The ETHS chess team continues to post consistent results in its high school tournament play. At last weekend’s North Suburban Chess League Conference Championship, the eight-board varsity team tied for second place.

Evanston lost to Stevenson, the conference champion and currently the top-ranked team in the state, but won its matches against Glenbrook North, Highland Park and Northridge Prep. Meris Goldfarb was Evanston’s leading scorer, with three wins and a draw on board 6, while Chris Von Hoff, Jonah Chen and Luca Zerega had three wins and a loss.

Evanston was also invited to enter a second team in the varsity division to fill in the gap left by a last-minute dropout of another team. The Evanston B team was up to the challenge and finished in fifth place, ahead of several schools with established, strong chess programs. Evanston B’s leading scorers were Sam Kemeny, with a perfect 4-0 record on board 6; Somil Bose, with 3 wins and a draw on board 8, and Daniel Dligach, with 3 wins on board 5.

Evanston’s team depth was also apparent in the separate open section, which was won by Evanston’s Manu Zerega, with Tony Sotnick finishing in third place.

Kemeny got off to a fast start at the championship by upsetting Stevenson’s board 6 in the first round.

White: Stevenson HS

Black: Sam Kemeny, Evanston B

1e4 e5 2f4 (the King’s Gambit) exf4 3Nf3, Be7 Kemeny responds to White’s King’s Gambit with the Cunningham Defense. Black plans Bh4+ to force white’s king to move before it can be castled.

White to move

4Bc4 Bh4+ 5Nxh4? Qxh4+ Black’s queen is more threatening on h4 than it was on d8.

6Kf1 Nf6 7Qf3 0-0 Even stronger is 7…Nc6!, preparing to play Nd4, attacking white’s queen.

8d3 d5 9exd5 Re8 Black is threatening to play Re1 mate or Qe1 mate.

White to move

10Bd2? (10Qf2 was a better way to defend against the mate threat) Bg4 11Qxf4

Black to move

11…Re1+! 12Bxe1 Be2+ 13Kxe2 Qxf4 Kemeny wins white’s queen in exchange for a rook, bishop and pawn. The material balance is about even, but the exposed position of the white king gives black the advantage.

14Bg3 Qg4+ 15Ke1 c6 16Nc3 cxd5 17Bb3 Nc6 18Rf1 Re8+ 19Kd2 d4!? 20Ne4 Nxe4 Chess software recommends the less intuitive 20…Rxe4 21 dxe4 Nxe4+ 22Ke1 d3! threatening mate, and if 23cxd3 Nd4 renews the mate threat. Not many human players would find this sequence of moves.

21dxe4 Rxe4 22Bxf7+ Kh8 23Rae1 Qg5+ 24Kd1 Rxe1+ 25Rxe1 White threatens Re8 mate.

25…h6? Now white has an opportunity to drive black’s king into the open. Black’s king could stay out of the fray with 25…g6 26Re8+ Kg7, when black’s king threatens white’s bishop.

White to move

26Bc4? White misses 26Re8+ Kh7 27Bg8+! Kg6 28Re6+ Kf5 29 Rd6, when both kings would be insecure.

26…Qh5+ 27Kc1 b5 28Bd3 Nb4 29Re5 Nxd3+ 30cxd3 Qg6 31Kd2 Qc6 32Re4 Qd5 33Be5 Qxa2 34Bxd4 a5 35Re8+ Kh7 36Re7 Kg6 37Rxg7+ Kf5

White to move

38Rf7+?? This loses the rook. Better was Re7 followed by Re5, when black has an advantage, but white’s rook and bishop make it more difficult for black to advance his queenside pawns.

38…Qxf7 39Be3 Qd5 40g3 Qg2+ and white resigns. White’s counterattack is gone and Kemeny’s queen dominates the board.

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...

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