Western Invitational Chess Camp - The Beginning
After an early morning drive from Phoenix, I arrived at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort in Tuscon with my friend John Gurczak. Unloading our chess sets, we promptly entered the hotel. I had been looking forward to this camp all summer, and was ready to make the most of my experience. I conversed with old friends and chatted with the instructors, and shortly after announcements the instruction began.
With the Western Invitational's larger than expected attendance, Robby Adamson (BLITZMASTER on chess.com) split the attendees into six groups, with myself and fellow 2100+ players being in group one. Robby provided this camp with a squad of excellent instructors: IM Levon Altounian, IM Danny Rensch, GM Josh Friedel, IM John Bartholomew, GM Alejandro Ramirez, GM Melik Khachiyan, GM-elect Mac Molner and himself. Our first lecture was provided Alejandro, who warmed us up with some exercises. Below is one of the examples, which, being Group 1, did not take long before fellow master Nicholas Rosenthal determined the proper move sequence.
After lunch, the camp tournament began. Robby always seems to have it planned out perfectly: a morning lecture followed by a practical exercise, lunch at noon, and a camp tournament game followed by GM analysis. The day ends with an hour and a half of instruction. I managed to win my round, and soon after we were treated to a very interesting lecture by IM John Bartholomew.
The lecture, heavily influenced by psychological factors, consisted of determining the gap between players of different strengths, and employing proper methods to defeat a lower rated opponent. John gave some excellent tips. Just to mention a few, he claimed
- Long term pawn sacrifices are very effective weapons against lower rated players
- Preparation and memorization of long lines is part of a weaker player’s strength, so it is important to have multiple lines against basic systems like 1.e4 and 1. d4
- To complicate positions as much as possible, and to give your opponent options to mess up.
These little tips, in my opinion, were very important words of advice. It was nice to get an element of the game explained without getting into the game itself, and to discuss strategy over theory. And, of course, John showed us examples of every strategy in action. The next diagram is annotated by John himself:
The first day of the Western Invitational Chess Camp proved to be a success, both for enjoyment and for my chess improvement. I ended up learning many valuable ideas that will hopefully help me play well in the upcoming tournaments, and ended up enjoying myself while at it. The coaches were excellent; they were informative, direct, and well-prepared. Their lectures appealed to our holes in our play. The biggest props goes to Robby, though, as he organized this week long event to the dot. Every lecture started on time, and organization was very well orchestrated. Everything seemed to go perfect.
Attached are some pictures from the first day from a collection of both my photo album and friends'.
Thank you for taking the time to read by first blog post. Hopefully, there will be many more to come. Until next time, chess lovers!