Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do, Adams and Patell Claim 2nd Home for the Holidays Sections

Clear firsts were achieved in all three sections of the Home for the Holidays tournament, held December 28 in DeKalb. Altogether 25 participated in the dual-rated event. USCF crosstables can be viewed here.

Warren Junior Scholar Vincent Do achieved his all-time high rating, 2027, winning all four rounds. Chicago Marish High School Senior Joe Fennessey, who recently qualified for the Warren program, overcame a second round defeat at Vincent's hands, to claim second with a 3.0/4 score.

In the Reserve Section, the DeKalb club's Cliff Adams went 4.0/4, boosting his rating 134 points to a mind-boggling 1433. Playing in over 100 events since 2004, Cliff has rotated between the high 1000's and the low 1300's in his USCF rating. Smashing the 1400-barrier is an impressive accomplishment for the Sycamore octogenarian. Cliff's previous high in the last two decades was 1361-rating achieved through a 2008 Quad in Elgin.

David Black and James Zhang split second place honors in the Reserve with 2.0/4 results.

Playing in his first rated event in 16 years, Aarish Patell won all four of his matches in the Booster Section, increasing his rating 230 points.

Freeport's John Werkheiser claimed clear second in the Booster, posting a 3.0/4 tally, losing only to Aarish in the third round.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DeKalb Club to Host Multiple Events Over Five Days

Ever the glutton for punishment, the DeKalb Chess Club will be hosting a bevy of events to conclude 2013 and to kick off 2014. All events will be at the First Congregational Church in DeKalb.

The two main events are a USCF dual-rated, 4-Round, event on Saturday, Dec. 28 and a USCF dual-rated, 4-Round (may become five) on Wednesday, Jan. 1 (in honor of 2014, get it?).

  • Saturday, 12/28: This is the 2nd Home for the Holidays Open... and who can forget last year's thrilling tournament? Game/45, 5 second delay.
  • Wednesday, 1/1: 2014 Illinois Kick-Off, Game/20, 14 second delay (if my calculations are correct, this should come out to about an hour per game for both sides, assuming 40 moves and players generally taking advantage of the delay).

There will also be an unrated event with the same time controls and round set up on Saturday, 12/28 with both individual and team prizes. Cheap entry fee, no USCF membership required for THAT section. It's basically designed as a high school event, but it is open to all ages -- and would make a wonderful first tournament. USCF rules will be followed meaning that the taking of notation is HIGHLY encouraged unless you have a really, really good excuse.

If that's enough there will also be an unrated section on Wednesday, 1/1, again following the round structure of the rated event, but this does not require USCF membership. Again, a low, low entry fee, open to all ages.

And, if all that's STILL not enough, there will be both RATED and UN-RATED Blitz events Wednesday morning to kick off the day. So those of you who want to get an early start on New Year's Day can play blitz games... and those of you who don't want to show up until noon or so, you can do so and still enjoy an afternoon of chess.

Hit me with questions or your pre-registrations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quartet Top 2013 Other Tal Memorial Open Section

Aaron Maney may have enjoyed the tournament of his life, defeating a pair of experts in back to back rounds. But by day's end, he found himself in a four-way tie for top honors in the 13-player Open Section at DeKalb's Other Tal Memorial, held Nov. 9.

Overall, 38 players battled it out in four sections of dual time-controlled chess (with a few extra games thrown in). USCF Crosstables.

Jon Winick, Vincent Do and Chelsea Harper joined Aaron with 3.0/4 scores. Only Jon's fourth-round victory kept Aaron from a perfect score. Still, Aaron raised his USCF rating over 100 points to 1830, pending USCF re-rate.

The 13-player Open Section returned 100% of its entry fees to top-scoring entrants, with eight players sharing in the proceeds.

Iowa sixth-grader Clive Power and home-schooled fifth-grader Tom Bareket posted level 2.0/4 scores to claim Under 1600 honors within the Open Section. Tom, the lowest rated player in the section, impressively went undefeated, drawing all four games.

In the 11-player Reserve Section, Kevin Taylor posted the tournament's only perfect score, going 4.0/4. Kevin bumped his rating over 100 points to the mid-1500's. Brian Gong and Jonathan Gaenzle finished a point back at 3.0/4, splitting second and third place prize money in the section.

