Chess Grandmasters March to Skokie
By Kyel Matthews
Saturday at 5:10 p.m.

Without question Skokie is the epicenter of chess in the Greater Chicagoland area. The vibrations felt in the cities surrounding it are caused by elite chess Grandmasters marching their way to and through Skokie.

Every month since its opening in September 2010, the North Shore Chess Center had held a monthly ‘master simul and lecture’. In
November 2011, the owner of the chess center, Sevan Muradian, increased the challenge by upgrading the monthly event to exclusively showcase chess Grandmasters. “The Grandmaster title is the highest title one can achieve by over the board play,” says Muradian, “for chess lovers to be able to learn and play a game against one is a fantastic opportunity especially when we bring in Grandmasters from around the country and the world.”

The monthly lectures run for 6 hours on a Saturday. While sounding extreme, the time passes quickly as the Grandmasters are seasoned lecturers and storytellers with numerous activities planned out from puzzle solving, to improvement techniques, to solitaire chess, where an entire game is reviewed move by move with the audience attempting to guess the moves of one player with the Grandmaster explaining why their moves are good or bad.

After the lecture is completed, the Grandmaster then begins the simul. A simul, short for simultaneous exhibition, is when a strong chess player (generally a master level player), will play numerous opponents at the same time, making a move on one board and then moving onto the next opponent. “Amateur players rarely have the opportunity to play a Grandmaster if it’s not in a simul,” says Muradian.

This months Grandmaster lecturer was Michael Adams of England. Michael Adams has been one of the Top 20 Grandmasters globally for the majority of his professional chess career. Recently he began making trips to the U.S. to play in the large prize money tournaments along with providing lectures, 1-on-1 training with strong youth players, and performing simuls. Using one of the chess centers 50″ plasma TV’s, Adams went through an arsenal of material he preparred for the attendees. “It’s nice to see the wide range of chess enthusiats that came out today,” said Adams, “their level of interactivity with me during the lecture gave me even more material to work with, thus increasing the satisfaction level of the lecture.”

For the past 6 months, the North Shore Chess Center has played host to internationally renowned Grandmasters such as Gregory Kaidanov, one of the top trainers in the US, and Yasser Seirawan, a former World Junior Champion. Already scheduled for the months of June through August includes Maurice Ashley, the first person of African decent to earn the Grandmaster title; Loek van Wely, the #1 Dutch Grandmaster, and Alexander Onischuk, a former U.S. Champion.

With the influx of non-Chicago area Grandmasters some may think that the Chicago area has none, but that is far from true. The Chicago area is currently home to 4 chess Grandmasters – Yury Shulman, Dmitry Gurevich, Mesgen Amanov, and Nikola Mitkov, with another one, Josh Friedel, only a short distance away in Milwaukee. When queried regarding why non-local Grandmasters are brought in for the monthly lectures Muradian responded, “There are multiple reasons why I use non-local Grandmasters, but primarily it’s to provide our members a variety and an opportunity to meet Grandmasters they normally would not be able to. Quite honestly I know our local Grandmasters are busy like there is no tomorrow. They are very popular and fantastic chess trainers which puts them into high demand for individual and group lessons. I also believe that by bringing in non-local Grandmasters, it builds even more appreciation for our local Grandmasters and what they have to offer our local community.”

To see additional events held at the North Shore Chess Center visit

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