Chicago Public School (CPS) chess master key to success of Chicago area professional chess teamSKOKIE, IL, NOVEMBER 12, 2011: Whitney Young Magnet High School sophomore Sam Schmakel has been the key that unlocked the success of Chicago’s professional chess team, the Chicago Blaze, which set a regular season best record of 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss.The Blaze entered its fourth season in 2011 with a roster that included wily veterans -- mostly Grandmasters and International Masters -- and energy filled youth players who have achieved much from a young age.Schmakel, the best chess player ever in CPS and currently a student of Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich, began playing chess during the summer between kindergarten and 1st grade. He is a product of the chess program his mother Eileen began at Decatur Classical, a CPS Gifted Program. In short order, Schmakel began to dominate the local and national scene, winning 2 national championships and winning a key game in the 2010-2011 school year, to secure the Illinois State High School Team Championship for Whitney Young.Schmakel, who earned his title of National Master only a few months ago, has been the linchpin of success for the Blaze. He was tapped during the summer months to become part of the team and has proven himself by being undefeated in his games thus far (5-0).Largely due to his performance, the Blaze has won its way into the Divisional Championships to take place on Monday night November 14th at 8 p.m. Schmakel will play again that night as the Blaze try to win their first ever Divisional Championship.The Chicago Blaze is a member of the United States Chess League (USCL), which oversees online matches among the nation’s top 16 teams. Blaze team members gather each week during the season to play their matches at the North Shore Chess Center, located at 5500 W Touhy Ave Suite A in Skokie, IL.