Ed Powers finished atop Under 1400 competitors within the section posting a 2.5/4 score. James Zhang, Adam Bareket and Daniel Renauer wound up a half-point back, all in second place among U1400's.

In the tightly-bunched Tweener's section, Steve Wilson drew Paul Schmitt in the final round, the only blemish on Steve's undefeated day in only his second USCF-rated tournament. U of I graduate student Joe Riddle claimed second, a half-point back behind Steve with a 3.0 posting. Paul was a half-point back from that with 2.5, placing third.

The Under 1000 Booster competition saw Abhi Shankar, James Stacey and Charlie Harrison each tally 3.0/4 results to tie for the section championship.  James defeated Charlie in the first round, Abhi bested James in the second round and Charlie prevailed over Abhi in the fourth round. How's that for head-to-head competition? This event served as Charlie's debut to USCF-rated play.

Sycamore's Cliff Adams enjoyed the top upset (147 points!) for players not otherwise participating in prize pools. It was a thrill to have so many locals participating in the event. Cliff joined DeKalb Chess Club veterans Don Reyes and John Schaeffer along with occasional club participant Chelsea (mentioned above) and newcomer Mark Berezewski.

The Other Tal Memorial represents the seventh rated event hosted by the DeKalb club in 2013 and honored what would have been Mikhail Tal's 77th birthday.

Heading into next weekend's Illinois All Grade (to be held on the campus of ISU), this tournament included one dozen juniors, and impressively, eight of the twelve received some prize money.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Registrations Strong for Tal Memorial Saturday

Channeling one's inner-Tal upon what would have been the Latvian's birthday has provoked close to 30 almost three dozen to sign up so far.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Registrations Open for The OTHER Tal Memorial, November 9

Photo credits via Wikipedia, Circa 1982
Mikhail Tal would have been 77 years old on November 9th. Perhaps if he'd smoked fewer cigarettes, he'd have been around to join us as we observe his birthday with a four-round, all-ages, USCF-rated tournament in DeKalb.

Off in Russia they hold a big Tal Memorial event in November, so we've decided to call ours "The OTHER Tal Memorial" in order to avoid confusion. We'd hate to have some geographically-challenged GM show up at our event.

In what should feature three sections, this will be the perfect warm up for players entering the ICA's 2013 All Grade which is being held the following weekend in Normal at the Bone Center on the campus of Illinois State University, NIU's cousin to the south.

It's also the perfect follow up to the 2013 Polgar World Open to be held November 2 and 3. Young chess players thrive when playing beyond mere scholastic events, giving their game well-rounded perspective.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hobbit Classic Registrations Strong

Evidently the Tolkien novel is bringing chess players out of the woodwork!

As of 6 pm on the eve of the four-round tournament, 28 players have registered for the main USCF-rated event.

This includes six players in the Open, 14 players in the Under 1600 and 8 players in the Under 1200.

We also have enough registrants to assure prizes will be awarded to the Under 1800's in the Open Section, Under 1400's in the Reserve and Under 1000's in the Booster.

So far only one high school coach has RSVP'd with specific names but I'm hoping that more high schooler's will be joining us. Remember, no USCF membership is required for that section.

First round will get underway at 10am SHARP -- but you're welcome to start with the second round at 12:40 staked to a half-point bye.

Safe travels!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bilbo Baggins, Where Are You?

In honor of the 76th anniversary of the initial publication of the classic The Hobbit, we'll be hosting the 2013 Hobbit Classic!

Usual details apply (found elsewhere on this site) with a later start time: 10am first round. Have a soccer game or wanna mow the lawn or driving from far away? No problem, take a first round bye (1/2 point) and start playing in the second round at 12:40. Either way, we'll finish up by 6:30pm.

Four rounds, Game/50 plus a generous 5 second delay.

Since many high schoolers haven't quite gotten their seasons underway, we'll also be hosting a section with similar time controls but only a $5 entry fee. No USCF membership required for this section. Non-cash prizes for these folks, but we'll come up with some thing good for the winner(s). If you or your students are interested in this unrated tournament, please drop me a line by Friday (9/20) so I can set up enough tables.

