Chess battles bring all ages to Skokie
August 22, 2009 6:27 PM

Jayce Feiger’s between-match routine is simple: Take it easy and forget about the last one.

After battling to a draw in his first competition of the day at a national chess championship in Skokie on Saturday, the 15-year-old Northside College Preparatory High School student was enjoying being in his element.

“I’ll play in any format, in any kind of tournament. I just like to play,” Feiger said, while 124 other entrants milled around him in the Skokie Holiday Inn before the second round began, many killing time by playing pick-up chess matches with other participants.

Faced with the possibility of playing someone much younger or much older than him in the open competition of the chess tournament run by the North American chess association, Feiger said he puts that out of his mind.

“I try to play my game, not my opponent,” the Lincoln Park resident said. “Older players do seem to be more free-thinking. The younger players are more orthodox. They seem to go by the book more.”

But kids who are excited about chess can be tricky to beat, said Dave Gilchrist, 42, who drove up to Saturday’s competition from downstate Marion along with his 10-year-old son, Ian, himself an accomplished chess player.

“I would definitely rather play an older player,” Gilchrist said. “Younger kids improve so fast they’re usually underrated.”

The annual competition is open to any member of the U.S. Chess Federation, be they players who just picked up the game or longtime professionals, said Sevan Muradian, the chess federation’s president, who organized the event.

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