North by Southwest

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Time for another month-end blog round-up! July was non-stop work for me, as I crisscrossed the country teaching chess. It was awesome! In the span of 2.5 weeks I taught the following:

I'd like to reflect a bit on each.

US Chess School

IM Greg Shahade has been running sessions of the US Chess School (USCS) since its inception in 2006. The goal is to provide free training to top young American players in order to cultivate as many Grandmasters as possible. Many highly qualified GMs and trainers have taught the USCS in the past, so it was a tremendous honor when Greg asked if I was interested in teaching a day at the most recent five-day session held at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan.

 All these masters were born in the 21st century! Left to right: NM Praveen Balakrishnan (USCF 2227, b. 2002), FM Awonder Liang (USCF 2284, b. 2003), and CM Ruifeng Li (USCF 2350(!), b. 2002).

In addition to the above trio, other high-rated USCS attendees included FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (who just made an IM-norm in Canada), NM Justus Williams (of "Brooklyn Castle" fame), FM Arthur Shen (IM-norm at the World Open earlier this month) FM Michael Bodek (fresh off a GM-norm at the NY International), and several other U-18 monsters. We worked from 9 am - 5 pm on Thursday, July 11, and I pushed the kids to the limit (or maybe it was the other way round!?)! It was great fun, and I hope I imparted some small bit of wisdom that may prove useful to them in the future.

I conducted a small solving competition at the end of the day, and the winner was...Awonder Liang, the youngest participant! The 10 year-old phenom clinched it by correctly solving the following problem in two minutes:

Elizabeth Spiegel posted a number of pictures from the USCS here.

Gotta play some blitz in Washington Square Park.

Western Invitational Chess Camp

This is a camp organized each year by my good friend, FM Robby Adamson (aka "The Wavemaster"). Robby's camp is heavy on both chess AND fun, and everyone involved always seems to leave with positive memories and plans to attend the following year. I wrote a report on the 2012 camp here, so I'll only say that this year's camp was even better (if such a thing is possible)! Robby really pulled out all the stops: a fabulous site that felt like a vacation setting, waterbottles/shirts/boards for all the attendees, bowling/blitz/bughouse in the evenings, and a camp-end party at his place. generously sponsored the camp, so each camper also received 3-6 month Diamond membership.

The El Conquistador played host this year. Good call on that one, Robby!

 IM Danny Rensch ridiculed by FM Robby Adamson. GM Melikset Khachiyan stomps away in disgust.

"How can you possibly suggest a move like that?" Just kidding, this group was great :)

Take your time in your camp games!

Bonus: I got a video of Melik and Danny playing bullet at the bowling alley! Shenanigans were witnessed:

UPDATE: Read Robby's full-length report on the camp here!

St. Olaf OleChess Camp

I rounded out the month with a local camp held on the beautiful grounds of St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. This camp is organized by Kevin Bachler and Deb Socha and is always a real pleasure to teach (this was my third year already!). The average camper here is lower-rated compared to the Western Invitational camp, but the chess training is equally rigorous (especially with instructors like GM Gregor Serper, GM Alex Yermolinsky, and 5-time US Women's Champion IM Irinia Krush) and the extra-curriculur activiates are no less fun!

Many of my own students attend OleChess each year, and it's also a nice chance to catch up with out-of-state people you haven't seen for awhile.

Kevin telling the campers to start their engines...

 One camper, Evan, is 1600 in chess, but 2800 in climbing!

Getting some help from IM Irina Krush and GM Gregory Serper in the "Survivor Simul." 

The "instructors vs. students" bughouse showdown. Instructors NMs Ken Wallach and Kevin Bachler take on campers Cecilia Tisserand and Laura Berge.

In August I'll be traveling to North Carolina for the final camp of the summer, and then I'll be playing a couple tournaments here in Minnesota (the Twin Ports Open and Noel Skelton Open). GM Wesley So will be playing in the latter, so wish me luck! :)