Checkmate! Stevenson wins first at state chess tournament, with Barrington taking second

Suburban high schools had a great showing last weekend at the IHSA Team Chess State Tournament at the Peoria Civic Center.

The Stevenson High School chess team came out on top at the IHSA Team Chess State Tournament in Peoria. Courtesy of Ken Lewandowski

In a competition that included 126 teams and more than 1,000 high school students from across Illinois, Stevenson High School of Lincolnshire took first place, with Barrington High School coming in second and Evanston High School taking third.

Rounding out the top 10 were Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, in fourth place; Naperville Central in fifth; Glenbrook South, Glenview, sixth; Fremd High School, Palatine, seventh; Niles North, Skokie, eighth; Whitney Young, Chicago, ninth; and Normal Community High School, Normal, 10th.

The team from Barrington High School took second place in the state chess tournament. More than 126 teams and 1,000 high school students competed. Courtesy of Ken Lewandowski

The tournament hosted eight players from each school facing each other in mind-challenging matches.

The winning teams' coaches were a strong factor in their success, according to the Illinois Chess Coaches Association.

"Thousands upon thousands of Illinois chess players have benefitted from the team chess format, which pushes them to grow both as intellectuals and as teammates," said Erik Czerwin, secretary of the association.

The high school chess season starts in mid-October. From the beginning, the top three teams - Evanston, Barrington and Stevenson - showed the chess world they were the ones to beat.

Brain neurons were firing as 126 teams and more than 1,000 high school students from across Illinois competed in the IHSA Team Chess State Tournament Feb. 11-12 at the Peoria Civic Center. Courtesy of Ken Lewandowski

Top seed-winning Stevenson had to play the best - and play their best - all weekend to meet the challenge.

"It was well-fought, tense and a close tournament at all levels," said Stevenson head chess coach Vincent Springer.

"I'm so impressed with how our team played this year because they relied on each other and helped our young players (who were playing prominent roles on the squad) find the path to success. I am hard-pressed to remember a better example of a total team effort."

Springer summed up the challenging event as a "meat grinder."

"I am especially proud of this team because they pushed themselves to achieve their goals since the beginning of the season," said Jeff Doles, head coach of the Barrington chess team.

This is the third time in four seasons that Barrington has finished as the runner-up.

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