The 1st Annual Western Alliance Chess Camp debut in Tucson was a tremendous success, attracting over 60 participants from Tucson, Arizona, as well as some out of town students from as far as Illinois! The camp was held June 24-27, 2006, at St. Joseph’s in Tucson, and was organized by Tucson International Master, Levon Altounian.

Levon moved from California to Tucson a few years ago to take over the coaching duties of Castle Hill Country Day from National Master Craig Jones, who moved to North Carolina and is currently coaching chess there. Levon also coaches St Gregory and Greenfields, and numerous talented chess juniors in Tucson. The other instructors included my former coach, FM Ken Larsen, who has coached in Tucson for over 20 years, National Master Matthew Beelby from California, and Experts Jonathan Shacter, Vaishnav Aradhyula, and Chris De Sa.

Students were divided into groups based on their USCF rating and strength as determined by the instructors. The students varied in strength from beginner to 1700. Each day the instructors rotated between groups so students could be exposed to various teaching approaches and experiences. Lecture topics included tactics, positional ideas, long term planning, playing games, solving puzzles, and playing out specific positions and review of the games.

Another nice feature of the camp was that it permitted children to attend part of the camp, if they had other commitments.

Following 4 days of intense instruction, the camp was topped off by a USCF rated tournament the day after for those who had not had enough chess! Also, the camp offered an evening session for adults, providing a rare opportunity for adults to get high quality instruction.

Levon running this outstanding camp continues the tradition of strong summer chess camps in Tucson. As some may recall, GM Tal Shaked, Ken Larsen, and Craig Jones ran the Wildcat Chess Camp for two years at the University of Arizona.

This year’s camp promises to be better than last year, with some new instructors, including Tucson’s newest master, Leo Martinez, as well as many of last year’s instructors. The link for the camp can be found on this website. Don’t miss out on chess this summer!!