chess blooms in Chicago Public
by David Heiser
As the end of winter was
approaching, 643 Chicago Public Schools students in
Grades K-8 competed at the district’s Elementary Schools
Sports Program (ESSP) Regional Chess Playoffs to
determine which schools and individuals will compete on
the first day of spring (March 20, 2010) at the
City-Wide Championship to be held at King High School.
Over the past three years
chess has blossomed within CPS Sports Program.
In 2007 fewer than 200 students in grades K-8
participated in the City-Wide Chess Championship.
Due to problems with the tournament, Calvin
Davis, Director of Sports Administration, decided to
hold another chess tournament, and choose the
Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation to organize and run
the event. RK and CPS Sports
Department ran the ‘CPS All Grade Tournament’ and it was
such a huge success that everyone was enthusiastic for
more organized chess for the CPS students. Also, RK had
recently partnered with CPS and the City of Chicago to
make chess a part of the annual Chicago Sports Festival
held annually in December, resulting in continued grow
with apparent positive results for the CPS chess
Working closely with the Sports Administration and the
school chess coaches, RK continued its involvement with
CPS Chess which saw a tremendous growth in just the
first year. Chess is a recognized
sport in CPS and is a part of the Winter Sports Season
which runs from December through April.
At the conclusion of the 2007/2008 season we
introduced the North and South Regional Playoff
tournaments, in our first year participation increased
to 427 students, and the growth continued
the 2nd year with 567 students. 3rd
year, we are happy to report, 643 players from 68
schools competed in the Regional Playoff’s!
The Regional Playoffs are
individual/team competition with team awards based on
the top 5 scores in 4 divisions: K-2, K-4, K-6 & K-8.
The top three teams and top 4 individuals (not
part of the top three teams) advance to the City-Wide
Championship. At the
championship the top three teams are limited to 5
players making a move even playing field for smaller
This year’s South-Side
Regional Playoff was held on March 6 at Phillips High
School where 243 students from 29 Schools competed.
The top schools in advancing to the ‘CPS
Championship’ are: K-8 Gunsaulus, Beasley Academic
Center & Seward Academy; K-6 Beasley Academic Center,
Keller & Lenart; K-4 Deenen, Coles Academy & Tarkington;
and K-2 Keller, Turner-Drew & Deneen.
Due to an ineligible player on the Keller team they were
disqualified from advancement paving the way for the 4th
place team from Metcalfe to advance.
The North-Side Regional
Playoff was held at Northwest Middle School where 400
students from 39 schools competed.
The top schools in advancing to the championship are:
K-8 Burbank, Bateman & Goudy; K-6 Bell, Edgebrook &
Edison Regional Gifted; K-4 Edgebrook,
Decatur & Burbank; and K-2 Decatur, Burbank & Walt
Disney. My Congratulations to all who made the
Not only has chess grown
at these events but during the past year there has been
a dramatic increase in the number of CPS students and
schools participating in weekend tournament in the city.
I credit this growth to one of the first changes
I made to the program that required all schools and
individuals to participate in at least one tournament to
be eligible to compete in the Regional Playoffs.
As a Co-Founder and
President of the Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation it
has been a privilege working with and supporting chess
in Chicago Public Schools for the last several years,
and I was honored to be asked to serve as the ESSP Chess
Coordinator this year and look forward to the growth of
Chess in Chicago.
More information about
Chicago Public Schools Chess program can be found at