Sorry for the short notice on this, but we just became aware of the church's availability Saturday. Otherwise, it's booked until November.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Orwell Registrations Raining In

Registration remains open for the Orwell Memorial in DeKalb tomorrow. Due perhaps in part to the cancellation of the event at the North Shore Chess Center and no doubt because it's a 2013 Illinois Chess Tour event, we've hit over 30 38 42 advance registrants. Keep 'em coming! (52 is probably our logical maximum unless I reshuffle tables).

Included in the field are four six Warren Junior Scholars and three two other players with USCF ratings above 2100. We also have four females pre-registered which is a record for our tournaments.

The pre-registrations dictate we will most likely have enough players for a separate Under 700 section (along with Open, Under 1500, and Under 1200).  The Under 700 will most likely provide a shorter time control (perhaps Game/30) with six rounds to provide more experience.

Trying to fill out logical sections, if you're above 2000 and/or between 1500-1700, I'd love to hear from you!

Sadly, I am the only pre-registrant from DeKalb, along with a "local legend" from Sycamore. Will the rest of the local community step up to play in this exciting USCF event?  A few more hours remain until we learn the answer to that one...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Big Brother Accepting Registrations for 3rd Orwell Open

In the wake of revelations about NSA data-mining of phone records, there has been a surge in sales of George Orwell's classic 1984. But DeKalb Chess Club has been on the Orwell bandwagon for years.

Orwell -- better known as Eric Blair to his buddies -- was born June 25, 1903. After learning that the journalist and novelist may have dabbled at chess during his early job at a London book shop, the DeKalb club started a four-round, rated tournament in memory of his birth anniversary.

For the first time, we're honored to have been included as the fifth stop of the prestigious 2013 Illinois Chess Tour, bookended by the Chicago Open and the Chicago Class. Points earned at the Orwell will be accumulated by Illinois Chess Association members with awards provided after the Illinois Class later in the year.

Already registrations received suggest the Regular-Rated event will attract more than 30 participants. Early registration continues through Friday, June 21 at 9pm. An additional discount is available for ICA members.

Beyond the incredible experience to be gleaned in advance of the Midwest Classic, the Chicago Class and the US Open, Orwell participants will vie for a number of generously-funded cash prizes. See announcements here and on the ICA website for complete details.

Interested in playing? Drop an email with your name and USCF number and you'll be pre-registered. If you've never been a USCF member or your membership has lapsed, drop an email explaining your situation and we'll take it from there.

While tournament results will be reported to the USCF and will therefore become part of the public record, participants will be allowed to wear lead-lined helmets to discourage the government (and perhaps your opponent) from reading your mind during the tournament.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kauffman and Adams Prevail at It's A Wonderful Life Classic

A four-way tie for first place in the Open Section hardly captures the full picture of the It's A Wonderful Life Classic. The four-round, dual-rated event was held May 18 in DeKalb, attracting 27 competitors.

Warren Junior Scholars Max Zinski and Vincent Do along with Bloomington-Normal area's Scott Schmidt all earned two victories while drawing each other. Naperville North High School Coach Jeff Di Orio lost to Vincent in the second round, but won his three other rounds to grab a spot in this 3.0/4 score group.

Freeport Chess Club's Zachary Kauffman won the Reserve Section with a 3.0/4 result, drawing two and winning two. Zach has raised his USCF rating 400 points over the past year to an impressive 1389.

Aurora Naperville Chess Club's Mike Flynn grabbed second in the section with a 2.5/4 tally. Suraj Ramanathan claimed the Under 1400 prize in that section, also with 2.5.

Local legend Cliff Adams claimed the top spot of the Booster section with a 3.5/4 score. Danny Emge, Gene McPhail and John Werkheiser all split second place prize money with 2.5/4 points. Crosstables
The "It's A Wonderful Life Classic" honored what would have been the 116th birthday of film director Frank Capra. The Sicilian-born Capra left Italy before his sixth birthday and earned an engineering degree before making quite a name for himself in the motion picture industry.

