2014 Western Invitational Chess Camp - Recap!

2014 Western Invitational Chess Camp - Recap!

Aug 1, 2014, 12:34 AM |

2014 Chess Camp Group Photo


Hi all - Robby Adamson checking in after another awesome week of chess! As many of you know, I have the privilege of running the strongest chess camp in the United States, the Western Invitational Chess Camp (www.westernchesscamp.com). This is my favorite time of the year where strong students get a chance to immerse themselves in a solid week of chess. This year’s camp was once again held at the beautiful four-star resort, Tucson El Conquistador, July 13-17, 2014.

This year’s camp had a record 9 masters (names provided later in article) in attendance and a total of 15 players rated over 2100! The other 6 were no slouches (9-10 year old studs Andrew Hong and Kevin Chor), as well as near master Max Zinski, and soon to be masters Derek Chen (AZ), Aaron Balleisin (NC) and Prateek Pinisetti (AZ).

As I wrote in 2013, I wish to THANK all the people that made this camp the strongest camp ever in its now eleven years in existence.


IM-Elect Robby Adamson and Chess.com and chesskid.com's Danny Rensch, with Instructor Award Winner, Andrew Hong, a 4th grader rated over 2100!

THANKS to IM Danny Rensch http://www.chess.com/members/view/ACEChess for his excellent work with www.chess.com and his long time teaching at the camp and for www.chess.com sponsoring the camp, giving all camp participants free diamond memberships (6 months to new members, and 3 months to existing diamond members!). Chess.com was also generous in donating pens and one of a kind hoodies for the camp tournament winners and special one of a kind chess.com hats for those winning the hard to get instructor awards.

THANKS to all of the 2014 Instructors! GM Julio Sadorra, IM John Bartholomew, IM Elect Robby Adamson, GM Melik Khachiyan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, and IM Danny Rensch! (not pictured GM Yermolinsky and IM Altounian)

THANKS to GM Alejandro Ramirez http://www.chess.com/members/view/LittlePeasant for once again having challenging lectures, his recommendations to not copy all of Gata Kamsky’s opening repertoire, and not slapping a certain instructor for his somewhat timid approach to experiencing a certain beverage for the first time (video proof omitted).

GM Melik Khachiyan reviews game with Utah's Sam Mason, who finished a perfect 5-0 in Group 3 this year - Congrats Sam, aka, Pop Culture, Mason!!

THANKS to GM Melik Khachiyan http://www.chess.com/members/view/GMMelik for his vibrant personality, energetic lectures, and for not telling the same story twice this year.

GM Julio Sadorra rocked the camp his first year!

THANKS to GM Julio Sadorra http://www.chess.com/members/view/Sadorra-DAL for a truly outstanding first year coaching at the camp, his jumping around during lectures, and for providing tons of material for future evening stories.

GM Alex Yermolinsky reviews camp tournament game with Benjamin Friedlander (AZ) and Daniel Hung (TX), who won Group 4B!

THANKS to GM Alex Yermolinsky http://www.chess.com/members/view/AlexYermo for being the veteran instructor and providing deep insights in endgames that students should remember! And of course for all the late night stories! And finally, he never misses!

THANKS to IM Levon Altounian http://www.chess.com/members/view/Altounian-ARZ for his long outstanding service to the Camp (taught all 11 years!). Here he reviews game with Jake Hum (AZ) and Alex Vogel.

IM John Bartholomew does game review following round of camp tournament with Hugh Fox (AZ) and Adith Srivatsa (CA).

THANKS to IM John Bartholomew http://www.chess.com/members/view/Fins0905 for a fantastic third year of coaching, sleeping on my couch, and for his letting loose a little this year – we will never forget! 

For John’s previous blogs on the camp, please read! http://www.chess.com/blog/Fins0905/north-by-southwest as well as last year’s camp http://www.chess.com/blog/Fins0905/summer-happenings.


Michelle Martinez (awesome assistant!!!!) hangs with Radhika Pinisetti, mom of Prateek Pinisetti - who competed in Group 1 this year for the first time.

THANKS THANKS THANKS  once again to my assistant this year, Michelle Martinez, for doing so many things behind the scenes and helping me maintain my sanity! #Bestassistantever!

THANKS to all 9! Masters this year for attending: Alex Velikanov (Wisconsin), Craig Hilby (California), Bryan Hu (Arizona), Nicky Korba (California), Colin Chow (California), Nicolas Rosenthal (Florida), Luke and Matt Miller (Arizona), and Nathaniel Kranjc  (Illinois).

THANKS to the host families, especially the Gross family who loaned me their van, and yes, the van had a lot of people.

(Botom to top) Max Zinski (Illinois), Alex Velikanov (Wisconsin), Jerry Casteel (South Dakota), Nicky Korba (California), David Hsieh (Texas), Rohith Kaliyur (Texas), and Alex Deatrick (Michigan).


THANKS to all the parents who helped drive children to lunch and helped out where possible!!

Alejandro Ramirez reviews pivotal Group 1 Round 4 game with two of the top players in the camp, Wisconsin's Alex Velikanov (2380) vs. Arizona's Bryan Hu (2340). Alex won Group 1 clear (winning rook and bishop vs rook vs Craig Hilby (CA)) in in a very exciting last round, where Craig could have won earlier), with 4.5/5 and Bryan got second with 4-1. Nice job Alex!

 Bughouse Tournament Winners - Scotty Bonser (AZ) and Nicholas Rosenthal (FL).

Catalina Foothills High School teammates Derek Chen (AZ) and Hugh Fox (AZ) partnered in Bughouse.

Nicolas Johnston (AZ) and Patrick Schaeffer (AZ) plays bughouse against Illinois' NM Nate Kranjc - why is Nate wearing sun glasses?

