2018 Chess

State Stories


2018 Chess

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The 44th annual IHSA Team Chess State Tournament returns to Peoria Civic Center on Friday and Saturday, February 9-10. A total of 128 teams from across the state are entered in this year’s competition. The field was narrowed down from original 151 entries who played at Sectional tournaments around the state on January 27. This is the first year of sectional competition, which was implemented because the tournament was bursting at the seams in the Civic Center Ballroom.

The media has taken notice of the uniqueness of the IHSA Chess state 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 1,500 competitors and 250 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.”

The 2017 state tournament saw the Illinois Math & Science Academy hoist the state championship trophy for the fifth time in school history and first since 1997. Each of IMSA’s previous four state titles were of the back-to-back variety (1987-88, 1996-97), so it will be interesting to seed if the top seed can keep that trend going again in 2018. Glenbrook North posted its best finish in school history a year ago, placing 2nd. The trophy was the second in school history for the Spartans, who finished third in 1985. Whitney Young placed third last year, marking the 10th time in the past 12 years that the Dolphins have brought an IHSA Chess trophy back to Chicago, which includes four state championships. Perrenial powers New Trier, a two-time state champ, and Stevenson (six 1st or 2nd place finishes since 2008) rounded out the Top 5 in 2017, respectively. The remainder of the Top 10 included Maine South (6th), Hinsdale Central (7th), Naperville North (8th), Neuqua Valley (9th) and Glenbrook South (10th). Maine South and Naperville North are both previous state champions.

The Board 1 Medalists from 2017 included: Zhaozhi Li, IMSA; Spencer Lehmann, Barrington; Saltanat Muratova, Belleville East; John-Charles Micklich, Bloomington Central Catholic; Pranav Sriram, Lincoln Park; Peter Gai, St. Patrick; John Murlasits, St. Rita; Perry Hoag, Homewood-Flossmoor; Alex Bian, Stevenson; Nicholas Eveland, Mattoon; Michael Dula, Northridge Prep; Ishaar Ganesan, Normal Community; Ionatan Giurgiu, Ridgewood; Jack Curcio, Maine South; Anshul Adve, Urbana University; Juan Valencia, Waukegan & David Peng, New Trier.

The first of seven rounds starts at 10 a.m. 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 512 (128 / 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 the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, the only team to finish the tournament with seven wins and no losses. Illinois Math & Science Academy of Aurora is seeded first in this year's event.

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.

44th annual State Series
18th year at Peoria Civic Center


Peoria Civic Center (Peoria)


Friday, February 9
10:00 AM - Round 1
1:00 PM - Round 2
3:45 PM - Round 3
6:30 PM - Round 4

Saturday, February 10
9:00 AM - Round 5
Noon - Round 6
2:45 PM - Round 7
5:30 PM - Awards





No charge for entry

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