The club will next host the Third George Orwell Memorial on June 22nd. For the first time, the Orwell will be an Illinois Chess Tour event. It will feature four rounds of regular-rated chess.

Friday, May 17, 2013

It's A Wonderful Life -- and a Wonderful Spring Day for Chess

The Sicilian Defense is not the only export from the largest island on the Mediterranean Sea.  American film director Frank Capra was also born there near the turn of the 20th Century... before coming over to the United States at age 6.

Settling in the southern California area with his family, Frank went on to earn an engineering degree before entering the film industry shortly before talking pictures appeared. It's A Wonderful Life is just one of the American classic films he created. In honor of Capra's birthday, DeKalb Chess Club (as if we needed an excuse) is hosting yet another chess event.

Registrations are flowing in like ZuZu's petals to Saturday's four-round tournament to be held in DeKalb.

At last count I've received around 20 RSVP's... which projects to a field of 28-30, comparable with the size of the other tournaments held in DeKalb this year. This portends a high likelihood that three sections will be created with plenty of "Under" prizes to make sure all participants have a shot at winning something.

No doubt some entrants will be gearing up for the Chicago Open which starts next week.

Early registration discounts are available through this evening... but on-site registration closes precisely at 9am (unless a first round bye is requested). All play should conclude by 6pm for those who have evening plans.

Bring your A-game... even if you're a Class B through E player!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reyes recommends Fischer Video

Founding Club Member Don Reyes came to chess club yesterday armed with a glowing recommendation on an instructive chess video. The 39-minute posting on You Tube is free for anyone to view:

This particular video was created by "thechesswebsite" -- a channel which has posted 134 videos representing hours of excellent analysis.

Although I enjoy a great many videos from subscribed sites such as,, ChessFM / ICC, there are some fantastic free videos posted on YouTube.

In addition to "thechesswebsite", you might wish to check out postings by "chessfriendsdotcom", "onlinechesslessons", and "chessnetwork".  You can also "subscribe" to these channels so that YouTube will send you an email whenever these authors post a new video.

And it's all free!

Thanks to Don for this recommendation... and all club members are encouraged to let this site know about any other chess-related resources they have found helpful.

Monday, March 25, 2013

30 Find Liberty in the Cornfields


Time is our most fleeting resource. And despite a 2011 Justin Timberlake sci-fi movie which suggests to the contrary, it cannot be replenished.

Frequent cornfield participant Sam Henderson found himself in a winning position in the final round of this weekend's Give Me Liberty! Challenge. He had the upper hand against an expert rated 341 points higher. It was in the bag... until the chess gods decided to intervene. And with a digital tic-tocking that could be heard across the tournament room, poor Sam's failure to punch his clock at a critical juncture ate away a chunk of his 45-minute allocation, leading to a loss by flag, and altering the outcome of the five-round event.

Christopher McKinney and Jim Oberweis tied for first in the 8-player Open (Smyslov) section with 4.0/5 scores. Sam still managed to claim the Under 1800 prize with a 3.0/5 score.

Aurora's Mike Flynn and Rockford's Jonathan Gaenzle along with junior Ricky Wang split the 12-player Reserve (Korchnoi) section with 3.5/5 scores. Ricky pulled the Under 1400 prize fund into the pool. Mike and Jonathan drew in the fifth round, while Ricky drew against pesky Jake Zarris of Elgin.

In the 10-competitor Booster (Seirawan) section, Indian Creek High School's Colton Ewing claimed clear first in only his second rated tournament, with a 4.0/5 score. James Zhang and rated tournament-newcomer Stephen Leung split second place, with Siddharth Sridhar claiming the Under 1000 prize.

Upset prize winners included David Black, Bill Smythe, Cliff Adams, and Paul Schmitt.

The sections were named after historic chess players with birthdays over the weekend. Former World-Champion Vasily Smyslov would have been 92 on March 24. Currently the oldest active grandmaster, Viktor Korchnoi turned 82 on March 23. Four-time US Champion and prolific author Yasser Seirawan turned 53 on Sunday.
The DeKalb Chess Club hopes to continue the tradition of chess tournaments with the May 18 amidst the cornfields with the It's a Wonderful Life Classic, honoring Director Frank Capra's birthday.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Give Me Liberty Registrations Solid

Through early Friday evening, registrations in all three prospective sections are running solid for tomorrow's five-round Give Me Liberty event.

