At the recent Evanston Team Tournament, the Evanston Township High School varsity chess team had nearly perfect results in its matches against Conant, Lyons and New Trier, winning 23 of its 24 contested games at the Oct. 29 event. However, the team had a misstep in Round 2 against Payton College Prep. Payton finished first at the Hinsdale Central tournament earlier in October and is among the top contenders for this year’s Illinois High School Association State Chess Championship. 

Despite that one match loss, ETHS had many strong individual performances. Chris von Hoff and Rohil Bose each won all four of their games. Adam Elgat, Henry Zaslow, Jonah Chen and Ozan Mixon were also undefeated.

ETHS also had outstanding results in the JV team tournament. Evanston’s two teams, nicknamed Evanston Orange and Evanston Blue, defeated Payton, Neuqua Valley, Whitney Young and several others on their way to facing off in the last round as the only teams with 3-0 records. Blue took an early lead over Orange with a win by Manu Zerega on Board 3, but Orange swept the four remaining games to win the match and the tournament. Luca Zerega and Sam Kemeny won all four of their games for Evanston Orange, Ethan Brush finished 3.5-0.5, and William Zalmezak and Lucia Scrimenti had 3-1 records.

Detailed results for the tournament are available here.

In his last round, ETHS sophomore Samuel Kemeny, playing white, was able to recover from a questionable position in the early and middle stages of the game.

ETHS Orange vs. ETHS Blue

Kemeny vs. Daniel Dligach, Round 4, Board 2

1e4 c5 2c3 d5 3exd5 Qxd5 With his pawn on c3, Kemeny can’t gain time by playing Nc3 to attack the black queen.

4d4 Nc6 5 Be3?! Better is 5Nf3, which would discourage black’s next move.

Black to move

5…e5! 6c4 Qd8 7d5 Nd4 Black’s knight is well placed on d4.

8Nf3 Bg4 Black’s eighth move looks good, but white has a way to escape black’s double attack (knight and bishop) on his knight. 

9Qa4+ Bd7 10Qd1 Bg4 11Qa4+ Bd7 12Qd1 Qb6!? Black decides not to play 12…Bg4, which would repeat the position from move 10.

13b3?! Black gains the initiative after this move. White could have played 13Nxe5 Qxb2 14Bxd4 cxd4 15Nd2, with an even game.

13…Bd6 14Nc3

Black to move

14…Bf5?! Right square, wrong piece! Black would have a clear advantage after 14…f5! 15g3 (15Bd3 Nf6 is worse) Nf6 16Bg2 0-0 170-0 Rae8. 

15Rc1 Nf6 16Be2 a6 17Nh4 Bd7 180-0 0-0 19Qd3 Qc7 20g3 Rab8 21Bxd4?! This exchange gives black a chance to gain a clearly better position.

Black to move

21…exd4? Black should strengthen his center by capturing with the c-pawn. After 21…cxd4 22Ne4 Nxe4 23Qxe4 f5, black controls the middle of the board and white’s knight is misplaced on h4.

22Ne4 Nxe4 23Qxe4 Rfe8 24Qc2 Be7 25Ng2 Bh3 Black prepares to attack white’s kingside, but white should be able to defend.

26Rfe1 Bg5 27Rcd1 Qd7 28Bd3 g6 29Rxe8+ Rxe8 30Be4 Qg4 31Re1 Bxg2 32Kxg2 f5? This move nearly immobilizes the black queen, and white can take advantage.

White to move

33Bf3 Black is losing his queen but can win white’s rook and bishop in exchange. 33Bxf5! is an even stronger move; black only gets a rook for his queen after 33…Rxe1 32Bxg4.

33…Qxf3+ 34Kxf3 Rxe1 White has a winning material advantage, but it is not easy for him to activate his queen to seal the victory.

35Qd3 Rc1?! 36Qe2 White’s queen will now be able to use the e-file to infiltrate black’s defenses.

36…Rc3+ 37Kg2 d3 38Qe8+ Kg7 39Qe5+ Bf6 40Qe3 Bd4 41Qe7+ Kh6 42d6 d2 43Qe2 Rc2 44Qd3 Rxa2 45d7 Bf6 46d8(Q)

Black to move

White wins black’s bishop, and black has no way to successfully advance his d2 pawn to the queening square. White went on to win at move 50.

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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