June 22-26th, 2010

The Western Alliance Summer Chess Camp traditionally takes place on the last week of June. For the past 4 years, we  have had the pleasure of holding it at the spacious grounds of the Green Fields Country Day school. This Camp by nature is very demanding of all its organizers, due to the sheer amount of participants, length of the camp, different age and strength groups and all the activities involved. Our goal was to meet and exceed the goals and expectations set last year. After all, we thought, any Camp in its 5th year should be even more exciting and educational than the previous years.

One of the lingering questions on my mind that only time could answer was: how badly did the past recession hurt the ability or desire of students and parents to join summer camps and other programs? How far can the “Wal-Mart” psychology go with parents when it relates to chess? I was happy to see that even though we had more questions and requests for financial aid, the quality of the camp was still the single most important element of the event. The questions mostly were around the schedule of the camp, the class schedule, instructors, lunch and pick up.

And the quality is what we were striving for. It started by choosing even better fit rooms than in the past, in the overall very positive, clean and open space school such as Green Fields. For that my gratitude goes to the new principal of the school— Diana Hill.  The 2nd step was choosing very knowledgeable and engaging instructors and helpers, while keeping the overall group diverse by as many criteria’s as possible. Styles of instructors ranged from wild attacking chess and most positional play to the bughouse mastery. We had coaches with 35 years of experience (such as Coach Ken Larsen) teaming up with coaches who had the most hands-on experience in the modern tournament play (for example Matthew Noble, who just won U 1900 section in the Las Vegas National Open). We also tried to make sure that as many classes per day as possible  would have more than 1 instructor. That is always a challenge but well worth the energy spent. 2 instructors will always make the lesson more engaging and fun by alternating or sitting with individual students whenever needed.

The next step was to have the correct curriculum and a system that was both educational and fun. Otherwise, how do we keep the 5 years olds engaged and excited between 9 AM and 4 PM? That challenge also proved to be a success, otherwise how do we account for so many of the 5-6 years olds joining us for the Evening Events at 5 PM, going for trophies, beating adults and not feeling at all tired?

As with all other large events and Camps, choosing the correct staff that helps run the Camp smoothly and efficiently is extremely important. This year’s official helpers/coordinators- Martha Underwood, the Burchard family, Alex Chen and many others did a superb job to keep all under control, solve all the problems and prevent any incidents from happening. And that work has paid off: zero complaints, accidents, problems or dropped out participants.

We had 45 participants in the Main Camp, between 20 and 26 participants in each of the Daily Evening Events (Simul with Amanda Mateer, Blitz Tournament, Bughouse Tournament and Wild Chess). We even had Campers from 5 other States and some from Gilbert and Mesa. Everyone earned medals and certificates and dozen of other prizes were given throughout the camp, much to the delight of the younger campers.

The 5th Annual Western Alliance Green Fields Open on June 26th had a record 48 players, roughly half of them being the Camp participants.

The success of such an endeavour is hard to measure by how many people participated or how many trophies and prizes were handed out. It is rather in the attitudes and smiles of the players, the handshakes and hugs of the parents and in the reviews each participant and Instructor had to fill out.

To sum it up after reading all the reviews, commentaries and talking to everyone individually here is 1 comment:

John B: “4th Annual last year was great but this one was even better! I want to become a professional chess player now”

Coaches: IM Levon Altounian, FM Ken Larsen, Masters: Vaishnav Aradhyula, Amanda Mateer, Andy Lebovitz, Josh Leonard, Experts Matt Noble, Dan Katzel, John Wright, Bev Bass


Results from the Camp:

Special Camp Prizes:

Group 1: Moira Guitseg and Matteo Sredzinski

Group 2: Milo Ratner and Caelan Brown

Group 3: Jacob VanderLeew

Group 4: Amrita Nag

Special Tournament: Joshua Burchard

Evening Events:

Amanda Mateer Simul: June 22nd: 7 Draws- 20 people total

Blitz: June 23rd:

Open 1st: Derek Chen, Kinsleigh Wong, George Ruan

Under 1100 1st Peter Bian 2nd-3rd Gabriel Gutierrez and Henry Wang

Bughouse: June 24th

Open: 1st Amrita Nag/Peter Bian team, 2nd -Sreekar Bommireddy/Liam Matthews team,3rd – George Ruan/Patrick Froelich team

Under 2200 – 1st Austin Reed/Henry Wang team, 2nd– Cruz Nunez/Scotty Bonser team, 3rd– Milo Ratner/Caelan Brown team

Wild: June 25th

Open: 1st-4th Zak Cancio, Derek Chen, George Ruan, KInsleigh Wong.

Under 1000 1st Henry Wang, 2nd Raj Patil, 3rd Angela Kinsey

5th Annual Western Alliance USCF Rated Tournament:  June 26th

Open: 1st George Ruan, 2nd Matt Noble, 3-4th Carlos Boteo, Stephanie Burchard

Reserve: 1st Austin Reed , 2-6th –Angela Kinsey, Henry Wang, Raj Patil, Edward Brunton, Nate Gaskell