Can still use a few more Open players but the other sections are nearing their natural maximums. Capacity for the overall tournament is 36. (TD reserves the possibility of shifting to a fourth section or any other configuration to assure good competition for the broadest array).

Where possible we attempt to honor several types of requests:
  • First Round Byes -- 1/2 point will be awarded
  • Requests to play up sections -- offered in order of the player's pre-event rating
  • Avoidance of pairing against siblings or parents -- always honored
  • Avoidance of pairing against club members -- honored in early rounds but this rule is turned off in later rounds if necessary for deciding prizes
DeKalb Chess Club is proud to host such events and we're fortunate to have found a post-Borders home at the First Congregational Church. During our first year of hosting events, we averaged 15 entrants. By the second year, we were up to 20 registrants and now, in our third year, we've had 28 and 30 players for our most recent events. Let's keep it up, folks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Give Me Liberty! 5-Rounder Saturday

In an attempt to provide broader diversity of competition, DeKalb Chess Club is sponsoring the Give Me Liberty! Challenge Saturday, March 23.

The event will feature five rounds of Game/45 play straight up, with no delay. This means if you have an analog clock, you're welcome to put it to good use! All games are USCF-rated, meaning USCF membership is required. Such membership is available for purchase at the tournament.

On March 23, 1775, before some of us were even born, Patrick Henry exclaimed "Give me liberty or give me death!"  Some reports indicate he was attempting to organize militia in every county of Virginia, others suggest he may have been referring to his queen which was seemingly trapped in the back rank with no escape squares as he contemplated resignation.

Elsewhere in his famous speech, Henry exclaimed: "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience." Surely this reflects a chess-rich history as does his quip: "It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope..." (I repeat this mantra every time I sit down with a higher-rated player).

As I remind my students, Henry exhorted: "The battle... is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave..." If that idea doesn't motivate the patriotic chess warrior to develop one's pieces to better squares, I don't know what will.

We'll wrap up registration at 8:50am for this special event... and attempt to get the first round underway by 9am, accommodating the five-round schedule.

Delicious pizza will be available for the bargain price of $4 -- for two slices and a can of pop. (Please specify your topping preferences at registration).

There will also be refrigerator and a microwave available on site for those who wish to bring their own food for lunch. We'll also have some local restaurant delivery menus for those who seek a particular type of cuisine.

Requests to avoid pairings against team/club members will be honored through the third round, and 1/2 point byes will be awarded for the first round upon request (Second round will get underway at 10:40am).

Operators are standing by to take your name and USCF ID# at This will save you five bucks if you do so by 9pm on Friday, March 22.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tarrasch Memorial Registrations Rolling In

As the roads clear from Mother Nature's overnight blanketing, pre-registrations are shaping up for Saturday's USCF event in DeKalb.

Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch was born March 5th (1862) and passed away February 17 (1934) so we picked a date in between to memorialize the chess pundit some consider the best chess player in the world at the end of the 19th century.

Three rounds of Game/65 should do the trick, although I'm sure Dr. Tarrasch would have preferred more time for his own games. If a time machine should transport the good doctor to our little tournament, what would his reaction be to the newfangled electronic clocks set to a 5-second delay?

So far we have two of the highest players ever to play with us pre-registered, Len Weber (2200) and NIU accounting major Ilya Meerovich (2150ish).

Also, pre-registered is Vincent Do (1920ish), the 20th-ranked 11 year-old in the country, and Kelebrant Hays, who was the second-ranked 7 year-old in Illinois before he recently turned 8! (Happy Birthday, Kelebrant!).

Discounted pre-registration continues through 9pm tonight... with onsite registration only $5 more. Scholastic teammates also receive discounted entry.

At the conclusion of the main event, we may hold a Game/5 blitz tournament if enough folks express interest at check in. Let's try to arrive before 9:50 so that pairings can get posted in plenty of time for a 10am first round start.