The Western Invitational Chess Camp is something I always look forward to every year. With intense lessons in the day and great evening activities in the night it's one of my favorite events of the year. IM-Elect Robby Adamson, who organizes this whole camp, puts in countless hours from setting up the beautiful venue at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson to getting great instructors every year. This year again Robby invited many strong instructors including GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Yaro Zherebukh, GM Eric "Chessbrah" Hansen, GM Melik Khachiyan, IM John Bartholomew, IM Joel Banawa, and IM Danny Rensch. The camp is divided into 6 groups by rating so that every group could get a instructor two or three times. Each group with around ten people. This year I got placed into 2B. Every day there are four lessons total with a one hour fifteen lunch break and a camp G/35 training game. After the lessons ended , usually around five, there then would be an evening activity like bowling, blitz and bughouse. The camp starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Following that, there is a very strong tournament called the Ye Olde Pueblo that many campers stay for.
On Sunday, we started off with a very instructive lecture with Melik. He showed us a interesting game he played few years back.
We saw a good example of how you have to have a superior position in order to attack. Because Black wasted so much moves on his pawns, White could grab the initiative because he had more pieces in the game and tactical opportunities appeared. Normally in closed positions it's okay that either side could delay development to do something else but white managed to open the position. We then had lessons by Daniel Naroditsky and Joel Banawa for the rest of the morning followed by a lesson by Danny Rensch in the afternoon.
This year the evening event was a new one where the students would meet the instructors and get all their camp gear signed. After that the instructors would play some bughouse and blitz with the students.
Chessable Co-Founder IM John Bartholomew and newly-minted IM Joel Banawa
On Monday, Eric Hansen, Yaro Zherebukh, and Danny Rensch gave us lectures in the morning while John gave us a lecture in the afternoon. Yaro John had an very instructive lecture on the initiative and how to keep it going.
Although Black sacrificed a pawn, it was quite hard for White to untangle as he had to make some unnatural moves to do so like e4 on move 17. White would get pushed around until he finally collapsed in the game.
On Tuesday, we received lectures from Daniel Naroditsky, Joel Banawa, Eric Hansen and Melik Khachiyan. Daniel explained the importance of pattern recognition, Joel showed us how to create dynamic counter play when in a worse position, Eric showed us a game of his when he took advantage of his opponent's underdevelopment, and Melik showed us prophylaxis. All the lectures were great, but Daniel's stood out the most. He showed us how he fought in a worse position by using pattern recognition.
This idea of a clearance resembles an idea in the Benoni in which Daniel mentioned. Normally if you haven't seen the idea of the clearance sacrifice f4 would be difficult to find. In worse positions it's important that you try to find moves that turn the tide of the game because that shocks the opponent, who was just in the mentality of having a better position.
On Wednesday, John Bartholomew, Yaro Zherebukh, Melik Khachiyan, and Danny Rensch gave us lectures. John in the morning talked to us on how to build our opening repitoires. He showed us how to use different databases to find model players and different resources for openings. Yaro's lecture was on rook endgames and planning in the endgame, which was super useful. Melik let us practice our openings by playing against him and then analyzing after game about how we went wrong. The game was pretty interesting as our group managed to turn around the game at one point! Danny's lecture was also very instructive as he gave positions to think through and find a plan based on the assessment.
Annotated by Peter Wells
That day the evening activity was blitz and it had all the instructors playing in it. This tournament was open to everyone so the local masters also came including NM Andy Lin and NM Francisco Guadalupe came. There were many upsets but this year's "Dark Horse" was NM Prateek Pinisetti, defeating some instructors on the way to achieve an impressive 7/8 coming into the last round before falling to GM Yaro Zherebukh. In the end, Yaro took clear first with 9/10 while GM Melik Khachiyan, GM Daniel Naroditsky, and camper Henry Wang tied for second.
On Thursday, Daniel Naroditsky, Joel Banawa, and Yaro Zherebukh gave us lectures. Daniel gave us a lecture of calculating in the endgame which was really tricky. Joel also gave us calculation drills that made you go the extra mile. Yaro showed us some combinations in games he played.
In the afternoon instead of classes we had student evaluations where the students could ask the instructors questions that they had.
Honestly, each year the camp just keeps getting better and better. All the well organized activities to the well prepared lectures made it a memorable experience. Special thanks to Michelle Martinez for spending countless hours helping the camp behind the scenes on many many things, Bryn Allen for helping out at the registration counter every day, and Robby Adamson for organizing this camp!!!!
Dave Mohan (AZ) faces Dhruv Khosla (AZ) as Pranav Narnur (AZ) , Richard Qi (AZ), Quinn Hudson (AZ) and Rick Sun (AZ) watch the game
Instructors Melik Khachiyan and Daniel Naroditsky face each other while "Chessbrah" Eric Hansen plays Yaro Zherebukh
Chess.com's Vision Trainer Station
Getting my gear signed!!!- L-R: Gordon McNiell (CA), Rannon Huo (TX), Yaro Zherebukh, Joseph Wang (AZ) , Eric Hansen and Melik Khachiyan
Blitz tournament packs the room!
IM John Bartholomew faces Danny Soong (CA) in a heated game
"BaoBao" Ruoxiao Xia (AZ) takes a picture with Camp Director Robby Adamson