GM Awonder Liang wins Jane Addams Memorial

Is age 14 too old to be considered a Wunderkind? Or if your first name is Awonder, are you a Wunderkind for your entire life?

Teenaged Grandmaster Awonder Liang of Madison, Wisconsin (born April 9, 2003) won four consecutive games and $1,000 for finishing a full point ahead of the field in the Hull-House Grandmaster section of the Chicago Chess Center's Jane Addams Memorial, held January 27-28 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

14-year-old GM Awonder Liang (left) defeated GM Priyadharshan Kannappan in the final round. (Photo: Hiro Higuchi)

14-year-old GM Awonder Liang (left) defeated GM Priyadharshan Kannappan in the final round. (Photo: Hiro Higuchi)


Grandmasters Vladimir Georgiev, Fidel Corrales Jiménez, Priyadharshan Kannappan, Ashwin Jayaram, and FiDE Master Gauri Shankar all tied for second with 3-1 scores. Tom Polgar-Shultzman (son of former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar), also scored 3-1 and took the Under 2300 prize.

Every one of the lower sections had a clear winner who cashed a check for $508.67:

Agarhhoriol Gangaa won  the Under 2100 section with 3½ points, ahead of Anthony Hung and Nicholas Ladan.

Avi Harrison Kaplan won the Under 1900 Section; William Blackman took clear second, and James Abbott and young Yuvraj Chennareddy (playing up from U1700!) tied for third.

Patrice Connelly swept the Under 1700 Section, a full point ahead of Richard Becker and Adam Elgat.

Moses Khutsafalo (pre-event 1041) won the Under 1500 section with a 6-0 score, two (!) full points head of clear second place finishers Yuri Malina and Dimitrios Deligiannis.

The Under 1300 Section was perhaps the most closely contested: Nandini Prakash lost his first game, then reeled off five wins in a row to take first with 5-1, half a point ahead of Timothy Shortess and David Wright Masse.

It's slightly scary to have an event with over $7,000 in prizes in Chicago in January. Thanks to the 109 entrants for making the inagural Jane Addams Memorial a success!

Bill Buklis and Hiro Higuchi directed for Chicago Chess Center.

More to follow.

Jane Addams Memorial this weekend!

As I write, we've got 94 players entered for this weekend, including six Grandmasters and one International Master.  The estimated prize fund is currently $6,416.67, and (knowing the many procrastinators in our community) we have a chance of making it all the way to the maximum $7,500. (A turnout of between 100 and 110 is a bit more likely.)

You can register onsite, but why not register in advance and save?

Here are a few FAQs from our email....

QUESTION: Am I strong enough to play in this event?

ANSWER: If your rating is above US Chess 1100, of course you are. Jump in the pool! (Rule of thumb for folks who play online: subtract 200 points from your online rating, and that's a fair guess of your over-the-board strength.) It's surprising how many chess knowledge you can pick up from hanging around top players, watching them play and analyze.

While we don't necessarily recommend the Under 1300 section for absolute beginners, this section is definitely appropriate for advanced beginners! Players with ratings above 900? You should be ready! Players with ratings between 700 and 900? It depends....players and parents should feel free to call me at 773-294-1709. 

Most players with ratings below 700 will not be ready for the U1300 section. Don't worry: we have a couple good tournaments for you in February.

QUESTION: I don't have $95. Is financial aid available for scholastic players?

ANSWER: If you are a scholastic player (K-12, public, private, or parochial) living in the city of Chicago, and you'd LIKE to play, but can't AFFORD to play, please drop us a line at (We operate on the honor system: we trust that people who could otherwise afford to play are not going to take funds away from those who truly can't.)

If you have had a plus score in the top section of one of the Chicago Chess Foundation's events, you're certainly ready for the Under 1300 Section, and we'd even be happy to buy you a US Chess membership.

It's our intention to handle as many advance requests for free entry as our budget allows! Unfortunately, we're not able to handle onsite requests.

If you're reading this and you would like to SPONSOR young players who otherwise couldn't afford to play, again, please drop us a line. We have the not-cheap entry fees so we can run events that are attractive to Grandmasters. We don't want our entry fees to become a barrier to the participation of young players.

Thanks to the Walter S. Mander Foundation for making this possible!

QUESTION: I would love to play, but I can't take the entire weekend away from my family.

ANSWER: No problem! If you are entering the Hull-House Grandmaster, U2100, U1900, or U1700 sections, you can skip Saturday, receive two 0.5 point byes, play two games on Sunday, and possibly even win a small prize. 

Or you can play two games on Saturday, then skip Sunday, and receive a 0.5 point bye and a 0.4 point bye. (If you take more than one bye on the final day, the extra byes count as 0.4 for prize distribution purposes only.) We treat Sunday byes differently because top players in each section will generally be facing each other.

The U1500 and U1300 sections have three games each day: yes, you can take up to three byes in this section, too! Three byes in rounds 1-3 will receive three 0.5 point byes.  If you play all three games on Saturday, the first bye on Sunday will count 0.5 points, and additional Sunday byes will count 0.4 points for prize distribution purposes only.

QUESTIONDo you need house players?

ANSWER: Yes! No guarantee that you'll be paired, but folks are welcome to hang out and watch the action.

Gordon Boomstra, Anthony Yang win at Rated Beginners' Open #13

Rated Beginners' Open #13 drew 22 players to UIC's Student Center East on December 9th. Gordon Boomstra won the Under 1200 Section, scoring a perfect 5-0 and increasing his provisional rating to 1374 after only 14 games. (In case you're wondering, eligibility for this event is always based on the current month's official US Chess ratings) Jared Slucter, Jack Glerum, and Matthew Chang tied for second with 3½.

In the Under 800 section, Anthony Dan Yang swept the field 5-0. Aya Bareket lost only to the winner and scored 3½.

Kirti Sanchana directed for Chicago Chess Center.

The section winners received a chess clock and their choice of chess book. All participants received their choice of chess book.

We were pushing Murray Chandler's How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. The most frequent comment from players claiming their prizes was (of course), "I don't need that book, I already know how to beat my dad!" For marketing purposes, the Oedipal title works (How to Beat Your Dad has probably supplanted Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess as the bestselling chess book in the USA). Players are often surprised to find out what's in the book, however: How to Beat Your Dad is actually a guide to using some of the most common checkmating patterns.

There's a lot more to tactics than knowing the basic checkmates, but we all have to start somewhere!

Here's a nice example from the final round of the U1200 section:

 Genil - Meharenna, Chicago 2017 White to play and mate  

 Genil - Meharenna, Chicago 2017

White to play and mate