The 5th Annual Western Invitational Chess Camp, held July 20-24, 2007, again was the highest rated chess camp in the U.S. This year's camp featured 3 GM's and amongst the finest instructors in the country: GM Gregory Kaidanov, from Lexington, Kentucky, GM Yuri Shulman, from Chicago, Illinois, and GM Alejandro Ramirez, from Costa Rica. The other instructors included the following experienced chess coaches and titled players: IM Levon Altounian, FM Robby Adamson, FM Danny Rensch, and FM Ken Larsen.
This year's camp featured a record number of newcomers ranging from age 7 to adult, highlighted by four newcomers from North Carolina three from Northern California, two from New York, two from Texas, as well as some from Arizona. It has been a pleasure to meet new people from all over the United States. The reviews of the camp this year were again outstanding, which could not have happened without great instructors, enthusiastic students, and the support of local families and the local community.
Unlike last year when Material Imbalances, Karpov's Sneaky Backward Moves, and How to Prepare for an Opponent, seemed to be the topics of choice, this year the common theme was Endgames, particularly rook endings and opposite color bishop endings.
Group 1, which has the top rated students, featured an average rating of 2070, slightly lower than in 2007, but still a very strong group. Newcomers to this group were Adarsh Jayakumar and Alexander Balkum, both from Texas, as well as Howard Chen from Washington.
The second group (Group 2) featured an average rating of approximately 1850, with newcomers Andre Harding from New York, Ryan Polsky from California, as well as Connor Labean from North Carolina.
Group 3 featured an average rating of approximately 1700, many of whom had increased their ratings from the previous year, and had moved up from Group 4. Newcomers included Linda Diaz from New York, David Inglis from Washington, and Misha Shevelev from Arizona.
Finally, Group 4 featured all newcomers and quite a diverse group, lead by seven year old, Tanuj Vasuveda, fresh off his win at the 2008 National K-1 Nationals. Just like last year, I fully expect most of year's group 4 to move up a group next year.
The Winners of the Camp tournament in each group were as follows: Group 1 - John Williams from Arizona, one of the lowest rated in the group; Group 2 - Eli Alster from Arizona (who moved up from Group 4 to Group 2 this year); Group 3: Nate Cromer from Arizona; and Group 4 - Vignesh Panchanthan from Northern California. The instructors once again voted on the best student participation and most enthusiastic in each group. Amazingly, the instructors all agreed on this year's winners: Group 1 - Sean Higgins from Arizona; Group 2 - Andre Harding from New York; Group 3 - Linda Diaz from New York; and Group 4 - Robert Jackson from North Carolina. The above winners all received autographed chess books by the instructors to reward their efforts.
Excellent accommodations were again provided by the host families. Thanks to the Higgins, Cox, Savine, Alster, Arnold, and Wallace families for being excellent hosts. I hope to continue the tradition of host families providing accommodations. Also, thanks to the Brownell, Wallace, and Cox families for hosting the evening parties that featured swimming, ping pong, basketball, video games, bughouse, blitz, and other activities. I also want to thank Eli Alster for designing the T-shirts for this year's camp.
Finally, special thanks to Karen Pennock for directing the camp tournament and taking the camp photos.
Congratulations to instructors GM Alejandro Ramirez and IM Levon Altounian for tying for first in the Ye Olde Pueblo Open, held right after the camp. Also, congratulations to Grant Yosenick and David Inglis for tying for first in the Reserve Section, both with a score of 4.5/5. It was great to see some excellent performances following the camp from the camp students.
Next year's camp will again be held July 12-16, 2009. The Ye Olde Pueblo tournament will be held July 17-19, 2008 (after the camp). If you are interested in being invited to the best chess camp in the U.S., please contact Robby Adamson. Until next year's camp!