 2008. USCF records indicate he had a rating of 1443 prior to their conversion to a new data collection system in 1991. Alas, that pre-'91 history is not factored in to his current ratings path.

    Cliff's consistent tournament play has certainly paid off and DeKalb Chess Club is lucky to have his venerable knight moves in its midst.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Chicago's Kittilsen runs table at Mid-Month Sunday Challenge

    Guy Kittilsen was the sole undefeated combatant  in today's Challenge. James Freestrom and Adam Ford scored 3.0 out of 4 to split second and third place monies. Guy enhanced his rating 26 points while Adam continued his incredible spring, incrementing his rating 38 points. Mysteriously, James actually dropped 9 points, but I'm sure that will be made up soon.

    Perhaps the big winner of the day was Michael Fisher who bumped his rating 106 points after going 2-2 against stiff competition. Keep it up, Michael!

    Between rounds we even celebrated a birthday, but unfortunately the guest of honor was unable to make the party. There's always next year!

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Exciting Registrations For Sunday Tournament

    Registrations are filtering in for the Sunday, April 10 tournament. Once again, we'll be at American National Bank. USCF members may continue to provide pre-registration information through 8am Sunday morning by emailing

    A Game/40 format will allow for four rounds of play. Players with digital clocks shall use Game/35 with a 5 second delay. On-site registration will be cut off around 11:45am, with play beginning at noon and wrapping up by 6pm.

    Participants will have a chance to vote on tournament dates for this summer.

    If you're unable to attend the tournament, but have opinions related to a summer tournament schedule, please contact us (the same email address can be used).

    Without your support, these tournaments would not be possible. Thank you parents, coaches, and, of course, players for keeping chess in Illinois going!

    Decatur Chess Phenom Profiled

    The Decatur Herald & Review has profiled a downstate 6-year old who did well at the recent Illinois K-8 championships. He went undefeated in the 1st grade section, winning all 7 matches in the Game/30 competition. He'll move on to Nationals in Dallas.
     His father is quoted regarding his son's passion for chess.
    "He doesn't play video games," said his father. "He plays chess. He does a little bit of piano. He does a little bit of tennis," and there is some soccer in the mix, as well. But Aydin's routine, and down time in the classroom, relies heavily on chess. School mornings involve a half hour of chess and chess problem-solving before catching the school bus.
    It doesn't hurt that his pops is the top-ranked Correspondence chess player in the United States.

    No word whether young Mr. Turgut will be joining us at the Mid-Month Sunday Challenge. You'll have to show up to find out.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Open Play Experiment - Wednesday 4/6

    Club member Al Johns has arranged a one-time only evaluation of an alternate location for Open Play.

    For this Wednesday, April 6th, the club will hold its open play session at the Conference Room at the clubhouse of the Sycamore Park District Golf Course. The course is on Route 64 (East State Street) about a mile or so east of downtown Sycamore.

    For those of you using a GPS, set your destination to 940 E. State Street. The conference room is behind the Administration office, enter at the rear of the building.

    As usual, we'll get going at 3PM and see how it goes. Afterward, members are invited to drop an email to to express their preference. Don't be shy -- your voice matters!

    Thanks, Al, for arranging this awesome opportunity!

    Sunday 4/10: And of course, members and the public are invited to participate in this weekend's USCF-rated Mid-Month Sunday Challenge at the American National Bank (1985 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore). Details are in the right column of this page. Please take note: due to space limitations, there will be no casual game play at the tournament site.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    USA Today Rehashes 2009 Article

    With Japan undergoing a potential nuclear meltdown and President Obama defending US intervention in Libya, there should be no shortage of news material.

    Nonetheless, USA Today, America's shining example of weekday journalism, recapitulated an article from 2009 on page 3 of its front section yesterday (3/29/11).
    According to the piece, educators are using chess as a tool to teach strategy, problem-solving and social skills. It highlights a Washington state organization, First Move, which launched in 2004, and in a recent year brought chess to 50,000 students in nearly 2,000 classrooms across 27 states.

    The article also cites research suggesting that student chess participants scored "significantly higher on reading tests than a control group" in a 1993 New York study. (Many other similar studies abound).

    The well-known academic Dr. Alexey Root is quoted: "For some children this is a way to express their intelligence." She suggests chess is a powerful learning tool, "You see lines of force and manipulate things in your mind's eye."

