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Northside PREP Chess Team Upsets Glenbrook South
in Final Round to Take 3rd in Niles North Tournament
by Jeff Caveney Coach, Northside College Prep Chess Team & Instructor, Renaissance Knights Chess


The Northside Mustangs Chess Team posted an impressive result Saturday, January 9, winning 3 out of 4 matches to take 3rd place at the Niles North high school chess tournament, which featured many of the best teams in the state of Illinois. Northside scored the key victory in the final round with an upset of Glenbrook South by a match score of 41.5 to 26.5. 


In the Northside - Glenbrook South match the Mustangs' top two players, freshmen Chengliang Luo and Edmond Jay, won their games to give Northside 28 early points (including a forfeit win on the 8th board). Glenbrook South countered with wins on the 4th, 5th and 7th boards for 23 points. With 34.5 points needed to win the match, it all came down to two games: The 3rd board game for 10 points, Mustangs sophomore Captain Jayce Feiger vs. Glenbrook South senior Isaac Lee, and the 6th board game for 7 points, Mustangs freshman Ahmed Akhtar vs. Glenbrook South junior James Tomaszewski.


For a long time the situation appeared grim for the Mustangs as Glenbrook South had a better position in both games. But Jayce and Ahmed both fought relentlessly to hold their positions, and the pressure mounted on the Glenbrook South players as they couldn't finish their games off. Finally, Northside's fighting spirit paid off when Jayce pulled off an amazing comeback: With just one rook vs. Lee's two rooks, Feiger checked Lee's king a couple times to lure it forward into a trapped position where the rook and two pawns surrounded it. When Jayce moved his own king and one more pawn forward, Lee's king was completely trapped and on the next move Feiger moved his rook, protected by his pawn, right next to Lee's king to deliver checkmate. Jayce's hard-fought victory gave Northside 38 points to win the match. 


Shortly after the Feiger-Lee game finished, Akhtar and Tomaszewski agreed to a draw, reaching the final match score of 41.5 to 26.5. Ahmed's result was especially impressive considering this was his first ever high school chess tournament.


In the earlier rounds, Northside began with a 51.5 to 16.5 win over Carmel Catholic High School in the 1st round, featuring wins by top board Luo, 6th board Akhtar, and two more freshmen, 4th board Alex Bologna and 5th board Aamir Ansari. Draws by Jay and Feiger on 2nd and 3rd boards and a forfeit win on 8th board completed the scoring for the Mustangs. Northside then posted a dominating 68 to 0 shutout of Mundelein High School in the 2nd round. The Mustangs' only match loss came in the 3rd round vs. crosstown Chicago rival Whitney Young, but Northside still showed strong improvement in the match: after a 58 to 10 loss to Whitney in the Prep Bowl in December, this time the final score was an extremely close 35-33. The top 3 boards Luo, Jay, and Feiger all won to give Northside its 33, while Whitney reached 35 by winning boards 4 through 8.


The Mustangs had the same 3-1 match record as 2nd place Glenbard West, but took 3rd place on tiebreaks. Host team Niles North finished 1st with a 4-0 match record. Northside finished ahead of Evanston (4th place), Whitney Young (5th place), Stevenson, Glenbrook South, Prospect, and Mundelein, who all had 2-2 match records.


The Mustangs are now looking forward to the Chicago Public Schools Championship tournament January 23, where Northside will compete with Whitney Young and the rest of the top CPS chess teams for the title of city champion.


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