Guilford High School

Chess Team

Chess teaches players to embrace chaos and manage it calmly, creatively, and methodically.

"Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent's mind." ~Robert James Fischer

"A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle." ~Japanese Proverb

"A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skill of the others." ~Norman Hidle

GHS Chess Team Practices will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 3:30pm to 4:30pm in Room 114.  E-mail Coach Czerwin with any questions

During Chess Team Practice, players will do the following:

All other team activities:

Study, Practice, Play, Study, Practice, Play, Study, Practice...

GHS Chess Team Ladder

Chess Team Ladder

GHS Chess Team Records

GHS Chess Team Records

Guilford Chess History...

     Rockford high schools, specifically Guilford, were instrumental in the early stages of IHSA chess back in the 1960s.  Coach Gary McLammarah of Guilford started a team in 1965 and organized inter-scholastic tournaments with teams from across northern Illinois.  The original Guilford chess team stopped competing sometime in the 1970s.

     Guilford Chess was reborn in 2012 when coach Erik Czerwin arrived in the 2012-13 school year.  That first year was sparsely attended and had a small start.  However, in the 2013-14 school year, enough players attended frequently enough to organize a couple of matches with Byron High School.  Finally GHS began officially competing as a team again in the 2014-15 school year, winning 2 rounds out of 7 at the IHSA State Chess Tournament, despite having only 7 players.  The following year, GHS grew to about 10 players and won 3 rounds out of 7 at the State tournament.  In 2016-17, Guilford had a regular crew of about 12 players and finally broke the .500 barrier in conference, at tournaments, and at State (4.0/7).  The story of the Guilford Vikings Chess team continues each year, and below is an attempt to capture some of that history.

Guilford Chess - 1966

Head Coach, Gary McLammarah

From our records, it's unclear when Coach McLammarah began a chess team at Guilford.  However, the first yearbooks have the team as a presence.  It's also unclear when the team stopped competing, but we have trophies and some records indicating that the team played through the 1970s, and perhaps even later.

Coach Gary McLammarah didn't leave much behind for us to compile, but over the years, artifacts have emerged.  Guilford was one of the original team chess programs in the state, and Coach McLammarah's work organizing tournaments inspired Mike Zacate to begin organizing a statewide event that eventually became the IHSA State Chess Team Championship

Guilford Chess - 2013-14

     During the 2012-13 school year, Coach Czerwin held a handful of chess club meetings, but nothing ever coalesced into a team.  In 2013-14, GHS Chess had consistent attendance and organized 2 matches with Byron HS.  2 members from this team, Franco Trujillo and Calvin Nofsinger, stayed with the team over all 4 years of their high school career, forming the basis for the reborn GHS Chess Team.

Guilford Chess - 2014-15

     This year was the first year of the new Guilford HS Chess team.  With only 7 players, it was a tough, but successful season.  The team hosted an in-house tournament at the end of the season to draw more attention, and it was very successful!

Guilford Chess - 2015-16

     Building on the 2014-15 success, the team grew, adding a few new members who brought diversity and life to the team.  After a successful season, the team again qualified for the State tournament and won 3 rounds out of 7, improving on the previous year's record.

Guilford Chess - 2016-17

     Having lost Assistant Coach Glowaty to Huntley HS, GHS struggled to recover, but rebounded well.  The team grew to a regular crew of about 12 players and finally broke the .500 barrier in conference, at tournaments, and at State (4.0/7).  The team won the North Boone tournament, bringing home the first chess trophy in 5 decades.

Guilford Chess - 2017-18

     With new players, new team structures, and a new resolve, the GHS Chess Team started the season with a double win at the North Boone Individual/Team event on Columbus Day.  On Veteran's Day, the team made the trek to Sterling, IL, for the Sterling Invite; winning 3 out of 4 rounds ended in a 4th place finish out of the 18 teams competing.  After a long week of competing, GHS Chess made it out to Bolingbrook to fight among the best in the state; finishing with 2 points out of a possible 4 and finishing 18 out of 32 teams.  We wrapped up the conference season 2nd in the NICL East Division and 3rd overall.  At the NICL Conference Tournament, we finished 5th overall with 3.0 points, only having lost to 1st place finisher, Sterling HS.  On January 27th, Guilford hosted one of 8 Sectionals (the first IHSA Sectionals in decades), and we won rounds 1 & 2 which meant we had to face both Barrington HS and Auburn HS who ended the tournament with a perfect 4.0.  Those first two wins secured our spot at State, however, and so two weeks later, we headed to Peoria.  With one of our key players ineligible to play at State, we were still happy to wrap up the season with 3.0/7 at State and a 89/123 finish overall.

Guilford Chess - 2018-19

     Having graduated the first "core group" in spring of 2018, the Guilford chess team started off the new year with a large group of new faces.  We started with 2 wins and 2 losses at the Aurora Charger Challenge; a good beginning to the season.  A month later, we began the NICL Conference season with a win over Byron and a loss to Stillman Valley, revealing some critical weaknesses on lower boards.  We ended the season 4-3-0 in our division and placed 9th out of 16 in the Conference Tournament.  Our 2 wins at Bolingbrook, Conference, and Sectionals landed us a decent seed, and we finished the season with 3 wins at state, placing 93 out of 124 teams.  A rebuilding year, to be sure, but fun and full of developing steps.

Guilford Chess - 2019-20

     Joined by former team captain Franco Trujillo and former Jayhawk Logan Rodgers, the Guilford Vikings reached new heights.  5 freshmen joined the team and 1 sophomore, building a new core group focused on competitive chess.  While keeping the fun going, the team competed more than past years and had the extra support of two more experienced coaches.  The Vikings traveled to several Saturday tournaments including the Joliet Steelmen, the Argo Team, the Red Devil Challenge, and the Palatine Pirate tournaments.  Plans to attend the Naperville Central tournament in January were snowed over.  6 of our 8 players took medals at the Conference Tournament (3 were 1st place); leaving Guilford holding 3rd place in the NICL.  

