Upgrade to Chess.com Premium!

Western Invitational Chess Camp

Ah, the summer chess camp. Often misinterpreted as a threat ("You better be good this summer or I'm sending you away to chess camp") or a punchline ("Oh, you had a blast at adventure camp? Well, I had the time of my life at CHESS CAMP!), insiders know: chess camp can actually be pretty awesome! Top chess camps these days feature premier instructors, comprehensive chess learning, and plenty of fun activities and extras.

I had the privilege of teaching at two such week-long camps in July:

The Western Invitational Chess Camp has been organized since 2004 by my good friend, FM Robby Adamson (colloquially: "BLITZMASTER"!). Robby is extremely passionate about youth chess, and he has been influential in the development of many top young players around the country. He personally helped me to refine important aspects of my game when I was making the push to master in 8th/9th grade (though I'm still trying to recover from being forced to learn the Benko Gambit...just kidding, Robby!). Over the past couple years I had been prodding Robby to take me on as a instructor, and I was thrilled that he finally gave me the chance to teach. Robby selects his instructors very carefully (most are established Grandmasters and well-respected trainers), so I definitely appreciated the vote of confidence.

I joined fellow instructors GMs Melikset Khachiyan, Alejandro Ramirez, Josh Friedel, and IM Levon Altounian (plus Robby).

(left to right: me, GM Melikset Khachiyan, FM Robby Adamson)

Students in the top group this year all had ratings of 2100+ USCF. Even the "lower" groups boasted very high average ratings (average of around 1800 for the camp as a whole, I believe).

Instruction lasted from 9 am - 5 pm each day, with three main lectures (including a cool "practical exercise" portion). There was also a camp tournament running throughout. All of the instructors prepared very challenging lecture material, and the campers really rose to the occasion. Seriously, I was blown away by how on-point these promising young players could be. It was clear that everyone in attendance was genuinely interested in improving their game, and it thus made the teaching very enjoyable.

The camp also had a variety of fun evening activities: blitz/bullet/bughouse tournaments, bowling, a camp party, and a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises"! I was thoroughly exhausted by camp's end (with the activities we weren't getting home until 9:00 pm or later!), but it was TOTALLY worth it. I met a ton of great campers and parents, and everyone involved had a great time.

In a word, phenomenal! I encourage any interested reader to check out Robby's camp next year. A few pics:

(Camp tourney in progress)

(GM "Handi" Ramirez gives a lecture. Yes, the camp shirts really says '#swagCHESScamp' !)
(GM Melik managing the pairings for the bullet tourney)

 (Me explaining the finer points of pawn endings!?)

(Bughouse always livens things up!)

(Bowling at Fiesta Lanes)

(A unique camp tradition: older campers "vandalize" Robby's car!)

(...but he seems OK with it)

(Camp pic - courtesy of Linda Diaz)

This post is getting a little long, so I'll save my discussion of the similarly-awesome St. Olaf Olechess Camp for my next post. I taught at OleChess last year, and it nearly DOUBLED in size this year! The instructor list included GMs Alex Onischuk, Yury Shulman, Alex Yermolinsky, IM Irina Krush (US Women's Champion!), myself, and FM Kevin Bachler. If you're up to it, here are two interesting exercises I presented at OleChess (and subsequently to a couple of my students):
White is attacking our rook. What should we do?

White just played the provactive 25.Nf4-d5!? How should we react?

Comments


  • 2 years ago

    IM Fins0905

    @rharm and Andrew369: Glad to hear that. I enjoyed having Nate and Josh in class.

  • 2 years ago

    Joshua369

    Joshua Loved St.olef chess camp

  • 2 years ago

    rharm

    John, you did a great job at St. Olaf.  Nate is still talking about how much fun he had.

  • 2 years ago

    IM Fins0905

    @PureJay: So maybe the lesson is: You can't win every position and sometimes you should just retreat!

    Perhaps Smile . 1...R5f7 isn't the move Black WANTS to play, but if it fits the demands of the position it may be necessary.

    How do you anticipate the game would proceed after 1...R5f7 ?

  • 2 years ago

    RegicidalManiac

    @PJ: I cannot advocate violence, but sometimes...

