Chess in Peoria has a long history, and is overseen today by the Greater Peoria Chess Federation ( The Federation grew out of a merger in 1965 of the Peoria Chess Association, one of the first USCF affiliates in the nation, and Peoria’s famous Kingsmen Chess Club. Among the tournaments sponsored by the Federation are two annual USCF Heritage events: the Bradley Summer Open at Peoria’s Bradley University, and the Greater Peoria Open.

The Federation also oversees Peoria’s two city-wide clubs. The Lakeview Museum Club is open on Monday nights to adults and strong youth players. It offers introductory and advanced classes and lists its special events on the Federation website. The Hult Health Education Center ( is for youth in grades K-12. It meets on Friday nights, and offers individual and group lessons.

In 1996, the Federation set up the Greater Peoria Chess Foundation, whose primary mission is to sponsor and support youth chess. The Foundation supplies teaching materials and maintains an extensive library of books, chess sets and boards for support of local chess activities, including beginning clubs.

Approximately 16 elementary and high schools in Peoria, both public and private, have chess clubs. Most are run by a faculty sponsor with help from one or more parents of club members.

Approximately 12 youth tournaments are held in Peoria during the school year. Highlights include the tournament hosted by Washington School District 52 in the late fall, which draws 100-150 players. Two other major Peoria events, held toward the end of the school year, are the District 150 tournament (100-125 players) and the Tazewell County tournament (150 plus). Peoria also hosts workshops and a summer chess camp. Princeville, about 25 miles from Peoria, also has an active and vibrant chess program.

Peoria has also hosted several major national and state events including the 1989 National Jr. High School Championships, the 1996 and 2006 Illinois State Elementary Championships, and the 1998 National Elementary Championships.

Peoria was host to another major event in chess history. In 1945, before the end of World War II, it hosted the U.S. Open and the annual meeting of the USCF at the Hotel Pere Marquette. During that meeting, F.I.D.E., which had been dormant for many years, was re-organized.

Peoria is also home to John Lutes, the author of many chess books who had the distinction of drawing Bobby Fischer in tournament play. The website has information on local events, players, city championship games and the Federation’s lending library.