Chess

One of my greatest passions is the game of chess. I played chess as a kid, but never seriously. During my final year of college, I began playing chess more seriously with a friend of mine. Over that spring break, we played daily for hours and hours; I was hooked. My first year teaching, at Washington Gifted Middle School in Peoria, IL, all teachers were asked to offer Enrichment classes once a week, and I chose chess. That was my first experience teaching the game, and it took off from there. In Marengo, I started a chess club; the superintendent took notice and suggested very strongly that I turn the club into a team. The following year, I was the first coach of the Marengo High School Chess Team. 4 years later, we won the ICCA Division 1A State title, and I was named the 2012 ICCA Coach of the Year. I have continued playing, coaching, and volunteering whenever possible. In 2014, Everyman Chess published my first book, "Chess Progress: From Beginner to Winner." I have branched out into Tournament Directing, as well; directing several IHSA events and now several USCF events. Below, I've compiled a list of my chess work, achievements, and awards.

Chess Tournament Director

  • Local Level USCF Tournament Director certification in December 2016
  • Club Level USCF Tournament Director in June 2014
  • I have directed at the following USCF rated events:
    • 04/12/2019 - National All-Girls K-12 Championship (anticipated)
    • 03/09/2019 - Illinois K-8 Championships (anticipated)
    • 02/02/2019 - Greater Chicago K-12 Championship (anticipated)
    • 12/30/2018 - DuPage County Chess Championship (anticipated)
    • 11/18/2018 - Illinois Class Championships (Section Chief, FloorTD)
    • 08/05/2018 - 119th Annual US Open (Floor TD; 6-Day +Blitz)
    • 05/20/2018 - Ice Harbor Open (Floor, Sect. Chief)
    • 04/22/2018 - National All-Girls K-12 Championship (Backroom Asst.)
    • 03/11/2018 - Illinois K-8 Championship (Asst. Floor)
    • 02/03/2018 - Greater Chicago K-12 Championship (Asst. Backroom)
    • 11/19/2017 - Illinois Class Championships (Assistant Section Chief -Floor)
    • 07/22/2017 - RRC Inaugural Tournament (Chief TD)
    • 12/31/2016 - Northern Illinois Wrap-Up, (Asst Chief TD)
    • 11/20/2016 - Illinois Class Championships, (Asst. Section Chief-4 sections)
    • 2/28/2015 - M*A*S*H Memorial Open, (Asst. Chief TD)
    • 9/13/2014 - Everyman's Chess Progress Open, Tournament (Asst. Floor)
    • 6/28/2014 - 4th George Orwell Memorial Open, Tournament (Asst. Floor)
  • I direct many IHSA/ICCA Chess Tournaments annually including:
    • Chicago Public Schools N&S Playoffs - Backroom Asst. (2018)
    • Aurora Charger Challenge (2017, 2018)
    • Joliet Steelmen Invitational Tournament (2016, 2017, 2018)
    • Sandburg Eagle Tournament (2016, 2017, 2018)
    • Sterling Invite Tournament (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
    • Chicago Prep Bowl (2017, 2018)
    • Bolingbrook Raider Tournament (2016, 2017, 2018)
    • North Boone Individual/Team Tournament (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, spring 2017, fall 2017)
    • Hinsdale Central Red Devil Chess Challenge (2018)
    • NICL Conference Tournament (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
    • SPC Conference Tournament (2018, 2019)
    • IHSA Sectional (2018, 2019)
    • IHSA State Chess Tournament (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
    • IESA State Chess Tournament (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • I have been directing quarterly Rockford Scholastic Chess tournaments since January 2017. These are unrated scholastic tournaments held up to 4 times each school year to provide Rockford area students competitive chess experience.

Chess Player

Chess Coach

Chess Volunteer

  • Working with The Element of Rockford, organized "Chess at the Oop" at The Owly Oop Sports Pub every Tuesday night starting in October 2017.
  • Working with The Element of Rockford, organized "Chess on the Docks" at Prairie Street Brewing Co. every Tuesday night June through September 2017.
  • Helped to organize "Chess in the Park," April 28th, 2017. This was a senior Capstone project of Jefferson HS (Rockford) senior Ozzy Flores, and Rock River Chess provided clocks and competition forms. It was a collaboration with Ozzy, Rockford Scholastic Chess, and Jefferson HS coaches Joe Guth and Roland Brown.
  • Founded Rock River Chess, April 2017. Rock River Chess is a US Chess Affiliate, and our goals are to organize chess clubs, events, and competitions in the Rock River area (Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin)
  • Illinois Chess Association Bid Committee Member, appointed March 2017
  • Represented Districts 4&6 on the IHSA Chess Advisory Committee from 2015-2017
  • Operated a chess activity tent at the Rockford City Market in 2016, 2017, and 2018
  • Organized and Operated a monthly "First Fridays" chess tent June-September 2016, 2017, 2018 with The Element of Rockford
  • Helped organize and run the "Chess + Beats" event - Collaboration with the Hip Hop Congress (January 18, 2014) as part of the "All Elements" series
  • Ran a 4-week instructional chess workshop at the Belvidere Public Library (2013)
  • Secretary & Score Keeper of the Northern Illinois Chess League (2011-present) - duties include maintaining the website, collecting and processing conference results and records, and directing the annual conference tournament
  • Secretary of the Illinois Chess Coaches Association (2011-present) - duties include maintaining the website (ILChessCoach.org), producing the quarterly newsletter, and maintaining statewide competition results and records
  • Ran an instructional chess workshop at the Rockford Public Library (2009, 2010, 2017)
  • Founded the Marengo Chess Club that met weekly at a local shop (2008-2012)

Chess Writer

Wholesale Chess - Blog Articles

Based on a Facebook tip from my favorite chess equipment retailer, Wholesale Chess, I made an arrangement to write several articles about chess and coaching. Between 2010 and 2012 the articles were published. I had a great time writing them, and maybe someday, I'll turn them into a memoir about my early years coaching chess. Links to the articles are below:

Chess Progress: From Beginner to Winner

Published in September, 2014, this book aims to take the reader on a journey from complete novice, knowing nothing at all about chess, to a level at which he or she can play a game of chess with a sufficient grasp of strategy and tactics to give a good account of themselves and gain pleasure from the game. Through the series of lessons in his book Erik Czerwin imparts the basics of chess playing to the reader in a clear and easy-to-follow fashion.

The lessons begin with the simplest possible position, the empty board, and progress to the most complex, the opening. By first examining the empty board, a player can begin to understand the intricacies of the game at their most basic level. Next, each piece is examined by itself as it relates to the board. After an explanation of the endgame and notation, the sequence continues by examining the three elements of chess strategy. This is followed by an explanation of the next simplest position, two kings on an empty board. After this, a single pawn is added. This sequence continues so that the player learns to incorporate each new fundamental concept in layers, progressing until the game reaches its most complex point, the first move.

Each section builds upon the previous one in such a way that, even on the first page, the student is learning the fundamentals that the top rated players use when forming their strategies and brilliancies.

Award-winning chess coach Erik Czerwin's unique training method begins by studying the simplest chess positions with very few pieces - and then moves on, step by step, adding more pieces to the board. Complex ideas are always built up from simpler situations, ensuring that the learning curve stays flat. With helpful exercises throughout, Chess Progress is the perfect book for every chess enthusiast.

The ideal chess book for the beginner; the ideal chess book for the improving player; the ideal chess book for the teacher. Absolute beginners can learn everything they need to know in order to play chess competitively. More experienced players will encounter deeper concepts and be able to approach chess from a new perspective, enabling them to take their play to the next level.