Rank and record | ETHS chess team aims for state championship

After finishing third in the IHSA Chess State Finals last February, the ETHS chess team is aiming even higher for the coming season.

Last year’s best players returned, and the squad was bolstered by the return of Henry Zaslow, who had studied abroad in New Zealand, and the arrival of rookie Adam Elgat.

No wonder winning the 2023 State Finals is their goal for this year!

Team members have been preparing for the 2022-23 season, which begins this weekend, since the end of last year’s competitive season at national youth events in April.

Notable results in recent months include Elie Platnick’s award-winning outings in the championship sections of the Chicago Open and Illinois Open; ranking class championships for Maslow and Manu Zerega at the Chicago Open and Illinois Open; a second-place finish for Bo Lieberman at the Chicago Open; and scoring improvements for Christopher von Hoff, Jonah Chen, Meris Goldfarb, Ozan Mixon, Tate Darin, and Somil Bose.

Platnick, a senior who played on Board 1 for ETHS last season, won the next match en route to a 5-2 record at the Illinois Open.

Illinois Open Round 6

white to move

13Re1! Be6 14Rxe5 Ng4 14…dxc4 loses to 15Bg5 Qd8 16Nd6+

15Nd6+ Kd7 16Bb5+ Kc7 17Bf4! ? 17Nxf7 is also strong; White has forced mate after 17…Bxf7 18Qe7+ Kb8 19Bf4.

17…Nxe5 18Bxe5 f6 19Nc4+ This discovered failure allows white to capture black’s queen.

19…fxe5 20Nxb6 Kxb6? !

white to move

21Qd6+! White forces Black’s king into an unprotected position; checkmate will follow.

21…Kxb5 22a4+ Ka5 23b4 mate.

Von Hoff, a junior who played on boards 2 and 3 last year, also competed at the Illinois Open. The next victory in Round 6 helped him achieve a lifetime high rating after this event.

Illinois Open Round 6

black to move

28…Rxc4+! 29Nxc4 Bxg2 This is the easiest way for black to win. Black wins a bishop and gains an advanced passed g-pawn in exchange for his rook.

30Re7+ Kg6 31Rxa7 Kd8 32Ne3 Be4 33Ra4?! White had to give up his d-pawn and play 33Nf1 to prevent Black from threatening to queen his g-pawn.

33…g3 34d5 cxd5 35Kd4 Kc8+ 36Kd1

black to move

36…g2 White must play 37Nxg2, sacrificing their knight, to prevent Black’s g-pawn from queening. Black has won at move 45.

Zerega, a sophomore, clinched his tie for first place at the Chicago Open with the help of the following tactic in the final round.

Chicago Open, Round 6

black to move

20… Rxe4 21Rxe4 Nxe4 22hxg4 Nxg3 Black has won two pawns and exposed White’s king to another attack. He sailed to victory at move 35.

Darin, an improving junior, had an active offseason that was highlighted by drawing Waubonsie Valley High School’s top player to the Illinois Youth Invitational.

Illinois Youth Invitational Round 2

white to move

21Qxd4! exd4 22Bxc7 Kb7 White has won a bishop but only temporarily, since his bishop on c7 and his knight on c3 are both attacked.

23Bxc4? b5 24axb5 axb5 25Bd3?! Stronger is 25Bb3 fxe4 26Bxc3, so White’s bishops work together to pressure Black’s kingside.

25…fxe4 26Bxe4 Re8 27Bxe4 Re8 28Bxg7 Kxg7 29Bf3? White must keep his bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal by playing 29f3 or 29Bd3.

29…Bf5?! Black misses his opportunity to play 29…c2! 30Ra1 Bf5, when his protected passed pawn on c2 would give him the advantage.

white to move

30bxc3! Sacrificing his rook for black’s bishop is the only move that prevents black from gaining a winning advantage on the queenside.

30…Bxb1 31Rxb1 Reb8 32Kh2 b4 33cxb4 Rxb4 White’s extra pawns compensate for Black’s rook advantage against the bishop. The game ended in a tie at move 75.

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