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.