     With a strong showing throughout the season and 3 wins at both conference and Sectionals, Guilford was seeded 31 out of 128 going into the State Tournament.  We wrapped up a record-setting weekend in Peoria.  Guilford earned 4.5 out of 7, finishing 27th out of 126 teams; 4th out of 20 in Division 4A.  Jeremiah Davis had the tournament of a lifetime, winning 7.0 including one against Barrington's 2110-rated Board 1.  Everyone played a critical role in bringing Guilford to the forefront of IHSA State chess and did so while wearing knit Viking hats courtesy of Judah Salberg's family.

     We graduated our first players to attend the State tournament all 4 years.  Jocelyn Nunez-Monreal played in every State tournament for 4 years, ranging from Board 8 through Board 4.  Joaquin Santillan joined as a freshman, but didn't play on the boards until his sophomore year, ending as a senior this season on Board 2 and team captain.  Their dedicated presence helped to shape the team and drive it towards success.

Guilford Chess - 2020-21

     Joined by former team captain Joaquin Santillan, the GHS Chess Team moved online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  Practices moved to Google Classroom, tournaments and competitions moved online to LiChess, and playing on screens replaced playing Over-The-Board.  

     Team Captain Jeremiah Davis served his final year on the team, setting records in every category that will be nearly impossible to beat for many years to come.  He and Judah Salberg celebrated being team members for 4 years while we also said goodbye to Charles Kang and Cedric Taylor who were with us for 3 years.  Jefferson Jayhawk and senior Kyle Reed played with the Guilford team since Jefferson was unable to get a team together, and he was a welcome addition.

     The State Tournament was played on campus, virtually.  It was a unique experience, and everyone that came in had a great time.  Two days of Portillo's dinner is hard to beat!  The team settled in for each round, observing one another's games when finished with their own.  As a season-ending event, the Vikings were happy to finish 44th out of 113, having been seeded 55.  That placed the team 7th out of 19 teams in the ICCA Division awards.  

     All in all, it was a historic season with lots of new experiences for everyone.  In-person over-the-board chess was definitely missed, but we made the best of a bad situation and built memories that will last generations.

     Throughout the season, since chess was the only IHSA competitive activity running, we were frequently in the news...

Guilford Chess - 2021-22

     Coming out of COVID lockdowns, the early season was filled with masked tournaments and bus rides.  The uncomfortable first events were historic and filled with emotion.  Chess became a place of solace as players returned to a "normal" situation over the boards.  The screens were gone, but so were handshakes and the big open skittles area.  Teams spent the season in classrooms and fist-bumping became the norm to begin and end matches.  The team did well in the West Division, scoring 5 wins and only 2 losses to finished 2nd in the Division.  The conference tournament landed the team at #3 out of 12.  Guilford fought to win 2 at Sectionals, advancing to State where they finished with 3.0 out of 7.  The overall 15-15-0 record was a victory considering the circumstances.

     Coach Brennan O'Connell joined the squad this year, and senior Adrian Cal played like he'd been on the team for ages.  Freshman Christian Owens made an impression, and team captain Joey Domino helped to carry the team to more victories than ever before.  A tough season, but a rewarding one as everyone looked forward to the official end of the pandemic.

Guilford Chess - 2022-23

     This year saw a large increase in numbers.  After graduating some critical members, Guilford produced 13 new team members including several promising young freshmen who played on the top 8 by the end of the season.  Team Captain Minjmaa Amarsaikhan fostered a new sense of team unity with a new online interaction forum.  The team grew close as they headed into the post-season.  The team traveled to several tournaments throughout the season, including the IHSA Sectionals at Auburn HS in the middle of a blizzard!  The trip to State was a fantastic time with a great group of players.  Coach Boxer O'Connell will be missed as he moves over to Auburn next year.  Sectionals was a tough event, but the Vikings won 2 rounds to advance to State where they won 3 out of 7 to finish 96 out of 129.  Truly a rebuilding year, this year laid the foundation for what is a new dawn for the Guilford Viking Chess Team.  

Guilford Chess - 2023-24

     This season began by adding several new players and a new Assistant Coach.  And this season ended by participating in the 50th annual IHSA State Chess Team Tournament.  Seeded 51, the Guilford Vikings finished 84th out of 128.  7 very tough matches against great opponents left Guilford with 3 wins out of 7.  Nathan Czerwin and Wade Little, both seniors who had begun their chess career online during their freshman year, led the team, Nathan as Team Captain.  Sophomores Malachi Yates and Lincoln Noble alternated with Wade and Nathan on boards 1-4.  Boards 5-8 rotated amongst sophomores Jowell Hernandez, Fern Kuntz and juniors Jayden Foat, Christian Owens, and Hser Thaw.  The B-team was successful at fielding a full squad at multiple conference matches, though without much success.  This season laid the groundwork for a much stronger team in the next few years.  Coach Emilio Rodriguez joined the team, helping throughout the season, and coaching the team at Saturday tournaments and practices.  A fantastic win in Round 4 of the NICL conference tournament propelled the team into a very competitive post-season showing signs of strength that earned respect at the seeding meeting and beyond.  

     Guilford's new motto, "Leave it Better Than You Found It," was all the talk at the State tournament amongst coaches.  It was noticed, and the Guilford players carried it out in practice.  The team has never felt more bonded in a mission than this season, and we're looking with great anticipation to what comes next in the story of the Guilford Vikings Chess Team.

Four-Year Players

The following players joined the team as freshmen and played all 4 years of their high school career.  They are an elite group of Viking Chess players.