  • 2 years ago

    PureJay

    @RegicidalManiac Then black punches white right in the face :) No, seriously, after like 30 minutes of analyzing, I completely missed that obvious move.

    @Fins0905 I've tried so many moves now and they all just won't work.. So the only solution would be to just move the rook by R5f7 and play the rest of the game, though it's not much of a tactic.. Note that I conciously didn't run anything through an engine to give myself the excercise. Please tell me if I've missed a line after Nxh3 but I don't think so.. So maybe the lesson is: You can't win every position and sometimes you should just retreat!

    The second puzzle is just one huge minefeld of tactics which I can't yet solve. I found that the sacrifice is actually quite unsound and black can come out on top after a lot of exchanges after exd5. However, I saw the move Rxd5 as well which, thanks to the mate thread on g2 and the c3 pawn could win a crapload of material. Maybe, again, I missed a stupid, silly move but I'll post my analysis tomorrow. For now, Rxd5 it is!

  • 2 years ago

    IM Fins0905

    Exercise Analysis 

    @RegicidialManiac: Good try, but if we take your line a little further Black has big problems: 1...Bf6 2.Nxf6+ R5xf6 and now 3.Bxf4! Rxf4 4.Rxe7 wins for White.

    @PureJay: Agree with your analysis of 1...g5 2.Qh6 (or 2.Qg3). However, as RegicidalManiac pointed out, 1...g5 2.Nxg5 is strong for White. Black would like to reply with 2...Rxg5 3.Qxg5 Nxh3+, but unfortunately 3.Qxg5 comes with check.

    Black has other candidate moves to consider...Tongue out

  • 2 years ago

    RegicidalManiac

    @purejay: what if white responds with Nxg5?

  • 2 years ago

    PureJay

    I think I found the solution to the first one :) I looked at Nxh3+ first for a very long time but that just didn't work. Then I saw the great g5! Could anybody check my analysis? I notated all the lines for myself, but I'm sure this is the solution. Would like to know which lines are correct and which aren't though.

    @RegicidalManiac 1. ... Bf6 2. Qg3! is unpleasant for black I think.

  • 2 years ago

    ChessisGood

    Thanks for teaching at the Western Invitational! It was a great camp!

  • 2 years ago

    RegicidalManiac

    I gave it my best shot John, please correct me if I am wrong. (If I am right a plane ticket to your next seminar would be sufficient!Laughing!) kidding of course. 
    I will see how I did on the first puzzle before I dig into the second one. Thanks John!!
  • 2 years ago

    IM Fins0905

    Hey there, Buddy! Nice meeting you at camp.

    @DENVERHIGH - Yes, as Buddy said, the Western Invitational Camp is totally accepting of adults. It's mainly youth players, but adult players of similar ratings also have much to gain by attending.

    The OleChess camp I taught at in MN actually had a pretty sizable number of adults.

    @Black_Knight - Camp website with fee explanation here (click 'Registration'): http://www.westernchesscamp.com/

    @RegicidalManiac - Feel free to post your analysis, Fred Smile You can also send me a message if you'd like.

  • 2 years ago

    DENVERHIGH

    Buddy

    Thanks for the heads up. I will look into it.

  • 2 years ago

    DENVERHIGH

    Hey Buddy

    I see you were born in 1958 and you live in Arizona. That was really convenient for you. I was born in 1937. I have 28 more years left. But I want to go to a camp somewhere. 

    It doesn't have to be next summer. It can be this summer or in the winter. I will hunt for one.

  • 2 years ago

    SherlockHolmes94

    Looks like fun :']

  • 2 years ago

    dcremisi

    I tried convincing my parents to let me go to the oleole chess camp but they made me choose that or the world open.  I picked the world open

  • 2 years ago

    IM DanielRensch

    My first year in seven years not teaching at the camp, but it looks like it was awesome!!! Good read John Wink...

  • 2 years ago

    Black__Knight

    That's a top noche camp. How much did it cost?

  • 2 years ago

    RegicidalManiac

    @DENVERHIGH: I think many of us adults would LOVE to go away to chess camp!! 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETT3ltRJAws

  • 2 years ago

    DENVERHIGH

    I would come to the camp, if only I was a kid again.

Back to Top

Post your reply: