2015 Western Invitational Chess Camp - Strongest Chess Camp Ever!

Jun 20, 2016, 12:15 PM |

 Camp Director, Robby Adamson

Fantastic, Rewarding, and Exhausted are just some of the words I can muster to describe the best week of the year for me. I thought I had published this but as camp approaches this year, its time to post!

As I blogged the last few years, each year I look forward to running the strongest chess camp in the United States, the Western Invitational Chess Camp (www.westernchesscamp.com), which this year was held July 12-16, 2015.  The honor and privilege of providing an awesome environment of top students, coaches, and lifelong experiences makes me a proud organizer of the camp.  I seem to say this every year, but this was probably the most enjoyable camp I have been able to run, now in its 12th year!!  Yes, chess runs deep in my heart and it is very rewarding to provide an experience of a lifetime for many students attending the camp. Again, this year’s camp was once again held at the beautiful four-star resort, Tucson El Conquistador.


 2015 Camp Group Photo - Strongest Camp Ever

This year’s camp had a record 15 current and former masters in attendance and a total of 22 players rated over 2100! Group 1 and 2 were so strong and had so many strong students - we had to split both Groups 1 and 2 into two groups of even strength. Group 1 had an average rating of 2200, and group 2 had an average rating of about 2000.

Group 1A - Average rating of 2200

Group 1B - Also average rating of 2200.


Group 2A


Group 2B


 Group 3 


Group 4

Group 5


 We had a record number of newcomers, which included students from new states, Nevada, Georgia, and Virginia, as well as those from return states Arizona, California, Washington, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and Utah. 



The format for the camp is classes from 9-12:30, which this year included, 2 lectures and one practical exercise.


After a 75 minute lunch, there was a camp tournament game, and review by the instructors. Finally there was a lecture from 4-5 pm.



Each night there were evening activities, including all B's - Bullet, Bowling, Bughouse, Blitz and Banquet (Awards) . See pictures below.

Agata Bykovsky and Hugh Fox partner in bug


"Team Quinn" (Quinn Hudson AZ) and Quinn Creger (CA) play Bug


Alex Popescu (WA) and Chillllllllll, I mean, Max Zinski (IL) face off vs Joseph Wang (AZ) and Jonathan Martinez (AZ)

NM Bovey Liu (TX) and Robert Shibata (NY) battle in bug,


Best Friends - Joseph Wang (AZ) and Jdawg (AZ)

IM Danny Rensch vs. John Bartholomew battle in bullet in between bowling. GM Melik Khachiyan and Alex Ipatov look on. 

GM Melik Khachiyan joins the bullet party, facing off against GM Alex Ipatov. GM Alejandro isnt impressed - is he ever?

The bowling scores werent pretty and either was the ability to fit in all the letters in the names of the instructors.

Tucson kids play blitz - Lucas Johnston (AZ) faces off vs. Hugh Fox (AZ) while Amber Fox (AZ) and Aiya Cancio watch the duel. 

Group Picture at Bedroxx Bowling - Back row: Patrick C. Froehlich (AZ), Nate Kranjc (IL), Robby Adamson (AZ) Max Zinski (IL) Nicky Hank Korba; Second row - Grant Oen (GA), Isaac "The Thinker" Martinez (AZ); Front Row - Nicky Rosenthal (FL), Agata Bykovsky (AZ)



On the last night there was an Awards Banquet, where we give awards to those who performed well in the camp tournament.

 2015 Instructors had an awesome week. Left side: GM Julio Sadorra, GM Melik Khachiyan, FM Pedram Atoufi, IM John Bartholomew; right side: IM Rensch not pictured. 

 Thumbs up! (IM Bartholomew, me, GM Melik, GM Sadorra, and GM Ipatov)

 Current Tucson students - and future ones!

(Lucas, Hugh, Nicolas, Patrick, Matt and Joseph)


Again, it is time THANK all the people that made this camp the strongest camp ever held in the United States.

THANKS to www.chess.com for sponsoring the camp, giving all camp participants free three-month diamond memberships. Chess.com was also generous in donating pens, hoodies, and chess.com hats for select students who performed well in the camp.

THANKS to all of the 2015 Instructors! 


THANKS to GM Alejandro Ramirez http://www.chess.com/members/view/LittlePeasant for providing challenging puzzles (yeah, he, allegedly borrowed a few from a certain former World Champion that starts with the letter “K”), providing camp stories (White Tiger story is legendary story even for the instructors who have heard it before and good grief that never gets old), and amazing tandem games throughout the camp (more on the later).