    And teachers, some of whom had never played chess before, "like the opportunity to build their repertoire of skills".

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    From Ohio: Another new chess club launches

    Great quotes from the piece:

    "Chess is one of those things you only get better by getting whooped... "

    "It's weird. It's like a cross between science and art..."

    "Deduction skills (are) necessary. There's also the artistic flair of battle, the competition, sacrifice of a piece."

    "Each player starts out completely even. Chess is upsetting the equilibrium."

    "Learning how to play doesn't necessarily come through winning."

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Cute Chess Article From Webmaster's Birthplace

    As some of you may know, I've included a widget on this site which offers up interesting chess articles from time to time (see the right column towards the bottom of this page). Sometimes the pieces are merely references to chess metaphors, but often they deal with the world of our favorite board game.

    Tonight I noticed a fun article penned not by a chess expert or aficionado, but that beloved species: the chess mom. And for a bonus, it's an article from the city of my birth, back east. Thanks to contributor Lisa Nee, who captured a humorous slice of life at an otherwise tense scholastic tournament:

    OK, I’ll fess up right now. There was a time when I did not know a pawn from a piece of pasta.

    I used to think “checkmate” was how an Aussie asked for the bill.

    Even so, by a strange twist of fate, I have become a chess mom.  Like soccer moms or dance moms, chess moms cart kids around to events that dominate the weekends.  Still, chess is not much of a spectator sport. In fact, at the rated tournaments parents are not allowed in the room. 

    The only tournament I really enjoy is the unrated State Scholastic tournament held in Hartford every year. Because it is unrated the rules are different. Competitors play only within their own grade, in one huge room. Parents line the outer margins chugging coffee, pretending to be more interested in reading the paper than their kid’s performance.

    On this day a year ago, I witnessed the best-played game I believe I will ever see.

    Because there are so many matches being played simultaneously there are also fewer trained monitors.  When a game is done the winner raises his or her hand and a qualified adult comes to the board and registers the result. 

    Chess is one of those strange games of strategy where you can win even if you haven’t. If your opponent says checkmate, it is up to you to prove you are not out of moves. If you agree you are in checkmate, game done. You lose. This is where youthful human nature can sometimes be the most powerful player in the room.

    At this tournament a year ago, I was sitting at a table with a bunch of kindergarten and first grade parents. Moms and dads were coming back with stories of their daughters giving into a draw when it was not necessary, agreeing to a checkmate without investigation, and bowing to an opponent who was effectively brow beating. 

    So, I walked the room and saw as the ages increased, girls disappeared from the tables.  There were seven in kindergarten, and three girls in first grade, and then the rare one or two girls playing up through 12th grade.

    Then, I returned to the 10th grade tables where, it seemed from the brackets, a girl with an unpronounceable name was kicking butt and drawing quite a crowd.  She had defiantly risen through the ranks by her intellect and skill, and now appeared to be applying all of her God-given assets.  There she sat in a snug sweater, with a plunging neckline, pondering moves by tapping on her pouting lips with her perfectly manicured, red-painted fingertips, casually twirling her dark locks between turns.

    When she batted her eyes and whispered, “checkmate,” these adolescent boys were defenseless.

    When she stood that afternoon to receive the second place trophy, with jacket zipped up and hair pulled back, she looked shy and unsure. The little girls wanted to touch the trophy. She obliged, then turned on her heel and left.

    I asked my son if he knew her, he did not. But he reminded me, the most powerful player on the board is the Queen, nimble and gifted with the widest variety of moves.

    All rights to the author, Lisa Nee, and the Middletown (CT) Patch. Published 3/20/11.

    Chess in Other Communities

    Great article from an upstate New York community newspaper about a tournament they are running there.  Dunkirk, NY Observer Article

    I love the explanation from the art gallery's board president as to why they were hosting a chess tournament, of all possible synergies with art: 
    "We want to foster the intellectual life of our community. The more practice people have thinking ahead and using strategy, the better our community will be able to plan for and create our own future."
    This is the essence of why chess would be a wonderful addition to the KEYS initiative in DeKalb, but so far it's been a tough sale.

