While Grandmasters Yury Shulman and Josh Friedel shared the championship of the first ever Greater Midwest Class, it was an occasion of personal bests for many Illinois youth players.
Sam Schmakel and David Peng both finished in a seven-way tie for fourth. Schmakel bolstered his rating to a personal best 2389, losing only to Shulman while drawing Friedel. 10-year old Peng upped his rating to 2174. His only loss came at the hands of Wisconsin master Erik Santarius.
The three-day, six-round tournament concluded December 1 in Rosemont, IL with 105 players competing in the main event.
Juniors Aydin Turgut and Daniel Bronfeyn smashed the 2000-barrier for the first time, with Turgut unofficially becoming the highest-rated nine year old in the US.
While Massachusetts may be the only state with two top-rated players in their respective age group, Illinois is one of only four states with three among the top two.
Thanks to Aydin Turgut (age 9), David Peng (age 10) and Adarsh Jayakumar (age 18), all ranked second in their particular age classification, the Land of Lincoln joins New York, California and Texas with that distinction this month.
New class levels were achieved at the Midwest Class by Joe Fennessey (Expert), Andrew Fei (Class A), and Stefan Musikic (Class B). Jason Daniels also achieved Class A status due to his second category titling at the 2013 Hobbit Classic.
A huge walk up registration saw 99 compete in six sections at the 2013 Illinois Class. The ICA-sponsored event was held November 24 at the Lisle Hilton. The four-round event also represented the tenth and final stop on the 2013 Illinois Chess Tour.
With a fourth-round draw over Gopal Menon, GM Nikola Mitkov claimed the championship in the combined Masters/Expert section. Menon shared second place with Aung Zin and Nathan Kranjc, all posting 3.0/4 scores.
In the Reserve, Gama De Luna scored a perfect 4.0/4 in only his second USCF-rated tournament. In the Booster, the host Aurora Naperville Chess Club's (ANCC's) Matthias Guillet also ran the table 4.0/4 while competing in his first rated event. Matthias recently returned to chess after a multi-decade absence.
Aaron Maney has been practicing his chess lately and it shows. Maney defeated experts in back-to-back rounds to earn a stake of first place at The Other Tal Memorial, held Nov. 9 in DeKalb.
Jon Winick, Vincent Do and Chelsea Harper joined Maney with 3.0/4 scores. Winick's fourth-round victory deprived Maney of a perfect score. Still, Aaron, playing in his sixth tournament this fall after a three year absence from rated play, raised his USCF rating over 100 points to 1830.
Overall, 38 players battled it out in four sections of dual time-controlled chess (with a few extra games thrown in). USCF Crosstables.
Neal Suwe’s job description has changed. Instead of teaching and mentoring and overseeing his kids at tournaments, as he’s done for most of his 20 years as chess coach at Kelly High School, he now spends his time trying to raise money through candy sales and skating parties. His chess players have to help. He told them recently that being in a Chicago Public School is sometimes like being in a Third World country and that to sustain the team they’d have to raise the funds themselves. But raising money in an urban, low-income school is easier said than done, says Suwe, and many of his efforts fail. “I feel like Ralph Kramden with his get-rich-quick schemes that never pan out. I am one CPS chess coach who sees the writing on the wall that I may soon have to give it up. I need a lifeline."
If Suwe’s team folds, it will be but the latest casualty of a high school program that has shrunk from more than 40 teams in 1997 to fewer than a dozen today.
A foursome of Illinois-registered Grandmasters tied for top honors at the 22nd Midwest Class Championships completed October 13th in Wheeling, IL. GMs Dmitry Gurevich, Yury Shulman, Nikola Mitkov and Mesgan Amanov each finished with 4.0/5 tallies.
Over 200 players competed at the Westin North Shore which saw class championships claimed by entrants from Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana in addition to the host state.
September 2: The Naperville Scholastic 6 Tournament in Naperville, IL had three sections and 21 players. In the U600 there was a three-way tie for first between Vrishank Ramnath, Alexander Novosad, and Vedant Rathi. In the U900 Section, Daniel Polski went 4/5 and gained 117 points. In the U1200 Section, Deniz Gulecyuz took first place. Crosstables.
August 31 to September 2: The 2013 Annual Illinois Open in Oak Brook had two sections and 139 players. In the Open Section, Nikola Mitkov and Mesgen Amanov went 5/6 to tie for first place. In the Reserve Section, Aaron Maney had a single draw to take first place and to gain 95 points. Crosstables.
In the ongoing debate over expanding chess programs in CPS, the Mayor's office and CPS have issued public statements suggesting they're not on the same page.
On August 30th and September 24th, the Mayor's office said it supports a strong independent program.The Mayor said he was supportive of ICA and other providers and two occasions has "directed" CPS to meet with chess providers and other “engaged stakeholders” to “explore this potential partnership.”
CPS, however, has been sending different messages through three different spokesmen.
Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools frequently speak about the pursuit of excellence for our children. Their intentions are good, but bureaucracy, budget woes and special interests often get in the way. Chicago’s approach to scholastic chess is a telling example.
Chess is unquestionably one of the best tools for developing young minds and providing safe after-school alternatives. New York City gets it. They have 23,000 players in K-12. Their kids dominate national tournaments. Regardless of their socio-economic background, kids in New York City have access to chess.