Blitz Tournament - Adamson vs. Khachiyan; Rensch vs. Rosenthal (Florida). GM Ramirez, Lucas Johnston (AZ), and Gordon McNeil (CA) observes.  

IM John Bartholomew vs. GM Alejandro Ramirez blitz it out. Jonathan "El Capitan" Martinez, Jonathan Waldorf (NY), Max Zinski (Illinois), Nicolas Johnston (AZ), and Colin Chow (CA), Richard Qi (AZ), and Zac Cancio (AZ) looks watch the scramble!

Richard Qi (AZ) vs. IM Bartholomew; Rachael Eng (AZ) vs. GM Khachiyan



Yes, Justin Friedlander can be goofy sometimes!

Ford Nakagawa (Hawaii) brought a new toy, called the Kendama, and had everyone hooked. He said he might sell them next year - calling it the "Rise of the Kendama."

Andrew Hong plays bughouse against the Arizona team of Jonathan Martinez and roommate Richard Qi).


GM Alejandro "Handi" Ramirez smiles as Ford Nakagawa (Hawaii) painfully attempts to justify the pawn sac on g2 vs. Nicolas Johnston. Nicolas tied for first in Group 2 scoring 4-1!


Max Zinski (Illinois) has a headache reviewing his game with Prateek Pinisetti (Arizona). It is rumored that GM Sadorra kept screaming "Extend, extend." Max may not have been able to handle the pressure.


Melik poses for the camera (not sure about that shirt however) and discusses the inner chi of the position, as he reviews an exciting English Attack between Manu Reddy (Arizona) with Gordon McNeil (California).


IM Danny Rensch gives Group 1 complementary issues of chess.com's Masters Bulletin. I have no idea what face Craig Hilby is making? I prefer not to speculate, but readers please chime in, starting with animal type! Nick Rosethal (Florida) and Nate Kranjc (Illinois).


Nicky "Hank" Korba pets Joshua G Pennock at Village Inn during the Ye Olde Pueblo. Special thanks to my student, Josh, for doing a video on the camp this year!!

From awards Party (Left to Right): John Bartholomew, Alejandro Ramirez, Sam Mason, Patrick Froehlich, Justin Arnold, Karen Pennock. Josh Pennock, Danny Rensch, Steven Pennock, Julio Sadorra, Nicky Korba, and "little" Rensch

Awards Banquet: Balleisin, McNeil and Mason parents relaxing after an intense week of chess

 More chess parents from Awards Dinner!


Craig Hilby (CA) CANT BELIEVE Nate and Bryan are still playing chess after the camp is over!!


Martha Underwood (fresh off helping run Susan Polgar tournament) helps Michelle Martinez sort out backpacks for Awards Dinner!


Two members of the Waldorf family who came with their son, Jonathan Waldorf, from New York!

Jonathan Martinez waves at the camera Benjamin Friedlander smiles nicely, while Justin Friedlander and Tanner Muscarella play blitz, Meanwhile Mr. Waldorf is wearing sunglasses indoors! Maybe he borrowed Nate's?

Parents get to relax at Awards Dinner!


Last but not least - I want to also THANK Steven Pennock, a long time student of mine, and Michelle Martinez (did I mention what a great job she did!!) for serving as my sounding board for the camp every year!!

Finally - CONGRATS to the 2014 Camp Tournament Winners -

Group 1 -                    Alex Velikanov                                   Wisconsin

Group 2 -                    Nicolas Johnston                               Arizona

                                    David Hsieh                                        Texas

Group 3 -                    Sam Mason                                        Utah

Group 4A -                  Daniel Hung                                       Texas

Group 4B –                 Bria Castro                                         Arizona

Group 5 –                   Jack Swenson                                    Arizona

                                  Adith Srivatsa                                    California     

CONGRATS to the Camp Instructor Award Winners

Group 1 -                    Bryan Hu                                            Arizona

                                    Andrew Hong                                     California

Group 2 –                   Alex Deatrick                                      Michigan

                                    Rohith Kaliyur                                  Texas          

Group 3 -                    Rahul Reddy                                       Arizona

                                    Gordon McNeil                                  California

Group 4A -                  Shreyes Kaliyur                                  Texas

                                    Nathaniel Sobery                              Illinois

Group 4B -                  Varenya Chilukuri                             Arizona

                                    Alex Vogel                                          Arizona

Group 5 –                   Patrick Schaeffer                               Arizona

                                    Tiegan Kurtiz                              New Mexico


CONGRATS to IM Danny Rensch for winning the blitz event and the Ye Olde Pueblo held after!

Danny Rensch and Bryan Hu play in blitz tournament while many students look on!

Also congrats to Kevin Chor for knocking me around in the blitz event!)

Future master Kevin Chor performed well in Group 1 this year!


Final shout-out - CONGRATS to Nate Kranjc for bowling a CAMP HIGH 179! As an aside I did bowl over 100 in one of the two games, and in other game, uh, well, yeah.....


For previous www.chess.com blogs from students, please read:

Robby Adamson - http://www.chess.com/blog/BLITZMASTER/2013-western-invitational-chess-camp-complete


Steven Pennock - http://www.chess.com/blog/sgpennock1/the-ldquocamp-feelingrdquo


Michael Vilenchuk - http://www.chess.com/blog/shishkana/western-invitational-chess-camp---the-beginning,

Anna Matlin http://www.chess.com/blog/Annalytical/getting-in-the-zone-in-arizona.            


Finally, thanks to everyone else that made this camp possible!! Next year’s camp will be held July 12-16, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona. Anyone interested, please email me at robzadamson@msn.com.