Greater Peoria Chess Foundation


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The Greater Peoria Chess Foundation is a 501(c)3 non profit organization dedicated to encouraging chess in our community and school systems. Chess helps students to develop many life skills that will help them as they navigate with challenges that lay ahead.

News Archive

2022 Vinay Sama Wins Speed Championship
Vinay Sama wins Vinay Sama won the Peoria Speed Champiopnship with 13 wins out of 14 games! Vinay won 3 of the 4 evenings of speed play, winning at 20, 15 and 5 minute games. Josh Wang won the 10 minute competition, handing Vinay his only loss. Josh and Jacob Butcher, the recent Peoria Classical Champion, tied for second with a distant 9 wins.

13 players participated in the tournament.t.

2021 Kingsmen Over the Board is Back

The Kingsmen Chess Club is now meeting in person. It is good see old friends like Pete McConaghie, Ron Suarez, Daniel Garrett, Alex Beecher, Caleb Calhoun, Clayton Adamson & Doug Knecht and young Eric Chen. It was also great to meet new friends that we knew only online this past year like Sony James, Vinay Sama, & Danny Knapp. We have also had a few visitors who just wanted to know what we were doing.


Discussions among members included talks about how to progress in view of returning to over the board play. Some were wearing masks, many fully vaccinated were maskless. Boards were separated by 6 feet or more. All who showed agreed that we should return to OTB and leave online.


Other ongoing discussions were about what activities we should be providing. A general discussion seemed to indicate that we have had too many rated games and not enough slower unrated games.I would note that when I joined so many years ago, all club games were unrated and faster games were held only occasionally and most weeks were played at tournament speeds with pairings based on player W-L percentage.


We will host another rated Peoria Championship this fall, but we want to get a fuller response from all our members about our weekly programs.We open at 7pm and begin play at 7:30pm as always and planned to finish before 11pm.


The Kingsmen Monday night adult chess club meets at the Life Together Center (formerly the Great Central Insurance Bldg) at Sheridan & War Memorial 7 to 11pm. (Click here to see location of the Kingmen Chess Club on a map.)


The Hult Chess Club will continue to meet online until school starts in the fall.

2021 Jim Vernon

Long time GPCF member and officer, Jim Vernon, passed recently and the whole Peoria area mourns his loss. Jim for the past decade has hosted a chess club for home schooled youngsters in Morton, but he has been active in promtoing youth chess for many years going back to the 1980s.

Jim made national news several years ago when his club was invaded by a deranged man with a knife saying he wanted to kill the children. Jim stopped him while sustaioning cuts and other injuries. Jim was our hero.

Please read the pubished story. The full Peoria Journal Star story can be found here.

2020 Tom Mabee

I am sad to report the passing of Peoria's first chess master, Tom Mabee, on July 28th, 2020. Tom grew up in Peoria and began his chess career with the Peoria Kingsmen chess club in the early 60s. Tom and I formed the Bradley Chess team that won first place in the 1967 Midwest Intercollegiate. Tom later moved to St Petersburg, Florida where he earned his PhD at Florida State University. Subsequently he was a Professor of Psycology and maintained a private practive there.

Tom's chess accomplishments include victories at the Greater Peoria Open and the Iowa Open. He is also a many time Peoria Champion. Many of our current local players will remember him as he often returned to the Monday night club on his frequent trips to Peoria to visit his family. His obituary can be found here.

This is the hardest article I have ever written. Tom and I have been the best of friends for 57 years. - Murrel

2020 Iowa Wins a Squeeker
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The Peoria Kinghsmen hosted a team from DesMoines this Monday night (November 16th) for an informal online match that paired 4 local players with 4 players from Iowa. Iowa came away with a hard fought 8½ - 7½ win.


Peoria was represented by Daniel Garrett (1937), Michael Leali (1800), Owen Zhang (1780) and Vinay Sama (1630). Iowa was represented by Cub Noble (1884), Joseph Pregon (1781), Alec Aimdilokwong (1781 online) and Mike Volz (1662). On paper, it looked like an even match, but as we all know, the proof is in the action. The players took over Peoria's zoom meeting in order to discuss any issues as they arise and to keep the event going. Since we were on a zoom call, it prevented Peoria's organizer (Murrel Rhodes) and myself from discussing any of the positions. One final note is that each side had elementary student on their team with Owen Zhang and Alec Aimdilokwong. The games were played on chess.com.


Round 1 saw the youngsters Owen and Alec upset their opponents while the top seeds for each team Daniel and Cub win as well. After 1 round, the score was tied 2-2.


Round 2 was won by Peoria 3-1 with Daniel putting a stop on the youth movement by defeating Alec while Owen kept it alive by knocking off Cub after Cub decided to sac everything for something. In the post game analysis, Owen admitted to being nervous as Cub just kept saccing. Michael Leali and Joseph also won this round. Match score is Peoria 5 Iowa 3.


Round 3 was won by Iowa 3-1 with the youth movement back on track as both Owen and Alec won. Joseph and Cub also won for Iowa to level the total match score at 6-6. This set up an exciting last round as all games were pivotal and the players knew their game could be the difference. As mentioned above, the even match shown on paper proved to be real.


Round 4. The first game to complete was Vinay's win over Mike Volz. Both players had lost their previous games so for Vinay it was a redemption win giving Peoria a 7-6 lead. The next game to finish was between the youths Owen and Alec. They traded down to an endgame with bishops of opposite colors and decided to call it a draw. This was the only draw all evening which made the score Peoria 7½- Iowa 6½. The next game to finish was Cub's win over Daniel. Cub learned that if you keep material on the board while attacking, it increases your chances of winning. This leveled the match at 7½. All eyes were on Joseph's game with Michael Leali. Joseph had sacked the exchange for play. But as time was winding down, Michael was unable to find the winning continuation and eventually lost on time. Iowa had won the hard fought match 8½-7½.


Congratulations to Owen Zhang for the top score of 3½.


The match was the idea of Tim McEntee and former Peoria player now living in DesMoines. The original idea was to have each board play a 2 game set against their counterpart. When we realized that each side would have 4 players, Tim suggested we follow the recently completed US States Cup format where everyone plays everyone on the other team. The players were like, sure Tim, whatever, it sounds like fun.


GPCF hosted the match. If anyone is interested in playing in future Monday night events, please join us at 7pm for the Zoom meeting and 7:30pm for games. After the match, all the players expressed interest in playing a similar match in the future, so if you would like to be involved, contact Murrel or Tim at timmcentee@msn.com

This story by Tim McEntee, chess master and former Peorian now living in the DesMoines area.

2020 IESA Results
While Dunlap Middle School sweeps 8th Grade ...
Owen Zhang & Vincent Fang take Individual Firsts

11 Peoria area players won silver or bronze medals at 2020 IESA State Finals played at the Peoria Civic Center February 28th & 29th.

Dunlap Middle School was first among 8th gragers, with Morton 4th, Metamora 8th & Washington Central 9th. Trevor Pak, Washington Central, finished 2nd individual. Harris Khoo, Noah Li & Kevin Yang all finished with 6 wins in 7 games. Rahul Foulger, Dunlap Valley, and Tyler Sass, Dunlap MS also won medals with 5.5/7.
Dunlap Middle School took 3rd Place in 7th Grade. Dunlap Valley & Washington Central took 9th & 10th respectively. Local medalists were Stella Chen & Joshua Wang of Dunlap Middle and Nikhil Pardarthy, Dunlap Valley, all with 5 wins a draw and only a single loss.
th Grade featured a last round battle between two Peoria area players, Owen Zhang of Dunlap Valley and Vincent Fang of Peoria Washington. The game ended in a draw and the two players are now 6th Grade co-champions. AJ Isada, Peoria Washington, Aarav Lala, Dunlap MS and Harmin Patel, Dunlap Valley also medaled with 5.5/7.
Dunlap Valley finished 2nd as a team, followed by Peoria Washington's 5th Place and Metamora St.Mary's 8th Place.

Local Teams at this year's event:

6th Grade Teams:
  • 2. Dunlap Valley
  • 5. Peoria Washington
  • 8. St.Mary's of Metamora
  • 11. Dunlap Middle School
  • 13. Washington Central
  • 17. Brimfield
  • 19. East Peoria Central
  • 20. St.Thomas of Peoria Heights
  • 22. Germantown Hills
  • 37. Metamora Grade School
  • 42. Costa Academy of Galesburg

7th Grade Teams:

  • 3. Dunlap Middle School
  • 9. Dunlap Valley
  • 10. Washington Central
  • 13. Brimfield
  • 14. Costa Academy of Galesburg
  • 15. Washington Middle School
  • 18. Metamora Grade School
  • 23. Germantown Hills
  • 27. Morton Junior High
  • 28. East Peoria Central
  • 32. Spring Bay Riverview
  • 35. Princeville
  • 37. Peoria Von Steuben
  • 47. St.Thomas of Peoria Heights
  • 48. Peoria Washington

8th Grade Teams:

  • 1. Dunlap Middle School
  • 4. Morton Junior High
  • 8. Metamora Grade School
  • 9. Washington Central
  • 13. Dunlap Valley
  • 14. East Peoria Central
  • 21. Washington Middle School
  • 23. Germantown Hills
  • 31. Brimfield
  • 35. St.Mary's of Metamora
  • 38. Spring Bay Riverview
  • 41. Princeville
  • 45. St.Thomas of Peoria Heights
  • We're working on adding as many articles previously published to this list. Have patience, there's more to come.