After two years of online competition, Evanston chess players from kindergarten through eighth grade returned to in-person competition at last month’s Evanston Scholastic Chess Championships. The tournament was organized by Evanston Scholastic Chess, a nonprofit that serves chess players in grades K-8. District 65 and Chute Middle School also generously supported the event by providing playing space, tables and custodial support.

Players and schools competed in four grade-based divisions: Grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-8.

Nathan Drouillard took first place in the K-1 Championship, winning all five of his games. In the 2-3 division, there was a four-way tie for first between Hudson Foreman, Clara Drouillard, Shivam Nandwana and Julian Herman-Lopez. Franklin Godinho won all of his games to take first in the 4-5 Championship, and Jacob Black came out on top in the 6-8 Championship. The winners of the team competitions were Chute in grades 6-8, Lincoln in 4-5, Orrington in 2-3 and King Arts in K-1.

Jacob, an eighth grader at Roycemore School, won his first four games and clinched first place with a last round draw. He was also a top scorer in the online tournaments that Evanston Scholastic Chess held in December, January and February. His win in the following game helped him tie for first place in the February tournament.

White: Jacob Black

Black: NN

1c4 Nf6 2Nc3 d6 3d4 g6 4e4 Bg7 5Be2 0-0 6f3 Re8 7Be3 e5 8d5 c6 9Qd2 Nbd7 Both players demonstrate good opening knowledge. After white plays 3d4, black chooses to proceed with the King’s Indian Defense and white counters with the Samisch variation.

White to move

10Bh6?! Nh5?! Black misses a chance to take advantage of white’s premature 10th move by playing 10…Nxe4! 11Nxe4 Qh4+, forking white’s king and bishop and winning a pawn. The game is now about even, and both players develop their positions nicely for the next 10 moves.

11Bxg7 Kxg7 12Nh3 cxd5 13cxd5 Nc5 14Nf2 Nf4 15g3 Nxe2 16Nxe2 Qf6 17Qe3 Bd7 180-0 Bb5 19Rfe1 Rac8 20Nc3 Ba6 21b4 This attacks black’s knight and threatens b5, which would trap black’s bishop on a6. However, it also unprotects the white knight on c3. Safer is 21Rec1, protecting the knight.

Black to move

21…Nd3! A strong move! If white captures the knight with 22Nxd3, black plays 22…Rxc3, putting pressure on white’s knight on d3.

22Ng4?! White goes for a kingside attack, but black can stop it with best play. White’s best move is 22b5, which traps black’s bishop but allows black to capture white’s rook on e1. Black would have a slightly more comfortable position after 22…Nxe1 23Rxe1 Rxc3! 24Qxc3 Bxb5.

22…Qe7 23Qh6+ Kg8 24Re3 White sacrifices his knight on c3, hoping to maneuver his rook into an attacking position.

24…Rxc3 25f4!? exf4 26gxf4 Now black can repel white attack by playing 26…f6! Black’s queen now protects the pawn on h7 and can move to g7, offering to trade queens.

Black to move

26…Rc1+? 27Rxc1 Nxc1 This maneuver saves black’s extra piece but gives white an opportunity for a strong kingside attack.

White to move

28f5? White has a winning attack after 28e5!, setting up Nf6+.

28…Ne2+? 29Kf2 Nd4? This was the last chance for black to play f6. After 30fxg6 Qg7! 31Rf3! the game remains complicated and both players would have chances.

30Rh3 and white wins. Black ran out of time. 30…f6 is the only move to avoid checkmate, but white has a winning position after 31fxg6 Qg7 32Qxh7+ Kf8 33Qh8+

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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