    The president of the local chess club (again in Dunkirk, NY) poses some pithy ponderings upon the powers of planning in chess:
    "Sometimes a plan only lasts one or two moves, and then it has to be changed.
    Chess is a war game, and as General Dwight Eisenhower said, 'Planning is indispensable for battle, but when the battle begins, plans are useless.'
    Without a plan, you can't hope to win, but you have to be constantly aware of the fact that every move changes the board, and be ready to adjust or abandon any plan during the heat of battle."
     Battle stations, everyone!

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    26 Invade Sycamore

    For perhaps the first time in history, a USCF-rated tournament was held in the 60178 zip code today.

    In the upper section, Wisconsin's Awonder Liang went undefeated in four rounds. Sycamore's James Freestrom grabbed a clear second with his 2.5 out of 4 showing. In the other section, DeKalb's Nathan Kozinski went undefeated with a thrilling fourth round victory over Chris Wainscott of the dairy state. Chris wound up in a 4-way tie for 2nd through 5th with local club members John Schaeffer and Cliff Adams, and Rockford area's Steven Do (all with 3.0/4).

    Nathan forged above the 1500-mark for the first time in his young tournament life. John appears to be poised to regain his 1400-rating, while, Cliff, thanks to his second straight 3-1 tournament showing, is in danger of exceeding the 1300-mark for the first time since 2009.

    The sportsman of the day award goes to Guy Kittilsen who offered his sullen, position-impaired, time-challenged opponent a draw when others might have held out for the full point. And thus was avoided an ugly scene. Thanks, Guy!

    This Mid-Month Challenge saw the largest turnout for any DeKalb Chess Club event, eclipsing January's Illinois Kick-Off.

    Undeterred by a lost hour of sleep, two sections of competitors from far and wide battled it out upon a room full of 64-square battlefields. According to USCF records, over 69% of the entrants trekked more than 25 miles to attend, making it one of the four most-traveled to Illinois tournaments so far this year. (In fact, DeKalb's 2011 Illinois Kick-Off was also among the top four).

    Thank you fearless parents and all-weather chess stalwarts for making the drive to join us. The State of Illinois needs all the tolls and gasoline taxes it can collect!

    3/13/11 Event Pictures

    To The Victor Goes the Spoils!

    Daylight Savings Time

    Four reminders as we approach today's Mid-Month Sunday Challenge:

    1) If you haven't already done so, please set all your watches, microwave ovens, VCR's (do they still make those?), motor vehicle clocks, computers, grandfather clocks, grandmother clocks, clock radios, etc. ONE HOUR AHEAD.

    2) Remember we are NOT at Borders any more for tournaments. Sunday tournaments will be at American National Bank, 1985 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore. Three story building with the eagle logo. Front lobby, take elevator one floor down.

    3) Advanced Registration is at 24... (much appreciated!!!)... we only have room for 32, so if you have not already registered, show up close to 11am to assure a space. Advanced registration is now closed... no more emails accepted.

    4) Castle early and always preserve your king's safety.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Exciting Competition Signing Up for Sunday

    Registrations are flowing in for Sunday, March 13's Mid-month Sunday Challenge to be held in Sycamore, IL, a knight's jump from the DeKalb border. We've hit the 20-mark which is a record advance registration for one of our tournaments. Still some spaces left, but we'll see how Saturday goes.

    Competition begins at noon but don't forget: this is the first day of Daylight Savings Time!

    American National Bank of DeKalb County has agreed to provide its lovely community room for the event. This should provide peace and quiet for tournament play in the wake of the Borders liquidation.

    The bank is approximately 1/2 mile north of the DeKalb Borders on the northwest corner of Bethany Road and Illinois Route 23. (For out of towners, Sycamore Road of DeKalb becomes DeKalb Avenue of Sycamore as you transition over the border. Confusing, huh? Think of it as a pawn promotion of a motor vehicle -- except it's reversible!)

    While the facilities will allow for more spacious playing conditions, advanced registration (no money, just an email) is highly recommended. This will allow for a greater planning of sections and should speed up things Sunday morning.

    For the first time at one of our events, the DeKalb Chess Club is honored to host an international chess sensation pictured in the February Chess Life. Fresh off an astounding tournament in Greece, he's ready to take on all-comers. Due to the potential his presence might incite members of the Justin Bieber Fan Club to swarm the tournament location, we're keeping his identity a secret for now. I guarantee Mr. Bieber would lose 99 times out of 100 to this young man.