THANKS to GM Melik Khachiyan http://www.chess.com/members/view/GMMelik for having incredible energy, but serious attitude to young students. As you may know, Melik is one of the best coaches in the country and is known for his incredible success at coaching talented juniors.  Melik is an absolute rock at the camp and is a great guy.  Also, thanks to Melik for not telling the same story twice this year – though it was classic in 2014!

THANKS to GM Julio Sadorra http://www.chess.com/members/view/Sadorra-DAL for again a fantastic camp in this, his second year.  No one has more energy during lectures than Julio, who is quickly building an impressive resume with working with outstanding juniors, particularly in the Dallas area.

THANKS to GM Alexander Ipatov, 2013 World Junior Champ. I take a chance every once in a while on a coach, given that Alex was only 21 years old at the time of the camp. Alex had a blast and was definitely one of the most popular instructors. Many student evaluations said “Bring Alexander Ipatov back.” Yeah, Alex will definitely be back.  You can feel how strong Alex is and his mind works faster than a computer it seems. Best quote from Alex – “FR, I love America!!”

THANKS to IM John Bartholomew http://www.chess.com/members/view/Fins0905 for a fantastic fourth consecutive year of coaching (yeah, he is that good), again sleeping on my couch in my office, and for not letting loose this year.  John is extremely even keel and once again did a solid job  - only negative, his obsession with Starbucks, but no one is perfect. 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.

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.

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 15! Masters (and former masters) this year for attending: IM Alexander Katz (New Jersey) FM Alex Velikanov (Wisconsin-apple), Craig Hilby (California), Albert Lu (California) Bryan Hu (Arizona), Nicky Korba (California), Nicolas Rosenthal (Florida), Andrew Hong (California), Bovey Liu (Texas), Isaac Martinez (Arizona), Sam Cacopyan (Texas), Quinn Creger (California - and special congrats for winning U2200 section at 2015 National Open and the real prize, 2015 World Open), Agata Bykovsky (California), Andrew Titus (Minnesota) and Nathaniel Kranjc  (Illinois).

THANKS to the host families – Martinez family, Froehlich family, Fox family, and Hudson family.

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

CONGRATS to the 2015 Camp Tournament Winners (all clear winners this year)

Group 1 -                    Quinn Creger                                     California

Group 2 -                    Grant Oen                                          New Jersey

Group 3 -                    Robert Shibata                                  New York

Group 4 -                    Shan  Rengasamy                              Arizona

Group 5 –                   Tanner Muscarella                            Arizona

CONGRATS to the Camp Instructor Award Winners

Group 1 -                    Xiexin Wang                                       Arizona

                                    Isaac Martinez                                    California

Group 2A –                 Jason Metpally                                   Texas

                                    Gordon McNeil                                  California


Group 2B -                  Christopher Yoo                                California

                                    Ben Lyons                                           Virginia

Group 3 -                    Zak Cancio                                          Arizona

                                    Joseph Kennedy                                 Arizona

Group 4 -                    Joris Katz                                            New York

                                    Kyle Jain                                             Wisconsin

Group 5 –                   Patrick Froehlich                               Arizona

                                    Amber Fox                                          Arizona


Congrats to Nicolas Rosenthal and Ethan Pieroni for winning the Bughouse tournament. As part of having the kids participate together, the players from the bottom group are permitted to select their own bughouse partner from anyone in the camp. Group 5 typically picks students from the top group! Recall that Rosenthal won the bughouse last year!

CONGRATS to FM Alexander Velikanov for once again winning the bullet tournament 10-0! (He did lose to me in the playoff in a really long series J).

Special Congrats to GM Julio Sadorra for dominating the 2015 Ye Olde Pueblo tournament after the camp! Nice job Julio!

Finally CONGRATS  to Alexander Ipatov and Nicolas Rosenthal for adopting and now owning the music group Queen, specifically the song - Another One Bites the Dust. I expect them to sing this next year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY0WxgSXdEE

Also read the fanastic blog of 2015 attendee, IM Alexander Katz at http://www.chess.com/blog/Cryptochess/2015-western-invitational-chess-camp 

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

* 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.            

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

Finally, thanks to everyone else that made this camp possible!! Next year’s camp will be held July 10-14, 2016, in Tucson, Arizona at the Tucson El Conquistador. Anyone interested, please email me, Robby Adamson, at robzadamson@msn.com