The Evanston Township High School chess team continued their run of success Saturday, finishing in second place in their home tournament. The 16-team field featured many of the top teams in the state, including Whitney Young, the current state champion, and Stevenson, ranked third in Illinois. Evanston defeated Whitney Young 45-23 in round 2 of the tournament and 10th-ranked Payton 46-22, before falling to Stevenson 41.2-26.5 in the championship match.

Once again, Evanston’s strongest results in the eight-board match format were on the middle and lower boards. Meris Goldfarb and Jonah Chen were undefeated and won board prizes on Boards 5 and 6. Nathan Melnikov, Rohil Bose, Luca Zerega and Sam Kemeny had more wins than losses on boards 3, 4, 7 and 8. Elie Platnick and Christopher von Hoff, on boards 1 and 2, contributed important wins and draws in the matches with Payton and Stevenson.

Sophomore Jonah Chen won the following game in round 2 to help Evanston sweep Boards 3-8 and win the match with Whitney Young.

White: Jonah Chen, Evanston
Black: Whitney Young

1e4 c5 2Nf3 d6 3d4 cxd4 4Qxd4 Nc6 5Bb5 Bd7 6Bxc6 Bxc6 7Nc3 Nf6 8Bg5 e5 9Qd3 Be7 10h3 White can also play more aggressively with 10Bxf6 Bxf6 110-0-0, but the move played in the game also gives him an edge.

10…Qa5 110-0 Rd8 12Rad1 0-0 13Nh4! (heading for f5)

13…Nd5?! Black is trying to take advantage of the unprotected white pieces in g5 and h4. This attempt doesn’t work if white plays correctly, but the position is complicated, making it easy for either player to go astray.

White to move

14Nxd5?! White’s best continuation is 14exd5 Bxg5 15Nf3! Both black bishops are now under attack and one will be lost, giving white a winning position.

14…Bxg5 15Nf5 Bxd5 16exd5? This capture removes white’s attack on black’s weak d-pawn. A better move is 16Qxd5, putting pressure on black’s b- and d-pawns and keeping an advantage.

16…g6 17Qg3! After 17Ne3 Rc8 18a3 f5 black would be well-positioned on both sides of the board. 17…Bf4

White to move

18Ne7+? White’s knight will have a hard time escaping from the e7 square. Instead, white should play 18Qh4! If black captures the white knight with 18..gxf5, white can play 19g3!, eventually winning black’s bishop after 19…Bd2 20c3 Qxd5 21Rfe1 Kg7 22Re2.

18…Kh8 (18…Kg7 is even better) 19Qh4 White is threatening Qf6+ checkmate, but black can stop this threat and play to win white’s knight on e7. However, the plan is rather long and complicated: 19…Kg7 20g3 Bh6 21f4 f6 22Kh1!? (planning to follow up with the tricky 23Ng8 Rxg8 23fxe5, threatening Qxf6+) Qa4! After this move the plan of Ng8 and fxe5 doesn’t work for white, the knight on e7 is lost, and black is winning.

Black to move

19…g5? This prevents mate, but now white can renew the threat while placing his queen in an even stronger position. 19…Kg7 was a much better defense.

20Qh6 Again threatening Qf6+ mate. White has a winning attack.

20…Rg8 21Nxg8 Rxg8 22Qf6+ Rg7 23g3 g4 24gxf4 gxh3+ 25Kh2 Qc5 Now white can force checkmate.

White to move

26Rd3! exf4 27Rc3 Qxd5 Black could have sacrificed his queen to delay mate for a few more moves. 28Rc8 checkmate.

White to move

Keith Holzmueller

Keith Holzmueller has been the head coach of the Evanston Township High School Chess Club and Team since 2017. He became a serious chess player during his high school years. As an adult player, he obtained...

One reply on “ETHS chess team upends state champions”

Comments are closed.