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Newcomers Nab Top Spots

    Three newcomers to the northern Illinois cornfields scored highest in the second "Last Saturday in DeKalb", held Feb. 26 in DeKalb.

    Brian Villarreal went undefeated in three games to take top honors, breaking back over the USCF-1800 barrier in the process. Congratulations to Brian!

    Chicago-area invaders Ted Mercer and Andrew Bell often play each other in casual games; the duo split second and third place honors with 2.5 out of three. Ted's only blemish was a draw against DeKalb member Phil Jarrette, while Andrew drew first-time tournament entrant Kyle Mathews from Aurora.

    In his debut, Mathews also drew DeKalb phenom Nathan Kosinski in what may become an interesting rivalry between strong young players. Both excellent chess tacticians matriculated to college before driving age!

    The upset prize of the day went to John Werkheiser for his astounding second-round triumph. Nabbing an opponents' queen early on tends to unrattle the competition. We all admire John's tenacious attitude at the board, and he's to be commended for his perseverance at chess.

    Hope to see all the newcomers back again for more competition in the cornfields.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Fantastic New Location Secured

    Thanks to Club Member's Greg Protano's assistance, the club has secured some wonderful facilities for casual play on Monday and Wednesday beginning today.  This will also be the site of the upcoming, 3-round Game/60 USCF-rated tournament this Saturday, February 26th.

    We'll be downstairs at the First Congregational Church, 615 North First Street, in DeKalb. This lovely location is just north of the historic Ellwood House and directly across First Street from Clinton Rosette Middle School. Parking and entrance are in the rear. You'll want to enter under the blue awning and proceed downstairs.

    Our casual play will allow for a new sense of concentration and chess discussion light years beyond what we had at Borders. What a truly lovely space we are fortunate to have been offered. Hopefully we'll be worthy stewards of the space!

    Some logistical aspects remain to be worked out, but we hope to see you all there today at 3pm for a new era for DeKalb Chess Club!

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Club Members Bring Home the Bucks

    DeKalb Club members showed well at this weekend's McHenry Area Swiss held in Elgin.

    In the 17-player Beta Section, Cliff Adams scored an impressive 3.0 out of 4 and brought home a share of second and third place prize money (4-way split).

    In the Alpha Section, Mark Peterson raised his provisional rating above 1700 while edging out fellow club member Phil Jarrette in the fourth round for a half-share of third-place prize money.

    A dozen players above the USCF 1400 rating threshold competed in the Alpha group. Madison (WI) area phenom, junior Awonder Liang, won the event with an undefeated 4.0 out of 4 score.

    Borders Cafe Closes

    DeKalb Chess Club has received a blow as its home away from home, Borders Books, Music & Cafe, has lost one of its appendages. Grab some discounted books and music while you still can!

    Effective immediately the DeKalb Borders cafe has been closed as part of liquidation efforts. According to store personnel, all hands are to be on deck selling out the merchandise. Borders is closing approximately 200 of more than 600 stores nationwide.

    Although I was assured that Borders of DeKalb would be remaining open until April, this unexpected development throws a wrinkle into the Club's tournament and open play schedules.

    In the absence of any other ideas, your friendly club tournament director, webmaster, web content contributor, one-man advertising department, new member recruiter, treasurer, purchasing agent, outreach coordinator, executive board and, now, facilities scout has been busy fighting a wicked cold while searching for new homes. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery would be appreciated. (Please leave a comment below.)

    The good news: We've now got locations lined up for our March 13, April 10 and April 30 events.

    Update: We now have a location for the Feb. 26 location too! See listing at upper right!

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Eight-year old Phenom Wins Back To Back Events

    Once again, Vincent Do has emerged victorious against all-comers in today's inaugural Mid-Month Sunday Challenge. Vincent went undefeated in four rounds, beating out Phil Jarrette in an impressive final round dismantling. The young Mr. Do had also been undefeated in three rounds at our January 29th "Last Saturday" event. His proud father indicates Vincent is motivated to achieve an eye-popping 2000 rating by the end of 2011. Who is gonna stop him?

    Phil finished in an incredible five-way tie for second with 3.0/4.  Out-of-towners, Guy Kittilsen and Will Engel, along with locals Bill Reed and Mark Peterson all tied with similar three out of four scores.

