Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'll Take You There: Illinois Class Championships at Concordia University

Concordia University's Koehneke Community Center
Last year's Illinois Class Championships were held at the Orland Park Cultural Center, an attractive location with a lot of pluses. But for me, at least, it had one severe drawback: I couldn't get there except by bumming a ride. The nearest transit access was a Metra station a mile away, on a route that doesn't serve Orland Park on Saturdays until 1:30 in the afternoon and has no service at all on Sundays.

Life can be tough for the car-free chess player in Chicago; suburban organizers often don't take us into account. At all. So when I was asked to take over the organization of this year's Illinois Class Championships, I decided to make it a priority to find a location that would be easily reachable by transit-dependent city dwellers as well as suburban and downstate motorists. I found that location in River Forest's Concordia University. Just outside the city, it's close enough to make a transit commute feasible, yet it also offers free garage parking.

Despite its streetcar-suburb location, Concordia is still a hike from the nearest 'L' or Metra station. So I'm conducting an experiment: From 9 to 9:50 AM on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, Illinois Class players and their guests will be able to hop a free shuttle van from the Harlem Green Line station in Oak Park, which sits adjacent to the Oak Park Metra station, to the Concordia campus. The van will leave the train station every 10 minutes. If you're a transit-dependent city resident, like me, I hope this will give you one more reason to attend the Illinois Chess Association's "other championship," which also happens to be the final event in this year's Illinois Chess Tour. (If your pride prevents you from accepting a handout -- or if you find yourself running late -- you can still get to Concordia from the Harlem 'L'/Oak Park Metra station via the 307 Harlem Pace bus.)

Another difference this year is that the event has been moved back to the weekend before Thanksgiving, to coincide with the ICA's annual meeting. The meeting will take place at the event site on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 1:30 PM. It's an open meeting, and ICA members are encouraged to attend. In place of the traditional banquet, there will be a catered luncheon buffet, with service starting at 1. Place your order in advance, and we guarantee there'll be food left for you even if your round 1 game runs long.

As for the main event, the Master/Expert section offers $1,000 in guaranteed place prizes, plus $100 prizes for the top players rated under 2200 and under 2100. Early entry (before Nov. 3) is $50, and FIDE-titled players with Illinois residency who register early play free. (ICA membership is required for this state championship event.) NTD Wayne Clark will be the ringmaster, with help from the Evanston Chess Club's Maret Thorpe and the St. Charles Chess Club's Gary Janssen.

And for players just starting out in tournament chess, we're offering a side event that, in my opinion, this area doesn't see enough of: a rated beginners' open. This G/30 Swiss is open to players without ratings or with ratings under 1200; the one-day, five-round schedule is designed to move you as efficiently as possible toward ditching that provisional rating. Early entry for the RBO is just $25 before Nov. 3.

Visit www.illinoisclass.com to read all the details, and get your registration squared away: after Nov. 3, the entry fee goes up to $60 ($30 for the RBO), and it's $70 ($35 for the RBO) if you register onsite.

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