With 90 players competing, the Chicago Chess Foundation's 2017-2018 season got off to a rollicking start at an October 14 invitational tournament at the northside Newton Bateman Elementary School.

Ultimately more than 45 school- and club-based teams will be going at it when the CCF competition schedule kicks off in November.

In the Novice K-4 section, Skinner North's Elaine Chao and Decatur's Lily Meegoda were both perfect with 5-for-5 efforts. Elaine won a blitz tiebreaker to take first place honors. 

Elaine's teammate Mitchell Abe had the top tiebreak of six 4.0 scorers, earning the third place trophy.

Additional Skinner North'ers Matthew Chang, Siddarth Mukesh and Niccolo Lozada also posted 4.0's while Decatur's Robert Suteu and Casey Scott also earned slots in the 4.0 scoregroup.

With 17 competing -- but only the top four counting towards the team award -- Skinner North edged Decatur 17.0 to 16.5 to earn the top team award.

49 players were in the section -- and Coach Jon Heller writes in with the observation that Decatur's Meegoda faced five players from the same Skinner North team (all boys) before losing to a girl from that team in the playoff match. What are the odds?

In the Novice 5-8 section, Jocelyn Santana of Bateman was the clear winner with 4.5/5. Jocelyn's only blemish was a second-round draw with Skinner North's Simon Baurer.

Simon finished with 4.0 -- after drawing in the fourth round as well, earning the second place trophy. His teammate, Paul Stiles also had 4.0 with a slightly lower tiebreak. Paul was perfect heading into the final round, losing to Jocelyn. 

David Tebbe of Bateman and Decatur's Dante Shalaveyus tied for fourth place, both with 3.5's, with David earning the fourth place trophy due to the higher tiebreak. Dante, in turn, earned fifth place hardware.

Jocelyn and David's leadership paced Bateman to the top Novice 5-8 team trophy with 13.0, outscoring Skinner North (12.0) and Decatur (11.0).

In the 22-player Advanced section, Decatur's Avi Kaplan settled for a fifth-round draw with Skinner North's Jack Heller, finishing 4.5 for clear first place.

The draw dropped Jack into fourth place after a second-round loss to Dimitri Deligiannis of Beaubien.

Dimitri wound up with 4.0, losing to Avi in the fourth round, but earning the higher tiebreak than Skinner North's Leon Cao. Leon's only blemish was a second-round loss to -- who else -- Avi.

Chris Sakaliyski (5th) of Edison and Andrey Novikov (6th) of Bateman also posted 3.5's to tie with Jack (4th) who had the highest tiebreak in the group.

By the narrowest of margins, Skinner North edged Decatur 10.5 to 10.0 for top team. Bateman was third with 9.0.

Bateman was missing one of its stalwarts, Layla Rodriguez, who is recovering from a medical emergency. The ICA -- and I'm sure the entire Chicago Chess Foundation community -- wishes Layla well in her recovery.

Congratulations to Bateman -- and Coach Adam Geisler -- for hosting such a successful event.

Mike Cardinale advises that all the CCF dates -- and several locations -- are posted on the CCF Calendar.