State Stories


2016 Chess

Bookmark and Share

The 42nd annual IHSA Team Chess State Tournament returns to Peoria Civic Center on Friday and Saturday, February 12-13. A total of 146 teams from across the state are entered in this year’s competition – equaling the largest field in tournament history from last year. The field has grown substantially since 2001, the tournament's first year in Peoria, when 96 teams squared off.

The media has taken notice of the unique tournament, which was the subject of a 2015 documentary called "Chess State".

A chess team consists of eight players and up to four alternates. Approximately 1,550 competitors and 300 coaches will be participate in the two-day event.

"This is the largest team chess tournament in the country, and perhaps the world," said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Scott Johnson. "People think of chess as an individual pursuit. Turning it into a team competition encourages players to help their teammates improve and fosters a sense of camaraderie. They cheer for each other after a good win – or even a good draw.”

Naperville North captured the team state title a year ago, the second in school history and first since 2004, as the Huskies held off Stevenson, who placed second for the fourth time in the last six seasons. New Trier claimed the third-place trophy, while Evanston, Glenbrook South, Neuqua Valley, Benet, Niles North and Lane rounded out the Top 10 finishers in order, respectively.

The Board 1 Medalists from 2015 included: Yuki Nojima, Hersey; Spencer Lehmann, Barrington; Devon Janecek, Reavis; Jason Drews, Cary-Grove; Dexter Dale, Jr., Leo; Mark Mateica, Taft; Jonathan Hrach, Highland Park; Alex Bian, Stevenson; Max Zinski, Benet; Daniel Bronfeyn, Mundelein; Michael Dula, Northridge Prep; Benjamin Nielsen, Normal West; Logan Rodgers, Jefferson; Hiro Higuchi, Schaumburg; Penny Xu, Urbana; Zhaozhi Li, New Trier.

The first of seven rounds starts at 10 am Friday and action continues until about 8 pm. On Saturday the teams return to play at 9 am, with the awards ceremony about 5 pm. In each round, the teams are paired off and 584 (146 / 2 × 8) chess games are played simultaneously. While you can hear a pin drop during the competition, the play can be intense, especially "inside the ropes," a special viewing area where the top teams play. Last year’s championship was won by Naperville North High School, the only team to finish the tournament with seven wins and no losses. In this year's event, Stevenson High School of Lincolnshire, a Chicago suburb, is seeded first.

This year's tournament will again feature a day-long visit from Grandmaster Yury Shulman, the 2008 U.S. Chess Champion. Shulman, a native of Belarus, achieved grandmaster status at the age of 20. He came to the U.S. in 1999 to attend the University of Texas at Dallas and now lives in the Chicago suburbs. Shulman is not only one of the country's top players but also a chess patron. He is the founder of Chess Without Borders, an organization that uses chess as a medium for philanthropic causes. Shulman will be in attendance at the IHSA Tournament all day Saturday, opening Round 5 of the competition and conducting seminars for coaches and players when he is not observing play.

The IHSA Chess Tournament is open to the public. Elementary and junior high school players who are interested in watching high school competition or meeting Grandmaster Shulman are especially welcome. The Illinois Elementary School Association will hold its state chess tournament in the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom later in February.

Reporters and photographers are welcome but are asked to check in at the Tournament Office prior to entering the competition area.

42nd annual State Series
16th year at Peoria Civic Center


Peoria Civic Center (Peoria)


Friday, February 12
10:00 AM - Round 1
1:00 PM - Round 2
3:45 PM - Round 3
6:30 PM - Round 4

Saturday, February 13
9:00 AM - Round 5
Noon - Round 6
2:45PM - Round 7
5:30PM - Awards





#IHSA on Twitter
Twitter - @IHSAstate

Instagram - @IHSA_IL

Classic IHSA YouTube Video

Gear from Minerva

Photos from VIP

Balls from Wilson

Souvenir Program

No charge for entry

Record Book & Past Champions


Theme picker