    In 7th through 11th place, tying with 2.0 out of 4 scores were local newcomer Dale Fluegel, along with Darin Link, Steven Do, Sanjana Ramrajvel, and Jake Zarris.

    In victory, Vincent walked away with an impressive array of Legos and Pokeman supplies of his choosing. Others in the top six finishers were provided Borders Gift cards, books, games and chocolate, thanks to Borders' incredible support.

    We also appreciated the impressive play of local juniors Brian, Andrew and Allison as they squared off in an afternoon of unrated chess challenges. We hope to see more juniors in attendance for an upcoming juniors-only event March 12. Please drop a note to if a junior (generally under 18) might be interested. The format of that event will depend upon the advance notifications received.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    First RSVP's Received for Sunday G/40

    Our first pre-registrations have started to trickle in for Sunday 2/13's G/40 tournament. Details are posted to the right of this writing.

    Don't you want to be one of those kind persons who registers in advance? At least in theory, it makes the registration process on-site that much easier. No money is required to pre-register, but you'll put a smile on my face, and isn't that worth something?

    Beginning with the April 30th tournament, registration will increase to $10 with a $2 discount for pre-registering, a $2 discount for DeKalb Club members, and a $2 discount for electronically submitting an analysis of a tournament game from an event here. (Up to 2 discounts allowed per entry). But for now, it's still only $8 to non-members, $5 to members with a $1 discount for submitting a game analysis. As far as we know, these events are the least expensive rated-open tournaments in Illinois providing prizes.

    For those of you inconvenienced by the late USCF-posting of the January 29 tournament results, I do apologize. It took inordinate measures to get it all straightened out, and I assure you I have learned yet another valuable lesson in the never-ending battle to become an efficient tournament director.

    Congratulations to Vincent Do for breaking the 1700 plateau... I'm sure it's not the last milestone we'll see from him in the next few years!

    So post here or drop an email to and we look forward to seeing you Sunday. Play begins at noon.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Don't Believe Everything You Read

    The Midweek, a free giveaway newspaper, profiled the club in an article this week.
    They say all publicity is good publicity, but some days I wonder.  A quick reading revealed several inaccuracies and misattributions.

    For example, the club meets from 3:30-5:30 which is afternoon by most accounts, but the Midweek considers this to be evening.

    Nice picture of founding club members Cliff and Don. Other than that, read the article at your own risk.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Blizzard Conditions Cancel Wednesday Play

    Not wanting to chance dangerous travel, DeKalb Chess Club will forgo its scheduled open play at Borders, Wednesday, Feb. 2nd.

    Instead, club members are encouraged to work on submissions to the club's website, analyzing one of their tournament games or perhaps offering a review of one of their favorite chess books. Contributors may also craft a short essay on why chess rocks their world or recalling their most memorable chess game, earliest chess memory, or life lesson reinforced by chess principles. Find a chess video on YouTube and craft a little write up on what you got out of it. Everything is fair game in the chess blog world!

    To submit material to this site, drop an email to the friendly webmaster at this domain. And stay safe out there, people!

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Good Time to RSVP for Saturday Tourney

    We're in the home stretch for registrations for the longest time-controlled tournament to be held in DeKalb in over a decade. Game/60... doesn't it just roll off the tongue?  Up to two hours for two opponents to decide one burning issue. Could it get any more exciting than this?

    Please post a message below or drop an email to Include your USCF ID # and your name (or the person you wish to register for juniors).

    Besides the lengthier game, this is on Saturday (the 29th) as opposed to our usual Sunday tournaments. And everything is pushed up a half hour (registration from 10:45 to 11:15am, first round at 11:30am, wrapping up by 6:15pm).

    Hopefully this will allow all those church-goers to attend who were inconvenienced by our Sunday events (and those football fanatics too!). Our apologies to those observing the Jewish sabbath, but one thing I've learned from directing tournaments so far: you can never keep everyone happy all the time!

