State Stories


2015 Chess

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The 41st annual IHSA Team Chess State Tournament returns to the Peoria Civic Center on Friday and Saturday, February 13-14.

Last year's state tournament was subject of a documentary called "Chess State".

A total of 146 teams from across the state are entered in this year’s competition – once again the largest field in tournament history. The field has grown substantially since 2001, the tournament's first year in Peoria, when 96 teams squared off.

A chess team consists of eight players and up to four alternates. Approximately 1,450 competitors and 300 coaches will be take part 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 first of seven rounds starts at 10:00 a.m. Friday and action continues until about 8:00 p.m. On Saturday the teams return to play at 9:00 a.m., with the awards ceremony scheduled to begin around 5:30 p.m. 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 Whitney Young High School of Chicago, the only team to finish the tournament with seven wins and no losses.

In this year's event, Stevenson High School is seeded first. Stevenson won its lone state title in 2008 and has finished second three times since (2010, 2012, 2013). Defending state champ Whitney Young captured its second consecutive state championship in 2014, and its third in four years. Meanwhile, Benet recorded its best finish in school history last season, finishing second.

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 own state chess tournament in Bloomington later in February.

41st annual State Series
15th year at Peoria Civic Center


Peoria Civic Center (Peoria)


Friday, February 13
10:00 AM - Round 1
1:00 PM - Round 2
3:45 PM - Round 3
6:30 PM - Round 4

Saturday, February 14
9:00 AM - Round 5
Noon - Round 6
2:45PM - Round 7
5:30PM - Awards





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State Final Gear

No charge for entry

No broadcasts are currently scheduled for this event

Record Book & Past Champions