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November 4, 2014

Welcome to HPChess!

Our clubs have all opened, but all accept new members during the year.  As in the past, each club offers instruction at multiple skill levels.  See the section on Highland Park coaches below.

Flyers have been or will be posted shortly in our club sections.  To view those sections (and others containing email addresses or phone numbers), you’ll need to “create an account” by clicking the bottom entry on the left.

Contact your club directors if you have questions. 

Major tournaments:  I have listed below the major tournaments sponsored by the Illinois Chess Association, including the two scholastic championships (the All Grade and the K8).  The Open and the Class are primarily adult events at which cash prizes are awarded but at which youth players are welcome.  Details on these events are on the ICA Events page, http://il-chess.org/index.php/tournaments-all

Illinois Labor Day Scholastic — Saturday, August 30, 2014, Northbrook.  Must be under 18, 2 sections: U1200, U700.   Watch and rub shoulders with the state’s top players competing in the Illinois Open.

Illinois Open — Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Monday, September 1, 2014, Northbrook ($8000 prize fund, 2 Sections, 2 Playing Schedules)

Illinois All Grade — Saturday, November 8, 2014, West Chicago (kids in grades
K-8 play against others in their grade only; HS sections will depend on signups)

Illinois Class — Sunday, November 23, 2014, Lisle (individual prizes range from $40 to $500, trophy-only section for those under 1200)

Illinois K-8 — March 7-8, 2015, Normal (usually the biggest K-8 youth event of the year; kids play in grade groups)

Highland Park Tournaments:  We run two types of tournaments.  Three are on Saturdays (December 6, February 21 and April 11).  They are good starter tournaments for beginners, but also have USCF-rated advanced sections for stronger players.  Our players are also invited to play in tournaments hosted by Highland Park High School which feature game reviews by top Illinois players including International Masters Florin Felecon and Arjun Vishnuvardhan, and FIDE Master Gauri Manoj.  We know of no events elsewhere in the state in which players of this quality are available at a single event to review player’s games.  Players from outside the district are permitted to attend both types of tournaments.

Drop-in Chess at the Highland Park Library:  The dates of the library sessions are posted in the section “Our Clubs and Library Programs.”

Success in competition.  Highland Park players and teams continue to distinguish themselves in competition.  In the six years our program has been running, our players have won more than 60 individual and 25 team awards at Illinois state championships and hundreds of other awards at other tournaments.  One graduate of our program, Jonathan Hrach, now anchors the excellent Highland Park High School team, has a USCF rating of 2026 (and is thus a chess “Expert”), and is a member of the state’s elite Warren Junior Scholars program.  Another, Elli Faletsky, won the high school section of the Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls last year.  The win entitles Elli to a $14,000 annual scholarship at Webster University in St. Louis, which boasts the best college chess team in the country.

Our coaches.  We continue to have what we believe is one of the best coaching staffs in the state.  Top titled players, including those mentioned above, continue to teach our strongest players.  Most clubs have four or more coaches including top local middle school and high school players.

Want more details about youth chess in Illinois?  The Youth Committee of the Illinois Chess Association (ICA) has put together content considered by some to be among the best in the nation.  The content is designed to foster the development of new clubs, provide an overview of youth chess in the state, and provide resources for parents, principals, coaches, and club directors.   Go to www.il-chess.org and click the “Youth Chess” button.  The content includes detailed guides on starting a youth chess program and on tournament play; a list of recommended curricula, including software and websites; an updated summary of the research on the value of chess; profiles of community-wide programs in Illinois; a summary of the major youth tournaments in the state; and lists of Illinois’ past youth champions.  (Top current players are listed in the Warren Program section.)  But there’s much more.  Content from the site can be downloaded in pdf format.

Chicago Public Schools initiative.  Some of you know that I’ve been involved in a long effort to upgrade the chess program in Chicago’s Public Schools.  The effort generated attention in the media last year (http://bit.ly/1fDFUVU and http://il-chess.org/index.php/youthnews/608-cps-media-coverage-and-public-documents) and now appears to be close to fruition.

Scheduling problems? Some kids are unable to attend particular clubs because of schedule conflicts with other after-school activities, but we can usually accommodate these kids in another club with a different schedule.  We’ll be glad to help you find a suitable club.  Registration forms for all clubs appear (or will shortly appear) in their respective sections of this website.

Is your child ready for more?  Consider our Tutors program. Most of our coaches do private tutoring for individuals or small groups, and approximately 30 kids in the district took advantage of this opportunity during the past year.  See “Resources/Tutors.”

Thanks to the many volunteers, especially our club directors, who contribute so much to our program!

Jerry Neugarten