Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation
Illinois' Premier Chess Organization








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Pizza + Kit Kats + Football = Checkmates:


Northside chess team upsets #9 Glenbard West and #16 Glenbrook South to start season 3-1 at Evanston; 

Northside JV team upsets Mt. Carmel varsity team to go 2-2

by Jeff Caveney, Renaissance Knights chess instructor and Northside College Prep High School chess coach

Powered by pizza before the 3rd round, Kit Kat bars before the last round, and warmed up with a little football tossing, the Northside Mustangs varsity chess team scored back-to-back upsets of #9 Glenbard West and #16 Glenbrook South to go 3-1 at the first tournament of the season Saturday, November 6th at Evanston. Northside's junior varsity team, competing in the same field and powered by the same pizza, Kit Kats and football, upset the #53 Mt. Carmel varsity team in the last round to go 2-2.

The Northside varsity team, ranked #30 based on last year's state tournament, beat #9 Glenbard West by a score of 37-31. The lower boards led the way for the Mustangs in the match. 8th board James Fan, promoted from JV to varsity for this tournament, opened the scoring with a win for 5 points. Co-captain Aamir Ansari on 6th board won next to raise the team total to 12 points. 7th board Harris Khan and 4th board co-captain Alex Bologna followed with wins, putting the team at 27 points. 

With the score 27-20 and the two-hour match coming down to the final 15 minutes, 3rd board Edmond Jay clinched the match with a win. He captured a pawn with check to force an exchange of queens that left the opponent helpless vs. the extra pawn with only the kings and pawns on the board. Jay showed his customary coolness under pressure as the clocks ticked down to the last few minutes--at one point he calmly re-tied his shoes while the opponent sweated out his moves.

In the last round match with #16 Glenbrook South, the lower boards once again sparked Northside to a 40-28 win. Ansari and Khan won again and 5th board Ahmed Akhtar joined them in the victory column. With Glenbrook South short a player and not contesting the 8th board, the score stood at 26-11 Mustangs. 

This time it was Alex Bologna, fighting through illness all day, whose win made the score 35-11 and clinched the match. In a rook and pawn endgame, he captured pawns on his 32nd, 35th and 40th moves, and converted the advantage. Bologna described the game as "boring", to which his coach replied, "Winning is not boring." Jay added a solid draw to bring the final score to 40-28.

The Mustangs' JV team scored its biggest victory in the last round over Mt. Carmel's varsity team, which ranked #53 in the state last year, by a score of 38-25. 1st board Brian Lehman led the way, scoring the first win of the match for 12 points. After capturing a bishop, Lehman finished the game with a nice checkmate: rook on c8 checking the king on e8 and controlling the back rank, bishop on f6 controlling e7, knight on c5 controlling d7, and the king's own pawn on f7.

3rd board Abdul Ibrahim and 6th board Aidan Sadowski followed with wins, putting the JV Mustangs at 29 points. 4th board Hikari Sugisaki, the Northside chess team's first female player, clinched the match with a win. Sugisaki used her queen on c6 protected by her bishop on b5 to checkmate the king on b6, with her rook on a8 blocking the king's escape.

The Northside JV team also won in the 3rd round 48-20 over ACE Tech. JV captain Philip Abraham on 2nd board and Jigar Dhimar on 5th board joined Lehman, Ibrahim and Sadowski in the win column. Lehman amazingly fought back from losing his queen, pushing a pawn to the 7th rank and using it to support his rook moving to the back rank to checkmate.

In the 1st round the biggest results were achieved by Philip Abraham for the JV team and Harris Khan for the varsity. Abraham defeated Glenbrook South's player on 2nd board. Khan held state champion Niles North's player to a draw on 7th board, finishing the game with only 1 second left on his clock. Northside lost the overall matches to these very strong opponents.

In the 2nd round the Mustangs varsity team dominated Maine West 68-0. 1st board Chengliang Luo and 2nd board Christian Kavouras, who faced the toughest competition all day, joined the rest of the varsity team with wins in this match. The Northside JV team lost a closely contested match to Northridge Prep 31-26. Abdul Ibrahim and Hikari Sugisaki won their games to make it a very close match.

Northside's best overall individual performance was by varsity 7th board Harris Khan, with 2 wins, 1 draw and a forfeit win. Khan won the tournament's 3rd place individual prize for 7th board. The other top individual varsity scores were by Alex Bologna and Aamir Ansari, both with 3 wins and 1 loss. The Northside JV team's top individual performance was by Abdul Ibrahim, with 3 wins and 1 loss.

The Northside chess team is looking forward to more tournaments and a great season ahead. With a game plan of more football, Kit Kats, pizza and checkmates, the Mustangs are confident of continued success.


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