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.