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Club Play Back to Double Digits

    Thanks to a couple new players and the return of a former local School Superintendent, club play today attracted double digits. Al showed off one of the more unique chess sets you'll ever see and continues to demonstrate improved play from working through a couple of my favorite books. Coach-extraordinaire Igor Khmelnitsky has authored the Chess Exam & Training Guide along with a similar volume dedicated to tactics. Looks like Al's hard work is paying off! Club members may borrow these books upon request.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Science Provides Important Chess Insight

    As documented in last week's New York Times' article, an important principle in chess has been thoroughly researched and a strategy proposed by the Swedes. Please advise the author of this blog if the recommendation works for you in your next tournament setting.  NY Times article  I for one will be trying this out at our club sessions. Keep your eyes on the board, people! Focus on the game!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    January 17 attendence dips

    Some inclement weather must have scared away the faint of heart and the out of towner crowd. Still, Mark, Bill F, Cliff, Don R, Don A, Greg and Al showed up to chess-dance the late afternoon away. We even explored some features of Fritz 12 as a tool for game analysis.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Jan 12 Open Play Pits Minion of 10

    DeKalb Chess Club was out in fine form today with new attendees Tom & Darin in the house. Again we had the pleasure (or not) of both Bills and both Dons. Nick (in between graphic novels) managed to get in a game or two. Cliff, Al and Greg posed some stiff competition as we prepared for the Elgin tourney Saturday. Great to see some new faces! How long can we keep up this streak of double digit attendance?

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    January 10 Club Meeting Attracts Double Digits

    John, Cliff, both Dons, both Bills along with Mark, Nathan, Phil, Al and Greg all competed at club today. Great competition and fellowship! Potential newcomer Peter offered his insights. (sent from cellphone)

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Twenty-five compete at 2011 Illinois Kick-Off

    While the rest of Illinois sacked out on couches passively watching football games,  feeding their faces with re-gifted fruitcakes and nursing New Years' hangovers, 25 fearless combatants made their way to the competitive chessboard Sunday.

    For the first time at a DeKalb Chess Club tournament, entrants were split into two sections and this made for some fierce competition and surprising upsets. Not an easy feat to accommodate a range of 1600 rating points as well as the various team affiliations, but it's a wonder what a little last-minute reconfiguration and modern software can do in the hands of a trained operator.

    In the upper section, a four-way tie saw DeKalb club members Mark Peterson, James Freestrom and Phil Jarrette along with junior Vincent Do all wind up with 3.0 out of 4. With tie-breaking algorithms, Mark nudged out the other three and walked away with a valued copy of Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics. All four players were awarded Borders Gift Cards.

    Jeremy Silman's review of Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics

    Both Mark and James saw their ratings eclipse the 1700 mark and the sky is the limit for both players in 2011. The average rating of the Leaders section was a respectable 1655.

    In the Legends section (under 1500), we were privileged to host a slew of talented junior players who traveled far and wide for this event. 10-year old phenom Shayna Provine eviscerated her peers with the lone perfect score of the day, 4.0/4. Shayna selected Silman's Complete Book of Chess Strategy as her prize along with a gift card.

    Review of Silman's Complete Book of Chess Strategy

    Not a bad day considering 1) Shayna was the first female participant in any of our four open tournaments and 2) Shayna was able to give her full energies to the all-afternoon event even after playing in a soccer game that morning (her team managed to win 8-0!).

    Talented junior Hanson Ho and our own Dr. John Schaeffer tied for second, and were rewarded with gift cards for their 3.0 out of 4 efforts.

    Juniors Nathan Kozinski and Niranjin Panneerselvam and stalwart Gary Sargent just missed the money with 2.5 out of 4 achievements in a fourth through sixth place tie.

    Junior John Werkheiser was awarded the "keep at it" prize, a concise yet insightful tome, the Tao of Chess, to study before his next tournament. We expect great things from John down the road.

    While the club tournament director's learning curve was tested, we're appreciative of the field's tolerance of his growth. We're hosting our first Saturday tournament, January 29 (same location, 30 minutes earlier for both registration and start time). Due to requests for longer time controls, the next tourney will feature three rounds of Game/60 play, which should draw some new faces. More time to ponder positions, more time to enjoy an afternoon of over the board challenges, and hopefully a few less time control jams.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Funniest Chess Video Ever

    For your Christmas viewing pleasure, I'm posting a link to one of the funniest chess videos ever. (It's okay for all ages). Woot is one of my shopping jaunts when I feel that urge to drop a little coin. Press the control key & click the link below, then switch to the YouTube tab: