The Chicago Industrial Chess League Keeps Rolling
By Jim Brotsos, Co-founder of the C.I.C.L.
THE EARLY YEARS
In the mid 1950’s a few commercial chess clubs in Chicago began to hear about each other and arranged to hold large team matches and simultaneous exhibitions against Experts & Masters including (Chicago attorney) Sol Friedman, ("Champion of the Western Hemisphere") Sammy Reshevsky, and IM Al Horowitz (former U.S. Champ & founder of CHESS REVIEW). Miroslav "Mirko" Mejzr, a Czech immigrant, headed the strong chess club at the First National Bank. He knew Salo Flohr, the great Soviet Grandmaster of the ‘30s, back in Prague. Now Mirko worked in the Silver Dept. of the First which was a leading bank of Chicago. The bank building stood where the Bank One Plaza and the Chagall Wall are now at Dearborn & Monroe. He got the idea of forming a chess league similar to industrial bowling or softball leagues. He called around inviting other chess club leaders to come to the bank to discuss the proposition.
The meeting was held on May 29, 1957. I cannot remember all of the representatives, but following is a list of most of those who attended: The Lakeside Press Chess Club (R.R.Donnelley & Sons Co.). -
James A. Brotsos, Charles Bradley, & William P. Stevenson
Illinois Bell Telephone - unknown
Stewart Warner (a large manufacturer with two industrial sites, one on Diversey Blvd., just East of Damen [now Yuppi housing], the other at Kostner & Division St.)- Hugh Williamson & Claude Luth
Chicago Title & Trust-
Richard Jones, John Dunworth, & Walter Fischer
Western Electric (a giant complex just south east of Cicero & Cermak)-
Ed Yaros & Joseph Traeger
First National Bank of Chicago-
Miroslav Mejzr , Don McCluskey & (probably) Bill Mann.
(Bill was the Manager of the Bank Cafeteria which furnished employees with free, hot lunches. We always ate well when we went to the bank for matches or meetings.)
None of us were aware of the existence of the Commercial Chess League of New York, so we had no source of guidance. But we were enthusiastic, positive, and creative enough to generate some basic rules and a schedule to get us started. The competition began in the fall of 1957 with each team playing the other 5 twice, once at home and once away. The team size was 8 players, but if teams showed up with more players, the larger team result was also counted as the "Club Match" score. At the end of the season, FNB won in Team Competition, 7 1/2- 2 ½ ; Western Electric won the Club Match competition, 9- 1.
The only officer was the Secretary-Treasurer (M. Mejzr) who would receive, record, and relay results by phone and collect and manage League funds. He held this position for several years.
The first awards banquet was held in spring of 1958 at the Old Prague restaurant in Cicero. After the two team trophies were awarded, the group watched a couple of chess films ("Chess Fever"  & "Passionate Pastime"  ). Then the event turned into a couple of impromptu poker games. The following year we managed to stage an after-dinner speed chess tournament. We didn’t have enough chess clocks for the usual Blitz style tournament so we played Rapid-Transit Chess. I brought a Buzzer clock from the Lakeside Press C.C. equipment locker. It was placed in the center of the restaurant and set to buzz every 10 seconds. Players were expected to make their respective moves between the sounds. Cash prizes went to the winner of each Class Round Robin. This was better than playing cards at a chess banquet, but it left a lot to be desired. I believe this misfire stimulated the acquisition of chess clocks within the League. In succeeding years this annual tourney was conducted with competitors getting 7-minutes per clock. In 1963, I showed my 8 mm films of the 1962 U.S. Open Chess Tournament before the speed chess. The banquets also included talks by chess dignitaries including Frank Skoff, (later Pres. of the U.S.C.F), Helen Warren (founder of American Postal Chess Tournaments), Pearle Mann, F.I.D.E. Arbiter; GM Dimitri Gurevich, GM John Fedorowicz, and Senior Master Albert Chow. Sometimes special entertainments were provided for the members’ wives and girl friends- magicians, pantomimists, simple craft projects, and board games.
In 1958-59 two important events took place: Nikolai Goncharoff brought the Motorola team into the League and Jim Warren joined the Western Electric team. Nik was always a strong leader for Motorola and also headed the League for 2 years. He developed large, strong teams and played more League games than anyone else. He also has the distinction of having beaten Bobby Fischer in May 1964 and drawing with Povilas Tautvaisas (one of the best in the Midwest) in 1959 in simultaneous exhibitions.
Jim Warren was our first Expert player at a time when most teams were happy to have one Class A player on their team. In competition, he dominated for several years and always remained in the Top Ten of his Division. More importantly, he consulted with Professor Arpad Elo of Marquette U. and created our numerical rating system. He wrote a computer program for calculating self-consistent ratings. This work also formed the basis of the Elo/FIDE international rating system. Our ratings made it possible to create additional forms of competition and player recognition. Jim began the rating program in 1968 and served as Rating Statistician for several years. Jim introduced a popular Problem- Solving contest printed in the League Bulletin. He also served the League in many ways including heading it from 1964 to 1966. He was a great help in co-directing three Open Swiss-style tournaments held in the 1970’s at the O’Hare Inn (now Ramada Inn) in Rosemont, the Western Electric Albright Gym in Cicero (razed several years ago), and the penthouse of the Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles. He also spearheaded the League sending a team of players into the Indiana State Penitentiary to play a team of prisoners.
The second year also saw the introduction of the office of League Chairman held by Hugh Williamson, an accounting executive at Stewart Warner.
The third year saw the introduction of the largest team of our league. Lolita Woodard, Jasper Wolkoff, and Edgars Rudzitis brought Argonne National Laboratories into the League. This club eventually split into 4 teams. It also challenged the Rest of the League to giant team matches as special events. The only other entity that did this was AT&T which, before its historic break-up, had League teams within Illinois Bell Telephone, Western Electric, Bell Laboratories, and Teletype. Argonne & Western Electric won most ot the trophies for the next 13 years.
During 1959 I inaugurated our League Bulletin.
In the 1960-61 season we formed an All Star team and entered into competition in the powerful Greater Chicago Chess League headed by the late Edward Buerger. The other teams in that league and some of their stars were:
The Latvian C.C. - Master John Tums, Valdis Tums, & Erik Karklins (The winning team)
The University of Chicago - Masters Robion Kirby & Mitchell Zweig; Mike Robinson
The Polish Eagles - K.A. Czerniecki & Roman Golla
The Ukrainian Lions - Master Miroslav Turiansky & Petro Skalczuk
The Evanston YMCA C.C. - K.O. Mott-Smith, Ed Godbold
The Austin Chess & Checker Club - Ed Buerger, John Nowak, & Martin Klein
The Knight Klub (which met in a tavern on So. Pulaski Av.)
By now the League began organizing occasional Simultaneous Exhibitions featuring such stars as Masters Rob Kirby and Charles Henin from the U. of C., frequent Illinois & Chicago Champ Povilas Tautvaisas, GM Sammy Reshevsky (again), GM Robert Byrne, GM Arthur Bisguier, GM Larry Christiansen, Senior Master Greg Defotis, and (future world champion) Bobby Fischer.
For companies with bigger chess clubs, the idea of multiple teams made sense ; rules were changed to allow this popular program. On the other hand, a few teams in the League didn’t have the staying power to last, so we created a rule allowing combined teams to compete. Stewart Warner & Sunbeam were the first two teams to merge. Although retired employees were always welcomed on a team, players who moved to other companies were disqualified. To help sustain the teams of such players, we instituted a "residual eligibility" rule allowing the departing players to finish the season with either the team they began the season with or a team sponsored by their new employer (but not both). Later this was expanded to allow old employees to play with their original team forever, just like a retiree. The emphasis was on a guideline adopted in our maiden meeting: Maximum Participation.
THE EXPANSION OF THE LEAGUE
By 1969 the League had grown to 12 8-Man Teams:
Western Electric Chargers
Western Electric Gambiteers
1st National Bank
Illinois Bell Telephone
Argonne National Labs Knights
Argonne National Labs Bishops
Argonne National Labs Pawns
I was not part of the League at this time. I began exploring the idea of 4-man industrial chess teams. I contacted my old club at the Lakeside Press and found that their President, Ron Dargis, was of a like mind. Working together we rounded up 12 companies interested in fielding 4-man chess teams in the CICL. I organized a team at my workplace, Sherwin-Williams. I called the League Chairman, Nik Goncharoff, and proposed the addition of these teams as an added division of the League. Nik said "I can’t turn you down, Jim, because I know you’ll start a new 4-man team League of your own if I do".
At the August 1969 meeting at the Hawthorne Savings & Loan Assocation office in Cicero, this "Junior" Division was accepted in the C.I.C.L. At this same meeting another large club was voted into the "Senior" Division: Bell Telephone Laboratories brought in by Gary Benson and Ray Alexis. The new 4-man teams came from:
The Lakeside Press Perma Power
Chicago Title & Trust Continental Can Co.
Sears & Roebuck DeSoto
Sherwin-Williams Bell & Howell
Rauland International Minerals & Chemicals
Signode Johnson & Johnson
Within 3 years the 4-man team Division had grown to 28 teams and the League had a total of 40 teams. This was at the height of the "Fischer Boom".
The formation of a second division set the stage for an obvious annual All Star game where the best of each division would play each other in large team matches. The 8-Man Team Division usually won these battles.
In 1970 the League introduced the offices of President, Treasurer, and Division Chairmen. I was the first President. Steve Schwartz of Sears was the first 4-Man Team Division Chairman; Frank Tegel of Teletype was the first 8-Man Team Division . Chairman. Ron Dargis was the Secretary, and Stan Ockers of ANL was the Treasurer. An appointed office of Problem Contest Chairman went to Newman Guttman of Bell Laboratories.
Around 1973 I installed a new program that added strength and numbers to the
League. Valuable members of the League lost their eligibility whenever:
1) they quit their member company,
2) were laid off by that company, or
3) their team disbanded, often after the loss of the Team Captain.
Why not create Alumni teams allowing these players to band together and continue participating? With these teams, any player who had played a match game in League competition could join an Alumni team. At that time, a major reduction-in-force at Argonne National Labs produced the first Alumni team; it was an all- Argonne team called ArgonneX and organized by Past President Ray Fabijonas. This was followed shortly by Alumni North which later changed its name to The EXcaliburs. This program has conserved many of our more talented players and leaders. The idea was adopted by our counterpart in New York. At one time we had up to 4 Alumni Teams in the League.
In the early years of the League the competitive awards were all team-oriented. League officers were given plaques, gavels, etc., but these were for service. In the 1960s a couple of opportunities were created for individual competition recognition. One was competition in Chess Problem Solving as published by Jim Warren in the Bulletin. At times awards were also offered for Best-Played Game.
With the coming of Ratings, it was possible to identify The Most Improved Player and the Highest Rated player in each division each year. It was an obvious step to inaugurate awards in these categories and to give the originator of our all-important rating system recognition. Accordingly, I named these the James E. Warren Awards. For some reason, later administrations have forgotten to call these the James E. Warren awards.
It also seemed fair to give recognition to those players who made most of the matches. Loyalty and enthusiasm are as important as talent. So in 1972 we instituted the Century Club recognizing any player who chalked up 100 League-sponsored games played. So far only Nik Goncharoff has exceeded 500 qualified games. Karel Dobr and Jim Warren of Western Electric/ Lucent Technology and Frank Tegel of Teletype/ Lucent Tech. have gone beyond 400 games. Those with over 300 games are the late Edward Buerger of Procon/UOP, Vern Stamm and the late Dan Kumro of Western Electric/ Lucent, and Roy Benedek and Greg Berry of Argonne National Labs.
In 1990 I wrote an obituary in our Bulletin on Ron Dargis who was a major leader in the 1969-72 period. This led to the incumbent officers creating a new individual award: The Ron Dargis award for lifetime Distinguished Service within the CICL. In 1991 I was the first recipient. Later Jim Warren & Dan Kumro also received this accolade.
In surveying the history of the League, one has to be impressed by the number of fine players who participated. Some gained or lost over 200 rating points in their careers; some were very consistent. I tried to identify the better players for this article by sampling rating lists in our Bulletin. Unfortunately, these rating swings, or limited play, or my missing certain Rating Lists, will probably leave some deserving players off this list. (My sincere apologies to them).
The team with the strongest players in CICL history was the Chicago Board of Options Exchange which had a brief life of about a year in the 1988 season. This team included I.M. James Rizzitano rated 2585 and I.M. Calvin Blocker at 2555. Robert Gruchacz (2491) and Mark Lonoff at over 2300 were also on the team.
The highest rated players with significant experience in League play have been
David Levine of Argonne,
Morris Giles and Ruben Reyes of Sears,
R.Cusi of Franklin-Watts
Peter Stein, Tellabs/ Lucent Technology
Lawrence Chachere of Bell Laboratories, and
Victor Bezzubov, Fermilab
All of these stars had ratings hovering around 2350. This past season brought a new super-Master into the CICL on the Getco team: Gregory Volynskiy who finished his first season with a provisional rating of 2572.
Based on CICL Ratings, I’ve compiled the following list of top- rated (very high A to Master) players (excluding the stars mentioned above) in 45 years of our competition (alpha order down column):
C. Alfaro C. Horowitz Murrel Rhodes
H. Allen C.Huttar J. Rose
Roy Benedek Stan Ilic K. Rose
Arnulfo Benesa Florentino Inumerable E. Roytburg
Greg Berry Jim Jackson Russ Rzeszutko
C.Bhojwani Norman Jacobs Leonid Sagalovsky
Bob Bloom Kaz Jakstas A. Salkauskas
Edwin Boldingh Tony Jasaitis Chris Samelson
J. Borum Barry Jones Angelo Sandrin
Darren Bolden M. Kantar Ted Santiago
Bill Brock J. Keisler K. Schmuggerow
Robert Buchner Bill Kenny Ron Schulman
Edward Buerger Martin Klein Sam Sheynin
L. Chachere J. Koh Mark Siwek
D.Cieslek M. Kozlovsky Richard Smiley
B. Clare Herb Krakau Elly Sollano
Jim Condron Tim Kras Lenny Spiegel
P. Connor Dwight Kucera Miomir Stevanovic
Marvin Cox S. Kukes Marcus Stinson
Lynn Crewse Rick Lang Bob Stoltz
Paul Cripe Ed Latimer David Streets
K.A. Czerniecki Chester Lee Adam Stys
Joe DeMauro Dennis Leong Jim Sullivan
Pablo Diaz Gee Leong Wes Suzuki
Chuck Dobrovolny S. Loring I. Tamez
John Dunworth Alan Losoff Mark Tang
Tommaso Dorigo T. Ludwig Frank Tegel
R. Easter Vilo Machuca Jim Thomson
Rick Edahl R.Manaster Wes Underwood
Jim Egerton Bob Marcowka John Van Meer
Abe Ellenberg D. Marema Dan Vasto
Wesley Franz Kelvin McAlister P. Walhout
Yuri Fridman Bruce McNeil Cliff Wallach
Bill Friesema Igor Melnikov Arthur Wang
Tom Friske Ainis Mengelis Jim Warren
Gustavo Garzon Slavko Mihailovich Len Weber
Bert Gazmen S. Minin W. Weihmiller
Sheldon Gelbart Robert Morris Kent Williams
Jim Gibbs K. Moynihan Tim Williams
P. Golumbovski J. Murphy D. Wilson
J. Gregory ?. Neidhardt Harold Winston
Julian Guio H. Nelson David Wirtschafter
Morton Hamermesh Russ Osterlund Dan Wolf
Y. Hasan Lou Parker Phil Wong
Bob Hill Alex Pehas Charles Young
Jim Hodina S. Peijffers S. Youssef
M. Rauchman J. Zeidel
Although strong players add prestige to the League, it is the organizational leaders that make it work. The top leaders often held office for multiple years. They also served in numerous roles beyond heading the League. Below is a list of the gentlemen who were elected to the top executive position of the CICL in (generally) chronological order.
Miroslav Mejzr 1st National Bank
Hugh Williamson Stewart Warner
Jim Brotsos R.R. Donnelley & Sons/ Sherwin Williams/NationalCan
Don McCluskey 1st National Bank
Walter Elliott Western Electric
Jim Warren Western Electric
Dan Kumro Western Electric
Romas (Ray) Fabijonas Argonne National Labs
Nikolai Goncharoff Motorola
Ron Dargis R.R. Donnelley & Sons
Ron Tobias R.R. Donnelley & Sons
John Greczek Amoco
Irving Rosenfeld Chicago Title Insurance
Jim Sobun Western Electric
Greg Berry Argonne National Lab
Gee Leong Kemper Insurance
Paul Weston Western Electric
Martin Franek Veterans Administration
Russ Rzeszutko AVJ Software
Bruce McNeil Motorola
Ross Siegel Continental Bank
Anthony Jasaitis Chicago Research & Trading
Jim Hodina Amoco
Pat Sajbel UOP
Irwin Gaines Fermilabs
Jim Thomson Motorola
As mentioned above, Nik Goncharoff and Jim Warren have made major contributions to the League’s success. I feel that Dan Kumro also deserves special recognition among the Past Presidents. From his entry into the League in the late 1950s until his death in 1993 he served the League in special roles every year. This included Rating Chairman and Division Chairman. He became the self-appointed League Historian long ago. In his many years as Team Captain, he was always a fierce competitor and a good player.
Many other League members never became President but served in major Chairmanships. The star of this group is Charlie Ward of Argonne National Labs and later Bell Laboratories. He served in several roles, but never was interested in moving up to President. When the ratings program was initiated, Jim Warren and Dan Kumro maintained ratings by using equipment at their workplace. In 1983 Charlie researched the market, found a computer the CICL could afford and that was suitable for our Ratings computations. For less than $2000 we purchased a Radio Shack TRS 80 Model III computer and an Epson MX 80 printer. Using these, Charlie maintained the Ratings program for a number of years. Charlie also took on other committee work including updating our Policies & Procedures. Charlie retired to the St. Louis, Mo. area several years ago. In my opinion, he is a natural candidate for the Ron Dargis Award for Distinguished Service.
Other workers who served as Division Chairmen, Rating Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, or Bulletin Editor included:
Doug Anderson Ken Lisec
Ned Anderson Kelvin McAlister
Terry Andresen Leon McClendon
Leonard Augsburger George Mergili
Dave Baurac Bob Micek
Gary Benson Jeff Moles
Wayne Brandt Stan Ockers
Joe Brozovich Art Oelhafen
Bob Buchner Lance Ogasawara
Fred Ciba Art Olsen
William Cooper Beryl Price
Mike Dee Carl Reid
Jim Duffy Ruben Reyes
Wayne Ellice Rick Shaff
Tom Friske Lee Sheridan
Tom Gaffigan Leonard Spiegel
Don Graft Lee Stensaker
Norman Hughes Frank Tegel
Satish Kale Elaine Long Tuber
Howard Klinefelter Wesley Underwood
Tim Kras Len Weber
Dave Lawrenz Gary Wolcott
The word in the Navy is "the Chief Petty Officers run the Navy". In our League the Team Captains/ Club Presidents are the basic structure and lubricant of the CICL. These hard-working, dedicated leaders deserve the highest praise. Unfortunately, they are too numerous to be identified in this article.
THE LEAGUE BULLETIN
When I wrote the first League Bulletin it was a simple sheet summarizing team results and standings and CICL business announcements. The introduction of ratings and the addition of teams certainly added to the length of the Bulletin. The inclusion of chess problems, members’ results in open tournaments, other chess news, and lists of top ten rated or most improved players improved the quality of the Bulletin. Some issues included instructional articles. Marvin Cox (Motorola/ Alumni) furnished the best of these. For several years he wrote a fine series called "The 2 Squares Column". A number of excellent articles were furnished by award-winning chess journalist, Helen Warren (Jim’s wife).
After the first few years some players’ games began to be published, some with light annotations. Later, as publishing technology improved, more games and more analysis were printed. As Editor, Jim Hodina stepped up the inclusion of members’ games. Members became more willing to submit game scores when prizes were offered for the better games. The quality reached new heights with the work of Editor Ruben Reyes (Sears) beginning in 1994. In the last few years Tom Friske has outdone all prior Editors. He not only created a website placing the Bulletin on the Internet, but he greatly added to annotated game coverage and total volume. Recent issues have exceeded 34 pages, some 70 to 80 pages long. The current Bulletin is better than most state bulletins.
Many of our members have accomplished much in their professions or private lives. A few could be identified as "chess celebrities". The most notable of these would be Victor Palciauskas. When I came back to Chicago (from Navy service) in 1956, there were 3 boy chess players competing in the local U.S.C.F. tournaments with good results: Richard Verber, Edward Formanek, and Victor. In 1962 Palciauskas was in the CICL long enough (with ANL) to finish first in the top flight of the Speed Chess tournament at the League banquet. Years later Dr. Victor Palciauskas won the World Correspondence Chess Championship. In 1993 he was inducted into the U.S.C.F. Hall of Fame. It is interesting to note that our Past President, Tony Jasaitis, beat Victor in the 1994 North American Lithuanian Chess Championship tournament. Tony also tied for first place.
Harold Winston (VA/Alumni) was active in organizing college chess programs in the 1960s. He moved up into chess politics and was elected President of the ICA . Later he became a Policy Board member in the USCF and served as President between 1987 & 1990. Currently, he is the Chairman of the U. S. Chess Trust and Co-Chairman of the USCF Bylaws Committee.
Angelo Sandrin also played for Argonne. Although he was generally overshadowed by his bother Albert (U.S.C.F. Open Champion & Blind Chess Champion), Angelo was one of the mainstays of Chicago chess for decades. His rating hovered in the high Expert range although he did eventually reach the Master level. Several years ago he was one of the first recipients of the Natalie Broughton Life Achievement Award for long-time achievement in Chicago area chess at a high level. Angelo died on Christmas Eve, 2001.
Jim Warren has already received mention as one of the pillars of the League. In addition, he has had leadership roles in the Illinois Chess Association and the APCT. In 1997 he received the U.S.C.F. Meritorius Sevice Award for helping to establish the FIDE rating system. He and his wife have sponsored major regional tournaments and the U. S. Masters, often acting as financial patrons. They have contributed to top notch journalism (Helen edited the bulletin for the Chess Journalists of America). Some years ago the Warrens established programs for fostering chess among talented youngsters. They are, no doubt, the most influential couple in the history of Midwestern American chess. Jim has a significant collection of chessmen and one of the largest collections of chess books/magazines in the Midwest.
Morris Giles was a mainstay at Sears. For several years he was also an active, perennially successful player in local open tournaments. Morris is probably the strongest Midwestern African American chess player in history.
Roy Benedek (ANL) has been a major player in the League and sometimes plays in open tournaments. About 30 years ago he won the Illinois Open.
Alan Losoff ( Chicago Research & Trading) also accomplished a great deal in the local/regional chess world. He served as ICA President and has helped organize major tournaments here and in Las Vegas. In 1995 the USCF named Alan the Organizer of the Year.
Ervin Sedlock (Ill. Bell Tel.) has been a long time chess leader/organizer/TD in the western suburbs. He took on leadership roles in the ICA. He also has served the youth/scholastic segment with major contributions. In 1999 Erv was given the USCF’s Meritorious Service Award.
Newman Guttman (Bell Tel. Labs) was the first specialist to take on the chess problem contest. Newman was a celebrity in his field. He had already composed and published more than 130 chess problems, mostly "Mate in Two" problems. Several of his compositions had won awards in problem composing tournaments. He was an International F.I.D.E. Judge and a U.S. Delegate to the Committee of Composition for F.I.D.E. He also judged 2-move problem solving in the CHESS LIFE & REVIEW contest.
Bill Brock (The Reader) has been an important part of the ICA in recent years. He has been Editor and Treasurer for the organization.
Ray Alexis (Bell Tel. Labs) created a fine magazine: CHESS ‘N’ STUFF. He is an important member of Chess Collectors International and edited that organization’s U.S. newsletter, THE CCI- USA NEWS for several years. Ray has a large collection of chess material including the largest collection of chess stamps in the country.
The most significant non-awards party the League held was the Bobby Fischer Victory Celebration in 1972. We took the position that Bobby would beat Spassky for the World Chess Championship (which he did a few months later) and planned using a Forest Preserve shelter for our celebration. Irv Rosenfeld, an attorney working in the Loop, went to the County building early on the first business day of 1972 and beat out others to get a permit for use of the LaBagh Woods shelter on the Northwest Side . On Sept. 16th over 100 members and their families came for the picnic celebration. The League furnished decorations, beverages, and games. Besides many skittles games, we played tree golf and Kriegspiel.
Through the years simultaneous chess exhibitions were popular events. Those in which we played against Masters are mentioned in prior paragraphs. The biggest such events were our players (and others) vs Bobby Fischer. Besides Nik Goncharoff, another CICL player beat Bobby. In 1964 Erwin Puto of Western Electric beat Bobby in one of the exhibitions. Erwin was the steadiest 4th board player in the CICL in the first decade of our history. He made all the matches and won something like 8 out of 9 games he played. The final position of this game (with an imminent Mate in 2) was commemorated by being diagrammed on the League’s Official Match Results form- smack in the center of it. Sadly, Erwin passed away before reaching middle age.
Another type of simultaneous exhibition occurred in Oct. 1980. A group of League players took on all comers at a "Leisure Show" at the Fox Valley Shopping Mall. The exhibitors included Ruben Reyes, Jim Jackson, Jim "Pawn Down" Gibbs, Terry Andresen, Abe Ellenberg, Irwin Gaines, and Lou Parker. In Oct., 1982 another mass "simul" was conducted by Joe DeMauro, Marcus Stinson, Bill Holm, Joe Brozovich, and Jim Bingle. David Streets once played a simultaneous exhibition against a group of inmates of the State Pen.
Still another interesting simultaneous exhibition involved the CICL. In 1960 the Chicago SUN TIMES wanted to launch George Koltanowski’s chess column with a publicity stunt. They asked me (because I was Chairman of the League) to furnish 6 strong players in a hurry for George to play in a "simul". I gathered together 3 of us from the League (myself and Ed Smith from the Lakeside Press and Jim Warren) and 3 of Chicago’s better players: Master Robion Kirby, Expert Harold Stanbridge, and Eva Aronson, Illinois and U.S. Women’s Champion. We played at the newspaper’s office; George drew with Rob and beat the rest of us in quick time.
There were a number of large All Star team matches played through the years. Most of these were the Bell System or Argonne National Labs vs the rest of the League or the 8-Man Team vs the 4-Man Team Division.
In 1974, however, we had the first of two telephone matches with the Commercial Chess League of New York. The Research Center of Amoco in Naperville had a new telephone service which allowed long distance calls at a reasonable rate. On a Saturday we converged on Amoco’s cafeteria and, with the aid of Telephone Talkers in a side room and Tellers running between the tables of Players and the T. Talkers, we managed to conduct a 20 Board match. The match went from 1:00 to 5:30 P.M.and several games had to be adjudicated (by GM Andrew Soltis). We lost, 11 ½ to 8 ½, but it was still fun.
In recent years we have also played large matches against the Oak Park C.C., Elmhurst C.C., and Concordia Community C.C.
THE CICL TODAY
After 46 years the CICL is still going strong for a number of reasons. Despite the loss of many manufacturing operations, Chicago is still an industrious city with many companies from which to draw teams. Luckily, we have many sophisticated and high tech. firms with a good population of existing or potential chess players. When the League began, labor unions were very strong and some of the early teams came from companies trying hard to keep unions out. They practiced a paternalism that encouraged clubs, teams, and employee esprit de corps. These companies were cooperative in buying chess equipment, paying expenses, offering meeting spaces, and publicizing positive results. Some of this paternalism has vanished since unionism has declined.
An advantage the League has over open chess organizations is that industry does a pre-screening job that restricts the population to well-adjusted, well educated, cooperative types of adults. Also, I feel there are fewer megalomaniacs and more "team players" in the League’s population. These make for good leadership material: people who are responsible, self-motivated, creative, and willing to help others.
The League rules are flexible enough that there are many opportunities for chess playing or socializing. By expecting Team Captains to rank their boards by current playing strength, team members generally play someone close to their own level. One rule that helps attain "Maximum Participation" is the inclusion of extra board players at matches. Players ranked below the first 6 boards can play rated games (if their opponent agrees). These players can be from the same team.
I recently contacted officers from our counterparts in New York to get ideas for stimulating growth in our League. It turns out we’re more substantial than they are.The Commercial Chess League of N. Y. is down to 7 4 man teams. The Long Island Industrial Chess League runs between 9 and 10 teams. This year the CICL has 20 teams divided into geographical sections:EAST DIV. NEAR WEST DIV.
Alumni Aces Cook County Dept. of Correction
Citadel Group Case
Leo Burnett Lucent Tech. ChargersFAR WEST DIV. NORTH DIV.
Lucent Tech. Tyros Motorola Knights
Argonne Rooks UOP
Lucent Tech. Dragons Kemper Insurance
Molex Motorola Kings
BP Chemicals Northrop Grumman
Some of the companies that have sponsored teams in the CICL in the past are A.B.Dick, A.& B. Radio, Allied Van Lines, Apex Tool Works, Avon, CNA Insurance, the CTA, Harris Bank, Kraft Foods, Encyclopedia Britannica, GATX, Honeywell, International Harvester, Continental Can, College of DuPage, Wheaton College, Columbia College, Interlake, Rockwell International, the Sun Times, Marshall Field’s, Montgomery Ward, U.S. Postal Service, Wolverine Trading, and Zenith.
Finally, a team has put together a 2-CD set of the League Archives, free of charge to all members. Write the Webmaster.
YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN the ongoing history of the League! Read the FAQs document here on the website.