The Evanston Township High School chess team opened its season with a solid performance at Saturday’s Red Devil Chess Challenge at Hinsdale Central. Despite missing some key players due to conflicts with fall sports, the varsity team posted three comfortable wins, but lost a close match to perennial state contender Whitney Young to finish in third place.

Elie Platnick and Adam Elgat were the star ETHS players, posting perfect 4-0 records on Boards 1 and 2. Tate Darin won all three of his games on Boards 7/8.

The junior varsity team played excellent chess to win its section, ahead of Whitney Young and Payton. Daniel Dligach tied for first place, winning all five of his games. Ethan Brush took third place with four wins and a draw, and Manu Zerega tied for fifth with four wins and one loss.

Detailed results for the tournament are available online.

Elgat, a freshman and an experienced player in U.S. Chess Federation tournaments, helped ETHS to an early lead over Whitney Young with the following win.

ETHS vs. Whitney Young

Elgat vs. Kim, Board 2

After white gained an early edge, an inaccuracy led to an unbalanced position with chances for both sides. On move 19, black makes a mistake …

19…Bb5? What would you play as white in the following position?

White to move

20Bc4? This is the natural, human move but not the best move.  Chess software recommends 20 0-0-0, when white appears to be exposing his king to an attack on the open c-file. However, it turns out that white’s king is better placed on the queenside than black’s is on the kingside. For example, white’s king is perfectly safe after 20…Rc8+ 21Kb1 Qc7 22Rc1, and the attacking attempt 21…Qb6 fails to 22Bxd5 exd5 23Qxb6 axb6 24Nc3 Bc6 25Rde1.

20…Qa5+ 21Kf1 Now the game gets even wilder. Both kings are exposed to potential attacks from their opponent’s forces.

21…Bxc4+ 22Nxc4 Qb5 23Rc1 Nb6 24b3?! It’s better for white to play 24a4 to drive black’s queen away from b5. The game could have continued 24…Qb4 25Ne5 Qxd4 26Nf6+, when both players have chances.

Black to move

24…Qxb3? Instead of grabbing this pawn, black should have pressed his attack by playing 24…Nxc4 25bxc4 Qb2 26Re1 0-0-0. Black’s king has escaped to a relatively safe spot, while white’s king remains insecure.

25Ncd6+ Bxd6 26 Nxd6+ Ke7 27Nxb7 White is a pawn ahead, but black is still in the game.

Black to move

27…Qd3+? This check just forces white’s king to a safer position. A better try was 27…Qb5+ 28Kg1 Rac8, when black’s queen defends his g-pawn and his rook defends the c-file.

28Kg1 Rac8? 29Qxg5+ f6 White is now two pawns ahead and is on the attack, with a winning advantage.

White to move

30Qf4 Nd5?! 31Qd6+ Kf7 32Re1 Qf5 33Qd7+ Kg8 34Nd6 Rcd8 35Qxd8 Rxd8 36Nxf5 exf5 37Rd1 Nc3 38Rd3 Ne2+ 39Kf1 Nxd4 40Rh4 Ne6 41Rxd8+ Nxd8 42Ra4 Kf7 43Rxa7+ Ke6 44Ke2 Nc6 45Ra6 Kd5 46Kd3 Ne5+ and black resigns

White to move (final position)

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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