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Sheriff on Inaugural Cook County – Russia Inmate Tournament Print E-mail
By Thomas J. Dart, Sheriff   
May 17, 2013
COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced the winners of the chess tournament that took place today between Cook County jail detainees and Russian inmates. Ten Cook County Jail detainees squared off against 10 Russian inmates through a secure Internet  line at Cook County Jail’s Division 11.  There were two rounds played by each player on each team. The first round results included 3½  matches won by Cook County detainees and 6½ matches won the Russian inmates. After the second  round was complete the Russian inmates won 8 matches and Cook County detainees won 2, for a  final score of 14 ½ to 5 ½ in favor of Russia. 

The event began with an international press conference at 9 a.m. with Sheriff Dart and Dr. Mikhail Korenman, who heads the Cook County Jail’s chess program, describing the program and the historic  tournament. Russian officials participated in the press conference through Skype.  “Today’s successful competition is a tribute to Dr. Korenman for his vision, our correctional officers for  their steadfast support of the program and of course to the competitors on both sides for their  sportsmanship today and their commitment to utilizing the lessons of chess as a valuable  rehabilitation tool,” said Sheriff Dart. “We will continue with our chess program to accommodate the  hundreds of detainees interested in learning the game and improving their skills. 

We congratulate the  Russian team on their victory and look forward to a rematch.” Sheriff Dart launched the jail’s chess program in April 2012, using standard chess boards and pieces  with the goal of instilling in detainees the importance of patience, diligence and critical thought - skills  that are the foundation of the game of chess and of life. 

 In December 2012, the program was expanded to permit detainees to participate in online chess  tournaments using secure laptops that allowed them to play against anonymous players from around  the world, including players in Singapore, Croatia and Canada. Dr. Korenman meets with participating detainees two hours a day, three days a week to give group  lessons and to coordinate matches. To date, approximately 600 Cook County Jail detainees have  participated in the jail’s chess program. Today’s international tournament between Cook County and Russia was the idea of Sheriff Dart, Dr.  Korenman and Anatoly Karpov, a legendary Russian chess grandmaster and former world champion. 

After the match, Karpov himself identified one of the Cook County detainees as the most  distinguished competitor of both sides, having won both of his games – including one in just three  moves.  While some of the participants in the Cook County Jail chess program had previous experience with  chess, most of them began recently as novices – including several of today’s competitors. 

All  participants made it to the Russia competition by winning internal Cook County Jail tournaments. Dr. Korenman, an International Chess Organizer certified by the World Chess Federation FIDE, is a  principal of the Russian School of Mathematics in Naperville. His extensive background in chess  includes founding the Karpov School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kanas, which was the first chess school  in the United States. Dr. Korenman also initiated the Chess for Peace program which is designed to promote peace  throughout the world by bringing secondary students from different countries together to learn how to  play chess and establish lasting friendships.

For more information, contact the Sheriff's office at 312-603-4242.