2019 Chess

State Stories


2019 Chess

Bookmark and Share

The 45th annual IHSA Team Chess State Tournament returns to Peoria Civic Center on Friday and Saturday, February 8-9. A total of 128 teams from across the state are entered in this year’s competition. The field was narrowed down from original 152 entries who played at sectional tournaments around the state on January 26. 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.

"The largest team chess tournament in the world happens right here in Peoria," 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 2018 state tournament saw the Illinois Math & Science Academy repeat as team state champions, marking the sixth state title in school history. Whitney Young was the runner-up in 2018, marking the eighth time that the Dolphins have finished either first or second since 2007. Stevenson was third last year, capturing the school's seventh trophy in program history. Highland Park and Hinsdale Central rounded out the Top 5 respectively, while the Top 10 included Neuqua Valley (6th), New Trier (7th), Fremd (8th), Northside (9th) and Naperville North (10th).

The Board 1 Medalists from 2018 included: Zhaozhi Li, IMSA; Mihir Bafna, Bloomington; Jason Drews, Cary-Grove; George McCoy, Northside; Manu Mehta, York; Siva Muthupalaniappan, Glenbrook North; Rashid Albitar, Stagg; Jack Curcio, Maine South; Vincent Do, Rockford Auburn; Austin Insley, Indian Creek and 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 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.

45th annual State Series
19th year at Peoria Civic Center


Peoria Civic Center (Peoria)


Friday, February 8
10:00 AM - Round 1
1:00 PM - Round 2
3:45 PM - Round 3
6:30 PM - Round 4

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





No charge for entry

Twitter - @IHSAstate

Instagram - @IHSA_IL


Classic IHSA YouTube Video

Gear from Minerva

IHSA Program

Country Financial

Wilson Sporting Goods


Record Book & Past Champions


Theme picker